Skip to Main Content

Art and Social Justice: Artists

Social justice art encompasses a wide range of visual and performing arts designed to raise critical consciousness, build community, and motivate individuals to promote social change.  Practitioners believe art can be a catalyst to engage community members to take action around social issues.

Artists have recognized and reacted to injustice for through time and across cultures.  This guide focuses on 20th and 21st c. artists who directly address social concerns prevalent in North American in the late 20th and early 21st century, such as the environment, politics, human rights, identity and freedom of expression.  

Social Justice Art. Wikipedia. Copied 28Oct2022 BQP

Tona Wilson

Stories Behind Bars was inspired by the author's job as a Spanish interpreter in the US courts. The stories give the reader an insight into the complex issues surrounding the immigration debate.


Maureen Cummins

Cummins has produced over twenty-five limited- edition artist's books. Her work is held in over one hundred permanent public collections internationally and has been included in exhibitions at the American Craft Museum, the Zimmerli Art Museum, the Rotunda Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Brooklyn Museum. Cummins has received over a dozen grants and awards and has been an artist in-residence at numerous venues, including the American Antiquarian Society and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.  Cummins' historical research reveals sometimes disturbing attitudes and assumptions in the history of the USA. 


Suzanne Lacy

Suzanne Lacy is renowned as a pioneer in socially engaged and public performance art. Her installations, videos, and performances deal with sexual violence, rural and urban poverty, incarceration, labor and aging. Lacy’s large-scale projects span the globe, including England, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, Ireland and the U.S. 


Miranda Maher

My work begins with discrepancies, mistakes or even lies. I’ve dug into our self-deceptions about warfare and sexual violence; unpacked cultural delusions about femininity and explored our narcissism in relating to animals and nature ....  I continue to explore human violence and delusion, but after working with that darkness for 25 years, it feels better when contained in book forms.


Malini Gupta

As an artist, I am very passionate about women’s equality and their rights. Most recently, I have worked on a book about gender biases in India. 

Originally from India, I moved to the US to study Communication Design at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland, Oregon. My interest in artist books also led me to pursue a Post Baccalaureate degree in Book Arts at Oregon College of Art & Craft. That’s not all!! I also have a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics!  Yep, like everyone from India I thought of majoring in Computer Science. But I knew deep in my heart that I had a creative bent of mind. So I decided to pursue Interior Design much to my parent’s dismay! That didn’t last long. I realized very quickly that the male dominated construction industry in India was no place for me. So I decided to switch to Graphic Design instead. And fell in LOVE with it!


Rebecca Lown

Rebecca Lown is a New York City-based designer who was awarded a production grant for her artist’s book Inviolable Habits. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and has run her own book design studio for over 15 year.   She has a B.F.A from the State University of New York, Purchase and is an adjunct professor in the  M.F.A., program at The New School: A University in New York City

Patricia Johanson is an American artist and a pioneer in ecological-art (aka eco-art).  Her large-scale art projects create aesthetic and practical habitats for humans and for wildlife. Designed with and in the natural landscape, Johanson solves infrastructure and environmental problems and also reconnects city-dwellers with nature and with the history of a place. 

Greyson Earle

Grayson Earle is a new media artist and educator. He is the co-creator of Bail Bloc and a member of The Illuminator art collective. He is currently participating in the Berlin Program for Artists. His work uses the context of art to materialize ideas and forms surrounding the role that digital technologies and networks can play in protest and political agency. He exhibits inside and outside of traditional art spaces, working with guerrilla video projection, cryptocurrency, machine learning, simulation, sculpture, and the internet.

The Illuminator Project
The Illuminator is a collaborative political art project which was created in the context of Occupy Wall Street. 


Librarian / Research Help

Photograph of Barbara Prior, the Art Librarian

Barb Prior (she/her)  Head, Clarence Ward Art Library
Top Floor, Venturi Art Building
Email us at

Supports classes across the College and Conservatory and those using the Allen Memorial Art Museum

Subject expert for: 
Art & architecture of East Asia, Africa, Latin America, Islam, the Ancient Mediterranean, the Western Middle Ages, the Renaissance & Baroque periods, and Global Art of the 20th c & 21st c.
Complete list of Barb's Research Guides

Schedule a Research Appointment