How an art-for-change advocate uses art to support a cause

I can’t draw to save my life, so I admire those who have a talent for the arts. 😁

I also appreciate the ways in which they use this talent to make a difference in other people’s lives.

I’ve come across someone who’s made me realise that art is not just for collecting or gazing at too: Debasmita “Smita” Dasgupta, a Singapore-based art-for-change advocate.

This is Smita

“I believe that art has a purpose,” she maintains. “It can create a climate of sensitivity in which change is possible.”

It was actually this belief that encouraged Smita to establish ArtsPositive, a non-profit that “creates and shares art-for-change stories on a range of themes from different parts of the world”.

Aside from being a founder…

Smita is a graphic novel artist.

She illustrated and wrote Nadya, a moving story about a 13-year-old girl who finds hope – and learns some life lessons – while dealing with her parents’ divorce.

Go Nadya!

Smita also runs campaigns as an art-for-change advocate. “More Than Skin Deep” is a particularly memorable one. She describes it as “a series of illustrated poems inspired by the real-life stories of 15 women who survived an acid attack”.

Together with her friend Claire Rosslyn Wilson, Smita found and spoke to acid attack survivors from 13 countries. Smita and Claire relayed these women’s experiences and tales of courage through art and poetry.

It'll give you a whole new perspective

So even if you’re not an artist…

Smita tells us that we can use art and any other visual medium to create a positive space for women, and to push for change. Art pieces, photos, films, and books like Smita’s are just some of the ways we can spark meaningful conversations.

One powerful image can sometimes be enough to get your message across. And it can be a fun and fulfilling process too. Smita shares why.

#1 Art urges us to ask questions

“Art can create a space for dialogue not just with others but with yourself. And remember, change starts with you,” she says.

#2 It feels great to share it with someone

“Art can make you relate to an emotion that’s close to your existence – a connection that tells you you’re not alone.”

#3 It lets your thoughts and ideas take shape

“Art can help you express what words can’t. It gives a voice to the voiceless.”

#4 It helps you analyse a situation better

“Art can offer you a moment of silence when you dig deep and think.”

#5 You understand that more can be done

“Art can inspire you to take action, a positive action.”

I remember staying long at galleries just to stare at the artwork and marvel over their level of detail. I also didn’t mind reading each caption just to learn more about the artist and discover why, how and when their pieces were made.

I still don’t. 😊

The next time we have a cause to support or promote, why not inject art into the mix? It might help us reach more people and raise awareness of the issues close to our hearts.

Or we can also simply enjoy it. 😊

For more on ArtsPositive, click here. Follow Smita on Instagram.