By: Caoimhe Heaney
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‘’Artists, designers, culture-makers, and heritage-holders are a local resource in every place. To help us not only get from here to there, but to invent “there” and devise how we make the journey.’’ Micheal Rohd

What is the role of an artist in today’s society? This is a question that I and I am sure many other artists ask ourselves regularly.  With everything that is going on in the world – war, climate change, poverty; making art can sometimes seem frivolous. Why make a piece of art when outside, the world is changing so rapidly? Is there a better way to contribute to society?

Art has been around almost as long as people have been. From drawing on caves to drawing and painting many time periods. From commissions for religious reasons to developing a vast range of art styles used it to communicate various topics in society. Such as how Hannah Hoch started using collage in the early 1900s to show her views on politics and gender roles. Art is something that has been ingrained in our world since the beginning, there does not seem to be a time where we did not make some kind of Art.

its time - Framed - Caoimhe Heaney - Nua Collective - 2022
It’s Time (2022) – Collage artwork by Caoimhe Heaney

But where does this leave artists today? As our world evolves, our society gets more complicated. So as artists we learn to evolve and move with it. And we have, we have created new genres, new ways to make art and come up with new ideas. Many artists delve deep into the world of today, holding it back to the public to show something we may have missed. Artists create works for us to examine, to look back at society, to try and provoke change.

To me art has always been a form of escapism and therapy. A way to deal with today’s world.  Using art in this way is a valid need. In many aspects, the world today can be a hard place to navigate so we all need a bit of relief from it. Art creates a new space we can step into and forget, just for a moment,  all the trials and tribulations of the world. It can become a place to breathe, a place that gives us the space to take a step back and look. Whether through a painting that you look at while drinking your morning coffee or going into a gallery or museum. These are places that are needed today.

Michael Rohd states in his essay that the role of the artist is “To light up public imagination’’. This is true in all aspects of the arts whether it is a play, a piece of music or a sculpture. We are here to provoke questions, talk and debates. While we are storytellers, we are also here to entertain and enlighten.  Our role is to help move society forward whether that is providing a mirror up to itself or to provide a space for the public to find refuge in. We are a crucial part of society today, in many ways more than I can describe in a single essay.

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