Recognizing the important role of art in advancing social justice, the School of Languages, Cultures, and Race (SLCR) in the College of Arts and Sciences at Washington State University is seeking submissions for its annual Art for Social Change Competition.

WSU students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the surrounding education community, are invited to enter original works of visual, literary or mixed-media/multimedia art that speaks to social justice issues.

Submissions will be accepted for consideration until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29, and should relate to at least one of four categories:

  • Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. and Revitalizing the Dream

    Commemorating the Civil Rights Movement and King’s legacy and vision for the future

  • Social Justice in Action

    Addressing contemporary issues of inequality and injustice at the local, national or global level

  • Community-Building at WSU

    Fostering an inclusive WSU community

  • Community Outreach

    Building bridges between WSU and other communities or between individuals within the university

“Stop Killing Us” by Sarina Sharpe won a 2020 Certificate of Recognition. The digital painting depicts a black transgender woman with red background and “Stop Killing Us” text.

This year, the competition specifically seeks art that engages with themes explored in WSU’s 2020–21 Common Reading book, “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah. The themes are segregation, mixed-race families/individuals, police brutality, and “being a crime” (unlike committing a crime). Guidelines are posted on the contest website.

The competition and later exhibition encourage creation and sharing of art that provokes, challenges and inspires, said SLCR director Carmen Lugo-Lugo. “Art can simultaneously expose and contest social inequalities while compelling those who are looking at, experiencing and/or enjoying it to reflect on and even work on changing those conditions,” she said.

The competition seeks to underscore the importance of recognizing vast inequalities that persist in the world today and the need to build a new world—”to dream, to envision, to invent, to create—redefining how we live and interact with our surroundings.”

A piece of artwork made by Sunnyside elementary students
“Dreams” by Sunnyside Elementary School in Pullman won the 2020 Community Outreach Award. Sunnyside students in kindergarten through 5th grade wrote or drew thoughts and ideas about kindness, peace, revitalizing the dream, and Martin Luther King.

Art for Social Change organizers welcome work from WSU students, faculty and staff as well as students and educators in the broader community. “It is a significant way for people within WSU and the surrounding community to talk to each other about these difficult topics,” Lugo-Lugo said.

Among last year’s entries was artwork from a local elementary school, where students in different grades came together to create a collective piece. “It was beautiful. I can’t wait to see and experience the entries this year,” Lugo-Lugo said.