Prophetic Activist Art: Handbook for a Spiritual Revolution - published

News Date 
Wed, 2014-06-04
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The Centre for Human Ecology

The Pearce Institute

840-860 Govan Road, Govan

Scotland, G51 3UU

Tel: 0141 445 3700


Prophetic Activist Art

 Handbook for a Spiritual Revolution


This groundbreaking work outlines a specific model for using art to spur social transformation, as an extension of both artistic and spiritual practice.  It is unique in that it moves beyond simply documenting past activist projects – as do the other works in this field – or showing how artists might express their opinions through their art, to developing a model for utilizing art to influence the social and political worlds.


Written by Tom Block, a noted art-activist with more than 20 years of using art to infiltrate business, social and political conversations, Prophetic Activist Art offers a step-by-step handbook for activist creators in any media.  Moving far beyond the oppositional activism of past art movements, Prophetic Activist Art insinuates artists and their ideas into the halls of power, money and influence.


As U.S. Major General (ret.) Charles Tucker noted:


Tom Block is a visionary at the intersection of art and conscience.  Written with style and conviction, his new work is a “must read” for those searching for an ethical fulcrum from which to nurture equity, justice and human security.


Prophetic Activist Art brings together medieval conceptions of prophecy, art's historic purpose to raise the human gaze to our highest spirit  and the contemporary "cult of the individual," to propose a mysticism of action, with art as the regenerating force.  This theory moves beyond using activist art simply to shock the audience, or raise awareness of social issues, to providing specific and quantifiable social change.  


This short treatise, part manifesto, part handbook, outlines a vision of how artists can use their talents to infuse a moral center into the public worlds of politics, the media and advertising, thereby introducing prophetic inspiration into the general society.  The author outlines specific manners of using art to inspire quantifiable positive social change, believing that contemporary mysticism must be expressed as action.


Mr. Block concludes that Prophetic Activist Art offers a rejuvenation of creativity’s historic purpose, for our era.  Here lies the nexus of prophetic inspiration and the contemporary artist’s studio.  This book is based in his belief that art has had a historic role in helping humankind reach our greatest spiritual potential, and that Prophetic Activist Art provides one manner of reconsidering that role for our era.


Hardly a theory that emerged out of thin air, it grows out of Mr. Block’s more than two decades of activist artwork.  His activism includes being the founding producer of the Amnesty International Human Rights Art Festival (2010; MD); creator of the more than decade-long Human Rights Painting Project,

in conjunction with Amnesty International; the multi-media Shalom/Salaam Project, the Cousins Public Art Project and other activist artwork.


Mr. Block has also worked in conjunction with the Irish Centre for Human Rights; as a Research Fellow at the DePaul University International Human Rights Law Institute, where he produced an activist art festival entitled: "Iraq History Project,"  and as a keynote speaker at a conference in Scotland (2011) entitled: "Kandinsky in Govan: Art, Spirituality & the Future."


He has spoken about his theories of using art as an activist tool at conferences and universities, including: Al-Azhar University(Cairo), Irish Centre for Human Rights (Galway, Ireland), DePaul University (IL), Villanova University (PA), Xavier University(OH), University of Arkansas (AR), Ohio University (OH), Fetzer Institute (MI), Manhattan College (NY), Vanderbilt University(TN), University of Calgary  (Canada), Institute of Art (Birmingham, England), Emory University (GA), Columbia University (NY),Middlebury College (VT), American Popular Culture AssociationMid Atlantic Popular Culture AssociationInternational Peace Research Association and at other universities and conferences around the world.


His first book, “Shalom/Salaam: A Story of a Mystical Fraternity,” which traces the influence of Sufism (Islamic mysticism) on the direction of Jewish spirituality over the course of 1000 years, was published in 2010 in the USA (Fons Vitae, Louisville, KY) and Turkey (Bilim Artı Gönül Yayıncılık Ltd. Şti., Istanbul).  “A Fatal Addiction: War in the Name of God,” examining the link between religion and violence, was published in 2012 by Algora Publisher (NY) and “Machiavelli in America,” looking at the spiritually-desiccated nature of American politics, was published this past April by Algora Publisher (NY).  Also a playwright, Mr. Block has had numerous plays produced in both New York and Washington DC.