Powerful and persuasive, art can have a social function, challenging our understanding of the world in which we live and how we operate within it. Artists are reflectors, translators, and mediators of societal issues, including racial and gender equality, civil rights, sexual politics, cultural and social identity, and globalization. Often driven by personal convictions, artists at times create works that act as windows, providing insight and focus on complex subjects, offering unique interpretations, and raising difficult questions for the viewer.

In Tulsa, for example, photographer Larry Clark documents his own violent, drug- and sex-fueled world. This harrowing photo collection, taken between 1963 and 1971, is a time capsule of his personal experiences, but one that resonates with the aimless drug use and violence in the United States today.

Other artists in Art as Social Commentary include Vito Acconci, Sarah Emerson, Keith Haring, Tom Otterness, Angela Strassheim, and Kara Walker, among others.