The Importance of Abolitionist Art
Social movements have long been agitated in part by art. Sevenly was created to help contribute to the role of a new form of artistic expression, what we called “cause art,” to help create conversation and raise funding and awareness for the world’s greatest causes.
The power of cause art has been seen in many ways throughout history, but perhaps never more than in the Abolitionist Movement led by William Wilberforce in the 1700’s. Wilberforce was a determined crusader in Parliament to end the global slave trade. He gave his life to the cause.
Helping him along the way were fellow Abolitionists and artisans named Josiah Wedgwood and Thomas Clarkson. Wedgwood mass-produced cameos depicting the seal for the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade and had them widely distributed, which thereby became a popular and celebrated image in British culture.
The Wedgwood medallion was the most famous image of a black person in all of 18th-century art. From 1787 until his death in 1795, Wedgwood actively participated in the abolition of slavery cause, and his Slave Medallion brought public attention to the Abolitionist movement. It created conversation everywhere.
Thomas Clarkson wrote that "ladies wore them in bracelets, and others had them fitted up in an ornamental manner as pins for their hair. At length the taste for wearing them became general, and thus fashion, which usually confines itself to worthless things, was seen for once in the honorable office of promoting the cause of justice, humanity and freedom".
The design on the medallion became popular and was used elsewhere: large-scale copies were painted to hang on walls and it was used even on clay tobacco pipes.
So, our new Abolitionist Collection celebrates these stories of artists past, and anticipates opportunities for us to create our own cause art movements, together, to likewise promote “the cause of justice, humanity and freedom!
Check out the collection at https://www.sevenly.org/collections/stop-trafficking