How Art + Technology Can Change the World

“Art is not a mirror held up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.” – Vladmir Mayakovsky

(Drue Kataoka with Y&R Global CEO David Sable and Public Relations Associate Olivia Chamberlain) 

For centuries art has been a powerful tool and vehicle of communication, drawing attention to pressing social issues and ushering change. Today technology also plays a greater role. We only need to look so far as our mobile phones to see the sweeping impact of digital tools and their influence on our world.

It’s at this intersection of art and technology that Drue Kataoka has emerged as an influential contemporary artist. Based in Silicon Valley, she is passionate about social impact and the crucial role art and technology play in driving social progress.

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From infant mortality to environmental issues, sexual assault and gender equality, Katakoa has tackled hard issues with fierce determination and innovative applications of technology. In her work, Japanese ink paintings meet brainwaves, time dilation, anti-gravity, mobile technology and more. Kataoka believes that art can help frame and articulate these social issues, and engage the public in profound ways.

Earlier this year, Kataoka’s work landed her at the Democratic National Convention as an honored guest of Hillary Clinton and her campaign. Kataoka designed a poster titled “Now Is the Time” originally as a gift to Clinton volunteers in the Bay area – a tribute to Clinton’s historic bid to become the nation’s first-ever female president. The image featured a prominent blue hourglass filled with historic female “firsts” such as the first woman to receive a US patent, the first woman to win an Academy Award, and the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. At the top of the hourglass, still in progress, the words ‘First Woman President of the United States of America’ hovered. Her work became so widely circulated that it caught the attention of the candidate herself. Kataoka explained that one of the original goals of the image was to make US women’s history more visible. Her most recent development on the project features an online app ( that is an interactive version of the image. It is designed to highlight historic achievements, everyday achievements and everything in between, allowing users to add their own firsts and create a personalized image they can download and share on social media.

Of course, this was not Kataoka’s first brush with prominent figures. As a Young Global Leader & Cultural Leader of the World Economic Forum, Kataoka delivered presentations that stressed not only the importance of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) – but rather, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS and Math). As an artist working in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of technology, she stressed the value and importance of experimentation and play when artists and technologists interact and communicate. “Sometimes technologists don’t even know the full ramifications of what they’ve built. Artists like to infuse humanity, and bend things to an artistic purpose, and stretch things in ways they may not have been intended,” she said. She argued that tapping into the tremendous power of innovation requires both creativity and technology.

“We need to bring those disciplines together and not separate them,” she urged. Moving forward means cultivating and celebrating careers at the intersection and giving diverse, young hybrid thinkers the opportunities to take on cross sector problems.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Drue to chat about her work, the inspiration behind it and her insights about the world of art and technology. You can check out the full video below: