Monday, March 21, 2011

Blog #6

Blog prompt for 3/22/11.

No specific question for this blog prompt. Simply respond in some meaningful way to the text and see what connections you can make to things we have talked about in class

“In the 1960s Andrews refused to let curator’s pigeon-hole him as a ‘black artist’ i.e. an artist only interested in African-American subject matter and overt African designs. This limited his access to the mainstream market.” This statement reminds me about the first few days of our course when we discussed the overall theme of identity and claiming a space. Andrews is clearly stating that he is not to only be regarded as a ‘black artist’, which according to the text is an art that, “usually realist style-which stemmed from a strong nationalistic base, and encompassed historical events, heroes, and ideas. It identified the ‘enemy’ using contemporary political and social events, and involved anticipating a better future after the ‘struggle’.” Andrews makes a stand to overcome the claiming of the identity of a ‘black artist’, but then as author Sharon Patton suggests that Andrews was unable to profit a few years later. Because the tide change in 1966 caused black images from African-American artists to be viewed as fashionable.

An artist that is a great example of black art is Vincent Smith, Smith’s most famous piece is the Negotiating Commission for Amnesty (1972). Smith “portrayed a universal humanism in the context of modern black life and culture, expressing his beliefs on social justice.” Page 197 Faith Ringgold was also a popular name mentioned throughout our reading. Ringgold was an extremely big artist and advocate because she “used her art to voice her dissatisfaction with racism and gender inequality, and the absence of the black image and subject-matter in contemporary art. She really helped outside of her art and helped in finding the Women’s Group, Where We At. Her reason for forming this group was from rejection and male dominated group in which she was excluded. It’s enlightening to read about artists that not only produce such inspiring art, but also go out into their community and culture to make a difference. Her story seems similar to the one we watched a movie on and read about Tim Rollins, and his ability to make a difference in lives.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blog Post 5

 This week's blog prompt will involve providing examples for two important metaphors that relate to your education and to the art we are studying. In the opening pages of the Gomez-Pena piece, he says he is attempting to "observe a new world with new eyes." One of my colleagues has the following quotation by Sydney J. Harris on her email signature: "The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows." Please respond to these two quotations by providing examples in this week's text AND anything from the NY trip or our class discussions that you think are examples of observing a new world with new eyes AND turning mirrors into windows." 

I really like Gomez-Pena's approach at "observing the world with new eyes." For me, this is all about shifting focus and understanding so that we can get to the heart of experiences and issues. Gomez-Pena is creatively and blatantly sharing the ways that he sees the shifts in the current global culture. He isn't judging them (as he says), but he is sharing them for what they are. Once he names what's happening, we're able to move a step deeper. At the end of his essay, he provides some ways that questions can be re framed to explore a phenomenon (problem, trend, whatever) more deeply. When we shift and look at something in a different way, with a different focus, this affects the action that we take. I really loved a lot of the statements that Gomez-Pena made in this essay, and it's clear to me that he is really questioning how he can continue to be effective with his art. I think that he was unable to carry on with his work without stepping back and going back to basics with this piece, because things ARE changing, and it wouldn't make sense to carry on without recognizing this shift. 

I can definitely see evidence for his statement that artists are having to wrack their brains to find ways to engage their audiences, now that (privileged) audiences have so much at their fingertips and are harder to please. I think that people are looking for an experience, so artists are shifting to that realm. Krzysztof Wodiczko's "OUT OF HERE: The Veterans Project" felt like exactly that; it provided an experience that I could engage in to shift my focus and see the experience with new eyes.

I also agree that one purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. It again goes back to needing to go deeper. If we only rely on our own experiences, we end up with completely internal knowledge, and it's very easy to filter experiences through knowledge base. We all do it, and it's how we make sense of the world. We don't grow, and we don't learn if we stay in our comfort zone. A step has to be taken to get past the "mirrors" of our own experiences (though this is valuable knowledge, to be sure) and also be able to grasp the experience of the world from another's perspective. We can't be compassionate without taking that step (which I think Gomez-Pena points to in his essay.)

I can't quite explain how this connects to the prompt, but I really love this quote from the text. "What certainty do we have that our high definition reflection won't devour us from the inside out and turn us into the very stylized freaks we are attempting to deconstruct? And if we are interested in performing for nonspecialized audiences, what certainty do we have that they won't misinterpret our "radical" actions and hyperethnicized bodies as merely spectacles of radicalism or stylized hybridity?" (pp. 14)  This is a perfect example of how complex and how difficult identity, creativity, and power are. Over the past few years, I have felt a  strong focus towards my ability to define identity and experience by my own terms, and have repeatedly run into this same sentiment. How do I insure that misinterpretation won't happen? Especially with art, something that cannot be completely explained and relies (maybe?) on the interpretation of the audience, is that risk of misinterpretation just something that comes along with sharing a message?