Blog for April 12, 2011

Jayme Walker

Last Tuesday’s class was really important to me because it helped me to understand feminism a lot better, especially in relation to art and our course topics. Starting class with the DVD segment about Ida Applebroog allowed me to see how confusing feminism can be. The powerpoint and class discussions following the DVD, however, helped me to clear up my confusion and above all, the class as a whole proved to be extremely beneficial to me as a learner.

I enjoyed learning about the feminist movement and feminist art and how both are often misunderstood by mainstream culture. In a world where we tend to generalize and categorize, it is extremely important to understand that it is way more complex. For example, even though Applebroog doesn’t claim her art as “feminist art”, many tend to categorize it as such. All in all, it depends how you look at her art and the assumptions that you make based on your personal knowledge and beliefs. However, as we discussed, Applebroog was not trying to perpetuate feminist art, she simply wanted to be herself. (Which I feel is one of the most important things about her!)

The powerpoint about feminist art in the early years (1960’s – 1970’s) was extremely helpful for me in terms of understanding feminism in a more historical sense. Understanding what was happening in the U.S. at the time helped me to understand feminism and how the feminist movement started, as well as feminism in relation to art’s departure from modernism. Clearly, the feminist movement and art’s departure from modernism were occurring within times of extreme change, posing opportunities for everyone to experience at least some form of change. What I liked most from our lesson last Tuesday was learning that feminism is about having a choice. Simply looking at feminism as having the opportunity to have “choice”, I’m almost certain that just about everyone can relate and or support the idea of choice.

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The Power of Feminist Art pages 10-31 and 130-139

Sarah Rose

I believe that the quote, “From the early 1970s, feminist artists understood their task to be, in the words of Lisa Tickner, ‘the de-colonizing of the female body,’ reclaiming it from masculine objectification,” (22) is a very complex sentence that could mean numerous different things, based on what is presented in the text. To me this statement is explaining how female artists are trying to be true to themselves and no longer try to mold to the standards set for them by males. “Artists such as Faith Ringgold, Adrian Piper, and Eleanor Antin sought to reclaim women’s bodies from the societal straitjacket of sex-objecthood trough semiplayful exploitation of dieting and fasting, ways in which social expectations literally shaped the female body,” (22). They as women are tired of being viewed as objects or even in a particular role, such as housewife. They wanted to show women have ideas and opinions and they have more use then just being pretty and they did this through performances, paintings, and many different types of art. As quoted by Judy Chicago, “the agenda for women artists was ‘to transform our circumstances into our subject matter… to use them to reveal the whole nature of the human condition,’” (22).  Feminists artists claim that the “personal is political,” in many ways. I believe the women realized that issues they were having in their personal lives were issues many women experienced and so it became a societal or political problem, “…As if only by exploring the shared, collective ‘circumstances’ of women could individual women come to understand themselves as human beings,” (22).  I believe that the quote above could have been used to describe the struggle African American artist’s face. They too have been, and are still, trying to break out of a view society has on them. They wanted to become independent from any stereotypes put on them by society.

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Twentieth-Century America: The Evolution of a Black Aesthetic (p.183-216)

Lacey DeAngelis

Chapter four of African-American Art talks about many African- American artists from the 60’s and 70’s that expressed their political beliefs and human rights through their artworks. The beginning of the chapter states that the United States in 1960’s had “social disruption and violence” happened “as a result to two issues in particular: the failure to make progress on the integration of black Americans as equal citizens and the waging of an unpopular war in Vietnam.” (p.183) Many of the artists used these issues in their artworks and expressed their feelings and emotions towards the issues. For example, the chapter mentions many African-American artists that use the Civil Rights movement within their artworks to express “their political sentiments in art, for them race and politics were inextricably linked…” (p.190) On page 190, the artist Charles White is mentioned because he is an African American artist that used anger and showed homage to the children victims of a racial hate crime in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960’s. This artist stuck out to me not only because he uses incidents from the civil rights movement within his artwork, but because he is one of the artists that I liked from the Chelsea Galleries in New York City. Other artist like Benny Andrews helped change the way African-American artwork was depicted. He was an activist and a painter that established the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC) in 1969. Andrews along with Cliff Joseph, “picketed the major art museums with other artists’ groups… to protest about the exclusion of racial and ethnic minorities from exhibitions and employment, and the under-representation of women.” (p.191) Andrew was an activist, but also a painter that reflected the social tensions within American during this time period. In his artwork the Champion, Andrew shows the strength of a black through painting a prizefighter. During this time, boxing was one of few professional sports which African Americans could play in. “Boxing… was seen as a means to escape poverty; boxers Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali became black heroes.”(p.192) Andrews didn’t want to be known as a “black artist”, but curators at the time would only consider his artworks dealing with black people for African-American exhibitions and none of his paintings he had done of whites. Overall, this chapter thus far has taught me a lot more about how African American artists were restricted throughout the Civil Rights period in time and how artwork and artists depicted this restriction in society.

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Gomez-Pena

The two quotes mentioned in the blog prompt for the Gomez-Pena reading have a very deep meaning in the contexts of education. The first quote mentioned, “to observe a new world with new eyes” was a very simple yet moving ideology. My initial thoughts of the quote before reading the text was that before we are taught to comprehend and to think critically we view things for what they are. After one is educated and able to understand, they can then perceive the things they see not only as what they are, but what they could be or what they can be used for. An educated mind sees the world in an all new perspective. They can analyze and come up with ideas for themselves.

The second quote, “The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows” required some more critical thinking on my part to decipher. I honestly thought of reflection at first when the mirror was mentioned. I believe this was so because of the deep reflection that is required of us in NCC to understand everything that is observed. I later realized that the mirrors represent a barrier preventing oneself to fully understand something. These barriers can only be broken through being able to process the information and look beyond the mirror creating a window.

In the text there is a line that says, “We are now allegedly installed in a fully globalized, post-racial, post-racist, post-sexist, post-ideological, post-civil rights era, and anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly out of touch with the times.” This statement addresses all the issues that occurred throughout history. These are many problems that are thought to have been resolved, but are still rights that are fought over today. We may be the closest to equality that we have been, but these issues need to be continuously argued and pushed upfront so that change can occur.

Lastly, the new perspective that was given to me during the NY trip was the gay rights battle for marriage. I met two drag queens in Times Square who were protesting for the right to be married in the United States. To actually meet them and to hear their perspectives for myself was an entirely different experience than learning about it in class. I can now see and understand how they feel about the subject and what burdens they have to live with daily for doing what feels right to them.

-Austin Smith

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Mixed Blessings “Turning Around”

Jayme Walker- Mixed Blessings Chapter Five – “Turning Around”

While reading Chapter Five, “Turning Around” from Mixed Blessings, I highlighted the quote “Irony, humor, and subversion are the most common guises and disguises of those artists leaping out of the melting pot into the fire” because I thought it did a great job of summing up the chapter in terms of helping readers to understand how artists of oppression and resistance often incorporate irony, humor, and subversion into their artwork to resist assimilation or “ponderous mechanisms set up to ‘keep them in their place.’” Specifically addressing irony and subversion, Lippard writes “Irony and subversion are used strategically to connect past, present, and future without limiting art or audience to one time or place,” to address the idea of “Turning Around, Lippard writes, “Turning around is sometimes just that: the simple (and not so simple) reversal of an accepted image.”

As a person who is often sarcastic, I found it very interesting to learn how sarcasm and humor can be incorporated in art to achieve an intended purpose. “A deceptively gentle sarcasm is revealed as a weapon for the long haul. It allows apparently decorative elements to pass as such, even when they shelter more profound meanings.” It is amazing to me how many different human emotions and characteristics can be channeled into an artist’s work, and also, how interesting it is to interpret artwork because one piece of art can be so many different things depending on the person viewing the art.

An ironic example that I found intriguing while reading is on page 220 and discusses how “Alienation is both a source, but also a byproduct of the ironic project. The mirrors held up in much contemporary art by visual ironists reflect and reverse not only the images of the oppressor or the unworthy idol, but those of the artist’s own self and/or community.” An example that I feel fits great into the category of irony is a performance piece by Lorraine O’Grady.“Lorraine O’Grady’s 1980 guerrilla performance of Mlle. Bourgeoise noire 1955, for instance, enhanced the event it protested, even as her message came across. She intervened at the opening of an all white ‘Persona’ exhibition at New York’’s New Museum and turned out in a tiara and debutante’s gown made entirely of long white gloves, flagellating herself with a white-glove cat-o’-nine-tails, and protesting, “That’s Enough! No more boot-licking, No more ass-kissing, No more buttering-up . . . . BLACK ART MUST TAKE MORE RISKS!” However, on the other hand, O’Grady’s performance also demonstrated how alienation could also be viewed as a positive force, which in fact resists the idea of the melting pot. Embracing the idea of how “real humanity of people is understood through cultural differences rather than cultural similarities.”

While reading, something I found even more powerful about the idea of alienation and the melting pot is how “Children of the dominant culture are rarely give the opportunity to know the world as others know it. Therefore they come to believe that there is only one world, one reality, one truth – the one they personally know; and they are inclined to dismiss all other worlds as illusions.” This quote really stood out to me because I believe that it is very true and representative of a majority of our society, who lack the exposure and education about different cultures and ways of life, therefore, making it difficult for them to live their lives with the understanding and appreciation of different cultures. As a future teacher, this truly disheartened me, however, it also inspired me to be sure that I do my best to incorporate the significance and importance of diversity in my future classrooms.

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Mixed Blessings “Mixing”

Sarah Rose

I believe that the collaboration between Tim Rollins and the Kids of Survival (KOS) worked because they were all fighting for something they believed in. Rollins seemed to care about expressing himself though art and educational equality. He helped found Group Material, where a group of artists created collaborative art, “innocently combining so-called high and low arts, well-known and unknown, trained and untrained artists, ‘originals’ and mass-reproduced images,” (168). This shows his passion for art and I think he wanted to show people how diverse it can be, it also shows he knew the importance of mixing art and working together. He also cared about educating the underprivileged. He worked in “Learning to Read through the Arts” (168) programs and became an art teacher, being a prospective teacher myself; I know most people become teacher to really make a difference in their students’ lives. The KOS I feel have the same goals as Rollins, to educate themselves by reading many different books like, Alice in Wonderland and Moby Dick as well as trying to express themselves, “We have a chance to make a statement, and for people our age, this is a big chance,” (169).  So I feel the alliance of these two groups works because they are working toward a common goal. They all want to better the members of KOS’ education and give them a voice, as well as create art that is inspirational to others. I thinks Rollins’ story in the chapter really sums up mixing, “…cultural and even esthetic mixtures and collaborations, introducing a full spectrum of contradictory decisions about identifying change,” (151). This story explains mixtures of art pieces to create something new, as well as a mixture of culturally diverse people creating the art together. This group is very different but mixing and collaborating their beliefs and ideas to create something inspirational. Perhaps another reason there partnership worked so well was because Rollins and KOS both could relate to each other.  They may have both felt disconnected with their culture or social standing. “…many artists are trying to form a new hybrid cultural identity and to locate themselves therein,” (151). Maybe being outsiders in their own worlds was enough to connect them, despite how different they were from each other. I feel like this type of collaboration could work in any arena, as long as everyone is working toward a common goal. I feel like if this mixing was done more people would be far less ignorant of others and we could become more open and understanding as a society.

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Mixed Blessings “Landing”

Lacey DeAngelis

Is land a geographic term that we use to describe the grass, soil, and other components on top of the Earth that isn’t covered with water? In literal terms, yes, but in Chapter three of Mixed Blessings Lucy Lippard describes the term “landing” in a much deeply thought out way. She states that, “the landing process is not always a matter of geographical turf, nor of coming to rest; it can be equally a process of change, of being sent away or of ‘taking off’ on a quest for home that may never be satisfied.” (p.105) Therefore, the author is saying that landing is not only a term to describe something stopping; it is a term in the art world and in many cultures that can represent their lost cultural history, including the land they once called home. For example, the Lippard talks about Native Americans and how landing is “a concept fraught with ambivalence.” (p.105) Many Native Americans have trouble finding their “home lands”, because they live in two places at a time. They go from living on reservations to living back in the cities. Therefore, the Native Americans are forced to reinvent themselves to terms “that history has inserted between their loss and their roots.” (p.106) This reinvention is reflected through many of Native American artworks, including Jean LaMarr’s, They’re Going to Dump It Where?!? LaMarr shows the two sides of a contemporary Paiute woman, having her wear flowers on her shawl to represent the traditional naming of woman after flowers, but also a modern day dress and sunglasses. The background of the monoprint is “dotted with ancient petroglyphs… the prints refer to the destruction of Indian lands and sacred sites in favor of lucrative bud ultimately destructive technology.” (p.107) The destructive technology refers to the reflection on the sunglasses, which is a nuclear power plant on sacred land in California named Diablo Canyon getting struck by lightning.

When I saw this photo and read more about the cultural land the artwork comes from, I wanted to look up more to learn about this artist. I had never heard of LaMarr and really liked how she incorporated her heritage and the lost of her people’s sacred land in her artwork. So, I decided to Google her. Jean Lamarr is a female, Paiute and Pit River artist. As a child, she grew up in a town that was racist and didn’t have much of cultural history incorporated in their activities. I found an interview of Lamarr on www.culturalsurvival.org that stated that her school had her paint “a mural of Sir Francis Drake christening the Indians, the Indians bowing down to him.” This may be one reason why Lamarr’s work focuses on her heritage. She also stated that she likes to do murals and print-making, because these types of art can be seen by communities, giving people insight about the indigenous people that have live on that land for a long period of time and how through their homeland has became destroyed by certain types technology. Lamarr makes her artwork more for the “landing” aspect, showing the change of her cultural people and their homeland.

In chapter three of Mixed Blessings, Lippard also mentions the relationship between land and religions. Many religions have traveled all across the oceans to make many religions international. Lippard states, “even those religious that have been carried across oceans and around the world bear the imprint of their original places- not necessarily in traceable iconography, but in the submerged rhythms and patterns that served the land itself and the sprits that inhabit it.” (p.108) This is can be seen in many religions including Christianity and Islam. These two religions are different, but are religions that have formed in different parts of the world, but can be seen today living on the same land as each other. Each religion and cultural have transformed somewhat over time, with social equalities, but have kept their traditional beliefs within the changing societies. I found it interesting to hear about the challenges and decisions that people within these religions go through to represent their cultural beliefs wherever they live.

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