Mixed Blessings “Telling”

Austin Smith

No matter the type of art, the race or cultural background of the artist, a piece of artwork is always attempting to get a point or message across. This message that the artist strives for can also be referred to as the “telling” aspect, as covered in the Mixed Blessings text. I was not always aware that there was a message in a work of art. This may have contributed to my lack of interest growing up as a child. The beginning of the chapter had this statement which lingered in my thoughts as I read through the chapter. “Telling—the process of understanding and drawing from one’s distinguished past, one’s cultural history, beliefs, and values—is distinguished here from the socialized topsoil of naming.” This lingered mostly because it gave me an insight to the many factors that have to be considered while attempting to understand art.  While reading on I attempted to use these theories while reading about Houston Conwill. Houston Conwill combined both African religions and mythologies with a perspective of a Catholic upbringing. This is remarkable to me from the start because of my knowledge of Catholics generally are and how strict they can be considered when comparing them to other religions. Using the theology of “Telling” I tried to understand why a man would try to make such a connection. He thought that singing and drawing were the pint of connection and used this to go beyond an initial thought or reaction to the artwork. After hearing of his doings I attempted to analyze his reasoning. My analysis was that he connected something so different and controversial so that it could tell a story which would reflect in a real world setting. It was to show that even people of different backgrounds could ultimately find something in common and compliment on it to become something more than men who have to live with one another. The only way for something as controversial as segregation to be diminished would be through the process of understanding and uniting. It was a message that yes men are different, but that is no reason to find where men are alike, and to take the best of both to create a society that no man has ever seen. I believe through my interpretation that Houston Conwill was a man of peace, and told this story through his connections. I believe every artist tells a story, and I look forward to digging deeper and trying to develop an eye for spotting connections.



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Judy Chicago Intro

Jayme Walker

Sarah Rose

Lacey DeAngelis

Austin Smith

Judy Chicago was born Judith Cohen on July 20, 1939 in Chicago, IL. Chicago knew she wanted to be an artist from a very early age and moved to Los Angeles, California to study Art at UCLA in 1957, which is where she got the nickname Judy Chicago. She also attained her masters in painting and sculpture at UCLA. She started out her art career with the Minimalism movement. This movement included various forms of art, like visual art and music, which is where artists would strip their works down to the most basic features. She explored color by reducing geometric shapes, using sculptures, paintings, and drawings. Chicago eventually left this type of art to get involved in what she believed to have more significance.

In the seventies Chicago got involved working with Feminist Art, exploring and demonstrating woman’s rights to freedom of expression. She helped found the Feminist Art program at the California Institute of the Arts, which is where the first installation artwork that demonstrated the female point of view in art overtly.  Judy Chicago’s work with Feminist Art helped many other artist and woman into the Feminist Art movement in the 70’s. Many of Chicago’s artworks lead powerful statements about women’s rights. Along with being a successful artist and teacher, Chicago also is the author of several very popular books. Chicago has broken some barriers of how woman are perceived in the art world and lead to social change.

One piece of art Chicago is probably best known for is The Dinner Party. She created this piece, with the help of many volunteers, because she felt that women in history were not recognized and honored the way men were. It is suggested that this piece may have been created as a reinterpretation of The Last Supper, where women would be recognized. It is a triangular table with 39 place settings; every setting represents a different important woman in history. There are also another 999 names on the floor of other women who have made significant contributions throughout history.






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