Art and Politics - The Role of an Artist
Artists have been intertwined with politics ever since the first realization that image conveyed power. From the monolithic constructions of our ancestors to the photoshopped images of celebrities and models today, images - and the artists behind them - control an underestimated degree of power. For that reason, artists have found themselves with greater interconnectivity to politics as the political landscape towards art has changed and developed, and how technology has impacted artists ability to disseminate their messages through their images.
However - with that newfound ability - comes greater tension on the role of the artist. For some, political activism is the crux of their work, but others also have become inadvertent activists - as their exploration of personal themes form a basis of protest for key issues. Thus we find artists with no initial connection to politics creating works cited by some to be key insights on particular topics as we see with Chagoya - whose works increased in popularity due to a focal change on issues over time. In a sense, we begin to see the politicization of the arts transforming simple drawers and painters to political activists - or at least in our eyes.
However, is this the inevitable destiny of an artist? Are the days of decorators, painters, and sketchers gone in favor of paragons of politics? The answer is likely no. Artists can do as they please, however, they just have to realize that their work may be politicized - no matter their intent.
Exhibition as Experience
My experience is quite different this time around in that it's not an exhibition that I visited in the sense of visiting an exhibition, but it's focused on my time developing and creating an exhibition myself that was on display at the VMFA. Starting last fall, I was part of a VMFA program called the Museum Leaders in Training (MLiT) Program. The main part of that experience was developing an Exhibition for the VMFA to be displayed at the Art Education Center. The program was then divided into four different groups each focusing on an aspect of the group-selected theme - VMFA: Beneath the Surface. My particular group was tasked with exploring the history of a particular statue and the chronology it undertook before its display. We selected the Statue of Septimius Severus and traced its history from Italy to New York to Richmond. We then also detailed the various facets of the museum involved in helping the statue get to display. When we finished we had our own wall detailing our research in an accessible exhibition, Overall, that experience allowed me to understand better the intricacies behind exhibitions and the extent of work required to make them work. The show hung from December to April.
The Art of the Word
I swear Ed Ruscha stole my ideas and time travelled back to the past to act like he came up with it first. But seriously, I don't think an artist has captured my artistic vision as completely and accurately as Ed Ruscha. This is exactly the type of work that my art has begun to transform into. I'm particularly intrigued by his use of fonts and their clean edges. A likely divergence that my art will likely take from his though is the use of images behind the words. I'm inclined to paint the backgrounds as well in comparison to the photographic nature of his works. A big question that I probably need to research further then is where did he obtain his images. I wonder if he is also partly a photographer or did he appropriate the background images. Howevere, overall, I'm particularly impressed by the synergy we both seem to share.
To Font or Not To Font
What really attracts me to Jenny Holzer's work is the seeming romanticism and confessional style that her words project. It's something that I've also pondered doing with my work. Combining literature that I make with the art that I create would be a great fusion of my body of work. I also really love the size that Holzer works with. Projecting these large phrases or displaying them prominently really captures ones attention. I specifically love that juxtaposition between public setting and private subject matter. It almost seems you're in a little secret despite the fact that everyone else around you is part of that secret. It's a little nerve-wracking though thinking how vulnerable art like this is for the artist. She's basically baring her soul for everyone to witness, which I'm unsure I have the confidence to do yet.
Attached paper piece onto panel I serendipitously found that's the same size as my work.
“The basis of art is truth, both in matter and in mode.”