Changing the World One Art Project at a Time

Social practice is considered a form of public art because it is a visual representation of social formations in the public sphere.  It is a commitment to change, and so is art.  It helps us believe more in art and the creators.

Project One

Name:Homeless Remembrance Project (Tree of Life & Leaves of Remembrance)

Where: Seattle, Washington, USA, North America


Description: There is a bronze tree in Seattle that commemorates the victims rather than heroes.  The monument is extended throughout the city with the Leaves in order to have a full impact on the community.  The memorial is in honor of the homeless people in the city and especially those who have died.

Why It Deserves to Win:  Just reading the description made me rethink every thought I’ve had about the homeless people on Green Street.  I love the idea of it being extended throughout the city “as if scattered by the wind, serving as an enduring public testimony to the inherent humanity of homeless people.”

Project Two

Name: Ghetto Biennale

Where: Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Central America


Description: This project extends help and opportunities to the artists of Haiti in order to provide access to new concepts, people, and materials.

Why It Deserves to Win: I have a cousin who is living in Haiti and have experienced firsthand the struggles of the caged artists in this country.  With the help of an outside source, like this project, they will be able to possibly make more money for their works and therefore be less impoverished than they are now.

Project Three

Name: The Pallet Pavillion

Where: Christchurch City, New Zealand


Description: This was a temporary structure that was built out of 3000 pallets by volunteers to create a event venue.  It is visually engaging and dynamic.  It was built in a post disaster city.

Why It Deserves to Win: This idea could be put into great use in other disaster-stricken areas.  It gives a sense of accomplishment to the community and helps them see that not everything is lost.


Making a Statement

art is dangerous 1art is dangerous 6art is dangerous 5art is dangerous 4art is dangerous 3art is dangerous 2

The clever designer of these advertisements plays with the idea of social activism and art, but in a reversed way.  They portray art as the thing that is an unacceptable experience instead of having art portray what is unacceptable about society.

Art has always played a strong role in political and social activism.  Graffiti has been used for years to express discontent with a higher power.  Street artists pave the road of unhappiness and displeasure with their symbols of resistance.  Music is intended to unite groups of unsettled peoples whereas visual art stands out on its own.  Both, however, have been very influential in the social world we live in.

All art can be considered to be social activist art.  It is the art that is purposely made to represent the activist culture is considered propaganda.  My favorite example of art/propaganda from the readings is the one entitled Question Authority.  It has such an empowered view.  I love the slogan printed on it: “By the people for the people?”  The question mark really makes this slogan that much more powerful.  This specific piece falls into the propaganda idea.  It was consciously made to be a political protest.

Interventionist art refers to a situation in which artists create art in a public space and then use the intrigue the work generates to start difficult conversations about controversial issues.

The artists mentioned in the articles used art as their weapon.  They made a bold statement and people responded accordingly.  The artists made an impression on the people and therefore the higher powers that be, even though it did not change the political climate of Wisconsin.

[A]ll art is uncommitted crime.

The Art of War

The most inspiring works of art tend to come from times of distress and unrest.  YZ and her “Amazone” work is no exception.  The artist turned something brutal and forceful into beautiful and powerful.  She played greatly with the concept of gender roles.  Her works on the side of buildings in West Africa were so wonderfully placed giving them that much more of an impact on the society they were dropped into.  The idea of women in a position of power in these societies is almost unheard of.  This speaks wonders for the history behind them as well.  These women were so forceful and brutal yet she creates a serene and beautiful portrayal of them that makes them seem almost harmless.  They seem to contradict themselves.

The image I chose strongly reflects the idea of gender and society.  It was used to gain momentum for women to help with the war effort in more ways than just collecting scrap metal or growing victory gardens.  It encouraged women to join the work force and help out in a better way, break the stereotypes so to speak.

In the second article, Mallonee describes three factors that lead to the revitalization of the art of woodblock publishing.  These include:

1. Japan fought China with naval and land battles that lead to new subject matter.

2. There was high intrigue and demand for such artwork world wide.

3. Japan repealed a strict law that forbid artists from depicting current events.

I found the images from the first article very intriguing with their play in history and gender.  The images from the second article were interesting with their vivid colors; it almost seemed to promote the idea of war and glorify the effects.  The idea of making something so depressing and violent into something vivid and lively peaks my curiosity to an interesting level.  I have never thought of these situations from the perspective of the artists discussed in these articles.  I think I like it…

Boom, Boom! Fire Power!

Art is a very powerful thing. It can influence people to do all types of different things.  This article that was assigned in particular discusses the “power of artists through their ideas as authors” (p. 1).  This, to me, gave the impression that artists are very influential in every day life and can manipulate people’s emotions simply through a color choice perhaps.

The article relates the concepts of art and power with an exploration of different works of art.  Also, the topic is approached through discussion of contemporary art and artistic spaces.

Duchamp, for example uses his Ready Made piece to transform something we could see everyday to something almost majestic through something as simple as the signature he inscribes upon it, R. Mutt.  I mean, talk about power!  A few simple brush strokes and he has transformed the way we look at something so ordinary.  He turned it into something of value.  That’s impressive.

I completely agree that contemporary art receives much of its adoration from the idea of the power it possesses.  Think about it.  Much of modern art would be meaningless if the artists who designed and created them didn’t put thought into all the aspects of what they could symbolize.  Good contemporary art has to have that symbolism just as a credible novel has to have a steady plot and heavy connotation.  It wouldn’t be quality art without some sort of meaning in the outside world.

Smile Pretty for the Camera

According to the article by Dawn Chan, video games are gaining popularity in contemporary art.  This is because it is accessible to young viewers.  They are immersed in a culture that heavily relies on entertainment in the form of moving shapes and colors on a screen.  I agree with Chan when she says that videos games are so popular because they present a challenge that is difficult but not impossible.  Gamers feel the need to overpower the screen in front of them in order to feel smart or generally good about themselves.  It’s like an addiction for some people to feel this way.

According to the video, the most significant evolution in photography was color technology.  Though questioned at first, it was eventually taken on as the new standard of photos after WWII.  Because photography is so readily accessible to any person with a camera on their cell phone, I think photography is highly underrated.  The selfie culture has started to give a bad name to photography.  However, images can be so cool if the taker knows how to manipulate the subject and camera.

According to Wendell Berry, there is a huge difference between a professional photographer and one who takes pictures to document that the beach does still in fact have sand, water, and far too many people.  I could not agree more with Berry.  Professional photographers see the art in the process whereas tourists merely want to brag to all their friends on Instagram about their great vacation.  Berry states it perfectly when he says, “For [the tourist] the camera will never work as an instrument of perception or discovery.”

Now we have the figure of the tourist-photographer who, one gathers, will never know where he is, but only looking at his pictures, where he was.

Photoshop: Modifying and Editing Reality


Though photoshopping—or technologically altering photos to look “appealing to all”—may not be considered art to some, I see it as an art form that American society is sickeningly addicted to.  This idea has been going on for far too long in all cultures, but most noticeably in American ones.

Beauty magazines are the main instigators of this addiction, though nearly all professional photographers participate.  It can be innocent enough in the sense of using it to smooth a wrinkle out of clothes are hide an unsightly background item.  However, magazines use it to make models appear thinner and have “perfect” skin.  Everyone who has ever even passed a magazine on a shelf in the store is aware of the sneaky tricks these photographers do in order to ensure perfection for the already gorgeous women or men in the photos.  The detriments to society include believing that the looks on the front of glossy magazines are both easy and attainable, and sending young impressionable teens into either deep depression or lethal eating habits.

Some magazines have tried to right their wrongs in a sense by launching stories about girls with eating disorders in order to shed light on the negative side effects.  However, all too often, on the very same cover of the magazine, they say they have the best tips to losing weight.  This gives readers a confused impression of what to do and what the magazine is trying to convey.  Some magazines have gone as far as saying that they will no longer use image altering technology to change a model’s body shape.  What they are not saying is really the key in this case; they will still use the technology on the skin and hair of the model.  This is a step in the right direction, but only a baby sized one.

Both articles I chose explain and exploit the negative effects and how magazines are trying to retrace their steps and find where they went wrong.  They also utilize the fact that it is not only beauty magazines that use this technology but also advertisements for clothing.  The second one focuses more on fixing the problem than the first does, but they both have the same general tone and content.

Personally, I think that the use of photo editing material has gone way past what it was originally intended for.  It is fine in small, appropriate doses, but not for indirectly body-shaming all people who do not have the same look as the cover of a magazine.  I understand some things need to be touched up sometimes—like a wrinkle or the occasional stray hair—but not to the extent to which the fashion industry has taken it.  The best photographers should be able to take photos without thinking what could be fixed in the editing portion of the process; they should be able to take pictures and accept the “flaws” they have.

People may or may not include photo alteration in their definition of art, but when it has this large of an impact on the society we live in, how could it not be considered?

Side note: I also found this video with a similar yet slightly different perspective:

Beautiful Bodies

pocahontas michael jackson

The images I selected are heavily influenced by what society perceives as beautiful–and not so beautiful.  I chose Pocahontas because Disney princesses are the epitome of what society believes beautiful should look like.  The Disney animators form a collective character that encompasses societies views of perfection for that culture.  This Native American princess not only meets society’s checklist, but also that of the article assigned this week: she has long, silky hair, a symmetrical face, and prominent facial features that are memorable.

Micheal Jackson on the other hand, society defines as unattractive because his features do not seem to make a collective face.  They have a sort of Frankenstein’s monster look about it.  They just do not seem to be from the same source.

Culturally, ideas of beauty differ, but only slightly, according to the article.  It ultimately depends on the era and culture to have a specific definition of beauty.

Based on the articles and the images I picked, I would say that it mainly depends on the artist’s personal taste and the idea for the work, but if it were me, I would pick the image of Pocahontas.  I feel this way because the subject fits all the criteria mentioned in the article and set by society, and Micheal Jackson is unattractive.