This article brought up a lot of questions about art’s salience and power to incite social change. I think that art is a bit of a niche field. I truly do not think that any art piece, no matter how effective or powerful, can inspire social change. Art is something that exists in response to society and culture. It can have an individual impact that can bring a person to tears or inspire them to volunteer or protest, but it is unable to be the sole promoter of social change. Art is powerful, and universal but not universally powerful. Most of the artists recognize that their art is not going to inspire a movement on its own, but their art is still valuable. Chagoya says, “I am not sure how much art may foment social change, although there is a connection. It is more clear to me how art is affected by changes in society (political, technological, economic, etc). It is harder to measure things the other way around, but I have the impression that it is very minimal.” (Talking Politics 2008, p. 163) Sometimes it may be a personal exploration of social issues or an effort to inform. Social change is done through small steps of individuals that combine to form a movement, in my opinion. Most of these artists recognize that their work can incite small changes, but is simply a part of a culture of change.
This points made were quite conclusive. It did a good job asking relevant questions and talking to a diverse group of people, which is important because political activism in art is a broad topic that requires a broad and far reaching response. One of the greatest weaknesses in this article however was discussed by Emma Bilski in terms of the way the interviews were constructed. She says since, “this was not conducted in an in-person setting, the lack of interaction and commentary between artists provided a lack of insights where some may have been interesting and informative-- this also led to repetition between answers as the artists had no opportunity to interact.” (http://emmabilskiart.weebly.com/blog.html) I think this point is particularly relevant because this is a topic that is very far reaching. The most effective way to promote an insightful and productive discussion on the topic is to have a dialogue. By conducting the interviews through email, it eliminates discussion and interaction which lessens the impact of what the artists actually say.
Something this article discussed that we have barely talked about is how the art market affects art with a message. Unfortunately this is the case with any creative medium, but art is viewed in our society as a product, something to be consumed. This inherently limits how wild or provocative any art can be. I connect to this issue because ballet is an industry that sometimes struggles to stay relevant and provoke in no small part because it relies on donor contributions and ticket sales. Most donors to the ballet are usually older, fabulously wealthy, upper class and white. The people who go to consume dance, especially ballet, are not going to see something that is challenging. Art has a little bit more freedom in this sense because it requires a different level of training and is bred in a different culture, but the monetary and therefore cultural, restrictions still persist. Activism is not done to garner a profit, but art can be. There is a disconnect and a relationship between the motivations here. Again, Chagoya makes a salient point,
“The market is unavoidable. Artists cannot escape this fact of life.It is the structure for the distribution of everything that is created in our capitalist society, and it could work to the advantage or disadvantage of politically charged art. I think artists need to use the market to their advantage. Some art dealers (a minority) like taking chances with art that has political content and that can create a rare collaboration between artists, dealers, and collectors.”
Overall, this article brought up some very interesting questions, but failed to satisfactorily answer them. It provoked a discussion and included many important aspects of the nature of political art, but was redundant and exclusive in a way that hindered dialogue of creative experts rather than promoted it which would have resulted in further insight and understanding not just of the audience, but of the artists themselves.
I am an art student at Maggie Walker and this is the place where I talk about what we're making and what we're learning... Through this I can pour out my heart about my artistic experience.