We all know that artists are humans too with human emotions and sensibilities. It is just that they are blessed with extraordinary God-given talents that are above average and may even border on the genius side. Throughout recorded history, we have seen various artworks and art pieces made by numerous artists with different tastes and style and approach to the arts. Their masterpieces have their own personal touch and often depicts the artist’s emotions or a grasp of a moment in history that is forever saved in these works of art.
Artists consider their work as their personal outlet where they are free to express their pent-up feelings and what they think about everything that is happening around them. Over the years, many of the popular art pieces that are gracing art galleries today tell a story that not everybody wants to hear because the truth hurts, after all. But not everyone is limited by societal expectations and may be quite brazen in their handiwork. And such a situation happened recently that shows everyone what the arts should be all about, without fear of censorship at all. But despite their efforts, these artworks were removed from the gallery because they are far too thought-provoking that has bordered to a threat to some.
As with nearly all of the projects that the students of DRSS take on, their scope of study was not limited to simply reading about and discussing these issues in the classroom; the students were also producing artworks to be put on display at the Dayton Convention Center, with the intent of depicting “U.S. history from behind a black lens, referencing contemporary phenomena like the recent police violence against black men such as Freddie Gray and disproportionate black incarceration rates.”
One student helped create “The Experience of Women,” a tri-panel piece depicting magazine covers of women’s societal and cultural expectations from the 1800s to today. As she described it, “In U.S. history this year, we went through, not chronologically like wars and stuff, the different experiences of groups: African-Americans, women, LGBT, Native-Americans, just different groups that would have experienced (history) differently than what is told in the typical narrative.”
Using the work of artist Kara Walker as an inspirational as well as structural point of departure, the students designed their projects using a form that Walker developed early on in her career, the silhouette.
Kids made these artworks but they were still taken down. The US is gradually transforming and no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave that all Americans used to take pride in. Human liberty is being curtailed especially if it is a bother to some (and that some happened to be in all the high places in society). Hence, racism is not yet dead. It has just taken a different form and even young kids can see it quite clearly. They may have come up with bold pieces but they aren’t actually far from the truth.
BRAD EVANS: We live in an age when the arts are facing considerable financial and intellectual pressures. If we were to come at this negatively, we could say that part of the issue the arts face is to present themselves as having political and social relevance beyond mere cultural pastime. And yet the arts have always been a site for social commentary and imaginative resistance. What are your thoughts on this given the current political climate?
CHRISTOPHER ALDEN: Art is often at its most vibrant in times of political crisis, when the people at the top tend to exhibit a kind of nervousness about the arts as a result. Sometimes art needs to jab up against something in order for its relevance to become apparent. I have always felt that the visual arts, music, and theater are by nature intensely political.
In America, the arts and politics go a long way and the correlation is not always a positive one. White supremacy had always been an underlying belief among the majority of Americans and blacks or other colored races are still looked down. Artists never failed to depict this type of racism in their masterpieces and it has caused controversies now and then. It is perhaps also the reason why President Donald Trump significantly cut back the funding for the US arts because he knows just how powerful it is when backed with money and may be the reason for his undoing or of the society he is planning to build.