Sunday, December 29, 2013

EFFECTING SOCIAL CHANGE THROUGH ART

WPA ART  OFTEN HAD A SOCIAL, REALIST, HEROIC THEME

Have you heard of Tim Rollins and KOS(kids of survival),  Robert Rauschenberg. 
These  are some of the artists and art projects that have used art to effect social change. During the Great Depression artist were hired by the CCC  (Civilian Conservation Core) and WPA (Work Progress Administration). Both of these programs were part of the New Deal instituted by President Roosevelt.
The desperate unemployed of the Great Depression



 These programs supported artists, but in particular,  the WPA  hired writers, artists, dancers, and all disciplines of the arts.
 Their goal was  to give jobs to starving artists and to serve the community at the same time. Here is a link to click on for further information of the WPA AND New Deal Artists. If you are interested in in-depth research on WPA artist I have a friend who has done extensive research in the area and can provide more links. (thanks Pat Kane)

WPA Art Program            Mural in Post Office           from google image for education only

Can the arts be effective in social programs and social change? 

I think as you read about all of these programs you will agree art can effect social change and and for the good of communities.   Artists are not only visual creative people, but they often can be visionaries as well. Lets take a closer look at some of these programs and artists.

Tim Rollins and KOS

The following article is from Xavier Hufkins Gallery Post.
Xavier Hufikins' Gallery carries Tim Rollins and Kos Work and Exhibitions. 

Tim Rollins (b. 1955, Pittsfield, Maine) began teaching art in a South Bronx public school in 1981. His lessons incorporated creative work with reading and writing lessons for educationally disadvantaged or emotionally ‘at risk’ students. Rollins told his class on that first day, ‘today we are going to make art, but we are also going to make history’. When asked what he meant by ‘making history’, Rollins said: ‘To dare to make history when you are young, when you are a minority, when you are working, or non-working class, when you are voiceless in society, takes courage. Where we came from, just surviving is “making history”. So many others, in the same situations, have not survived, physically, psychologically, spiritually, or socially. We were making our own history. We weren’t going to accept history as something given to us.’

The source material laid out and studied by the students generally relates to literary or musical classics, such as works by William Shakespeare, George Orwell, Ralph Ellison or Franz Schubert, but can also include comics or legal documents. Their collaborative work takes the form of drawings, photographs, sculptural objects and paintings on canvas and paper. The backgrounds of works are often comprised of pages of books pasted into a grid. The results blend elements of Minimalism with an interest in the revival of painting that took place in the 1980s and in art that is socially and politically engaged. He has said: “What we’re doing changes people’s conception about who can make art, how art is made, who can learn and what’s possible, because a lot of these kids had been written off by the school system. This is our revenge.”

Robert Rauschenberg


Part of the ROCI International Global Exchange
In addition to his artist interest as a painter, sculptor, photographer, print maker, and video producer, from early on he was involved int political and social projects. He formed an organization called EAT (experiments in art and technology) to promote collaboration between artists and engineers.  
Rauschenberg founded "Change" after he withdrew from the Venice Biennale as a protest to the US involvement in Viet Nam.  But his most extensive effort was with ROCI (Rauschenberg Overseas Culture Interchange) for the period of 1984-1991 in eleven different countries.  Rauschenberg had strong belief in cultural exchange and dialogue across different political systems and until his death his strong belief continued in the possibilities of global artistic exchange. (source Wikipedia)
After Rauschenberg's death his studio and home in Captiva Florida were turned in to a museum and artist in residency program. Click here for link to Rauschenberg Foundation.

In the following post we will look at other artists and programs which seek to effect social change.

An added surprise for the more discerning among you! A 22 minute interview with Tim Rollins, the artist.


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