SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 2012

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Page 27 of 56

Looking & Learning Advocacy Pull-out resource Ai Weiwei, Remembering, 2009. Backpacks and metal structure, approx. 33 x 348' (10 x 106 m). Photo: Haus der Kunst. Artists identify with a cause that they believe needs to be brought to the attention of the public. W hile advocacy is an important action in many fields such as education, politics, history, and science, it holds a special place in the history of art. Artists have often been early advocates for causes that eventually gained the attention of the public and led to positive change. Speaking Out Today, artists use a variety of art forms to advocate for causes that they support, including photography, installation, painting, sculpture, and video. Artist and architectural designer Ai Weiwei uses his voice to speak out against what he considers human and political rights abuses by China's government. His largescale piece, Remembering, commemorates the victims of the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province in China, which tragically killed 80,000 people, including many children who were attending school when the earthquake struck. About the Artists/Artworks Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) Ai Weiwei is a leading Chinese artist, architectural designer (he designed the "Bird's Nest" stadium for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing), as well as a cultural and social commentator. He attended the Beijing Film Academy and became one of the founders of the avant-garde art group, Stars, in 1979. From 1981 to 1993 he lived in New York City doing performance and conceptual art, transforming readymade objects with political overtones. He returned to China in 1993 and in 1999 built his studio in Caochangdi, a village and arts community in the Chaoyang District of Beijing. Caochangdi quickly grew into an arts and cultural hub after Ai Weiwei's arrival. Through his use of social networking, he continues to be a vocal critic of what he considers human and political rights abuses by China's government, and, as a result, has been severely punished by the Chinese government several times. Ai contends that corrupt government officials skimmed money from building projects, providing substandard materials for schools, and that properly constructed schools would have saved the lives of many people. In defiance of the Chinese government, who would not acknowledge the exact death toll, Ai researched and published the names of 5,200 people who died in the quake. In Chinese characters, the backpacks spell out the recollection of a mother of one of the schoolchildren killed in the quake: She lived happily for seven years in this world. Long Live Chile! At Last the Copper Is Ours is a poster celebrating Chile regaining control of their natural resources during the Revolution of 1971. During the revolution, the new Chilean government nationalized all natural resources, including the copper mines, which made up eighty percent of Chile's exports. Afterwards, that money would go directly to Chile, instead of going to the bank accounts of foreign corporations. Unknown Artist (Chile) Posters—aside from advertising commercial goods—are powerful tools for sending messages and advocating causes. The same techniques that entice people to see a movie or buy a product are often used to advocate for political causes. Shepard Fairey's "Hope" posters from the 2008 presidential campaign are a recent example of this highly effective technique. Long Live Chile! At Last the Copper Is Ours is part of a rich history of the force of the printed word in Central and South America. In the 1800s it was the penny press that rallied people against oppression by corrupt governments. This tradition of printing prevails into the 1900s and 2000s as a constant reminder of the power of art as an agent of social change. 25

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