SchoolArts Magazine

OCT 2014

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 58

Pull-out Resource Looking & Learning Envisioning Envisioning is the act of creating a picture with our mind, often of future events or possibilities. I n art, this definition is often expanded to include not only future events, but representations of real, imagined, or historical events that cannot be captured by ordinary means. In the Studio Habits of Mind, envisioning is also defined as "to picture mentally what cannot be directly observed, and to imagine the possible next steps in making a piece." While most artists go through some process of envisioning, our focus in this article falls on a collabora- tive group of artists with a specific artistic vision of cultural heritage and achievement, and a contemporary artist whose work brings us complex, ambiguous narratives of a world that may or may not be our own. About the Artists/Artworks Artes Guadalupanos de Aztlán (founded 1971) The mural movement that developed in the late 1960s coincided with, or was influenced by, the civil rights movement, the rise in gender awareness, and the blos- soming of ethnic pride amongst minorities in the United States. These murals were strongly influenced by the Mexican mural movement of the 1920s through 1940s, and were stylistically influenced by the art of the great cultures of ancient Mexico. One of the driving forces behind mural projects during this period was the idea of murals as a "people's art." Founded in 1971, mural collective Artes Guadalupanos de Aztlán distinguished itself by painting murals that addressed issues relevant to the Hispanic community in New Mexico and throughout the world. The Saint Francis Road Mural is a monument to the great accomplishments of Mexican culture, both past and present. The mural, which covers four sides of a building, depicts Mexicans from ancient cultures joining hands with current Hispanic workers in the Southwest. These artists envisioned a way to depict their cultural heritage passing from one generation to the next. Laylah Ali (b. 1968) Laylah Ali is a contemporary African American artist who fuses formal concerns with sociopolitical interests. Ali's narratives hint at possibilities and intentions through an ambiguous yet powerful narrative. The precisely delin- eated, highly detailed figures in her gouaches perform in scenes that might reflect urban experiences, hip-hop, and non-Western, specifically African or Islamic cultures. Her detailed figures, placed against her signature blue sky, often present a dynamic rhythm and movement. Ali is most renowned for her Greenheads series, which presents her typically precise painting technique with deceptively cartoonish characters. Although the images at first may appear to be simple, it require hours of painstak- ing effort to create each one. The images, complete with such carefully rendered details as bandages, headphones, and baseball caps, often contain elements of violence, alienation, and inference to racial politics. While Ali states that she has no set agenda with her imagery, it is hard not to connect her complex envisioned narratives to contempo- rary society and popular culture. Laylah Ali, Untitled, 2000, from the Greenheads series. Gouache and pencil on paper. Image courtesy of the artist. 23

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