SchoolArts Magazine

November 2017

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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L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G ARTIST Q&A SchoolArts: When did you first realize art was what you were born to do? Nether: It was when I realized that nothing else made me as happy. This was when I was younger, at this stage of life when you're constantly wondering what you're gonna do for the rest of your life. Art was always an escape and a hobby to me until I realized that I could attempt to make a living from it. Growing up doing graffiti, art was some - thing that always cost me money and was very unsus- tainable. A lot of my development has been trying to keep t his dream alive. SA: What are some of the biggest influences on your work, including other artists, events, or things outside of the arts? N: Almost all my influences come from political actions and even pranks. I am most interested in phenomenon and the conceptual side of how to get a message to the masses. Some of my biggest influences are The Yes Men, James Bevel, and Voina. I love the cross between public art and civil disobedience. SA: How does your artistic process help express your ideas? N: My artistic process helps me build my ideas. My process is built on community conversation, decision-making, and action. Generally, I don't walk into a situation with a specific concept in mind. I prefer to talk with the resi- dents and have their perceptions inform me as I develop a concept. In many ways, a mural painter acts as a dip- lomat—negotiating between often opposing aspects of a community, such as the corner and the community asso- ciation. I like to see myself as a social documentarian and an artistic hand for a collaborative community vision. SA: What is the role of your support community (i.e., assistants, art dealers, collectors, critics, journalists, fam ily, etc.)? How do you develop this network of support? N: In such a racially, socially, and economically segregated city as Baltimore, I have benefited a lot from support of dif- ferent groups of people within the nonprofit and community d evelopment sector. I'm usually called in at a cross-point between funding and community-driven development or beautification. I'm also often brought as somebody who helps make permanent the community's history. SA: How does the idea of social justice relate to your work? N: Social justice relates to my work in the sense that it is the reason for the work. I only got into street art as I saw it was an efficient and effective method for affecting social change. From the get-go, the projects that I became interested in pursuing were using the public display of art to agitate the waters in Baltimore. Although many of the projects I pursue are about things from beautification to making fleeting histories permanent, shifting society's perception of social justice issues is at my core. I listen to Nina Simone on this one: "We will shape and mold this country or it will not be molded and shaped at all." SA: If you could go back in time, what would you want your art instructor to teach you? N: Get up, get out, and get it. Talk is never political action. Be a do-er. Also, when I first started out, I was always also trying to make enough money from my art to survive. This is not the way and it negatively affected my art. Make your money first and your art and life will be better that way. Keep the 9 to 5; it will teach you the hustle to complement your passion. Most artists have one or the other. If you don't have passion for the work you are doing, you won't be successful at it. Don't force anything upon yourself. DISCUSSION Begin with a discussion of social justice that is appropriate for your students, school, and community. With some cre- ativity, it should be possible to discuss the basic concepts of j ustice, race, and ethics with your students no matter what constraints you are working under. If you're not sure where to begin, there are some wonderful resources online such as Using Their Words and Cult of Pedagogy's A Collection of Resources for Teaching Social Justice. After your initial dis - cussion, ask your students how they think art and social jus- tice can work together. Next, share examples of artwork that d eal with civil rights and social justice. A few possibilities include Lewis Hine's documentation of child labor in the 1900s, Jacob Lawrence's The Great Migration, Diego Rivera's murals, The Guerilla Girls, Kerry James Marshall, and street artists such as Banksy and Nether. Be sure to discuss how to respond appropriately and responsibly to controversial issues and political views that other students might disagree with. STUDIO EXPLORATIONS • Design posters that bring awareness to an injustice in your school or community. • Working collaboratively, choose a social justice issue that affects your school or community. Create a short video (or series of videos) to share your opinions on the issue. How can your video help others? Will you use it to bring awareness to the issue, protest the issue, or offer a solution? Share your video online and with local media. • As a class, create a list of at least four social justice issues to explore through art. Discuss which media (including video, per formance, installation, digital), approaches, and artistic strategies might work best with each issue. Work independently or in groups to develop an artwork or series of works in response to your chosen issue. Share your work publicly and docu - ment your process. Written by Karl Cole, Art Historian and Curator of Images at Davis Publications and Robb Sandagata, Digital Curriculum Director and Editor at Davis Publications. RESOURCES usingtheirwords.org cultofpedagogy.com/social-justice-resources 26 NOVEMBER 2017 SchoolArts

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