As our society becomes more and more information based, the sense of self becomes part of the social culture. Conceivably, we will need to critically address the shifting culture of power in the context of the oppressed and marginalized. Along with those that are marginalized, those with power play an important role in today’s culture. This topic is significant to me because as a teaching artist, I feel that it is important to continually explore different approaches to integrate current power culture into my art making process. The purpose of this series is to explore the power relationships between the marginalized and those with power. I am interested in how society creates pedagogy with itself and how we can use that pedagogy to better understand our place in the world.
In regards to the artistic process, Pearse states that creative originality as well as the notion of artistic progress and the possibility of perpetual newness must be present if the artist is going to even begin to realize the world. The central message of postmodern philosophers (especially Foucault, Derrida, Lacan) is that language consists of an open-ended play of “signifiers” and “meaning is deconstructed into an endless play of linguistic signs, each one of which relates to the other in a parodic circle” (Kearney p. 252). Artists need to provide a platform of critical examination of the visual language that today’s society presents. As cultural producers themselves, artists have already found a jumping off place for artistic exploration (Pearse 1992). Because of how deeply entrenched artists are in their worlds, the artistic process lives as a transformative and participatory vehicle that both participants are passengers in. The questions of how and why art is produced challenges the traditional notions of art education evoking anger, fear and tensions in society. (Cary 1998).
In the studio and in society, the artist is not the holder of all artistic knowledge, but because of the pedagogical relationship with the self that exists, the artist is able to help guide the society through their complex self-worlds. Being able to create a critical and meaningful understanding with his or her identity, the artist will also benefit from self-pedagogy as the relationship with their self-world grows.
Today’s society is very much the quintessential self-mirror, reflecting back into itself. It is not the external world, nor is it the internal world that the mirror reflects on, but the mired of complicated meanings of anonymity (Beck 2011). This sense of anonymity can often be the wall that stands between artists and the creation of personally reflective and self-active art. Making art that is personally and socially active has deeper meaning than simply doing art that may or may not raise an eyebrow. Art for personal not only social change first and foremost is dependent on a deep and close relationship with the very topics being addressed. This relationship is evolving, as is the practice of self-discovery. The act of making the art itself can often be the journey that the artist and society struggle with, realizing the implications of why, what, and how the art was made. (Britzman 1998).
It is the complex and diverse human histories that shape who we are and our place in the world, a world with its footings in relationships and knowledge. The inclusion of both artists and the viewer in the learning process will add to the common voice that will breed questions that will only lead to more questions. This transformation from viewer to creating a relationship based on histories and interpersonal and sociological knowledge will help them make better sense of their world and their interactions as participants of history.
Tradition does not dictate rituals; rather traditions become evolutionary and generational. One could argue that in order to effect change in our current economic, and broader capitalist system, the ideals that need to be altered, changed, manipulated and cultivated, are the ideals of the very culture that is most affected by it. It is innate human nature to embrace our histories and the environment around us; this leads to asking more micro questions, questions of economics, politics, government, community, society, race, sex, family, and art.
The act of making art is the journey that I experience, realizing the implications of why, and what my art has become. It is the complex and diverse human histories that shape who I am and my place in the world. Things that I felt, saw, imagined, and emotions that were conveniently left by the side of the road are markers in the reality of the self that need to be revisited. Looking behind myself to see what I know is there yet won’t consider, can turn my moment inside out. Without this heightened state of past reality my relationship with the self cannot exist. Traditions and the judgments of others, along with the power relationships between the marginalized and those with power have given way to the understanding that where I used to look for a deeper understanding of our culture is merely an image associated with it. With this exploration of society comes a symbiotic journey into the other end of the self. Through this work I strip away all aspects of the self and explore the space occupied by the many sides of who and what society is.