Sunday, February 3, 2008

Speaking Through Art

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I recall the first time I saw Meret Oppenheim's, surreal Fur Lined Teacup many years ago in the Guggenheim (now on display at the NY MOMA). It remains a landmark in my memory because the in the instant I laid eyes on it I experienced an "Aha!" moment. Such a simple execution, yet communication so pithy that it almost made my head spin with its juxtaposition to this culture's obsessive associations with food, violence, and sex! I think it was this piece that made things "click" and caused me to turn a corner toward understanding even more about what a powerful tool art can be for social statement.

While it is undeniable that we have made some forward strides, Oppenheim's piece remains representative of a culture now even more entrenched in war and killing, super-sized food obsession and twisted messages about sexuality.

When you create your own art, do you strive to go beyond its' outward appearance and think about what impact it can have for the greater good or even to represent those things about society that you consider to be wrong? Do you ever consider using recycled materials, or do you read the labels of your art supplies and exercise your consumer option to make choices that are, for example, less harmful to the environment? What message, if any, does your art represent to the public?

This morning, I went in search of current artists who are applying Meret Oppenheim's concept on a more present day level. This is what I found:

Mindy Sue Meyers, Meringues (with detail), 2007; silk velvet, beads, thread, paper linings. MFA Fibers, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. Photos by the artist.

Nick DeFord, Reclaimed Red Badges, 2007; handstitched embroidery on commercial patches; 12" x 9". MFA Fibers, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. Photo by the artist.

Kari Scott, You, Too, Can Be Fat Like Me, 2007; mercerized cotton; machine and hand-knit, painted, dyed. BFA Craft/Material Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.

Plush AK47
Mindy Sue Meyers
Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. Photos by the artist.

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