Hello and welcome to my blog: Social Art Activism. The capstone project for completion of my master’s in Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago, offers theory and resources, including art as an instruments of activism to combat human rights violations. This blog is not an overview of every human right violation or social injustice movement throughout past and/or present. Nor is this blog a testimony on all museum and activist groups on their beliefs, ideas, and goals on how to bring arts to the foreground of activism. What this blog represents is a discussion and representation of current artists, activists and scholarly thoughts on what it means to work within a community surrounded by mass human violence.
This blog allows me to look through the rigor of the theory and practicality of exhibition making to into the real lives of activists that are creating art to make a change. There are differences with every person, project, organization and museum but it is those differences that make this project so interesting for me. The intent of this blog is to continue to allow individuals that have not yet found their purpose and action to maybe find some help and direction through the organizations and examples I provide.
Human rights education is a powerful framework for memorial museums and exhibitions. It has been made depressingly clear that depictions of humanity’s vilest deeds do not diminish our capacity for future crimes. Crimes against human kind have occurred countless times in history and continue to plague us in the present. But while it has been made clear that despite the attempts to bring fear to the public as a hope for peace, this does not work. So instead of showing the horrors of individuals, there is the urgency and demand to show the beauty of individuals, activists, coming together to prove to those who try and bring man down, that they stand together, and nothing will stop life. This can be done through art activism and alternative exhibitions in the museum and public space.
Many in my generation, post-civil rights and other mass movements, may only know about activism when it comes to the idea that behind picketing and marches to bring awareness of the injustice that they hope to correct. But what most of the world might not know is that indeed, there is a different form of activism, an alternative to picketing; and that is through the arts. Within this blog, I will offer examples of projects, museums and exhibitions that exhibit the cruelty of human deeds by showing works created by individuals to inspire the visitor to help confirm that these acts of violence against our own is not only unacceptable but will never be allowed again, through art.
Viewers will find in each section a series of blog entries that brings together all three areas within the art and museum world I plan on spending my career within. The theory consists of articles that present information on topics that relate directly with exhibiting difficult material to a public. Articles include: looking at the different intentions of museums versus memorials; how the audience has a direct correlation to the exhibition due to the experiences that they bring into such a place; the institution as a public forum for both dialogue and understanding; and what violence truly means in a public eye within the institutional walls. The second section, ‘action (projects)’, has blog entries that speak about four different organizations and projects that use art as an activist tool. All four projects use art to bring awareness to specific human injustices that have either occurred in recent history or are ongoing. The last section, ‘museums, memorials and exhibitions’, looks at different museums and galleries that hold exhibitions that use activism and art in their gallery space to bring awareness. This section differs from the second due to the fact that all locations within the third section are institutions rather than organizations and projects that may range outside building walls.