Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Role Of The Artist Is To Ask Questions

My first semester of art school I was immediately struck by the idea that I was quite possibly the most boring and bland person to ever exist.  My teachers held bold political view points and created art that reflected those opinions.  The other art students around me were passionate activists for one cause or another,  proudly creating art that portrayed their beliefs.  Everywhere around me people were making statements,  yet all I seemed to have was questions.

My teachers kept trying to encourage me to "find my voice", to find something to say, "You're an intelligent girl" they would explain, "surely you must have some opinions."  It was as if my lack of bold statements made me weak in their eyes, falling short of who a real artist should be.  But I had opinions.  I had strong beliefs as well.  I had also learned long ago that simply shouting your viewpoint in someone's face does little to change their mind and I was more interested in affecting people, than I was in spouting off my opinions to anyone who might be listening.  I just wasn't sure how to do that yet.

Now that I'm older and can look back on the situation I wonder if I wasn't going about the whole situation backwards.  Maybe instead of asking what needed to be said,  I should have been saying what needed to be asked.

Isn't that what art is really about, questions?  Doesn't it exist to challenge us and make us think?

If all we give are answers in our work, are we really letting the viewer engage in a conversation with us?  Are we really forcing them to step out of their views and understanding of a situation and look at it from a different angle?

Is simply shouting our opinions as loud as we can enough?  Or does this conversation need to start going both ways if we really want to affect change in our society?  Perhaps the question really is more important than the answer in the end as it is the question which holds the the catalyst for change.

Yesterday when Kate issued this weeks challenge she talked about some of the ways that artists have used their work to ask questions over the years.

As a bit more inspiration for you this week here's an example of a more direct approach by Candy Chang to this whole idea of using your work to ask questions, it's kind of amazing and only about 6min long:

Here's a tiny except from her talk for those who need a little bit of encouragement to push the play button and watch the video :)
"So this neglected space became a constructive one, and people's hopes and dreams made me laugh out loud, tear up, and they consoled me during my own tough times. It's about knowing you're not alone. It's about understanding our neighbors in new and enlightening ways. It's about making space for reflection and contemplation, and remembering what really matters most to us as we grow and change."
                                                             -Candy Chang
And since this week is all about asking questions, I will steal Candy's amazing question for you guys as well.  Make sure to leave us a comment and let us know your answer!  Good luck on your challenge this week!

BEFORE I DIE I WANT TO: __________________________

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