Can Art Change Your Perspective on Important Issues?
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDEdspace and end it with #DoNowOlek
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If you see an artwork that addresses an important issue, does it compel you to form a stronger opinion? Does crochet artist Olek’s newest public art project in Russia, made in support of the LGBT community, inspire you to think more deeply about global issues around equality? Has any artwork resonated with you in a way that made you consider your own political perspectives? If so, please share a link or something original.
Street artist Olek works in the medium of crochet, covering landmarks, cars, people, and even freight trains a colorful camouflage pattern that is often infused with strong statements, sometimes of a political nature. I met Olek recently, when she was creating new work in San Francisco, and when I asked her what she stands for, she replied quickly, “Anything that is right.”
Last week, Olek created a public installation in Russia in response to the government’s recent decision against gay rights. The piece, installed at the entrance of a shopping center, has a rainbow-colored backdrop, and two figures covered in crocheted yarn. In her recent Huffington Post articlet, Olek explains, “I transformed the human form into a new species. Once a person enters the crocheted skin, their race, color, ethnicity, even sexuality become irrelevant, camouflaged; they are transformed into citizens of Olek’s world, where everyone is free. My camouflage, hand-crocheted rainbow stands for love, freedom, friendship, independence, liberty, ability to pursue dreams, integrity, and equal rights.” Creating this work in Russia was risky and Olek was nearly arrested and met with negative reactions, but she persisted in representing her solidarity with the LGBT community. This type of art “action” inspires awareness and dialogue about important global issues.
Check out a recent episode of PBS Off Book, featuring interviews with Olek and Swoon (another influential female street artist) to see more examples of public artwork, and to gain a better understanding of the artists’ intentions. Please note that this video should be pre-screened by teachers before showing to students, and includes mature language.
PBS Off Book video Street Art – Sept. 27, 2011
The street is a space where art thrives, and a place where artists can shape the public aesthetic. Olek, a sculptor whose medium is crochet, and Swoon, a mixed media artist, disrupt daily life with work that creates wonder, emotion, and humor. Equally at home in museums and galleries, both artists also create installations that challenge the formats of traditional art spaces. With powerful layers of meaning, beautiful aesthetics, and using unique media, these two prolific creators are pushing the boundaries of contemporary art. Please note that this video should be pre-screened by teachers before showing to students, and includes mature language.
To respond to the Do Now, you can comment below or tweet your response. Be sure to begin your tweet with @KQEDedspace and end it with #DoNowOlek
For more info on how to use Twitter, click here.
We encourage students to reply to other people’s tweets to foster more of a conversation. Also, if students tweet their personal opinions, ask them to support their ideas with links to interesting/credible articles online (adding a nice research component) or retweet other people’s ideas that they agree/disagree/find amusing. We also value student-produced media linked to their tweets like memes or more extensive blog posts to represent their ideas. Of course, do as you can… and any contribution is most welcomed.
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