Identity…Who am I?

For our final art making project and blog assignment we have been discussing identity in class. There is a lot that can be said about identity. From the moment we are born, we have some sort of identity. We have our genes and features that our parents gave us. a very basic form of identity. We develop our own identity with the choices we make and the things we do. An identity isn’t something that can be gathered out of thin air. There has to be evidence or a story behind it. If a group of people doesn’t know you, I suppose you can create a new identity with them…however, you would have to permanently use that identity with that group in order for that new identity to become successful. So identity is more of a long term thing. Identities are something that can adapt. In our society things are always changing but people are still concerned with how someone looks or acts. If A person is know as being responsible and hardworking, and he becomes friends with a lazy irresponsible person odds are that the responsible person will rub off on the lazy person, or the lazy person will rub off on the responsible person. Creating a new identity if sustained over a long period of time. Our identities are something that we want others to see. They are physical but also we see identities psychologically. We know what people expect to see and we especially as an American culture are stereotypers. Nikki S. Lee, addresses some of these stereo types in her projects. She isn’t black but in her Hip Hop Project she identifies her self as a black female, fitting in with black males and females. While we can see she is Asian, if we never met her or knew her, or were aware of the photography projects, for all we know her identity is an Asian female who grew up in an African neighborhood. Identity is in long term what we do, who we are. But to a complete stranger, my identity can be changed on a first impression. I I am a well dressed polite business person for 364 days out of the year, that is my true identity. If I bump into a stranger wearing sweats and I’m in a bad mood, to them I could be a poorly dressed rude person. Identity is about what we know of a person.

Going to Class with Class

Going to Class with Class

For our art making project we were to capture self portraits of ourselves, but to show an identity that isn’t our normal one. We could take 3 pictures using 3 different identities, or 3 pictures each one describing the same identity. I chose to use my three pictures to portray the same idea. For my first photo I decided to grunge down my usual clothes that I wear to class and decided to wear Gym shorts a hoodie and a backwards hat. My theme for this picture would be College Student (as not very serious). Now in terms of identity I don’t think this image carries a lot of weight by itself. It needs to be supported by the other two images or else I am just insulting anyone who wears gym shorts to class. Just because you wear gym shorts to class doesn’t mean you aren’t serious about school, but it helps the other two images, and the other two help this one.

Couch Potato

Couch Potato

For my second picture I tried to capture College Student (as a gamer, as a couch potato). While I know most guys in college play some sort of video game, either on a console or computer. Sometimes those games have a way of pulling you in and have your mind forget about homework. The use of this particular image should portray a college student putting in more time into his game, rather than his homework. This image might not stand very well alone but when joined with the other two I feel my idea comes across. My third image is the most fitting for the theme and I feel as though it could stand by itself and make a statement about my identity if you had never met me, while if looking at the other two by themselves you wouldn’t really be able to get a good grasp of this identity I am trying to portray.

home FACE workBOOK

home FACE workBOOK

For my third and final Image I tried to capture College Student (as lazy, unmotivated, sleeper). In this image I am at my desk( with my study lounge door label) I have multiple notebooks, papers, and a folder in front of me. I am on my laptop and it is hooked up to another monitor. On the right monitor there is Microsoft word, Adobe Illustrator, Moodle, and my college email. On the laptop screen Facebook is open. Finally, I am sleeping on all of this homework with my hood up. I am trying to capture a college student who has tons of homework to do, but he wants to do everything else but homework. I think this image fits my theme the best and could stand alone to give someone who has never met me a sense of identity that would be “Boy you look busy there…sleeping.” Then to see the other images you get a sense that this college student really has no desire for school, and he just wants to sleep, eat, play video games, and do everything but school work.

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Fame-

Fame, (fame) makes a man take things over
Fame, (fame) lets him loose, hard to swallow
Fame, (fame) puts you there where things are hollow

-David Bowie

 

The newest topic in my Visual Literacy class is fame. Fame is a very sensitive issue. When someone’s name is attached to the word famous it but that person in the spotlight and higher than others, more important, more exposed. Fame has a way of distorting reality both looking in or looking out. Fame to me is basically your name on other people’s lips. To be famous you don’t have to be known by millions or thousands, but if you appeal to a certain group, or a certain population then among them you are famous. Images can influence fame by making someone a trend, an image can alter someones fame negatively or positively. An image simply tells a story or captured a single moment in history about the famous person. It could be something like a local hero saving lives, influencing his fame in a positive way, where as Britney Spears showing the whole world…a bit to much, influences her fame negatively.

When we talk about celebrities there is a difference though. The pedestal they are put on and the benefits they receive just because of their name pushed the limits of fame and power. As an American society we are OBSESSED with fame and celebrity. For example my hometown high school has several wealthy families and listening to them talk is extremely difficult because one has to out do the others. There is this sense of fame or power and it just has to be taken, even at the means of ruining a conversation, the conversation turns more into who gave the most to charity, who has a better portfolio, who has the successful children. It really takes the people out of a gathering of people. When I think about celebrity I think: PEOPLE, US Weekly, Star magazine, Keeping up with the Kardashians. Jersey Shore. We take hours upon hours out of our lives to watch the lives of these celebrities…and why? We don’t benefit from it, its a matter of being obsessed. Today it is at an all time high with the ease of access to information and articles about celebrities.

Suri Cruise’s First Poop Daniel Edwards

This sculpture called Suri Cruise’s First Poop, by Daniel Edwards is a great example of how we as an American society view celebrities. Honestly it is a sculpture of poop…poop, a natural body function, but disgusting. What this sculpture means is that even this body function from the child of 2 famous parents would be somebodies claim to fame if they really had this piece of crap (Pun intended) The sculpture shows the pedestal we put celebrities on. We create celebrities, when we see someone at a certain level of fame, if they have anything that appeals to us that is what makes someone a celebrity. Great looks, great skill, great talent, great actions. That is how someone becomes famous, by appealing to the people who are looking for something to be interested in. As someone can become famous, a major drawback is how fast their image can be destroyed with the access to news and articles through technology.

 

William Hung American Idol Season 3

I would say anyone can be famous. Again like I said, it has to do with appealing to people in someway or another. It really doesn’t matter how many people. Obviously if I appeal to 100 people and you appeal to 1,000 people you will be more famous than I, but to my 100 fans, I am the man. I am famous to them. I think anyone can be famous but they have to have something because it isn’t just created. There has to be a reason why people like someone…it doesn’t have to be a good reason but for whatever reason. Something is appealing, something snaps and makes a us speak a person’s name making them famous. I mean seriously William Hung was famous at one point. I think is “fame” was more negative and made for laughter but there was a time when people everywhere talked about William Hung. I know I went to school the next day and talked about him. He isn’t your Hollywood pretty boy. He isn’t a good singer, he isn’t even a good dancer, but he made me laugh, he seemed like a pretty good guy. He had is chance his one and only chance to become a famous singer…and he made a complete fool of himself, and the judges couldn’t keep their notes out of their face to hide their laughter. But hey, I’ve never been on American Idol on national television watched by millions and I’ve never been on the Ellen Show, Dateline, the Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and I certainly have not had a record deal. Fame is a strange thing, and depending on how truly great you are and how successful your appeal is, is what makes someone immortal. William Hung was a phase, Michael Jackson, he died and has sold more albums that William Hung. That man will live forever. Michael Jackson was gifted. He had looks (before all of the surgeries) He had a voice, he could dance and he could perform like no other. When people saw him they went nuts, they cheered because he was great at what he did. With William Hung, we laughed and it got old, and I couldn’t tell you what he is doing now, but I can tell you I will continue to listen to my Michael Jackson songs, and read about him every know and again, and even talk about his life and legend in my Visual Literacy class…sorry William.

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Religion As Conceptual Framework

In my Visual Literacy class I have been listening to lectures about religion in regards to art. For our second art making project in class I had to go out and find 3 images to photograph. One of them had to be Religiously Affirmative, the second Religiously Critical, and the third Neutral. I was given the example of a sunset as being neutral, this could be something that just is what it is, or somebody may find it spiritual, like a sunset. Religiously critical is a critique of religion from a social or political point of view. Religiously Affirmative is a positively influential picture that highlights salvation and the good of the human race.

Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ"

Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ”

With all of the religious artwork that appears it would be easy to make immediate opinions about  it being controversial or successful simply on how we see it towards our own religion, but when dealing with a topic as sensitive as religion we should really look at a work of art and examine it from the title to the composition and possibly even some of the back story. A religious piece could be made and we might see it as totally negative but to the creator, they might have had struggles and are telling their story. When judging a religious work of art you can’t judge a book by its cover. Opinions could also ruin the opinion of others and take away what they might actually feel from it just because controversy has already been linked with a certain work of art. An image that might appear to be offensive might actually have some good behind it. Like I said the creator might be telling a story that we don’t know, and that would change its meaning. In the case of Sr. Wendy, she saw Piss Christ as a very good metaphor. This crucifix was submerged in a jar filled with urine. Most people saw this a degrading and extremely offensive. Sr. Wendy liked the work of art because it acts as a metaphor for what we do to Christ on a daily basis.

In my own personal opinion I agree mostly with Sr. Wendy’s point of view however, while the image may be a good metaphor, the fact is Serrano still urinated on a crucifix, on Jesus. I get the metaphor but yellow food coloring or some other kind of liquid could have done the trick. The image isn’t offensive to me but the act is.

Religiously Affirmative

Religiously Affirmative

 

For my images I will start off with my Religious image. For this I kept it pretty basic. My image is the cross on top of the steeple at a church in my home town. In the foreground there are very busy tree limbs to bring in a metaphor.  We all have of problems or doubts or whatever, or some of us my be trying to find Jesus, so in this image you look behind the tree limbs and there is the cross. There is Jesus. It is also fitting the blue sky is in the background because it is a symbol for optimism. I think this image is a pretty obvious affirmative picture of religion. There is several minor details that help to even push the idea such as the elevation of the cross represents importance or power and strength. The white of the cross represents purity. I see this image as being a positive image representing hope and faith in religion.

Religiously Nuetral

Religiously Neutral

For my neutral image I decided to use this picture with the bird. I was taking the picture of the cross and as I checked my camera to see if I had a successful shot I see something move in the tree from the picture with the cross. Then I saw this bird very still and almost camouflaged. I thought this would be a perfect neutral picture. It is on one hand a bird, just a bird and nothing more. Then on the other side of things birds can be very spiritual. Birds fly, they are graceful and this one isn’t just an ordinary bird it is very aggressive looking, wild, and doesn’t look like it belongs in a downtown area. Birds are free. Birds can be a very spiritual animal and at the same time, just a bird. That is why I chose this to be my neutral image.

Religious Critical

Religious Critical

For my third and final image to depict religiously critical, I chose to photograph an American flag and the church steeple through the reflection of a window. My goal for this was to allow many different ways of interpretation between God and Country. While both of these things can be brought together, through an individual or through a community or even in the Pledge of Allegiance we say “One Nation under God”, they can also be separated. Separation of Church and State, and even new political movements such as trying to remove “under God” from the Pledge. Our President of the USA hold certain beliefs and standpoints that either oppose or agree with a certain religion. As US citizens we follow federal law, well Christians also follow God’s law. There is a choice to be made, there are lines to be drawn and yet for someone like me, a Catholic American you can’t have one without the other.

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Race as Conceptual Framework

In society today, and I’m sure in the past people voice their opinion about may varieties of things. Race is a topic that comes up quite a bit when dealing with any issue, sports, politics, families, television. A huge topic in the category of race is Black and White, and since the beginning of the history of the United States the story of Black and White has been ever changing and dynamic. As time has gone on African Americans have made gains and losses in power, and rights and in respect.

Two artist, Kehinde Wiley, and Kara Walker have both made art representing the African, and American culture. Walker’s art is very Eighteenth-century, she portrays slaves and owners and very grotesque images and scenes. In her images there is usually some sort of conflict or struggle between slave and owner.  Even in art power, between races becomes an issue. Wiley, is a bit one sided and straight forward in his paintings. Wiley paints African Americans in street clothes of today, and places them in older style paintings in place of saints and kings. Wiley takes African Americans from the street and places them into an image of power, or royalty.

Kara Walker “Untitled (Hunting Scenes),” 2001

Walkers approach to race is very unique in a sense that all of her figures are silhouettes in a room with white walls. Meaning no details no ability to depict who is white and who is black…but, Walker highlights features and emphasizes certain physical characteristics of race to depict who is white and who is black. So, does it even matter if they are silhouettes if we can still tell what race they are? This helps me answer the questions about society progressing as a post racial society. In terms of Walker’s art we have not. We look at these images of struggle between slave and owner, where the slaves are representing the African/ African American culture trying to rise and become powerful like white people.

Walker’s art is viewed by people today, so the features that she emphasizes to make a silhouette clearly white or clearly black are more of a stereo type. We don’t know these characters she is depicting so all we can see is what we know. This to me means there is still a racial tension. While I do think we have grown as a society in accepting people and being open to change, there is still a struggle with equality, and a struggle between races. How many African American CEOs do you see on TV or in magazines? How many white people do you see in ghettos or low income areas? Now with all of the laws set in place for equality, there is a disconnect somewhere. I see that we are taking steps forward though, and with Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice at one point being Secretaries of the State, and Barack Obama being elected it opens the door for more and more African Americans to strive for power and success if they want to.

Wiley illustrates a sense of African American power in his paintings. I think to for them to strive for success. It has been common for someone born in to a low income life to just accept it and not do anything to change the situation he was born in. I think Wiley is depicting these people in street clothes to say, here is where you are, then he places them in an image of power or royalty or respect and it says but it here is where you could be if you strive for it.

Wiley’s art has a lot of juxtaposition because he has two opposite ideas but combines them. His idea is really up to interpretation, on looking at it positively or negatively  I see positive, I see motivation, and a goal to strive for. In fact, Wiley even made paintings of Ice Tea and Biggy and placed them into positions of power to reinforce the idea that an African American can have power and respect.

Both of these artist portray race, but they both do it differently to tell stories or to inform. I think Walker is trying to show the bad things that racism brings and eliminates an idea that people are “colorblind”. Wiley I think is setting a tone, and trying to encourage more African Americans to be like Rice, or Powell, or Obama.

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Check this Readymade out!

A Readymade as I have learned about in class can be…anything. I could take a used water bottle fill it half way with water and title it “The Glass is Half Full” and it would be a readymade. There would be meaning and a story behind it, but it also would allow the audience to see it for what it is as well. In that instance people would probably call me crazy because all I did was give a water bottle a title. Did I make it art? Could Marcel Duchamp have pulled it off? A readymade is just as much about the audience as it is about what the artists’ intentions are.

                Marcel Duchamp made readymades famous. He would take objects that he would find, or purchased, he titled and sign them. He would alter some slightly. He didn’t design them. He simple titled them and slapped his signature on it and called it his. Is this process art? Did he make it art, or did we by publicizing the idea of readymades.  Duchamp made a readymade called In Advance of a Broken Arm, it is a snow shovel and Duchamp titled it, and signed it. It was then put in a museum. He didn’t even make it! What he did do, was help create the story the audience would think of in their heads when they saw this shovel titled In Advance of a Broken Arm. The readymades would not be nearly as popular had some unknown artist created them, or if they did’t have a title that makes people’s minds swirl with questions. Duchamp was trying to show how everything can be art, and also that everyone can make art. He placed an object that he found with a title and allowed his audience to create whatever they wanted to, making them just as much responsible for the art and creativity as he was. Image

My readymade, is Merican Treachery, maybe it has meaning or maybe I was just trying to successfully complete a project, but all that really matters to me is that you get a story out of it. Allow yourself to do all of the work. I simple put marks on a famous painting. It is up to you as my audience, just like it is up to all of us as the audience of all art, to find meaning and understanding and to see art for more than what it is, but for what else it is and what else it can be.

Merican Treachery

Image

I hope you enjoy this image. I hope you maybe even laugh a little bit. I hope you find a story, and see this image not just for what it is, but for what else it is. 

 

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Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Jacob Lancaster. I am a junior at Holy Cross College and I am studying Business with a minor in Graphic Arts. I enjoy looking at artwork, from drawings, and paintings, to film and music although I don’t know much history behind art. I have this blog for my Visual Literacy class, and with it hopefully I will be able to successfully learn and explain new things about the Art world.

I think that Visual Literacy is…obviously something you can see, because it is visual. It is also something that can be read because when I see literacy of think of literature. So basically if we look at a painting of the American flag, we see it first and associate it with America. Then we have to read it. We look at how old or new it looks if it looks weathered if it is worn. We try to find a story from it. I think that is what Visual Literacy is, it is seeing an image or a film and reading into it. Seeing the materials and textures and positioning and motion of figures and reading the story the artist was trying to present to the audience, just as we read a book. They say a picture is worth a thousand words…well I think Visual Literacy is about finding those words.

I registered for this class because I am a Graphic Arts minor and this is one of the courses I had the option of taking. I figure taking this class will only make me better in the arts field and give me more preparation that I need in order to succeed. Since I have taken multiple art classes and have had to present my work, as well as comment on others, I hope I continue to build on my ability to discuss visual culture. I am excited about learning new things and speaking about topics I am learning about through this blog. 

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Hmmm…

HELLO VISUAL LITERACY!!!

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