Wednesday, April 21, 2010

DAMage Report - The danger of Losing our heART


Sorry - no show today. Catch Arts Day next week at regularly scheduled time on the DAMage Report. Meanwhile feel free to read today's topic about arts cutbacks and let me know what you think.

Artists and arts supporters marched on the Georgia State Capitol on Monday protesting the proposed  elimination of the Georgia Council for the Arts. On Tuesday, a Senate panel concurred, returning funding to the GCA that the House had stripped from the state's arts agency last week. The Senate Appropriations Committee restored $890,735 (down from $1.6 mill that the GA Council received for 2010) that the governor had recommended for GCA, but the House had cut out.  Georgia would have been the only state without an NEA recognized Arts Council to handle receipt of Federal funding for the arts. Georgia would have lost nearly $900,000 in matching federal grants for the arts. But we're not out of hot water. The skirmish was won but the battle wages on. The budget still has to pass the full Senate. Then House leaders have to agree to keep the money in when the budget is taken up by a conference committee. 

In tight economic times arts are seen by many as frivolous and easily disposed of... because really...who needs art?  It is ironic that two of the things we should be nurturing the most to ensure our future growth as a society, are two areas that are being squeezed dry and tossed aside. My friend Truble pointed out that education is the intelligence of society while arts are the heart and soul. Yet both of these VITAL areas are being reduced to minimums or eliminated completely. They have always been tied together since the first cave painting was used to instruct on how to hunt, and it looks like they are going down together. We are no longer educating and teaching our children, we are programming them. 

Arguments that arts don't contribute to economic growth or have a valid, viable place in society have been proven ludicrous. Americans for the Arts states that "The nation’s 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences generate $166.2 billion annually in U.S. economic activity. They support 5.7 million jobs and provide nearly $30 billion in government revenue."
Arts assist in learning promoting higher SAT scores, arts hold a community together in tough times - the list goes on and on. Yet the perception remains that the arts are disposable. Georgia is just the beginning. With comments from the general public like:

"Disappointed,  I thought the senate finally got something right by cutting the arts budget." and "No Backbone - Senate commitee seems to be a bunch of wimps." or how about this one "The weak and leaderless state senate has caved to the hundreds of artists outside the Capital?"

The public by and large remains uninformed about what arts contribute to jobs, education, cities economic structures and why it is vital to keep it from vanishing. 
We can expect this war to wage on and spread across the United States. And while the arts will continue in small enclaves, kept alive by the passion of artists, we will be losing so much as our children lose the ability to think creatively, express themselves in new and unique ways, and are reduced to the minimal of what they can be as human beings. When a society is reduced down to mere survival, what are we surviving for?
Photo Credit: AJC

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just Finished

Photoshop painting - title: Alone

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

DAMage Report - Blood, paint and tears

The Holocaust has been portrayed for generations as an event so unfathomably unlike any other that it is indescribable.

How do you convey an experience that is so horrific that simply speaking about it can never adequately express the pain, the terror, the trauma?
You use art.
Almost 300 survivors of the Holocaust have provided paintings, drawings, sculptures, video and photographs to communicate through the medium of art, their experiences. The first exhibition of survivor art of this scale “Virtues of Memory: Six Decades of Holocaust Survivors’ Creativity” features pieces from 1945 through the present day and gives a vision of the Holocaust through the eyes of survivors.

In ten to fifteen years there will be no survivors left alive. All we will have for future generations to understand THEIR experiences are their words... and their art. Humans are visual creatures. Often the real power to comprehension is via that medium.

Most images of the Holocaust until now have come from black and white photographs taken by the Nazis, and from movies imagined and interpreted by film-makers. The exhibition, which will be on view for a year, shows the "real" and personal side of the Holocaust from the viewpoint of those who were there, communicated through art with blood, paint and tears.

Curator Yehudit Shendar points out “The exhibition tries to explore for the first time how survivors actually remember a place we too often call indescribable. It is not only describable, it is describable in very vivid colors. A lot of people look at these pictures and say 'It's too gruesome to look, well, it was too gruesome to live."

One of the true values of art - it provides us with a means to understand things outside our scope of experience. All art, whether it is paintings, photographs, movies, performances, stories shows us a view of the world, and the human condition, that is born through the experiences and minds of others. Without art, we are blind. Without art, we experience nothing except that which we come in direct contact with. Without art, we are lost in ignorance.

Additional art about the holocaust: - DAMage Report with Johnny DAM and the crew at 2pm PST. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

DAMage Report - Shut Your Mouth and Close Your Eyes - Censorship

Artist Jaesun Duggan had the joy of discovering his oil paintings in the Norfolk Public Library, as part of a display by the Franklin Art Association, were taken down and placed in a closet by a religious group that meets in the library.

The congregation for Providence Baptist Church, which holds Sunday morning services in the library, objected to the nature and deemed them unsuitable for their children. "One of the paintings, "Loa Offering," depicts red-shrouded skeletons. The other, "Dream Adrift In a Sea of Abyss," features a doll's head with a flower sticking out of it."

The religious group found the paintings objectionable and removed them, sticking them in a closet. While meeting in a public place. Uh-huh. Censorship and imposing your values on others doesn't get much more obvious than that. If the group wants to control what their members see and don't see (hello, can you say cult) then they should NOT be meeting in a public space. The artist naturally was a bit torqued. 

Censorship is a subjective topic. What is and isn't appropriate is often open to interpretation, dependent on a person or society's beliefs and self-image. Is censorship EVER appropriate? Sure. There are certain things that are and never will be deemed acceptable by common sense and humane morales. Anything that victimizes another such as child pornography, murder, abuse, racism - these are all things that most of us agree are unacceptable. The common denominator being that they involve one or more attacking a person or specific group that they have targeted. The sticky-wicket comes when censorship is applied outside the areas of criminal behavior. And it is. Often.Then censorship becomes an subjective imposing of what is and is not appropriate based not on accepted criminal behavior but on personal preference.  The definition of  what is “appropriate” varies depending on one’s religious, moral, ethical, and cultural background. 

A censor denies an individual's right to know, access, and come to their own conclusions on a topic. There really is only one purpose for any form of censorship: to enforce ignorance about a targeted topic. It is most often an abused tool used by those imposing their own ideas on others.

Nudity in art is one of the quickest visuals censored and has the highest double-standard. What is and isn't porn is subjective. Subjective equals personal opinion. What is and isn't appropriate for children is also subjective to a degree. A painting of bare booty should not automatically get the "OMG it's porn" stamp. We are getting ridiculous with our censorship bans in this society and allowing the uptight puritanical views of one or two people (or a gossipy clutch of hens) to dictate what we are and are not allowed to view and enjoy. 

I have found out what it is like to be silenced, my voice taken away and my right to share my ideas tossed in the closet. It is unbelievably frustrating.

Answer me this - Except for censorship of anything criminal in nature, what gives any person the right to dictate to others what they can and cannot look at, read, enjoy, and say - based on what they think is inappropriate? 

We need only allow a little censorship to become acceptable and before we have realized it, those little bricks of discrimination will become the blank wall that divides us from the real beauty of our True individual nature and ultimately ourselves. - Jaesun Duggan