“This revolution is to be wrought by the gradual domestication of the idea of Culture. The main enterprise of the world for splendor, for extent, is the upbuilding of a man. Here are the materials strewn along the ground.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar”
“What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?”
–Michel Foucault, “On the Genealogy of Ethics: Report on a Work in Progress”
The open space of democracy is a busy place. I created a Reading page that lists all of the reading you have completed in the course. After you pat yourself on the back, and consider the formidable power of your democratic literacy having read this material, I would like you to keep this network of ideas alive as we move into the second part of the course.
In the weeks following our spring break, we will talks about the relation between government and art, particularly the question of government-sponsored creativity. We will be throwing around (and learning to use) terms like”socially engaged art,” “relational aesthetics,” “cultural acupuncture,” and “civic stimulation” with the help of Pablo Helguera and Doris Sommer, among others.
More importantly, you will be descending into (designing) a proposal for a project that will celebrate, and investigate, examples of cultural production in which art and interpretation find a form. Your project will involve, in every case, either an object (or collection of objects) or a project or performance or social interaction of some kind. Can life, as Foucault suggests, or living, take form in public experiences that we might call art?It is a challenging and fascinating question. As your creative process unfolds, you will be defining the form of art-making or social practice, gathering materials or examples, describing the materials and/or practice, interpreting, and curating, perhaps in an open exhibit of some kind. More on the final product will come into view as our discussions unfold, and we determine together where we want to end up.
As you begin thinking about your project, some of the materials we have close to home may spark your interest. If you are drawn to the idea of a project that involves primary materials in the Keene State College collections, here are some of the materials you will have the opportunity to consider.
Ed Hogan Small Press Collection Includes small press publication and literary magazines from the 1960s-1970s
Charter Weeks Photography Collection Documentary photographer work include documenting social and political life in New Hampshire; photographed African American tenant farmers in the South in the late 1960s.
Rev. John Crocker, Jr. Papers Papers of the Civil Rights and Peace Activists and Episcopal Minister; he participated with the Freedom Riders and was arrested in the South for his civil rights work.
Doris “Granny D” Haddock Papers Papers of the political activist who at age 89-90 walked across the U.S. in support of campaign finance reform; ran also for U.S. Senate.
Christine Sweeney Papers Papers of Dr. Christine Sweeney who sued Keene State College for discrimination in awarding tenure based on gender; the case went to the Supreme Court where Sweeney prevailed.
Louis de Rochemont Collection Papers and films relating to the academy award winning NH film director whose work included the March of Times and a number of films like, Lost Boundaries, that address race and class.
Here I Am, Send Me: The Story of Jonathan Daniels Collection Records related to the PBS documentary film about Jonathan Daniels, the civil rights activist and Episcopal seminarian; includes several raw footage interviews and transcripts with Stokely Carimichel, John Lewis, among others.
Barry Faulkner Portfolios Barry Faulkner (July 12, 1881 – October 27, 1966) was an American artist (from Keene, New Hampshire) who was primarily known for his murals. His murals depicted scenes of everyday life in America (there is a mural in Eliot Hall and Cheshire County Historical Society) and of historical scenes. During World War I, he and sculptor Sherry Edmundson Fry organized artists for training as camouflage specialists (called camoufleurs), an effort that contributed to the founding of the American Camouflage Corps in 1917.
George and Florence Stoff Letters Collection of WWII era love letters that offer an insight into the life of Jewish American family at the home and warfront.
We will visit the archives again after spring break and have a look at these materials.