“What do you want us to do?”
“How do you get people to react?”
These were the questions asked by the teacher, Sara Arno, to her students about their artwork. She followed up with, “Is causing empathy or sympathy enough?” and, “What more needs to be said?” She was trying to get her students to really think about if their art accomplished the goal of provoking social action, as was discussed earlier in the unit. Then she asked what they would do as a follow-up piece, how they would continue the “series.”
A series can make the message stronger. In AP art students select a topic and make 12 pieces. The artist can’t say the same thing over and over. So how do you continue with the message?
In the painting about North Korea (below) there was a lot of discussion about why the man does not have eyes. Some of the ideas were that North Koreans are not considered individuals, or they are blind to the outside world. There was also some discussion about if the buildings represent South Korea or a nondescript western city. The artist shared that this represents the lack of freedom in the north, and that some people are beginning to realize that freedom exists on the outside. He has no eyes because North Koreans are not supposed to have their own emotions. This idea was influenced by her research on North Koreans who had escaped to South Korea, and were having trouble adjusting, especially with understanding appropriate emotions for various situations.
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the discussion for the two works below. The top painting is about drug abuse, and the bottom painting is about harvesting organs from unwilling donors.