Excited to share that the Ad Club selected me as the winner of four ADDY Awards including Best of Show! Thanks to Brian for encouraging me to submit.
Images of my winning projects will be posted soon.
You can see the complete list of winners here:
The artist’s role in society is straightforward- to make art that matters. There are many different ways an artist can contribute art of importance to society. Although there are countless different mediums and styles of creating art, I believe art can be put in 3 categories defined by the intent of the artist and viewers.
The first is the most utilitarian form of art: communication. It is strategically designed to be effective at a glance. The visual appeal of communication focused art is often considered, but it has a priority of being serviceable over aesthetically pleasing. Billboards, maps, directional signage, and logos often apply to this criterion. A specific example of this form used effectively is the work in the parking garage on East 54th Street, New York, New York (Image #1). This design by Paula Scher demonstrates efficient communication at a glance by giving visual hierarchy to the most important information. Things like parking garage signs are necessary in our everyday lives, and without the work of an artist, they would be more confusing and less effective when they are needed most.
Another way that artists can contribute to society through art is by creating beautiful things. Sometimes, beauty for the sake of beauty is necessary. If one finds something to be beautiful, that is reason enough to like it. Things that are pleasing to look at can change one’s mood. Of course, beauty is subjective, so the content may vary from simple landscapes to purely abstract works (Image #2). Some might think these types of creations are not important, because these people do not value the usefulness of beauty. Art of this nature is underappreciated. Seeking pleasure from beauty is not prioritized, but it should be. To quote artist William Morris, “If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” For an artist to prioritize beauty, there must be high standards for the art that is encouraged in public. We must endlessly strive to make ourselves and others around us more refined in our appreciation of beauty by being critical of bad art in constructive ways.
The final category of art that fulfills an artist’s role in society is art that provokes thought. When art makes someone go out of their comfort zone, it makes them think, and therefore educates them. Some individuals are close-minded to topics that make them uncomfortable, such as sex, race, gender, religion, environmental issues, consumerism, and more. Art is a medium that encourages conversation and makes taboo topics easier to discuss. Artists cannot continue to limit conversational art to gallery spaces where only a certain demographic will see it. It is of extreme importance to continue bringing art into the everyday lives of people. A great example of this seen recently was Shepard Fairey’s “We The People” series, used prominently in the Women’s Marches and other examples of social justice activism. The most prominently featured of the series was Greater Than Fear– Its bold design made a strong impression and was very memorable, which made it a perfect icon for individuals who chose to march. Seeing a Muslim woman in association with the American flag and the first line of the US Constitution (Image #3) may make some uncomfortable, but will hopefully challenge them to think about their views on women, people of Muslim faith, and bigger ideas such as what it means to be American.
The artist does not necessary owe the public anything, meaning they are not indebted to them. That said, there is a responsibility that often goes overlooked; the artist must continue to fight for the value of art by producing quality work and not settling for art that is generic or uninspiring. An artist also has the responsibility to give a visual emotional response for people to relate to. Recall the terrorist attack in Paris of 2016, and the Peace for Paris symbol (Image #4) created by artist Jean Jullien. This symbol was created as a quick reaction to the tragedy, but soon went viral and became a symbol of unity and support for Paris. It is a great example of how even the artist’s smallest works with simple intentions can make a big impact on humanity. Society is most complete when everyone is contributing their talents and it is for the artist to recognize this and not hesitate to create abundantly. The artist serves no one directly, but their work effects everyone.
Image #1- New York parking garage directional signage by Paula Scher.
Image #2- Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor. With his sculpture Cloud Gate, Anish Kapoor has created something that we as viewers are irresistibly drawn to for its intriguing beauty, that has become an icon for the city of Chicago.
Image #3- Greater Than Fear of the We the People series by Shepard Fairey
Image #4- Peace for Paris icon by Jean Jullien