Social Practice Art as a Necessary Product of a Global Means to Connect

 

In the United States, it appears though social practice art is no longer fashionable, and issues like identity and feminism have fallen out of favor. Despite this, social engagement in the United States is more important than ever, as our government systems continue to erode and our country struggles to understand our role in the world economy. Social practice and representational art that communicates and connects to a view is harder to measure than reducing Art to a particular style or a personal brand. However, if you listen carefully to the voice of emerging artists, the global tide is beginning to change. Social practice art is making a comeback.

For seven years before becoming an artist, I worked in the tech industry. While the work was not inherently creative, I learned to collaborate and generate ideas, to implement projects globally, and work in an environment of “organized chaos.” Like the Internet, the tech industry is open and generative. People are no longer confined by their location, and are free to collaborate and execute ideas on a global level. Most of us were frustrated with bureaucracy and the status quo, but we were no longer satisfied with voicing our concerns. We were determined to use our resources, build stuff, and fix it.

I plan to bring this attitude to the Art world, because I believe we need fewer restrictions and voices, and more hands to create change. I am discouraged by the status of social Art in the United States, but I am no longer satisfied with merely complaining about it. I am determined to not simply be a voice, but to be the hands. One way I believe I can be a part of the movement to mold and shape the status of Art, is to start by bringing back social relevance, because one important way Art derives meaning is through its connection with people.

In fact, contrary to what it may seem in the mainstream, I believe we’re on the cusp of a global, post-feminist movement. This is evidenced by growing list of successful international female artists such as Hung Liu, Wangechi Mutu, and Lee Jinjiu rising into the art scene and demanding global attention. In their own way, each of these women were able to rebel against their own pressures imposed on them, build upon the work done by generations of women before them, and create their own identity.

I am inspired by these women, and the fact that women across the world are finally being seen as individuals, not just a faceless, mass movement. I am excited to be join this movement because we now have the motivation and the means through technology, to connect with women across the world. I refuse to believe that Feminism was a passing fad because it is far too important to be disregarded. I believe we owe it to the generations of ordinary women who have paved the way, simply by existing, by suffering, and letting their brave voices be recorded and heard. These women put the wheels in motion, and it is now our duty to listen to those voices from the past, use technology to connect and collaborate globally, and finally, use our hands to create.

–October 10th, 2013

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Too Big to Jail

Since http://cindyshih.posterous.com/ is shutting down for good at the end of April, I guess I should start posting everything here. Not sure why I didn’t before, but so it goes…

Cool Story. So, I was feeling a bit under the weather on Monday when I finished up my latest illustration piece on an article from The Nation titled, “Why Don’t White Collar Criminals Get Equal Time?” By William Greider.  When I don’t feel quite finished yet, I sometimes post to Instagram first- which led to THE MOST AMAZING THING: Lil Wayne the Rapper liking my post!!

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Honestly, I think the whole thing is quite hilarious- considering it’s probably one of his many publicists managing his instagram account, but just in case- I told him to contact me if he ever wanted me to do an album cover for him. The offer still stands, Lil Wayne! (E-M-A-I-L-M-E)

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But here’s the finished product, which I added to a mock-up of the layout of the article, just to make it look all professional-like. The piece is supposed to be a bit vague but interesting enough to make someone want to read the otherwise boring article. I purposefully chose green on an off-white background to imitate the look and feel of money, and used imagery from the dollar bill along with the invisible hands of Capitalism framing and protecting those within it. The text reads in Latin, “Quoque Magnus Ad Carcerem” a translation of “Too Big To Jail.”


Editorial Tribute to Aaron Swartz (11.8.1986 ??? 1.11.2013)

Ink and Graphite on Illustration Board (15″x 20″)

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For those of you who aren’t familiar with Aaron Swartz, he pioneered the RSS feed at age 14, started Infogami (which later became Reddit.com) at age 18, and almost singlehandedly stopped the passing of the SOPA/PIPA bill in Congress last year. He dedicated his life to giving equal access to information, and was quoted in his Guerilla Open Access Manifesto saying, “Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.

I would also add that information is money, which is why it isn’t a surprise to me that in 2011, a federal grand jury indictment charged Swartz with wire and computer fraud for downloading large amounts of data from JSTOR, MIT’s digital repository of achives and he faced up to 35 years in prison. That’s more time that rapists and murderers get for what to me, sounds like checking out too many library books at one time. About a month ago, he was found dead in his Broolyn apartment, at age 26. 

I think it’s safe to say Aaron Swartz was a boy genius; a serious free-thinker who used his prodigious talents toward something he believed in– at the risk of some serious consequences. I’m not sure why his suicide struck a nerve with me. Maybe it’s the fact that I worked for Google, maybe it’s because I feel like he was an artist too, of a different stripe– or maybe it’s that I’ve always been a bit suspicious of how our society handles shy, brainy, inconvenient idealists like him. But I think it’s clear that given his trajectory, he could have accomplished a lot more for our world if we had given him a chance. But I guess the sad truth is that he didn’t really have a chance, at least not in our society. His death reminded me of this quote by journalist and author, Mignon McLaughlin:

Society honors its living conformists and its dead troublemakers.”

Rest in Peace, Aaron Swartz.