The Artist and Society

Order Description
Wong was clearly robbed of his place in American film history, as the creator of the “look” of one of the most influential animated films of all time, because he was Chinese. Choose an artist – a
writer, graphic artist, musician, dancer, film maker – whether American or otherwise, whose artistic career was effected by their ethnic identity. Read some materials on line, and keeping simply
historic narrative, explain how obstacles were put in their path by the social forces that did not honor their heritage. Here are a few examples to get your imaginations going: Ella Fitzgerald,
James Baldwin, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, The Comedian Harmonists, Artur Schnabel, Marc Chagall. You will probably know of others I have never heard of. Do not merely look up an artist and tell
me what you found on line. Think about how the artists work was shaped by their experience of discrimination or oppression. Did they speak in their art about their social predicament? Did their art
work to change the world that they found. If so, how?

2. Choose an artist who was “engaged” in social struggle and used their art to make a difference in the society they worked in. Again, art is a wide field. It includes graphic, performance, and
musical arts among others. Why did this artist choose to use their talents to “change the world”? How did their “engagement” shape the art they created? How did their work’s controversial nature
shape the way that they were received by their contemporaries? Kurt Vonegutt, whose essay “Wailing Shall Be in All Streets” I gave you is one instance of such and artist. Again, just to get you
thinking, here are a few artists whose work comes to my mind: Woody Guthrie, Diego Rivera, Ai Weiwei, Boris Pasternak, Dario Fo, Bertolt Brecht.

3. Give an example of a society in which artists were threatened by government or social forces that made it risky to be a socially engaged artist. Discuss several artists who were oppressed by
political pressures that restricted their freedom to create and to share their art, of whatever genre. Describe how they struggled against these restraints. Make some judgement on their careers and
how effectively they achieved their artistic goals in spite of the social forces that oppressed them.

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