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Naked Space Fall 2004

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: April 13, 2004
Latest Update: April 13, 2004

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Index of Topics on Site Index of Suggestions for Projects for Exhibit
You are welcome to choose your exhibit project as an individual or in conjunction with others. Because each of you will be responsible for discussing your project with me, it doesn't really matter how the work is divided. Your grade will depend on your sharing with me precisely what you did. You are expected to help each other and to share ideas. This is not a competitive endeavor. This is a gallery exhibition, and we want all our visitors to have a good experience discussing substantive issues that matter to us, like the labor market, outsourcing, competence skills, the cost of education, answerability, religion and spirituality, body identity (including gender and color and size), violence as we live it, criminal justice, social justice, restorative justice, community cohesion and disruption, law and legitimacy as they affect all of us, and so on. Obviously we can't cover all these topics in one semester, although sometimes you'll find I put up rather more than we can cover.

I am an artist, and my art means a great deal to me. It helps me express feelings and ideas when words fail me. When I'm drawing, I feel frustrated that I can't draw or paint or sculpt as well as Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Chagall, Henry Moore. Now that's nuts; I'm a teacher. But I learn from their work, and I expect of myself that I'll go on trying to learn to capture some of my feelings and ideas as they captured theirs.That leads me to believe that art should not be limited to a fun entertainment for elementary school. Nor do I believe that adults who are seriously trying to express feelings and ideas should limit themselves to childhood stick figures. Nothing wrong with childhood stick figures, but as you grow more serious about what you're trying to express, your skills will necessarily grow through that effort. Maybe you won't use traditional methods, but creativity resides in the exploration of the new. And art is about creativity.

We focus on visual sociology only because all my music teachers begged me to give up music. I can't tell whether notes go up or down, never mind what note they are. But music, poetry, novels, which we have tried on the site, are all legitimate means of expression and belong within the discourse of substantive issues important to us. You are invited to use any talents that please you.

But visual sociology doesn't stop there. Having chosen a substantive topic that matters, you need to focus on some element of it that is important. John Darwell focusses on depression and how it feels in A Black Dog Came Calling. I have long wanted to know how depression feels, because my husband feels it, and I don't. I want to empathize. The very first photo in John Darwell's exhibit was powerful for me. It's raining. The scene is just a little obscure. There are colors. But they don't come out in all their joy and glory. They're hidden under a gray feeling of fog. I can imagine that. So that's what Arnold's feeling. Illocutionary understanding. Just trying to hear what he's trying to tell me, so that my utterance and his answer will come closer to a meaning we can both understand.

Now, for the Naked Space Exhibit that particular photo, displayed as we might in a gallery or in a powerpoint slideshow, brings that same feeling to others. But sociology is a science. We want information to flow. We want to teach and learn, think critically, and transfer what we are learning to other situations in which it will be useful. So in addition to focussing on the element of rain, fog, obscurity, the dulling of color, I also need to accompany that exhibit with my translation of it into its meaning for my life. Then we can talk about whether it means the same to another, whether my interpretation is colored by some depression or neurosis of my own, whether others can see it the same way, or whether their are other interpretations that might even make it easier for me to understand depression, and feel less threatened by it when I need to interact with it.

This brief explanation, Michael's inclusion of the photograph in our slideshow, and scheduling the discussion at a time when people who are interested in that issue might come, and making up a brochure that such people could take away with them - that's a project worthy of a gallery, especially of a gallery that means to bring the inhabitants of this community closer for substantive discourse on issues that matter.

We also have the web site, Dear Habermas. That means that lectures and summaries of related theoretical concepts can be available to all of us by checking the Index of the Site. a paragraph or so conceptually linking social, political, philosophical theory to the project completes the exhibit potential.

Last Fall one young woman kept an entire diary, replete with pictures she cut out, mementos she saved, and thoughts she wrote out and painted and drew in a printed hard cover story book. She asked that we suspend it from the ceiling in the gallery. We did. It was such a hit, others went home and created their own.

You may use books, objects, paintings and drawings from the site, magazine pictures, stick figures, whatever helps you tell the story you're feeling. If you don't know quite how to link it conceptually to social, political, and philosophical theory, ask us. We'll help.

A very good painter once told me that each painter has an ethical responsibility to show his/her paintings, for only when they are shown do they carry their message to the world as they were meant to. He was right. And through the Naked Space Exhibit each semester we have an opportunity to carry our message out into our world, in the academy, in our families, in the community. That means that we collectively are building the skills of answerability.

Here are some projects that need help or may inspire you.

  1. Chalice of Tribute
    The Chalice of Tribute Revisited: As the Answerability Goblet and the Illocutionary Discourse Goblet
    Suggested by Kim as related to the more current cultural item: the Pimp Goblet.

    Poems on the goblet and its meaning from long ago and from today.

    This will include a project that visitors to the gallery can work on: a plastic goblet, decorated with glass jewels. We'll need help to cover this table with someone who can guide visitors to making their own goblet.

  2. A Black Dog Came Calling by John Darwell,
    a professional artist from the UK. His project is on depression.

    Could you locate someone who has experienced depression and who could add their impressions to John Darwell's? You could give them a throwaway camera or ask them to use their own to photograph their feelings.

  3. Wal-Mart and the Job Market
    Jobs, Living Wages, Out Sourcing - OY!!!!!

    Here we have a drawing to express the conceptual, social and political dilemma of redistributing jobs and careers across a global stage. For some it will be good. For some it will do harm. What role will cultural history play? What responsibility for guiding and promoting less painful solutions does governance have?

    A conservative, right-oriented approach to the Wal-Mart Issue: Voting 'No' on Low Prices and Good Jobs "Inglewood would have benefited from Wal-Mart." Backup. Essay and analysis at Jobs as Counted Commodities Lecture, resources, and discussion questions included. Good guide for authenticating learning for grading, as well as source for ideas on projects.

    Social Safety Nets Don't Hurt Democratic Economies, by Peter Lindert of UC Davis. April 12, 2004 news announcement. Backup.

  4. Illocutionary Discourse: Trying to Not to Force Each Child Into an Ideal Mold

    Here again, I used a painting to illustrate the feelings and to teach the concept of illocutionary discourse. Photographs, pictures, books might also work.

  5. Conceptual Art Another Way to Do Sociology.

    Could you put together a series of drawings or photographs that would represent something that you want to say about the social and political world we live in? We can help you turn it into a slide show.

  6. jeanne's first draft of We Are Scattered Without Our Stories. jeanne's first draft of Our Stories Give Us History and Identity and Aesthetics and Morality

    Our Stories Give Us History and Identity
    And Aesthetics and Morality

    Transparency for Peace. We Are Scattered Without Our Stories

  7. Voices of Faith and BeliefThe New Second Generation

    The diary as a means of understanding the New Second Generation of Immigrants. Find an old book that has a special meaning for you. Cut out pictures, paste in mementos, record your feelings, right in the book. The diary becomes a beautiful memory of "coming of age." Last Fall, one of our students suspended her diary from the ceiling and captured the heart of our visitors.

Site Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors, April 2004.
"Fair use" encouraged.