Link to Table of Contents Birdie Index Art as Social Consciousness Raising

Dear Habermas Logo and Link to Site Index A Justice Site

Developing the Imaginary

Visual Meaning

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: March 31, 2001
Latest update: April 2, 2001

Art as Social Consciousness Raising

by Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata
Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata, and by individual contributors. April 2001.
"Fair Use" encouraged.

Transcend Art and Peace: A New Site

Transcend Art and Peace

This new site explores the possibilities of enhancing the sensitivities brought out by both art and peacemaking as means of improving interpersonal relationships in the real world. "The way we look at art can be an indication of the way we look at the world and its people, including ourselves, and an inner transformation within a single individual can lead to a change in humanity as a whole." Transcend Art and Peace Philosophy

"People are afraid to connect."

by Teresa Mason, Californai State University, Dominguez Hills

On April 1, 2001, just as Olivier Urbain was announcing the new site, Transcend for Art and Peace, Teresa Mason, a student at California State University, Dominguez Hills wrote:

Hi Jeanne

Although I am a student in your Moot Court class, I decided to attend your Theory class last Thursday. I was surprised to see the students drawing pictures. I started to leave, but you invited me to join in. I decided to stay just to see how the students were expressing themselves artistically. I, being artistically challenged, have always avoided any projects that involved art. When you mentioned that art is more concerned with expression than beauty, I decided to ignore my insecurity and join in.

I let my emotions guide me in my quest for self expression. My emotions led me to draw a lot of wavy parallel lines of various colors. I don't really know what made me choose this particular design, but what I do know is that the colored lines for me represent a strong desire I have for people to learn to connect with one another. Parallel lines are separate. They don't connect.

My finished product might not be classified as a beautiful work of art, but it is definitely a work of self expression. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to express myself in a new way.

Teresa Mason

On Monday, April 2, 2001, jeanne responded:
Beautiful, Teresa. You know, I noticed your painting drying in the office, and I thought it said a great deal. I'm glad you stayed. Now we have to frame that piece and give it a very special place.

The author of Less than Zero, a popular coming of age novel several years ago used as leit-motif the phrase "People are afraid to connect." Oddly enough that theme was missing from the movie of the book, Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero. Note particularly the review listed on from a reader in England: "This is basically an update of The Catcher in the Rye (one of my favourite novels) and to be frank, either I missed the point or Ellis missed the point - either way, I did not like this book." So, I never promised you I was a literary critic. I saw the point to the book in the leit-motif. Maybe that was too subtle. Maybe Bret Easton Ellis never intended it as a leit-motif. But that's the beauty of art and literature. They express to us the imaginary of other people's work, and in the postmodern world which sees art as an interdependent product of viewer and artist, the work of art offers us a foundation on which to free and build our own imaginary.

Robert Ebert's Review of Less Than Zero, the movie, with Robert Downing

love and peace, jeanne

Discussion Questions

  1. The theory topic on the day that Teresa Mason visited the theory class was structural violence in an institution of higher education whose students perceived that their validity claims had not been heard in good faith. How does Teresa's art work aid others in understanding that phenomenon?
    jeanne's notes on one plausible answer:

    Sometimes a picture (or a melody) is worth a thousand words. When Teresa took the time to visualize her concern with people not connecting, she found a new way to express the concept of "good faith." When others share her painting and her accompanying thoughts, they may more effectively grasp the concept than through more traditional definitions.