Art & Activism Online (Winter 2021)
COURSE DESCRIPTION (Begins January 8, 2021)
Can art speak more or as effectively as conventional language? To what extent does an artist's skill relate to the audibility and the reach of her art? Can art inspire contemplation? Can it affect/influence policy decisions? If art cannot affect social change, does its expression still have value?
This course examines these questions and more, as we review examples of activist art in the 21st Century including how advances in technology affect the production, delivery, and consumption of art. The course also examines the evergreen activist nature of art within historical movements such as Baroque, Rococo, Renaissance, Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Surrealism, and Dadaism.
This course examines what constitutes art, what makes art valuable, and the tensions that exist between individual versus collaborative expressions.
This online course is a modified version of the course I teach in a live classroom setting for university undergraduates. This online course will be conducted using two platforms: 1) a private Facebook Group and 2) Zoom meetings. Every Monday, I will upload onto the FB group, required reading, Live Video Lectures, and a "Letter to Students" organized into 7 Units as follows:
UNIT 1: Identity
UNIT 2: Artist to Activist
UNIT 3: Influence + Relevance + Refusal
UNIT 4: Public v Private
UNIT 5: Photography & Framing
UNIT 6: Art History
UNIT 7: The Joy & Sorrow
UNIT FINAL: Feathers, Resistance & Flight
Those lectures can be viewed in the moment on FB (every Monday at 2PM (PST)) or can be viewed at a different time as the lectures will live on that platform without an expiration date.
Every Friday, participants will be asked to respond to each unit's lecture and readings in the form of a "Letter to the Instructor" which references the lecture and readings. Each participant will be expected to write a total of 7 letters.
On Fridays, participants will be asked to be log in and be present for a Zoom meeting discussion (at 5PM (PST)). I will recruit a couple of volunteers to read their Letter to the Instructor for that week and ask the volunteers to facilitate a discussion with the other participants for the duration of the zoom call.
The letters are expected to be thoughtfully composed without leaning on cliches so to inspire high quality, honest interaction among group members.
Approximately one week will be allotted for each unit. This course is not a "forever" class where you return to it a year later to do art projects. It is an "in the now" class where we interact with one another in the present moment to digest content together, and contemplate ideas together. There will be some flexibility so that if you fall behind, you can always review and catch up. For example, if you are unable to watch a LIVE Video Lecture when it happens, you can still watch it in the Facebook Group at a later time so that you have everything you need to do the writing assignment. But you won't have an endless amount of time because we will continue to move through each unit by giving each unit approximately one week. (There might be a unit that is allotted two weeks.)
- Once you enroll, you will be invited into the Facebook group.
- The very first meeting on Friday, January 8th will be on zoom and will be a time for getting to know you exercise. After that, we will ease into a Monday/Friday schedule until the course is over.
- Once you are in the group, you will be given the title of two books that you need to get before the course begins on January 8th. The two books are the only ones you will be required to read. All other readings will be provided in the form of a PDF or a link.
- There will be one 90-minute documentary that you are asked to watch, available to be rented on amazon for $2.99. There will also be a 50-minute episode of a reality show that you are asked to watch. It is available to be rented on amazon for $1.99. There is an episode of a podcast that you will be asked to listen to, which is available for free, wherever you get your podcasts.
- Readings for the first two units will be the heaviest. So if you are able to get through those first two units, you'll notice that you get into a good rhythm thereafter for the rest of the units.
- Ground rules will be explained in the Facebook Group. The biggest rule will be about interacting with respect while pursuing robust discussions based on curiosity and scholarship. In other words, I'd like for us to not be afraid to question and delve but to do so with respect and dignity.
- Though this is a modified university course, there will be no official university credit offered.
- Office Hours: Throughout the course if you would like the opportunity to discuss something on a one-to-one basis, we can coordinate a time to do a private FaceTime conversation. This will be available two times for each participant for the duration of the entire course.
- To preserve the quality of our discussions, I will be limiting enrollment at approximately 20.
- The first meeting will begin Friday, January 8, 2021
Thank you for your art.
Thank you for your curiosity.
Thank you for your activism.
See you in class!
Jenny Doh, MSW
University of California, Irvine
Some feedback from Art&Activism alumni :-)