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Thestudy of art designs can be viewed through the broad classificationsof formalism and contextualism. Aformal analysis can additionally depict art as non-representationalor representational which responds to the question, is the artistreplicating an image or object seen in nature?Kara Walker is a contemporary artist best known for her silhouettedfigures which explore identity, sexuality, and race. Another artistthat has similar advocacy with Walker is Fusco. Fusco’s art is arepresentation of history and an illustration of the sufferings ofnon-whites. She conveys the growing multiculturalism that exists inthe society. In the article titled Madein Patriarchy: toward a Feminist Analysis of Women and Design, CherylBuckley states that women’s interventions in designs, both in thepast and at present, are constantly not being paid attention to. Themain focus in the feminist examination of the role of women in designis the understanding of patriarchy. In a developed industrial societyin which culture is valued highly, male functions are perceived asbeing greatly cultural. This paper presents the field of design usedby Kara Walker and its connection to the text titled Madein Patriarchy: toward a Feminist Analysis of Women and Design. Ibelieve that art becomes meaningful only if it conveys a message tothe audience. Thus, social code as well as aesthetic code must bevisible in an art masterpiece to receive more recognition.
Contextualism is a method in which an art is analyzed in the context of its period in a way which values its creator`s advocacies and motivations with consideration of the prejudices and desires of its sponsors and patrons with a relative study of methods and themes of the artist`s teachers and colleagues and reflection of chronological symbolism and religious iconography.
Formalism is the method in which the artwork is analyzed through an examination of its form that is, the artist`s usage of shape, line, color, composition, and texture.
Kara Walker is a contemporary artist best known for her silhouetted figures which explore identity, sexuality, and race
In the article titled Made in Patriarchy: toward a Feminist Analysis of Women and Design, Buckley pinpoints a number of debates that have existed in Britain’s design history regarding the role that women play and the design used.
Patriarchy has put constrained on women’s opportunities to take active involvement completely in all aspects of society, and more particularly, in all aspects of design, through various means such as economic, historical, psychological, and social.
Design is a collective process which involves groups of individuals other than the designer.
Cultural codes are not complete and are not controlled by the intentions of the designers.
Social codes function as mediating influences between particular designs and ideology by interposing them as sets of conventions and rules which form cultural products and which should be used by cultural producers and artists.
Feminist designers’ works are normally anchored in the patriarchal framework.
Legitimizing the development of cultural coding which is considered as the language of design is shown as a universal truth.
Feminist design historians should progress on two fronts.
First, feminist design historians must examine the material as well as ideological function of patriarchy in connection to design and women.
Feminist design historians must also critically evaluate the rules to understand why women designers have been excluded from history books and then to allow developing a history that does not exclude women.
Thestudy of art designs can be viewed through the broad classificationsof formalism and contextualism. Contextualism is amethod in which an artwork is analyzed in the context of its periodin a way which values its creator`s advocacies and motivationstaking into account the prejudices and desires of its sponsors andpatrons with a relative study of methods and themes of the artist`steachers and colleagues and reflection of temporal symbolism andreligious iconography (DeRose 1999, p.187). Simply put, this approachinvestigates the art work in terms of the world in which it wasestablished. Formalism is a method in which the artwork is analyzedthrough an examination of its form that is, the artist`s usage ofshape, line, color, composition, and texture (Platt 1986, p. 69).Formalism method analyzes how an artist makes use of atwo-dimensional picture plane to make an art.
Aformal analysis can additionally depict art as non-representationalor representational which responds to the question, is the artistreplicating an image or object seen in nature? If it is, then theimage is representational. The nearer the art carves to idealsimulation, the further the art becomes realistic. If an art makesuse of more symbolism and less imitation, or in a significant waystruggles to captivate nature`s real meaning, instead of imitating itopenly, an art becomes abstract. An example of a representative styleis impressionism. Impressionism does not directly create a replica,but strives to form an "impression" of natural world(Bomford, Leighton, Kirby and Roy, 1990). Abstraction and realismtranspire on a continuum. If the art work is not representative ofthe natural world, but a manifestation of the artist`s longings,feelings, and desires, or quest for principles of form and beauty,the work is expressionism or non-representational.
KaraWalker is a contemporary artist best known for abstract and realismthrough her silhouetted figures which explore identity, sexuality,and race (Corris and Hobbs 2003, p. 422). Walker’s masterpiecesuncover the traditional Victorian silhouette on the gallery walls,which illustrate tableaux of imaginary scenes, linking reality andfantasy, and which have fictionalized stereotypes at the centre(Corris and Hobbs 2003, p. 422). The illustrated scenes are notnecessarily emblems of slave narratives, but instead imaginaryaccounts of possible brutality during the antebellum period. Abusesagainst black people were evident for many centuries. Slavery andsexual abuses became the norm and Africans fought mightily againstthese inhumane acts. Women were forced to mate with men they do notknow and the slave owners did all these abuses because they viewedAfricans as animals and not as people. African women were forced toperform sexual acts for the amusement of the slave owners. All ofthese are reflected in Walker’s artworks. Thefictionalizedscenesshown in figure 1 are made up of life-size statures and are not quiteexclusively carried out as black shapes posted on a white background.
Accordingto Walker, most of her work is merely about events that happened inthe past and nothing more (Raymond, 2007). The silhouetted figuresturn fiction into reality, which disturb the conventions ofstorytelling and history. Through art, Walker uncovers herAfrican-American roots and the cruelties that her ancestors suffered.Because of this, Walker encountered various criticisms claiming thather works are stereotypical.
Anotherartist by the name of Fusco created her own mark in the art world. In“Two Undiscovered Aborigines Dancing on the Wound of History,”Fusco’sart is a representation of history and an illustration of thesufferings of non-whites. In Gablik’s interview (1997) with Fusco,the latter discussed her thoughts of what it means to have a dynamicconnection with society. Fusco believes that arts and the creatorshave significant parts to play in changing the world through learningabout places and people and putting everything into one bigmasterpiece (p. 333). Fusco has a straightforward viewpointconcerning art, connection, and interpretation. The world’sproblems are reflected on her work thus it can be said that Fusco’sarts are reliant on the public and the events in the community andsociety.
Justlike Walker, Fusco’s purpose was focused on spreading awareness tothe people. As an artist, Fusco wants to experience the differentcultures and integrate them into her work. She conveys the growingmulticulturalism that exists in the society. Problems about politicsand their behavior towards diverse cultures have so much to do withhierarchies’ break down. Because of this breaking down, people whodid not have a voice in debates are now enjoying the freedom ofspeech.
Inthe article titled Madein Patriarchy: toward a Feminist Analysis of Women and Design, CherylBuckley states that women’s interventions in designs, both in thepast and at present, are constantly not being paid attention to(Buckley1986, p. 3). Buckley points out a number of debates that haveexisted in Britain’s design history regarding the role that womenplay and the design used. A number of theories were feministic innature. A feminist theory has been beneficial in that it outlines theprocess of patriarchy and the formation of the feminine (Buckley1986, p. 3). Feminity is socially established and gender identity aswell as sexuality is obtained at both the unconscious and consciouslevels in the family as well as through acquisition of a language.The work of various feminist and art historians has been significant,particularly the evaluations of the discipline of history thatreveals the ideological reasons for the women’s silence.
Themain focus in the feminist examination of the role of women in designis the understanding of patriarchy. Patriarchy has restricted women’schances to take active involvement completely in all aspects ofsociety, and more particularly, in all aspects of design, throughvarious means such as economic, historical, psychological, andsocial. The outcome of female stereotypes outlines certain mechanismsof behavior as being suitable for women. Social roles and certainoccupations are considered as female. Intellectual and physical idealis developed for women to aim for. These stereotypes have had hugeeffect on the physical spaces. Design historians who analyze women’srole in design are urged to recognize that women are positioned inthe framework of patriarchy and that the concepts concerning women’sdesign abilities as well as design needs originate in patriarchy.
Ina patriarchy, activities of men are valued greatly compared to thatof women. The reasons behind this valuation are complicated. In adeveloped industrial society in which culture is valued highly thannature, male functions are perceived as being greatly culturalcompared to being natural. On the contrary, the female roles are thereverse of this. Simply put, female functions are seen as being morenatural than being cultural. Hence, women are considered closer tonature. Women designers who believed that the design process changesnature into cultural form are linked to their biological make up bypatriarchal principle which highlights their design skills as anoutcome of the sex – as innate or natural. Women are perceived tobe highly decorative and meticulous. These skills signify that womenare appropriate to certain design production such as the decorativearts including jewelry making, graphical illustration, embroidery,weaving, pottery, knitting, and dressmaking. All of these areconnected to each other and are inherently female.
Figure2 Images of Slavery
KaraWalker’s work shows the feministic emotions involved in the desireto present the historic past of Africans as shown in figure 2. It isapparent that examinations of patriarchy as well as the gender issuesare central to the argument concerning the role of women in design.Historians, therefore, must map out the patriarchal operation andmake gender a social construct that is distinct from sex being acondition of lunges biological make up. Gender is represented incontemporary and even in historical representations of women asobjects, designers, and consumers, however it does not stay as it is.Various designers have emphasized the production as well as meaningof design on the contribution of the person. In this strategy, designhistory reflects art history in its function as authenticator andattributor. The idea that the meaning of objects of design issingular and is identified by the designer is merely simplistic andignores the fact that design is a method of representation. Itembodies economic, political, and cultural power.
Designhistorians perform a crucial role in maintaining assumptionsconcerning the functions and abilities of women designers as well astheir inability to recognize the governance of patriarchy as well asits function historically. As an outcome, women’s design isneglected as well as unrepresented in the history books. Hence, oneof the primary issues for historians to handle is patriarchyincluding its value systems. First, the terms in which inferiorcondition is designated to certain design undertakings must bechallenged and analyzed. The conceptual nature of terms includingdelicate, feminine, and decorative must be recognized within theframework of women’s design.
Itis essential that design historians acknowledge the patriarchalgroundwork of the sexual division of labor, which points to womendesign skills on a biological basis. Because of the inability ofdesign historians to recognize patriarchy, design historians likewiseneglect the actual nature of women’s function in design.Historians, therefore, should take note of the value systems whichoffers the chance to exchange value over use value because at a verybasic level, the objects which women generate have been devoured bybeing used instead of preserved as a store of exchange value.
Accordingto Buckley (1986), design is a collective process which involvesgroups of individuals other than the designer. So as to acknowledgethe meaning of design at a historical content, it is essential toexamine other groups. Consumers are the most neglected and ignoredgroup. Consumers are often viewed by retailers, design organizations,and advertisers as females. This, in turn, defines the perceptions ofdesigners’ assumptions concerning women consumers. Women’s mainfunction is in domestic service to children, home, and husband.Domestic appliance transforms the lives of women by making theoperations a lot easier to handle. A considerable constant aspect ofthe sexual division of labor is the outline of women’s function ascarers and housewives. As an outcome of this sexual division of work,designers consider women as the only users of home appliances. Womenare seldom used in advertising motorcars. Instead, women are shownparking their hatchback in a supermarket.
Figure3 Kara Walker`s Depiction of Slavery
Theimages displayed by Kara Walker’s silhouette figures as shown infigure 3 are controversial by nature. As such, parents are warned toguide their children whenever there are gallery displays. Walker’simages constantly change in form as they are morphed embodiments andevidence from visual archive of various cultures. For instance, the“Black-White Relation”, this gives a thorough, articulate, andintelligent framing of art historical framework. In Mark Reinhardt’sessay titled TheArt of Racial Profiling, Reinhardtmade use of reference points of people’s everyday experience. DarbyEnglish’s essay thisis not about the Past: Silhouettes in the Work of Kara Walker,Englishrevealed admirable breadth and depth of reference.
Inthe text I provided, the primary focus of discussion is in the lackof recognition for women’s work in arts. The work of Kara Walker isa very impressive one because it does not only display creativeillustrations but more importantly, the artwork displays significantmeaning of events that happened in the past. Hence for my designproposal, there are two objectives I wish to accomplish:
Promote women’s art
Revive history through art
Thepicture above is an example of how the art pieces will be displayed.In this regard, I wish to create an art display of various forms ofart made only by women artists. These artworks will have to depicthistory at its very core. The artworks will showcase life during theprimeval era and will progress all through life at the modern age.Artworks will be in the form of silhouette figures, paintings,carvings, and a lot more. In all these displays, the name of womenartists will be also be shown in order to give importance to thecreators themselves.
Inaddition, I wish to disseminate the art designs of women artists bywidening their exposure. For instance, the artworks will be used aswall designs or tile designs. (See photo below)
Culturalcodes are not complete and are not controlled by the intentions ofthe designers. These intentions are restricted by current codes ofrepresentation and form which shape the products of culture. As anoutcome, the artistshave to utilize cultural codes in the design.Social and aesthetic are the dominant codes of design. Social codesfunction as mediating influences between particular works andideology by interposing them as sets of conventions and rules whichform cultural products and which should be used by cultural producersand artists. It must be noted that the use of monograph, forinstance, is an insufficient tool for exploring the complicatednessof consumption and design production. Feminist designers’ works arenormally generated in the patriarchal framework. Their desires,needs, and expectations as both consumers and designers are builtwithin a patriarchy.
Legitimizingthe development of cultural coding which is considered as thelanguage of design is shown as a universal truth. These definitionsfunction to isolate design products from the ideological and materialconditions of consumption and production. The aesthetic theory whichinformed the beliefs of good taste and good design was modernism.This theory has huge impact on designing history by emphasizing thetechnical and formal innovation as well as experimentation as thepertinent aspects of design. Feminist design historians shouldprogress on two fronts. First, feminist design historians mustexamine the material as well as ideological function of patriarchy inconnection to design and women. This attempt must be combined with ananalysis of the association between patriarchy and capitalism atcertain historical conjunctures to show how the role of women isdefined. Feminist design historians must also critically evaluate therules to understand why women designers have been excluded fromhistory books and then toallow developing a history that does not exclude women.Such history must recognize the many locales in which designfunctioned and the groups involved with its consumption andproduction.
Bomford,D., Leighton, J., Kirby, J. and Roy, A., 1990. Impressionism: art inthe making. TheNational Gallery, London.
Buckley,C., 1986. Made in patriarchy: Toward a feminist analysis of women anddesign. DesignIssues,pp.3–14.
Corris,M. and Hobbs, R., 2003. Reading black through white in the work ofKara Walker. ArtHistory,26(3), pp.422–441.
DeRose,K., 1999. Contextualism: An explanation and defense. TheBlackwell guide to epistemology,pp.187–205.
Gablik,S., 1997. Conversationsbefore the end of time.1st ed. New York, N.Y.: Thames and Hudson.
Mcachicago.org.2014. Museumof Contemporary Art – Education Programs.[online] Available at:<http://mcachicago.org/archive/collection/Walker-txt.html>[Accessed 20 Apr. 2014].
Pbs.org.2014. KaraWalker | Art21 | PBS.[online] Available at: <http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/kara-walker>[Accessed 20 Apr. 2014].
Platt,S., 1986. Formalism and American Art Criticism in the 1920s. JournalofTheory and Criticism of the Arts,2, pp.69–84.
Raymond,Y., 2007. Maladies of power: A Kara Walker lexicon. KaraWalker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love,pp.347–370.
Thomsen,F., 2011. The Art of the Unseen: Three challenges for RacialProfiling. TheJournal of ethics,15(1-2), pp.89–117.