Ichikawa was born and raised in Tokyo Japan, and now lives in Seattle, Washington. She adopted a style known as "Pyrography" in which she burns images into paper using the residue melted glass. She guides the glass as it descends in a dance like fashion to create magnificently surrealistic forms. As a former glass blower, she discovered the technique by accident when a large glob of molten glass created an interesting burn mark in the concrete floor. After the Fukishima disaster, she co-founded Artists for Japan which raises money to support those hurt by the Great East Japan earthquake. Her art has transitioned from visual to social as she tackles social, political, and environmental issues, especially those associated with nuclear power.
The lines between art and propaganda are often blurred by the uncertain intent of the creator. Historically art has been an essential part in nation building and developing a cultural identity, likewise, propaganda seeks to specifically those goals but with less emphasis on the pure aesthetic of the piece. The recent resurgence in popularity of Socialist Realist paintings further obscures the differences as billionaires garner as many pieces as they can in an effort to preserve part of their national and artistic history. Some curators such as Rena Lavery believe that the pieces should be considered outside of their historical context saying, “When you’re born is when you’re born; if you have a gift you have a gift.” Others do not believe that the paintings are simply an expression of art, but part of a mass campaign to assimilate cultures into the singular identity of the Soviet Bloc. While the paintings were made in the very early 20th century, communism and the Soviet Union are still recent phenomenons in the context of former Soviet states. Perhaps as time continues to heal wounds, people will become more accepting of the paintings as works of art with specific goal in mind rather than outright agents of manipulation.
Conversely, Brian McCarty's work has seen the opposite effect, whereby his photographs which were intended to be art have been intercepted and construed to seem as if they were promotions for ISIS. The circumstances are unfortunate as McCarty's livelihood and identity are being outright stolen, yet he cannot file a copyright claim against a group of terrorists. His attempts to remove the image was in vain as it kept reappearing. The fiasco shows that there can be a difference between art and propaganda. While McCarty's original work was political in nature, it was not intended to be propaganda to support a single nation, group, or ideology, instead it presented a more generic longing for peace by exposing the horrors of war. ISIS's reinterpretation was much more geared towards the promotion of a single group, evidenced by the use of text, logos, and iconography. Instead of making a general statement about war or the human condition, the stolen image portrays a clear one-sided goal, to draw more support towards ISIS.
The two examples suggest that art and propaganda are not subsets of one another, but instead two categories which share certain aspects. In the case of Socialist Realism, propaganda might be viewed as a type of art movement while also fulfilling its purpose as propaganda. McCarty ,however, suggests that there are still distinct differences between the fields which allow them to remain separate entitles.
Decided to scrap the other painting for a watercolor/collage combo. I don't have much experience with either, but I think it will be interesting.
I've tried to continue painting on a piece that I started a while ago. The only things that were previously on it were a few depictions of floating ice on water. I added the framework for a ship, and tried to see if I could paint some dry grass.
Very few can claim to have tamed fire enough to draw with it, but Steven Spazuk has achieved exactly that through a technique known as Fumage. Spazuk has spent 14 mastering the craft, using the soot from a candle flame to mark special paper then carefully sculpt the remaining soot with brushes and even feathers to create wonderful effects and detail. He values the chance in his work, saying he does not censor his process, instead embracing the immediacy and flow of his technique. He often turns his works into mosaic pieces, taking what would be amazing works on their own, and combining them in one massive work which takes on its own unique meaning.
A political cartoonist turned sculptor, Damian Ortega makes extraordinary installations from mundane objects. Ortega was born in Mexico city, and often draws back to his childhood when deciding which materials to use for his works. His most famous work "Cosmic Thing" is a 1989 Volkswagen Beetle car disassembled and then reassembled with each part suspended from the ceiling. The Beetle was known as "the people's car" as it was an affordable and reliable vehicle that symbolized the westernization of New Mexico, ironically by means of a Nazi founded company. His other work "Controller of the Universe" is a series of suspended tools purchased from a German flee market. The title is a reference to a mural by Diego Rivera which was burned by Rockefeller for featuring a picture of Lenin. Both of these works attempt to bring a new perspective to everyday items, displaying them in their full glory, but with political undertones adapted from his days as a cartoonist. Another of his famous suspension sculptures "Champ de Vision" is meant to viewed both close up and through a small viewing hole far away. Close up the 6000 suspended modules seem random yet whimsical. Once the viewer ventures farther away, the seemingly random modules culminate into a sculpture of an eye.
Not really sure how to proceed. I liked the collage theme from the last project, but I need to find a better way to integrate the materials into the painting.
War art exposes the pain and suffering generated when one group of people decides that it must kill another. What may seem to be empty reminders of human savagery can transformed into profound works of art which serve admonitions for the horrors of war. Although the technology of war changes rapidly between each conflict, the brutality of man remains an inherent part of occupation. Whether it be rifles, machine guns, or atomic bombs, war artists explore the darker side of the human condition, forcing us to learn about the mistakes of the past.
Fancisco de Goya uncovered the dark underbelly of the seemingly glorious Napoleonic army in his “the Horrors of War” series. The collection of prints highlights the merciless acts of French soldiers occupying the newly conquered Spanish towns. Goya includes accounts of rape, murder, and straight massacre in his pieces, providing one of the most famous and eerie collections of war art to date. Even today, such gruesome stories make their way into the media as conflicts continue to emerge around the world. When one group attempts to impress their will onto a population which refuses to conform, violence is inevitable.
Kikuji Kawada recorded a more modern account of war-fare in his “The Map” collection. Kawada photographed scenes of the destruction of Japan from the Second World War. His most famous pieces are from the Atomic Bomb Dome, the only surviving structure at the heart of the explosion. Photographs of burnt, twisted, and malformed objects captured the devastation caused by an atomic explosion. Hiroshima, a once normal town, became an alien landscape littered with relics of its previous inhabitants. Perhaps as chemical and biological warfare continues to evolve in contemporary battlefields, a new wave of brave photographers will expose the aberrations of science used to strike terror in the hearts of many.
As conflicts continue to emerge, warfare will continue to impact the lives of innocents caught in the tumult of it all. Contemporary war artist and reporters now more than ever play a critical role in exposing the truth about war. The media cannot always report civilian casualties or human rights violations, it would be bad business, thus freelance artists and reporters must continue to discover the facts and translate them into the universally accepted language of art. Everyone can empathize with the look of terror on a refugees face, or a tears of grief shed by a boy who lost their parents in an air raid. War artists must take these painful reminders of the cruelty of war and turn them into beacons of hope. Hope that the masses might see the true horrors of war and demand that violence cast away and succeeded by peace.