ARTH 046. Socially Engaged Art in the Americas

Can art change the world? Questions about the impact of art in the social fabric are constitutive of the idea of avant-garde art. This course will introduce students to these debates as they took shape in the American continent since 1960. With an emphasis on forms of art practice that outspokenly seek to provoke positive social change, this class provides a parallel narrative of contemporary art, in which art exits the museum space to ingrain itself in broader social processes.

During the semester students will learn about different theories of socially engaged art articulated by artists and art historians alike. We will consider art as activism in the Civil Rights era, forms of artistic resistance to Latin American military dictatorships, second wave feminist art, contemporary community-based art, and forms of engaged art practice concerned with planet-wide environmental crisis. We will debate the tactics and ideals guiding these practices, and we will evaluate the potential risks that come with relying on art for social transformation. This course alternates short lecture periods with in-class discussion of primary and secondary sources. It is structured around six thematic blocs, at the end of which students will produce a short written assignment. 
1 credit.
Eligible for ESCH, PEAC, GLBL-paired, LALS
Catalog chapter: Art and Art History: Art History  
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