A Stone of Hope' Reflective Essay

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When you look at art, do you think about political and/or social issues? Do you think about how the things we see every day as using a visual representation in order to communicate to you? Do you ever think about how our mind absorbs information the easiest? Images are the easiest way for humans to remember through photographic memory, and also the most effective way to get a message across. For centuries, artists have influenced and communicated to the public using their artwork. Art can be a key factor to persuading someone to do something or think a certain way they may not have thought of beforehand. Artwork is necessary in order to capture an audience’s attention. Through the use of visualization and association, an artist can easily and effectively persuade, inform, and influence society through art.

Persuasion is the act of convincing someone to chance their beliefs or do something you suggest. Persuasion can be very powerful tool, given in the proper hands. Especially to an artist. One type of art that used the art of persuasion was Propaganda. Propaganda is a very effective, useful art that was used profusely as persuasion, dating all the way back into 1917-1921. Propaganda was mainly used during war times. It can be used to influence behaviors and attitudes of the people who look at it. Propaganda was more so used politically, as a way to display the socio-economic conditions and political context. Its ultimate goal was to create a world in a further, better condition. Cassandra Langer argues against political art in her journal, Must Political Art Be Propaganda? Langer states, “It asks the question: how can art serve two masters, social justice and art itself, without turning into propaganda?” Well, art can serve more than one purpose in multiple ways depending on what outcome or message the artist is attempting to depict. If the artist is attempting to persuade an audience, he may do it by propaganda or other political/social depictions. Furthermore, art can be used to persuade by appealing to authority, reason, emotion, and trust through persuasion. In a journal article by Diane Rothenberg, she describes the effect art would have on a community as a whole. Her journal involved her examining feminist contentions regarding collaborative art. She states, “…the use and manipulation of the media is one aspect of the overall “demonstration project” nature of her work.” She continues to mention that action is through art and describes how an artist can address a social issue and advocating social chance that broadens the audience for art statements. There are very powerful artworks in many forms out in the world today that can shape one’s decision. From political art to propaganda, the sole purpose is to effectively persuade you both consciously and sub-consciously.

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Additionally, information is additional knowledge that everyone is constantly looking to receive. The amount of knowledge that a person can learn is limitless. Informational art has informed society for decades. To inform, is to give someone information or facts. The primary purpose of informational art is to gain knowledge and understanding through the art piece. An artist can use his/her art to inform people about any current or past issues, events, and messages. Sometimes we can see informative art in textbooks or classrooms. Informing art can also be used to make the viewer think intellectually. It can help you understand facts, information, skills, and experience. For example, an artist could paint a portrait regarding women’s rights, and someone would have to really think intellectually about the issue. Art was used to fight for women’s rights during the 20th century by highlighting the issues and achieving the basic rights. This was one of Feminism’s most powerful tool for transmitting the message was art. Informing art was used to describe their lives, personal experiences, and to show a different side of perspective. Not only paintings were used but over the centuries, informing art also became more and more popular through photography. Most of the art photography used to inform audiences generate feelings of sadness and reveal the truths of some very dark history times. Astrid Boger did a great job of going into detail regarding the how photography was used to expose distress and disaster in her journal titled, “On-Site Disaster: Exposing Calamity in Twentieth-Century Art Photography.” As there are many parts of history that we aren’t aware of, being able to see photos of how we have evolved as people is empowering. Boger proceeds to mention, “Postmortem photographs, whose main purpose was to help the bereaved deal with the loss of their loved ones by keeping their memory alive, were a highly popular format in the ninetieth century.” The most heart wrenching photos of history that I’ve seen are Holocaust photos. Please be advised that the photo I have included below is requires a possible trigger warning. I have included an example of a Holocaust photo that was captured during World War II, when Germans unlawfully murdered Jews only to exterminate them due to Hitler. They were brutally murdered in concentration camps by force, guns, gas chambers and medical experimentation. This photo is so powerful because it shows how humans, laws, and civilization has evolved as a whole. It also displays how inhumane people could be under the influence of someone with authority. The tonality of this original image gives us an example of how old the photo truly is due to the limited resources during that era. The artist captured such a sharp photo that the spectator is able to submerse themselves into the scene and witness the horrific details of this tragedy. This photo is informing us by displaying the cruel discrimination that the European Jews endured.

Bodies lie piled against the walls of a crematory room in a German concentration camp in Dachau, Germany. The bodies were found by U.S. Seventh Army troops who took the camp on May 14, 1945. Photo provided by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, U.S. Army Signal Corps.

Another type of art is influential art. The meaning of influence is to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone, something, or the effect itself. Art most definitely can influence society in many different ways. Artists can influence society through freedom, culture, architecture, sculptures, photography, and more. If an artist has the freedom to experiment with form, color, and technique, then the artist is more than likely able to influence society through their art. All art is influenced by something or someone. Whether it be the past, present, future, object, nature, person, or animal. There are many types of influential art from the art of writing to sculptures. One example of writing through art is a journal by Rosa Sarabia. The article is about how she analyzes Leon Ferrari’s writing and discovers not only a political message, but art as well. She talks about how art can be transcribed into text by creating text that can be effectively transmitted, developed and noted properly. Art that is transmitted into text is very powerful, as it can influence society’s mentality or behavior. Another example is one of the most influential artworks is The Stone of Hope, carved by sculptor Lei Yixin at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The design was inspiration for the “I have a dream speech” Martin Luther King delivered at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. His speeches were so powerful and influential that he was the fourth non-president to be memorialized using the sculpture techniques as pictured below. Yixin used mass, volume, and dimension to fully impact the people who view this sculpture. You can see all of the detail in his clothing and face, however, Yixin left the backside and 40% of Martin Luther King’s bottom half unsculpted. Although this may or may not have been intentional, I believe the sculptor wanted to make it clear that Martin Luther King’s work is not fully done yet. He wanted to capture the unforgettable mark he left on history and people are able to visit the monument to reflect on the life of the leader. Not only was the sculptor influenced enough to create this masterpiece, but it’s purpose to also influence others to continue fighting for civil rights through nonviolent action.

The Stone of Hope by sculptor Lei Yixin. Located at West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. NPS / Nathan King.

Through the naked eye, art may not appear appealing to some. Some art may not always include playful colors and beautiful landscapes. Art often requires indifferences, pain, and a platform. Through art, an artist can persuade an audience by using it to display decision making attributes and influencing a critical thinking experience. An artist can inform an audience by providing information about a specific process or time era. Informing art can also be an artist displaying issues, power, and/or information for someone to gain knowledge on. These are all very powerful types of art that has the ability to impact a person, city, state or nation. A large amount of the art in the world has a main purpose of teaching you about the experiences one may have gone through in order to achieve greatness, change, and respect. All in all, persuading, informing, and influencing are all types of art that are closely related. These types of artworks have been popular throughout history and can still be found made today. The next time you find yourself glancing at an art sculpture, photo, or painting; ask yourself. How has this artwork influenced society?

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A Stone of Hope’ Reflective Essay. (2024, May 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/a-stone-of-hope-reflective-essay/
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