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How Art Continues to Make History

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

By Arlene Nagtalon

Johanna Ross Alcasid, 2020, collage, marker, highlighter, 38.1 x 57.76 cm

What seems like a simple portrait of Marilyn Monroe in a variety of eye-popping colors is actually a nod of disapproval to the mass marketing and consumerism of the 1920s. What seems like a crazy lady with exposed breasts walking across wounded bodies while waving the French flag is a commemoration of the July Revolution of 1880 that dethroned King Charles X. What seems like Jesus at a long table surrounded by his disciples is actually a rebirth of the significance of mathematics and humanism in art and an emphasis on beauty made by various, thoughtful computations.

In challenging times, people have always turned to the arts. Whether it be through painting, sculpture, or even articles of clothing, history has imprinted on art and vice versa, with many works of art functioning as ancient artifacts treasured in museums. Art is primarily cherished for its aesthetic value. However, it is surprising how often we overlook its impact on history when the two go hand-in-hand.

Still, the creation of historically significant art is not a thing of the past. Artistic movements are happening now, in 2020. Whether to tackle the long-lasting impacts of COVID-19 or the rampant racism we are faced with today, art is playing a huge role in how we face our current realities and build a better future. Aside from aesthetic value, art serves as an emotional outlet for the artist to describe their feelings about current events or tell a story from their own eyes. More importantly, art serves as a discussion starter. Lately, it has been utilized as a means to leverage criticism against the lack of leadership in the United States government and its failure to rightfully treat the Black community. Art inspires and stimulates the mind, thus creating a long-lasting impact on those who connect to it personally. It allows people to process their emotions and cope with the new changes they are forced to endure.

By calling attention to these pieces, we refuse to remain ignorant of current issues. We also work to question the morality of our authority and people in power and call upon long-term goals and solutions. Below are a few works of art that tackle the complex issues of our current world.

(From left to right)

  1. Ayla Kim, Masks Save Lives, computer technology

  2. Manoel Henrique, Clean Hands Save Lives, computer technology

  3. Ernesto Muñiz, The Virgin Crown, spray paint

  4. Banksy, Untitled, oil on canvas

  5. Anna Lassonde, Untitled, mixed media

(From left to right)

  1. Láolú Senbanjo, Amerikkka, acrylic & charcoal on canvas

  2. Brionya J. Matthews, Revolt, acrylic on canvas

  3. Kambui Olujimi, 3rd Precinct Minneapolis, New York, Ink on paper

  4. Marilyn Minter, Untitled, acrylic & drawing

  5. Antoinette Thomas, Untitled, drawing

Written by writer Arlene D. Nagtalon

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