Friday, May 19, 2017

Aesthetic Realism: Art against Injustice

All art, I've learned from Aesthetic Realism is against injustice, including the injustice of racism. The purpose of an artist, in the act of creation, is to know, to see in a new way. Racism is never on behalf of true seeing, as the etymology of the word "prejudice" indicates. That's why in this post I'm writing about the Terrain Gallery.

The Terrain Gallery website has the finest works of art criticism I know, and some are about art that is in the field of social justice.  One of these is a critique of Dorothea Lange's famous, evocative 1932 photograph, White Angel Breadline.
What does a person deserve?: The answer found in a great photograph
"White Angel Breadline," by Dorothea Lange
It is called "What does a person deserve?": The answer found in a great photograph, and it is by photographer and student of Aesthetic Realism, David M. Bernstein. Mr. Bernstein explains technically why this photograph is great and why it has lasted. Remarkably, he also explains why it is kind. He writes, "Dorothea Lange brings us closer to the feelings of millions of people. As an artist she gave beautiful form to her anger about what people were forced to endure."

As we read, we learn about Lange's technique and purpose, and we also learn what in us interferes with kindness. This talk gives me more passion about economic justice. How can we sit by knowing that literally millions of people in this nation are worried about bills right now, with so many more hungry or homeless? The answer is, we can't. The one way to respect ourselves is by seeing that they are people like us, whatever their background, religion, ethnicity - and we take it from there. One of the kindest questions I know is this, by Eli Siegel, which Mr. Bernstein references in the title of his talk: "What does a person deserve by being alive?"