Reading Responses (Week 1)

Sections Assigned

  • Freire, Literacy: Reading the Word and the World: Chapter 1, The Importance of the Act of Reading.  20-24
  • Searching for Art’s New Publics: Interview with Harrell Fletcher. 81-90
  • Majozo: To Search for the Good
  • Goldbard: “Calling All Citizen Artists.”

Searching for Art’s New Publics: Interview with Harrell Fletcher. 81-90

Harrell Fletcher’s experience in the world of studio and fine arts felt very familiar to me. As an artist feeling isolated in the confines of his studio, he began to wonder about the creation of art in public spaces and the need to engage communities through art. My transition to the world of community arts came from similar origins. My undergraduate degree in studio art led me to my career as an art educator. I found Fletcher’s variety of approaches in creating community-based art were intriguing and enlightening.

Freire, Literacy: Reading the Word and the World: Chapter 1, The Importance of the Act of Reading.  20-24

Since discovering Freire’s work, I feel overwhelmingly drawn to the lens he uses when approaching education. In the case of this reading, Freire justifies the ability to read as a means for the individual to perceive and understand their environments or “reading the world.” I believe this is key to understanding our realities, connecting with one another, and having a vision of progress.

Freire also dismantles the approach of reading alone as an exercise to get better at reading, stating this approach leads more to be devoured than understood. He argues this is a false comparison, like stating the quality of work is correlated to the quantity of pages written. Furthermore, Freire finds dismantleing texts and providing assigned sections to be a practice of “‘reading lessons’ in the old-fashioned sense.” Ironically, Freire writes, “I even read references to specific pages in this or that chapter from such and such a book, which had to be read: ‘pages 15-37.””

Majozo: To Search for the Good

Much of Májozo’s directly addresses my struggles as an artist and art educator. Dismantling the elitist views of what art should or should not have value is a constant in the arts. For centuries, various artistic expressions were viewed as inadequate, lacking technique, grotesque, and even degenerate. As Májozo discusses fearing losing aesthetics when working on a collaborative art project, she then addresses this as an elitist bias and highlights the societal function of collaborative public art.

I am specifically compelled by this section of her writing because this artist bias becomes implicit. Our perceptions of “successful art” hold the individual and the collective back from honest self-expression and communal, artistic action.

Goldbard: “Calling All Citizen Artists.”

I am fairly surprised how recent this document is, as it announces the launch of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture. This 2013 document highlights the role of artistic and cultural activity as through the eyes of the United States government. Although I agree with their five pillars, I understand art, like education, to be inherently political. Considering what artistic and cultural expressions are truly valued and supported by the government means taking in consideration what the messages of those expressions are. Likely, the United States government will not support art rejecting “traditional American values” established by the historically elite, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, cis, straight men.

I believe this document to be an important step in protecting artistic and cultural expression, however it is legitimately as important to understand the history of the government from which this document came.

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