Artists and Politics: The Intersections of Policy and Art in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

Donna Gustafson (Zimmerli Art Museum)
Hal Salzman (Planning and Public Policy)

This seminar will examine major American political controversies such as migration, war, urban transformations and gentrification, race, and globalization through the lens of photography, film, and other visual arts. The seminar explores Art (Gustafson) and Public Policy (Salzman) to examine how current policy issues have been and are represented in visual arts. We contrast contemporary policies and art with representations in the past. For example, how the arts reflected/were used in Vietnam war policy debates and protests, as contrasted to visual representations of American reactions to the Iraq/Afghanistan wars; of the “Great Migration” of African Americans to the North and the transformation of urban centers in industrialization and then deindustrialization, of suburbanization (e.g., through the works of Bill Owens), and then the movement to urban gentrification (e.g., works of Martha Rosler of Greenpoint, Brooklyn); of the 1960s/70s protest movements as compared to contemporary protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street, Women’s March, and Black Lives Matter; and Cold War art/politics and contemporary global politics and art. The students will visit the Zimmerli Art Museum to engage with historic and contemporary examples of protest art, watch important films, and take trips to NYC to experience policy-making at the UN and artists’ reflections on public policy in a contemporary art gallery exhibition. Through this intersection of art and politics, students will learn to unpack the visual politics of images and propaganda and also learn to visualize the effect of policy on those for whom the political is personal.

Course Number: 
01:090:101 section 56 index 09041