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Abstracts for Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007):

Art, Identity, and Social Justice

The Art of Social Justice

Maria X. Martinez

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 5-11 Buy PDF

“The Art of Social Justice” outlines why leaders should direct public funds to artists to help solve our modern urban ills. Certain neighborhoods experience a disproportionate share of family upheaval, death, disease and injury. Research has shown that addressing the root causes of health inequities, such as social isolation and prejudice, can reduce years of avoidable life lost and help communities build themselves. History has shown that art has often been the underpinning of social change. This article gives examples and develops one model of how government could utilize our most creative capital to promote social justice, mitigate disparities, and build healthy neighborhoods.

Key words: community art, social inequality, poverty, public health, health disparities


The Art of Empathy: Employing the Arts in Social Inquiry with Poor Working-Class Women

Victoria Foster

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 12-27 Buy PDF

This article looks at how the arts can be employed in participatory social research with poor working-class women as an innovative approach to collecting data as well as a powerful means of disseminating research findings. It questions traditional means of knowledge production and suggests that the use of art in this context challenges many of the assumptions inherent in sociological inquiry. The article is in three sections with each section involving reflection upon a participatory, arts-based research project carried out at a government-funded Sure Start program in Merseyside, U.K. The following areas are given due consideration: the benefits of a participatory research methodology coupled with a feminist epistemology; the use of poetry, short film making, and visual arts in data collection; the use of drama in the dissemination of research findings.

Key words: feminist epistemology, participatory research methodology, arts as research methods, ethno-drama, performance art, poor working-class women


The Women Artists’ Cooperative Space as a Site for Social Change: Artemisia Gallery, Chicago (1973-1979)

Joanna Gardner-Huggett

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 28-43 Buy PDF

The history of the women artists’ cooperative Artemisia Gallery in Chicago and its activist agenda has been neglected in academic literature. This article will reclaim the voice of its members and specifically explore a series of programming and exhibitions implemented by Artemisia Gallery from 1973-1979 that prepared women artists to enter the professional work force equipped with feminist pedagogy to promote social justice for women in the art world. Three workshops from this period will be discussed, specifically “Economic Structures of the Art World” (1976), “Feminist Art Workers” (1976) and “Feminist Art Methodology” (1976), as well as one exhibition “Both Sides Now: An International Exhibition Integrating Feminism and Leftist Politics.” These events were sponsored by the Artemisia Fund, which was founded after the gallery was incorporated in 1973 to foster a national educational dialogue regarding the history of women artists, as well as the social, economic and political concerns they faced.

Key words: activism, alternative spaces, Nancy Angelo, art, Artemisia Fund, Artemisia Gallery, “Both Sides Now,” Chicago, Collaboration, Candace Compton, Betsy Damon, essentialism, exhibitions, feminism, feminist art, feminist art education, Cheri Gaulke, Margaret Harrison, Donna Henes, Johnnie Johnson, Mary Kelly, Laurel Klick, L.A. Woman’s Building, Leslie Labowitz, Suzanne Lacy, Ellen Lanyon, Lucy Lippard, Adrian Piper, Joy Poe, Arlene Raven, Separatism, women artists, women artists’ cooperative


Navigating the Labyrinth of Silence: Feminist Artists in Mexico

Edward J. McCaughan

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 44-62 Buy PDF

In the 1970s, two of the many new social movements to emerge in Mexico were the feminist movement and the “grupos” movement of politically oriented, conceptual art collectives. A core group of exceptionally talented feminist artists participated simultaneously in both movements. After briefly introducing several of these artists and their work within the context of Mexico’s post-1968 social movements, this article examines what McCaughan calls the labyrinth of silence that they encountered within the art world, the grupos, and the feminist movement. In each of these arenas, feminist artists ran into structural, aesthetic, and behavioral obstacles to full creative expression, participation, and recognition. Finally, the article describes some of the strategies deployed by feminist artists in Mexico to navigate their way through and around the labyrinth in order to articulate feminist aesthetics and politics.

Key words: feminist art, feminist movement, Grupos movement, Mexico, social movements


Hybridity as a Strategy for Self-Determination in Contemporary American Indian Art

Cynthia Fowler

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 63-79 Buy PDF

This article is an examination of the ways in which a key group of contemporary American Indian artists have explored the post-colonial concept of hybridity in their work as a vehicle for the redefinition of themselves as individuals and their culture as a whole. Providing a general summary of hybridity as it is generally used in post-colonial theory, the article also considers the ways in which American Indian theorists Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabe) and Gerald McMaster (Plains Cree/member of Siksika Nation) have specifically applied the concept of hybridity to constructs of American Indian identity. The artists discussed in the essay are Faye HeavyShield (Blackfoot), Shelley Niro (Mohawk), Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie (Seminole/Muskogee/ Diné), Steven Deo (Creek and Euchee), and Gail Tremblay (Onondaga/Mi’kmac). All of these artists have used their art to reveal negative and limiting constructs of Indian identity that continue to prevail within the dominant culture. But even more, they have successfully employed hybridity as a tool to (re)define their cultural identities on their own terms as a strategy for self-determination.

Key words: American Indian artists, hybridity, post-Indian, self-determination, survivance


Theater in the Bush: Art, Politics and Community in the Bahamas

Ian Gregory Strachan

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 80-96 Buy PDF

Playwright, novelist, poet, and critic, Ian Strachan locates the theater company he founded in 1996 within the tradition of political theater in the African Diaspora. He gives an account of the cultural, social, and political dynamics in The Bahamas that were the impetus for trying to create his own theater company, Track Road Theater. The piece outlines some of the challenges he and his actors and fellow writers faced as artists while trying to achieve their goal, which was and is, equipping the general public with more critical sensibility, promoting tolerance and democratic ideals, and eschewing political corruption and the culture of patronage.

Key words: globalization, tourism, exile, class, community, postcolonial, censorship, identity


Staging Activism: New York City Performing Artists as Cultural Workers

Amy Jo Goddard

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 97-116 Buy PDF

Performance as a political tool of visibility can be fertile ground for activating social change. Three accomplished New York City performing artists of color who identify as queer or lesbian, explore how their art and other cultural work operate to affect social change. Imani Henry, Susana Cook, and Diyaa Mildred Gerestant all produce original work that addresses cultural themes related to sexual, gender, ethnic, and class identities. For all three of these artists, creating connections across lines of difference is a critical aim. Their position as cultural workers allows them to bridge activist movements and communities that might not otherwise form alliances. The ways they build those bridges, utilize identities, and perform gender, specifically masculine identities that are parodied or disassembled, are explored. They elaborate on their dual roles as artists/activists, art as a participatory process, identification as a cultural worker or gender illusionist, and what makes performance function as activism.

Key words: cultural worker, artist, activism, performance art, social change, identity, solidarity, coalition building, gender illusionist, drag kinging, butch, queer, lesbian, political visibility, fourth wall


Post-Pomo Hip-Hop Homos: Hip-Hop Art, Gay Rappers, and Social Change

D. Mark Wilson

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 117-140 Buy PDF

The author presents a social history of the Deep Dick Collective (D/DC), a crew of African American gay men, that draws upon artistic formations of black gay identity, resists homophobia within the hip-hop genre through various celebrations of social difference, and calls for a global "queer" political activism. "When it comes to social justice within African American and LGBTQ communities," writes Wilson, "there are same-gender loving, 'queer' kids of color in neighborhoods, ghettos, slums, and in gang and military war zones throughout the world, wondering if there is a political community who will fight for them." Wilson sees D/DC's work as a challenge to "other progressive movements to reflect critically upon the identities and social realities of people they would rather not see."

Key words: Hip Hop, homophobia, queer activism, black gay identity, social difference

Postcards in the Porfirian Imaginary

Alejandra Osorio

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 34, No. 1 (2007): 141-154 Buy PDF

By studying the postcard during the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, known in Mexico as the Porfiriato (1877-1911), this essay reveals the ways in which the mass production of a series of celebrated representations of Mexicanness established a racialized imaginary around competing nationalist themes of progress and tradition. The author argues that the study of postcards is of particular importance during a period of strong state normalization, as was the case during the Porfiriato. Postcards functioned as vital modes of visual representation that, under the concept of state progress and modernization, institutionalized a series of cultural goods and homogenized symbols of the national imaginary. The postcard, Osorio argues, contributed significantly to the state’s discourse around how, what, and who should be represented as “typically Mexican.”

Key words: Mexican types, Mexicanness, national imaginaries, Porfiriato, postcards, representation


Copyright © 2007 by Social Justice.