My field experience was an interview conducted by myself with an old art teacher of mine named Vicky Tesmer. I chose Vicky as an interview subject for my Satyagraha project because she is an artist and my project was based on art. I asked her a series of questions about art relating to propaganda and here are my responses.
1. How do you think art can be used as a weapon? (pretty broad question so feel free to interpret in any way)
Diego Rivera used his murals to promote socialism as was anti-capitalism. He also used his murals to represent the plight of the poor and the indigenous people of Mexico….If a visual aid to a point of view is a weapon, then, yes I think it can be a positive way of addressing social issues.
2. Do you think the use of propaganda posters motivates people successfully? If so why, if not, why not?
Propaganda posters were used in Hitler’s Germany by the 3rd Reich…Russia used them to promote Communism. I’m not sure if the poster actually was what motivated the people or the fear that if they went against their government they would be put in danger. The poster was a representation of the government’s mandate.
3. Do you believe art is a more powerful weapon than guns and violence?
Art can bring forth progress and mimic social change. When I think of Marcel DuChamp and Picasso, I think of their art putting awareness on the industrialized world’s emphasis on the machine and Picasso’s “Guernica” which illustrated the horror of war. Guns and weapons kill…..alleviating the enemy. If this is the goal, then art can’t do that but art can bring up the level of consciousness of a society.
4. Do you think art is a good method of non-violent protesting? If so, why, if not, why not?
Art can be used to illustrate the benefits of social change. Personally, I feel using art to invoke protest is beneath the true value of the artist. The artist is endowed to view the society, reflect on it and create art which merges with their personal interpretation thus developing a personal point of view. Grant Wood did it in his landscapes of the Midwest farmlands, Rockwell Kent did it with his subversive landscapes of barren countries like Greenland, Picasso, Rivera, Dali, etc….they all were visual aids to change.
I went into this interview thinking that I would only learn about how propaganda was used, but I learned a lot more. From my previous research, I had learned not only how propaganda was used, but famous artists that used methods of propaganda through their work. It was very interesting to me to hear the artist’s perspective on propaganda rather than a politician’s point of view. The idea of using it as a political weapon always made me curious, and now I know both sides.