SHOUTING BACK: POLITICAL ART FROM POLAND AS A TOOL IN RECLAIMING POWER IN THE ART CLASSROM
Visual images produced for politicians and political causes are influential in everyday life and carry a great deal of power in terms of how we construct our ideas and opinions. Through action research, my thesis project asks high school students, from Burbank, Illinois, to question the power of the media by examining contemporary artwork from Poland that is subversive in relation to the media and the State. I utilize this type of artwork in my project, in part, because contemporary art from Eastern Europe is often omitted from K-12 art classrooms in the United States. Further, this research project is performed with a student body that is comprised of many immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Through the process of closely examining such artwork, my project attempts to mobilize students to actively look for and understand signs of negative and/or damaging political/cultural propaganda within the media environment. Students then construct their own propaganda by assembling a virtual candidate for the American presidency in 2004. This undertaking is based on a similar project executed by the artist’s group C.U.K.T., The Central Office of Technical Culture (http://cukt.art.pl/), in Poland. Through the process of building a political candidate and campaign, students were encouraged to develop an understanding of how visual imagery can become a catalyst for action, both privately and publicly, in reaction to political/cultural oppression that can be found in, or is instigated by, the media.
Barbara Toczydlowska received her BFA from SAIC in 2000. For the past four years Ms. Toczydlowska has been actively engaged within the Polish community writing about contemporary artists from Eastern Europe for a national bilingual news magazine.
Thesis Advisor: Kevin Tavin, Assistant Professor, Art Education; Director, MAT Program
Therese Quinn, Assistant Professor, Art Education; Associate Director, Center for Youth and Society, University of Illinois-Chicago