I was searching blogs for interesting things this evening. I have done a lot of walking the past few days and my body has decided that it is an evening in bed for me. So, I just hit the "next blog" button until I come across something interesting. This process tends to send me to blogs in groups: about family, about religion, about crafting, etc. This evening I was directed to blogs about art and artists. It reminded me about how much I do not understand art.
"Say what you need to say plainly, and then take responsibility for it."
~ Ai Weiwei
Last semester, however, I was introduced to the art of Ai Weiwei while I was looking for documentaries to show in a class I teach on social change. We generally start the semester learning about Tank Man and I wanted to find something interesting about China to end with. Interesting I did find!
While he has some of the most interesting art I have ever seen, he is known best for his politics. He used to have a great web page and blog. When you search it now you end up with just a white page: www.aiweiwei.com
"Words can be deleted, but the facts won't be deleted with them."
~ Ai Weiwei
While I think all artists are amazing (I have a very difficult time drawing stick people), I am drawn to the people who use their art not just for beauty, but to bring about change in the world. While Ai Weiwei was a globally successful artist in the art world - he gained massive global popularity when he designed the Birdnest Stadium for the Olympics in Beijing. He used this popularity as a free pass to write his blog condemning the Chinese government. To create art that made a statement like the backpacks that lined the exterior of the Haus der Kunst Museum in Germany. The backpacks spelled out "She lived happily for seven years in this world." The backpacks represented the children who died in the earthquake in China in 2008. Ai Weiwei felt it was his responsibility to honor these children because the Chinese government refused to do so.
"Liberty is about our rights to question everything." ~ Ai Weiwei
I love that his art is alive and fluid. That it is primarily 3-dimensional and you can feel it and move around it. At the same time it can be delicate and intricate (as with the ceramic, hand painted sunflower seeds in the photo above). I wish that I had known about him prior to his being arrested earlier this year. Apparently he was released with the promise that he would not blog or participate in social media for a year. He has recently however been seen posting on Twitter and Google +. Nothing political, just a what's up and goodnight.
It is people like this that make me realize how shallow my life is. I feel like I am an activist as I post comments on CNN and NPR, but I am really just venting. I like to think that the business students I encourage to be socially responsible in their work will go out and change the world .... and maybe that is where my activism lies. And then I have this blog. My hope here is to share the interesting things I find in the world and maybe encourage someone to do something they didn't believe they had the strength to do. Maybe, just maybe that is enough! In the meantime, I will work on perfecting my stickpeople!
Creativity is the power to reject the past, change the status quo and to seek new potential." ~ Ai Weiwei