The Social Artist

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  • Title: The Social Artist: The Implications of an Artist Working with and within Community
  • Author(s): Mandy Francis
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts
  • Keywords: Contemporary Sculpture, Socially Engaged Art, Community Art, Public Art, Aesthetics
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2326-9960 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-2104 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2326-9960/CGP/v13i01/17-23
  • Citation: Francis, Mandy. 2018. "The Social Artist: The Implications of an Artist Working with and within Community." The International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts 13 (1): 17-23. doi:10.18848/2326-9960/CGP/v13i01/17-23.
  • Extent: 7 pages

Abstract

Challenges and paradoxes arise when artists interested in social equality and justice have to deal with the outcome-driven procedures required by bureaucratic organisations who engage them. What are the consequences for artistic integrity when art becomes a vehicle for achieving preconceived outcomes such as social harmony, the “experience economy,” or “gap fillers” to create “vibrant cities”? I argue that art is transcendent: it surpasses society, and culture. Art offers potential, not answers or solutions, and should be a “gesture that matters” as a self-contained “thing.” Art theorist Claire Bishop contends that art is “better” when it is antagonistic rather than aiming merely to create a harmonious utopia. Professor David Cross, developer of Limitless, a public art entity in New Zealand, believes public artists require a particular skillset that includes intellectual, technical, and negotiating skills. From my own practice-led research as a sculptor I will provide an informed rhetoric to help guide both artists and the organisations that wish to employ them.