By Dave McGraw
These days, it’s impossible to ignore the impact of social media. In fact, even making that statement seems redundant. But what if we ask the question: “What are the roots of social media?” If we ask this question, we must look back to a time before the Internet, and consider what role media played in shaping the world.
Among the many forms of media that have developed since the post-impressionistic days of Paris, art has always been at the forefront, blazing the path ahead for media to follow in its wake. One of the more interesting and socially engaging forms that developed was the Mural.
Murals are quite literally “public art.” They involve the community, interact with and challenge the community. And right now, you can go see the art of one of the forerunners of the contemporary mural art movement in America: Caryl Yasko. In 1972, Yasko’s Under City Stone, made her a national icon, and one of America’s first female community muralists. This mural was painted in Chicago and established her as a trailblazer of an art movement that exploded in the United States and across Europe.
“The real significance of public art is that the people in the community actively participate in developing their visual voice,” said Yasko. “The public artist’s task is to maintain artistic integrity and cohesiveness so that once the work is completed it stands as both as a statement representing the ideas and the sentiments of the community and as a strong artistic composition so that the intent of the mural is easily read.”
Yasko’s work has long been applauded for its strong compositions and beautiful use of color. She has long believed that art should be available to everyone, and that it should include the viewer as well as the artist. Being of so grand a scale, the mural instantly becomes a part of the community by transforming the side of a building, or walls of an overpass into a relevant and compelling statement. Yasko believes that in conceiving and developing a mural, the community should be involved by collaborating with people that live in a particular community.
The exhibition explores Yasko’s significance as a founding figure in the American Public Art movement, and what it means to be a public artist. The exhibition includes mural reproductions, original drawings, and sculptures, in addition to concept artwork that helps to show how Yasko developed her style and methods for working with a community and best expressing its voice in her work.
So, here we are, living in a digital age where the world has literally become just a click away. And what’s keeping us connected is the social media of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and countless others. As usual, it is always important to understand where we have come from and where we have been, in order to see where we are going. In a way, you can consider the social media of today a vast network of murals that collectively express our ever-changing ideas, views and cultures. As much as things change, they somehow always seem to retain the essence of what came before.
See the exhibit:
The Cultural Arts Center, 402 West Main Street, Whitewater Wisconsin
Thursday-Sunday Noon to 5 p.m.
Show opens Saturday August 4, noon - 5 pm
Opening Reception - Sunday August 12, 1-4 pm (Free and open to the public)
Introduction by John Pitman Weber, founder of the Chicago Mural Group
Closing Reception Sunday, September 9, 1 - 4 pm