In each of the following cases, I am exploring artists who, because of their gender or ethnicity, outlook or techniques, have been marginalized or in some way prevented from the evolutionary journey of self expression. These artists represent a collective reexamination of traditional social roles and value systems of the colonial past. Ann Hamilton blends sewing and writing in her work, John Feodorov incorporates Navajo and Jehovah Witness spiritual traditions, while Gabriel Orozco examines everyday objects and encounters as a way of bridging communication to the world around him.
Ann Hamilton’s use of sewing in her work is representative of one way in which a task most notably associated with the duties of women in the past is being turned into a new direction and given new meaning. The duality of sewing as once a means of mending becomes a way of examining meaning and practicality in modern times.
John Feodorov describes his work as provocative art that incorporates modern symbols with traditional cultural and spiritual ones. His actions can also be associated with hybridity, which in its most basic sense refers to mixture, and his intention to debunk or make fun of the collision of his Navajo culture and his Jehovah Witness upbringing through humor, satire, and kitsch.
Gabriel Orozco’s appropriation of everyday objects and then re-visualizing them, is a direct challenge to the dominant culture’s perceptions. His assemblages of ping pong tables and automobiles forces us to look at objects that have been ingrained with one meaning or purpose. Often the context of Orozco’s work is the juxtaposition of things we take for granted as a means of learning and communicating new ideas about preconceived notions of understanding.
Ultimately the example of these artists should stimulate us into thinking in new ways about what might be stagnant, preconceived meanings from the past. This is not to say that traditions or value systems are wrong or otherwise in error, only that it is beneficial that we possess the ability to examine our culture and the cultures of others in a less ambivalent fashion.
Further On-line explorations:
Sandra K. Friday “The Invisible People: American Art and Literature Represents the Marginalized and Disenfranchised”
American Indian Heritage and World View – by James Q. Jacobs
Mideast Youth – Marginalized Art
Painting professionals: women artists & the development of modern American … By Kirsten Swinth