What issues and concerns has the work of The Dancing Wheels and Ai Weiwei brought to the public consciousness?Discuss

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We will spend the next two modules looking at how humans communicate. The ways are so many and varied, both conscious and unconscious, that it is helpful if we break these down into two discussions. In this first discussion we will look at the fine and performing arts as vehicles through which people can communicate complex ideas. The arts communicate directly, without the limitations of language, and often strive to make an emotional impact on an audience.

In this discussion you are asked to consider art as a vehicle that raises awareness by communicating concerns and needs of others in communities and groups around the world by exploring the life and work of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. He is world famous and has paid an enormous personal price for giving voice to the social justice issues that people in China face. The arts can be a powerful tool to convey these concerns and raise awareness across communities and around the world.

For this discussion you are asked to conduct research into the work and treatment of Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei and read the article on The Dancing Wheels Company from Cleveland, Ohio and consider how their work helps to raise cultural awareness of issues facing others, offering new perspectives on the way we view social justice and disability.

Your initial post will contain a link to the information you found about Ai Weiwei and answer the following questions:
•What issues and concerns has the work of The Dancing Wheels and Ai Weiwei brought to the public consciousness?
•Why might art be more preferable than speech in raising awareness of these issues?
•What might be the effects of raising awareness (positive and/or negative) and why?
•How has publicity impacted The Dancing Wheels Company and Ai Weiwei’s ability to communicate their message? What are the positive and negative aspects of publicity in communicating in this form?

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In this discussion, we will explore how art is used to further social change. Please read the article by Jennifer Miles and Laura Dawson, The Art of Social Justice, and conduct additional topical research into one of the art forms mentioned: poetry, graffiti, memory boxes (searching for “memory boxes and social justice”, for instance, on the Internet) and make a post as follows:
•Choose one issue that the art form is used to highlight and discuss how it achieves that end. Share a link to a website where others can read more.
•How does the act of creation and public display work together to address the particular social justice issue?
•What have been/do you see as the sociopolitical effects of the work you have identified?
•What about the work of Eduardo Valadez and Vanessa Pike-Vrtiak (interviewed in the Dawson and Miles article)? How might this make a personal and social impact?
•Do you believe art can affect change? Why/why not?

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