Friday, September 1, 2017
Pre-Upcoming Project Interview:
Glorious: Have you ever went on a mural arts tour?
Veronica: Yes, when I was 16. I didn’t like it.
Glorious: In my experience, the tour is provided by older white women who take their participants on a train trip through un-gentrified West Philly to give them the background information on a tagger’s artistic process without much information about graffiti itself or the culture and people it comes from. This tour costs. Overall thoughts?
Veronica: Yep. It’s weird that they don’t see this as creating a spectacle of neighborhoods.
I went on a mural tour when I was 16, visiting Philly for the first time. We were on a double decker bus and a man on the microphone talked about the artwork but not about why it was there or anything. When we got to North Philly, a little kid shouted at us to get out of his neighborhood and I was like, yeah we should really get off this giant red bus and people should probably stop taking pictures of people hanging out on their stoops. I think if you want to go see murals, have the decency to get out of the car or get off the bus and say hi to the people who live there. If you’re giving these tours, provide more context. If the mural is now a tourist destination, give that neighborhood a cut of the profits. Present all this at community meetings and get their permission and feedback.
Glorious: Like some of the mural arts tours, your next project involves transportation. Tell me a little bit about it.
Veronica: This project hinges on people not knowing specifics about it for a while for legal reasons. I’ll tell you that the goal of the project is to seminate useful information to as many people as possible, using the aesthetic of the advertisements we see all around us.
Glorious: Will the art contributed to this project also be free like the ones in the MSM exhibition?
Veronica: The art in MSM was not free. Artists deserve to make a living from their work. The artwork in this project will be reproductions of originals and they will be free.
Glorious: What is motivating you to do the project?
Veronica: Let’s leave this project unnamed for now. The state of American politics is appalling. I’m motivated by my own value system that requires me to be helpful and useful to as many people as I can, using the tools I possess. Information is empowering. Seminating information will be empowering to others.
Glorious: From my understanding, the event will be 7 consecutive days, why not longer?
Veronica: Because I don’t have the time or resources to do it for any longer.
Glorious: Since this event is politically charged, will you consider running again, November 2018, when House of Representative seats will be up for re-election?
Veronica: I would like to.
Post MSM Exhibition Interview:
Glorious: Under the motive of addressing wealth inequality in the More Stately Mansions Exhibition, how effective were you in reaching an audience that is directly affected by wealth inequality?
Veronica:In reaching out to the desired audience, I was effective. As you know, you dropped off flyers at pointed locations throughout Kensington and Fishtown. I then called these locations and contacted them via Facebook to invite them to the show’s events. Unfortunately, I did not have as many people from these community centers attending the exhibition as I had hoped.
Glorious: Considering that the themes of the exhibition were “wealth inequality” and “access to art” or “removing materialism from art”, why were the MSM events held in Northern Liberties/Fishtown, a neighborhood that is so thoroughly gentrified?
Veronica: The neighborhood is actually in the border between Kensington and Fishtown. Toward Fishtown, it is very gentrified and then an equal distance away in the other direction is experiencing one of the biggest heroin epidemics in the United States and has a large portion the population still living at the poverty level or below. I found this to be a perfect location to discuss the class divide as the gallery literally falls within the dividing line.
Glorious: How do you feel about the social ladder established in American culture? Would it be more the socio-economic structure be more ethical if more people had access to the tools that would allow them to climb it, or should we destroy the social classes in general?
Veronica:This question is way too hard. I think we should at least start by getting everyone on equal footing in terms of basic needs and safety. Get rid of the systemically racially oppressive system in which we live. Empower the marginalized. That task should keep us busy a while.
Glorious:In a sociology class, I learned that capitalism is necessary for the overall happiness of our nation because it provides the opportunity for people to work for and achieve financial and social gains (which apparently makes people extremely happy). Considering the studies that support that notion, do you think happiness can be obtained without capitalism?
Veronica: You should watch a documentary called “Happy”. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1613092/
It follows a man as he tries to quantify happiness around the country and around the world. It directly disagrees with your sociology class. Perhaps people just want to feel valued. That value system is not monetarily driven for everyone.
Glorious: Transitioning from the exhibit to the problems that it addresses, in your own perfect utopian world, how would wealth be distributed? (And Why)
Veronica: I’m far too practical to have a utopian world in my imagination. I also will not pretend to be an economics expert. I will say this. We need a shift in thinking before any structural change can happen. This is cultural. We need to value empathy above power. We need to see power as the byproduct of empowering others, not disenfranchising them.
Glorious: In this same fictional world, would artists get paid for their work? Would art be considered work? Should art be considered work? If not, why? If so, on what metric system would they be paid and according to what standards would art be valued?
Veronica: Artists are paid for their work now and it is considered work. This is just not a universally held value. There is a barrier between the arts and the working class because of the classist stigma in the arts. The answer is to provide more integrated arts education in the public school system. Present the arts as a subject matter equal to science and math. Provide more federal and state funding for public art projects so the work is consumable by the public and accessible to all and the artist still gets to make a living. There also needs to be a market that is not dictated by the uber wealthy so galleries don’t drive up the cost of art, making it unaffordable. I am not going to dictate the value of art. That is subjective and a case by case judgement and should remain so. At the bare minimum, the artist should be able to survive off of what they make on a project.
Glorious:In the future, how do you plan to continue the conversation about wealth inequality and materialism in art?
Veronica: The mission statement of CHER is to ease this divide between the arts/artists and the working class. This removal of the classist stigma will serve as a means of discussing this one part of the class divide of which I am a part. We never take commision off of sold work, so the work is affordable to gallery visitors. We don’t negotiate the sales, so the artist talks directly with the visitor.