Creative Expression Causes Controversy
By: Brooke Steiner
“This series by MIAD’s emerging creatives explores both the apparent and hidden influences of professional art and design in the Milwaukee area.”
Art is created to challenge the viewer's limitations and thought processes, causing them to think about what is being presented in front of them. Creative expression can cause controversy due to artists pushing perceptive boundaries, much like Andres von Chrzanowski’s mural of The Unsung Hero in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.
Controversy has existed since before the practice of fine art. Marcel Duchamp created a piece called "Fountain" in 1917 that is still one of the most controversial art pieces people talk about today. He took an everyday object and turned it into a conceptual work of art. When Duchamp was asked why he created this specific piece he said, “I was drawing people’s attention to the fact that art is a mirage. A mirage, exactly like an oasis appears in the desert. It is very beautiful until, of course, you are dying of thirst. But you don’t die in the field of art. The mirage is solid.” (Insert "Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain Image Below Paragraph)
So, what makes an object or image “art” and how does it become controversial? These questions have been shaping creativity of all artists since the beginning of time. Art is created to challenge the viewer’s limitations and thought processes, making them think about what is being presented in front of them. Certain artists may be trying to push the boundaries of what art is, while others stay in the lines. This causes controversy between not only artists but the audience as well.
Heather Minogue, a graphic designer, states, “There certainly are more controversial pieces than others. I believe that all has to do with the subject matter and how far you are wanting to push your piece and how much of a reaction you want from the audience. I think Duchamp's "Fountain" is more controversial because he took an item that the audience views as extremely dirty because of its intended purpose and modified this object to make it into art.”
Controversial art is anything that sparks conversation and debate about that subject. The debates entail whether the piece should actually be considered art or not. Politics are often brought into the art world because of the subject matter the artist chooses to portray.
On the north side of the Dye House building, 320 E Buffalo Street, Case Maclaim (AKA Andres Von Chrzanowski) painted The Unsung Hero. Maclaim’s work is based around the pictorial motif of unity and power through overlaying hands. Maclaim stated in his Instagram post, “Throughout history, there have been many examples of female working-class heroes. The positive impact of their actions, words and ever-changing ingenuity hasn’t always received the respect and love it deserves.” (Insert "Maclaim's The Unsung Hero" Image Below Paragraph)
This mural has gotten many different reviews. Some people, such as Seiko Angelo think, “The more you look at it, the more meaningful it becomes” while others think it’s a constant reminder of how women are being poorly treated around the world.
Every culture is different, not only in ways they view art, but the controversy that comes with it. Minogue says, “Depending on the subject matter, some works of art that may be considered the norm in United States culture may be extremely taboo in other cultures. This then makes that art piece controversial.”
Artists have the ability to change society with the work they make. Certain works of art tend to be more controversial than others due to the artist pushing the audience’s perceptive boundaries, just like Maclaim’s The Unsung Hero.
Minogue states, “I believe art can change a society, although it is very gradual and may not even be noticeable until several years later. Looking back at the history of art you can see how subject matters began to be interpreted in more controversial ways and society slowly began to accept it.”
Art has the power to not only get people to think about what they are seeing, but also has the ability to generate conversation. Art is created for an artist to communicate an idea to an audience, no matter what the subject may be. No matter what kind of image the artist decided to portray, there will always be controversy between the artist’s original intent and what is seen.
Instructions for Images and Hyperlinks
(Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain”)
Photo after paragraph 2
Photo Caption- Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917
(Maclaim’s “The Unsung Hero”)
Photo after paragraph 6
Photo Caption- Photo: Brooke Steiner, 2019
Case Maclaim’s Instagram Post URL – Hyperlink to “Instagram post” in paragraph 6 https://www.instagram.com/p/B1twqkMiL1E/?igshid=1pk12twg2l0db
Bachelor of Fine Arts-New Studio Practice Major