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Hip Hop: Art, Culture, and Politics

Professor Sarah Hentges University of Maine at Augusta College of Arts & Sciences Hip Hop is an umbrella term for art, music, dance, literature, identity, style and politics. We will begin to understand the art, culture, and politics of Hip Hop by looking at the movements and politics that inspired the birth of Hip Hop as a form of art and music. We will consider the art and aesthetics of Hip Hop and the musical styles that made Hip Hop music possible. Students will create a piece of art or music inspired by Hip Hop. The ways in which Hip Hop speaks to youth and speaks about oppression, violence, identity, culture, and power will also be considered. We will then explore Hip Hop as a form of cultural politics and activism toward social justice. Students will create art or music toward Hip Hop inspired social justice. Finally, we‘ll consider the…

Heroes and Villains: Is Hip-Hop a Cancer or a Cure?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFas9cd8ZZ8 When we prostitute things like misogyny and violence for the sake of entertainment, we perpetuate villainous ideas as heroic. Hip hop is one of our generation’s perpetrators, but is also the art form that can turn this ship around. Lecrae is quickly developing into one of the biggest music stories of the year and his Cinderella rise has been noted everywhere from RollingStone, XXL Magazine, Vibe Magazine, The New York Times, The Atlantic, the cover of The Huffington Post to industry trades such as Billboard Magazine, Variety and Vulture. His performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, perfectly timed with his album’s release, had fans buzzing as he performed multiple hit records from Anomaly. He’s performed at the BET Experience, co­hosted The Dove Awards, co-­headlined the highest ticketed tour in the country (Winter Jam) and received a nomination for Best Impact Track at this year’s BET Hip Hop…

A Hip Hop Head’s Response to Wynton Marsalis

By Langston Collin Wilkins

Jazz musician, critic, and educator Wynton Marsalis recently sent shockwaves around the music world by making some inflammatory comments about hip hop music. In a conversation with Washington Post columnist Johnathan Capehart for the Cape Up podcast, Marsalis not only took hip hop music to task for its use of the words “nigga” and “bitch” and depictions of misogyny and violence, but ultimately suggested that hip hop music is “more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee” and said that fans of the genre should get their “heads examined.”

Introduction to LGBTQ Studies

This course will provide an introduction into Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Studies. Considering LBGTQ Studies as an interdisciplinary field using humanities text-based critical analysis, this course will focus on how the central concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity work within history, politics, literature, technology, art, music, philosophy, and literature. Throughout this course, students will work towards a deep understanding of the intersectional dynamics of privilege and oppression as they relate to LGBTQ individuals and culture by exploring the lived experiences of LGBTQ individuals and their partners/families. Critically read, discuss, analyze, and write about the assigned readings and central course themes. A key part of this process will be the application of course concepts to current cultural conversations and, potentially, students’ lived experiences. Build both a specific and general knowledge of the history and current dialogues regarding LGBTQ issues across multiple disciplines and across multiple forms of…

Black Panther and Unforgivable Radicalism

By Christian Rozier

Without an image of tomorrow, one is trapped by blind history, economics, and politics beyond our control…Only by having clear and vital images of the many alternatives, good and bad, of where one can go, will we have any control over the way we may actually get there in a reality tomorrow will bring all too quickly.”—Samuel R. Delany

Bubbling up from the primordial soup of the Mississippi Delta mud, warbling and otherworldly notes of transcendence emerged from the dusky throats of sharecroppers and the guitar strings of convicts to transport the spirits of their communities to some dimension of eternity in which they were momentarily and ecstatically free from the daily humiliations and hardships of daily life.Delta blues musicians including Geeshie Wiley and Charlie Patton used their haunting voices to construct rocket ships to a new promised land. Earlier, enslaved Africans in 18th century New Orleans gathered each Sunday in Congo Square and with drums, bells, and bodies, conjured chariots for their spirits to escape the temporal and touch the eternal plane. From Alice Coltrane to Octavia Butler, George Clinton to Janelle Monae, the Black Imagination is the principal scaffolding of liberation. As Clinton and Eddie Hazel remind us, first you gotta free your mind, and your ass will follow.

Black Panther: A Spoiler-free Blerd (Black Nerd) Review

By Marquise Griffin

For the next three weeks, Praxis Center will publish three different takes on the highly anticipated film Black Panther. In a Good Morning America interview, Chadwick Boseman was asked what he hoped people would take away from the film. His response was both simple and profound: you’ll get from the film what you take into it. In other words, each person will have a perspective that is unique to their background and position. In this spirit, we will be sharing three different perspectives—from a comic book geek, a filmmaker geek, and a black identity geek. All three writers are black and have particular ways of viewing and thinking about this film. We will start with Marquise Griffin, a self-described “blerd” (black nerd) and former student of mine, who entered the film with great apprehension as an enthusiastic comic book geek. Next week we’ll share a review from Christian Rozier, a filmmaker and film studies professor. After that, I will wrap up this Black Panther mini-series with thoughts on what the film offers to us on the issue of Pan-African black identity. —Stephanie Shonekan, Contributing Editor, Music, Art and Pop Culture

Rethink Shinola

By Rebekah Modrak

RETHINK SHINOLA is a multi-part, Internet-based artwork analyzing and critiquing the branding messages publicized by the company Shinola, founded in 2011. Shinola’s name is “a nod” to the former Shinola, a shoe polish company that promoted its products using racist caricatures of African Americans. The “new” Shinola company planted itself in Detroit and leverages and profiteers from the extreme conditions and image of the city as a site of grit and resilience. The brand creates representations of patriarchal whiteness to enforce perceptions of their “leadership” and circulates images of African American employees being grateful for this so-called governance. In Shinola’s narratives, the “wild” Detroit environment needs a civilized savior who can first identify with and then tame and civilize the savage.

Can stories create justice?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3yzmTWA3Bw For the past 40 years, the United States has shipped far more of its citizens off to jail than any other country, and the nation is now paying the price with a corrupt and bloated prison system, broken families, and the permanent alienation of large chunks of society. Piper Anderson is working to reverse the culture of punishment by facilitating community storytelling. Although the problem may seem overwhelming, we can start to solve it by simply listening.

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