CFP: Contemporary Art and American Minorities: An Iconography of Identity? (10/30/03; e-journal issue)

full name / name of organization: 
Renee Dickason

Call for Articles (La revue LISA / LISA e-journal)

Contemporary Art and American Minorities : an Iconography of Identity?

Contemporary art and the market for it are excellent mirrors of the
evolution of American society. If the limited presence of works by artists
born of Latino, African American, Native American or Asian minorities on the
walls of galleries and museums was for a long time the proof of the
marginalization of these groups, the growing interest in their creations
over the last few years is a clear signal both of a change in attitude on
the part of the Euro-American art milieu and of the emergence of ethnic
groups intent on asserting their existence. These artistic trends reveal a
cultural and social renewal, hence the relevance of carrying out
sociological research into the art of American minorities.
Two axes of reflection may be considered:

1- The function of art for the minorities
Beyond the particularism and uniqueness of each artistic creation, there is
the question of defining the finality of the art works, of exploring their
meaning for the artists and the groups represented. The social and political
context in which the work was created has to be taken into account in order
to explore the symbolism involved and to examine the background that led to
the creative act. The artists’ goals and the social function of their art
therefore require careful consideration.
We may also wonder whether art contributes to the social re-enforcement of
minority groups by reminding them of their roots and by creating the memory
of an identity. In other words, does art foster social links? Does it
contribute to the sharing of a value system? Art is, in some cases, the
committed expression of a need for cultural recognition and political
legitimacy, a space devoted to protest and resistance, stimulating the
imagination of minorities to the extent of federating them around a culture
with collective tendencies. In others, art reflects cultural duality and the
integration of these groups into the dominant society by helping them
participate in the “maze of cultures” and identities which make up the
fabric of American society.
2- The themes and inspirations of their works
The second axis concerns the formal research used by artists from the
various minority groups: does each minority possess its own code of plastic
expression and/or its individual series of chromatic harmonies and
materials? Does a close scrutiny of these aesthetics reveal specific formal
traits which might be evidence of their history, their origins and their
migration? Do they re-invent a local iconographic imagery? How do they
represent themselves?
The functions of signs are complex: some artists pursue stylistic traditions
in order to preserve their beliefs, while others go as far as provocation
and iconoclasm by breaking referentials or taboos. One can also study
hybridisation through borrowing from the world around them or the cross
fertilisation of iconographic themes which reveals a group in transition,
their art becoming a contact zone and proof of the mutation of the imagery.

All contributions in French or English should be submitted by October 30,
2003. Illustrations can be provided on the express condition that no
copyrights are to be paid.
Contributions accepted for this project will be reviewed by at least two
reviewers with the understanding that the materials have not been submitted
to and accepted by another journal. All submissions should be double-spaced,
and conform to the MLA style. Articles should not exceed 20 pages (5,000
words) in length, excluding notes and references. For other details, please
check on LISA e-journal's web-site
Contact : Gerard Selbach < >

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Received on Wed Apr 02 2003 - 13:31:25 EST