When Is An Artist More Than An Artist?

January 19, 2012 at 11:07 am Leave a comment

Art is art when it transforms us on the inside. But some artists can also transform how we see what’s on the outside.

The Art of Social Critique: Painting Mirrors of Social Life, a new collection of writing edited by my friend and colleague Shawn Bingham, looks at how artists shape the way we know society, and the way society often tries to put artists “back in their place” when their critiques begin to resonate.

My chapter looks at The Wire. I argue that David Simon breaks new ground in creating art with sociological power, but that his work occasionally loses power when viewers perceive in The Wire the kind of active persuasion that drains aesthetic value from “political art.”

With a national election coming up, and with two social movements having taken to the streets in the last two years, it’s a good time to look at the role of art in social change.


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Skronky Tonk Train Station

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- A much prettier website with my journalistic highlights is at lawrencelanahan.com.
- Disappearing Ink released its first album, "There Is No Time and Nothing's Been," in December 2014. It's available on iTunes.
- After almost five years at WYPR, I'm back to freelancing. Editors can reach me at llanahan@gmail.com.
- The Art of Social Critique: Painting Mirrors of Social Life includes my chapter "New Possibilities and Old Limitations of Political Art in The Wire."
- You can still buy my 2004 self-titled EP.


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