Cultural Influence On Art

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When it comes to art, there is no doubt that a key source of inspiration for many artists comes from their own culture. Sonia Sanchez, an American poet, perfectly encapsulates the importance that culture has in artwork when she stated that art “reacts to or reflects the culture it springs from.” Given that art is one of the defining features of a culture, it is no wonder that culture is a significant factor in influencing the art being created. We see the role culture has on art when observing that artwork by Ai Weiwei – the Chinese dissident famed for his conceptual art. By taking a closer look into Ai’s art, the message being conveyed and its relation to his Chinese culture can be seen clearly and prominently. So, it is this interconnection…show more content…
It is no secret that China has a fairly extensive history of violating the fundamental human rights of its citizens. One of these infringed rights is the freedom of speech. So, in a country where one of the most basic rights is not even recognized, Ai Weiwei has assumed the role as an activist and uses his art to draw light on human rights violations on a grand scale. As a child, Ai and his family lived in exile at a desert labor camp after his father, a well-known poet in China, was denounced by the government. The combination of his family’s “precarious political situation” and his father’s artistry were to have a profound effect on Ai. One of the artworks that has helped to establish Ai Weiwei as one of the most powerful and influential artists in the world is his 2009 installation, Remembering. Displayed on the façade of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany, Ai utilizes 9000 children’s backpacks to represent the lives lost due to the collapse of poorly constructed schools in the earthquake that occurred in the Chinese province of Sichuan. In Chinese characters, the art piece displays the sentence from a mother of one of the earthquake victims: “For seven years she lived happily on this earth.” Also, the bright and vibrant…show more content…
The most obvious of these being the language that is used to commemorate the victims which is Ai’s native Mandarin. Then, there is the most important aspect of Ai’s culture which is the Chinese government’s strict control over its citizens – this includes the usage of propaganda. As Ai Weiwei stated, “The lives of the students disappeared within the state propaganda, and very soon everybody will forget everything.” Here, we see how Ai gathers influence from his restrictive culture, where you are not expected to speak out against those in power, to create Remembering as a way to draw attention to the problems in his society. Despite the massive casualties from this earthquake that resulted from shoddy construction and government negligence, Ai knows that this event will soon be buried under state propaganda. So, with this installment, Ai fights back by drawing attention to the issue in order to ensure fewer tragedies that are a result from negligence. Moving on, let’s look at Bowl of Pearls (2006) which is yet another one of Ai Weiwei’s artwork where he garners his influence from his own culture. When you first glance at this piece from afar, it may

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