Paper #1 — Much, if not all, artistic media is “reactive.” A painting or a poem might be a reaction to a set of colors, a “seasonal “moment — spring summer, fall, winter — a feeling, a hurt, a triumph, a loss, but art can also be a response to a social, cultural, political or economic event. One reason that I introduce the 19th Century in this class is to show how closely aligned art is to the world outside of it.
Two 20th century works of art, Langston Hughes’ poem, “Harlem” and the iconic photgraph of the “reflecting pool” in the March on Washington (1963) teach us of a time not far removed, ideologically or politically, from today. Of course, the two works are from distinct media that have their own sets of guiding priciples and elements. A poem is not a photograph, and it has different conditions under which it operates. Yet, both works teach us that history repeats itself. How do they do that? Can we take those two works — “Harlem” can be found in the lecture of days four and five, and the photograph, can be found, well, anywhere you are sitting in front of a screen (it’s the black and white photo) — and see their relevance today? For this response, focus not so much on the specifics of “today,” but on how the two works utilize elements and principles to convey their messages, messages that HAPPEN TO RESONATE today.