Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
The Artnauts artist collective was founded in 1996 by Dr. George Rivera, Professor of Art in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado-Boulder. The collective uses the arts as a tool for addressing global issues while connecting artists from around the world. The group has exhibited work in museum, university, gallery and public spaces on four continents and has captured the attention of art critics both in the United States and internationally. The work of the collective is rooted in an engaged practice that draws from Joseph Beuys’ construct of “social sculpture,” Paulo Freire’s “conscientization” or critical consciousness and Nina Felshin’s definition of “activist art.” The collective has worked at the intersection of critical consciousness and contemporary artistic practice to impact change for almost two decades. The collective started with George Rivera and four other founding members (Garrison Roots, Dennis Dalton, Luis Valdevino, Beth Krensky).
Art as a form of social commentary has existed since Greek civilization. Since that time, the arts have been employed as tools for shedding light on social injustice and the human condition. Historically, this type of art has existed in both museum and gallery settings, as well as in the public domain. However, before the 1960s in the United States, much of the social and political commentary artwork was found almost exclusively in museums and galleries. The conceptual and earth art movements of the 1960s moved art out of museums and into the streets and land. The act of moving art from high art world venues into the “real” world impacted the political art movement of the 1970s and laid the foundation for the ecological art movement. The feminist art movement from this period turned “the personal is political” into visual images that broke the silence around issues facing women and fueled the fires of political art in general. The 1980s ushered in the ecological and activist art movements. These movements represented a major paradigm shift from the Modernist social disconnection and alienation of the artist to a connection between the artist and community (Gablik, 1991). They offered a new possibility for art and the artist—a supportive and collaborative effort between artist and society which was thought to ultimately lead to social change (Becker, 1994). The ecological art movement inextricably links art to the context within which it is created—the community and environment. The ecological aesthetic redirects the focus onto issues of context and social responsibility, as does the aesthetic of the activist art movement.