The Beehive Collective joins Yun-Fei Ji, Maya Lin, and Marina Zurkow in using graphic means to protest a dangerous environmental condition.

The Beehive Collective joins Yun-Fei Ji, Maya Lin, and Marina Zurkow in using graphic means to protest a dangerous environmental condition. In this context, the word ‘graphic’ refers to creating vivid two-dimensional images for the express purpose of influencing opinions and behaviors. One art movement that shared this mission has often been denigrated as ‘mere propaganda’; it is ‘Socialist Realism’. Another art movement that shared this mission has earned fine art esteem; it is ‘Social Realism’. Here is a brief explanation of each:

Socialist Realism is art that is officially mandated by a centralized government that is empowered to dictate many aspects of life. Because art serves as an official arm of the state, Socialist Realist artists are required to glorify the state’s ideals and indoctrinate patriotic behaviors (e.g.heroic workers proudly toiling for the state). Simple, explicit imagery on murals and posters conveys these messages to mass audiences. Socialist realism persisted in Russia from the late 1920s to the 1980s. Other centers include The People’s Republic of China, Albania, China, North Korea, and Mexico. Socialist Realism painters are rarely identified by name.

SSR
Soviet Socialist Realist poster

propeganda
Chinese propaganda poster

Social Realism was popular in the 1930s. It cultivated the emotion-evoking power of art to protest the era’s rampant social or political inequities. The working class appeared frequently, but, instead of being idealized, they personified economic hardship and social injustice. This heightened sense of social inequality was expressed naturalistically by some artists and in a stylized manner by others, but never abstractly. Painting provided the ideal means to convey the subjective and introspective nature of this movement. Social realism was popular in the U.S. (Ben Shahn and Jacob Lawrence) and Mexico (Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco).

american civilizatio
José Clemente Orozco
Epoch of American Civilization
Dartmouth

José Clemente OrozcoEpoch of American CivilizationDartmouth1932-34

orozco096
José Clemente Orozco
La trinchera
1926

Ev
Phillip Evergood
Mine Disaster
1932-37

Jacob-Lawrence-Tubman2
Jacob Lawrence, panel 9 from the ‘Harriet Tubman’ series
Harriet Tubman dreamt of freedom, …
1939-40
12 x 17 7/8″

a. Compare Beehive’s The True Cost of Coal to Ji’s Three Gorges Dam, Lin’s What Is Missing? or Zurkow’s Poster Children to an example of Socialist Realism and Social Realism in terms of theme, style, and format.

b. The Institute of Propaganda Analysis was established in 1937 to educate the American public about how to recognize propaganda. It was run by Edward Filene, of Filene’s Department stores. He identified seven propaganda techniques which are modified for this context: – exaggerate your position – evoke emotions – denigrate opponents – depict ordinary folks to foster viewer identification – cite an authority to increase credibility< – depict trusted personality to increase popularity – highlight the value of joining the effort Apply each of the seven propaganda techniques to The True Cost of Coal and to any graphic advertisement in the contemporary media. Analyze each according to the seven propaganda techniques devised by Filene. Discuss the significance of your findings.