“To see the arts as a means of social interpretation and reinterpretation and as a catalyst for personal, interpersonal and social exchange and development, one must first see the arts as an “adaptive, dynamic, goal-seeking, self-preserving, and sometimes evolutionary” system for perpetuating the human species (Meadows, 2008, p.12). I thus claim the arts to be much more than just a generator of activist manifestos, or a universal language of self-expression or a means of crafting meaningful objects with technical precision... [They are] a self-determinative means through which to aggregate, accommodate, and assimilate ways of thinking not our own and likewise disseminate our own meanings and resources to others.” (13) Wow.
“Perhaps the most crucial of all human rights is... the right to signify self, to signify experience, affinities, aspirations, beliefs, and ideas. Without the liberty to mark oneself as a person that matters, to model one’s personal and social experience to others without censorship, and to make special one’s place in the world without assault, prohibition or diminishment by those who rule or dominate, human agency is curtailed.” (11-12)
“...I will redefine the practice of making art as the practice of rendering meaning from life experiences either through making marks, making models, or making special.” (11) Rolling expounds on each method of making. I liked his sentiments on ‘making special.’ “Dissanayake (2003) introduces the idea that the arts represent the evolutionary practice of ‘making special’ all that is significant to the life and health of individuals, societies and civilizations... To ‘make special’ is also to delineate identity, home, and community. ‘Making special’ is thereby also indicative of self-determinative agency.” (16)
“...[I]n what way can arts practitioners make a valuable contribution regarding matters such as the maintenance of potable water supplies, the proliferation and preparation of food stocks, the conservation and development of energy systems, transportation concepts, health and safety products, or enterprise and entrepreneurship ideas that might turn the tide of global poverty?” (15) Rolling proposes that creativity is the remedy for many of the world’s most pressing concerns. He references a book called “Design Revolution” (by Emily Pilloton, 2009) which treats design as activism, compiling 100 empowering and liberating ideas for alleviating global concerns.
Rolling, James H. Jr. “Arts Practice as Agency: The Right to Represent and Reinterpret Personal and Social Significance.” Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, v.29 (2011): 11-24. Print.