What Might an "Edifying" Art Practice Look Like?

By Diane Zeeuw.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 4, 2014 $US5.00

The neo-pragmatist Richard Rorty advocated something he called an “edifying philosophy.” He suggested that philosophers cannot remain outside of the community in a mastering/spectator position. To be effective, philosophers must join the conversation within broader society, as messy as this may prove to be. Some would suggest the same is true for artists. Even though many contemporary artists are involved in community-based projects, these projects might benefit from a closer consideration of some of the ideas proposed by Rorty. I would like to apply Rorty’s propositions for an edifying philosophical practice to the question of how such a framework might enrich or challenge the practice of art. An edifying art practice would, of necessity, signal the end of the “grand narrative” of Art with an uppercase “A,” as pointing towards the sublime, or the capturing of “essence.” It would also challenge the notion of art as anti-aesthetic/anti-normative to society. Additionally, Rorty’s philosophical views provide one of the most emphatic arguments in support of the importance of public exhibition space. Such space promotes and ensures open conversation, which Rorty insists constitutes our most important civic project.

Keywords: Community, Public Space, Contemporary Art

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 4, Issue 4, August 2014, pp.1-7. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 4, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 371.948KB)).

Diane Zeeuw

Professor, Kendall College of Art and Design, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, MI, USA