Spotlight on Diana McClintock: Activist for activism art
By Liza Scales
Associate Professor of Art History Diana McClintock calls herself an activist for activism art, or art that is committed to social or political change. She writes frequently on contemporary art and stresses the importance of raising awareness of how activist art affects us today. McClintock enjoys writing for TABOO, which was originally a group of several gay Atlanta artists who created their activism art for social change in the 1980s. Robert Sherer, associate professor in drawing and painting, is the only surviving TABOO artist and paints with blood that is both HIV-positive and HIV-negative in his “Blood Works.” By mixing blood, he is attempting to raise awareness of perceptions and misperceptions about people who are HIV-positive. McClintock has authored a book about “Blood Works” that will soon be published by Kennesaw State University Press.
In 2010, McClintock will be the curator of a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. The show will be a presentation of activist art from the late 1960s to the 1980s, highlighting the work of activist art organizations, TABOO, Girl Vigilantes, Atlanta Women’s Artists Collective, and the Art Workers’ Coalition. The show will focus on the role they played in national activist movements of the time. “I want to put Georgia and KSU on the map in the art world!” says McClintock.
(From left) 2008 graduate Staci Kenney with collaborative colleagues Robert Sherer and Diana McClintock.
Photo by Melissa Ray
Her most recent accomplishment was presenting a paper at the Hawaii International Conference on Education. “Relearning to Look” is about using art criticism in the classroom. McClintock explains that “students have, by necessity, become too concerned with grades and putting the right answers on tests. I want students to think for themselves by presenting material in a broader context.” She encourages her students to consider how work fits into an artist’s life, what the story of humanity is at the time of the work, and how the work is currently relevant.
Student Melissa Leonard says that “having a class with Dr. McClintock is a great experience because, in many ways, she goes against the grain of traditional teaching. That is probably a natural thing since the focus is on art within radical movements and philosophy. Everyone in class contributes in lively discussions that often lead into current events and politics.”
McClintock is excited about the future for art students at Kennesaw State, and her passion is obvious as she talks about what lies ahead. She is working hard to construct a new art history major by fall 2010. “This program will develop the art department in strength and quality, giving our students the best opportunity for their careers in art history.” Included in the major will be a museum studies and criticisms concentration through which students will benefit from the wide range of vibrant arts opportunities in the Atlanta area.
When it comes to her students, McClintock is eager to show them what the can provide and how they can help students see their potential after graduation. “We have a fabulous who are not only nice to work with, but totally committed to the students,” she says. Student Angela Elliott tries to take one of McClintock’s courses every semester. “She has such a joy and excitement in her classes that is contagious. I have great respect and admiration for her,” says Elliott.