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“I am for an art” — A Reimagined Poem

First-year students reimagine an enduring manifesto.

By Arts & Culture, Featured

Illustration by Anna Cai.

In 1961 Claes Oldenburg wrote “I Am for an Art,” variously described as an ode to or manifesto of Pop Art. In 2022, first year SAIC students in the Art History, Theory and Criticism Modern Survey course taught by Rhoda Rosen, updated “I Am for an Art” to reflect the current array of practices in which they engage. Contributor names appear in-text, and at the end of the article.

I am for an art: SAIC 2022

I am for an art that punches up.

I am for an art that shuts up sometimes.

I am for an art that spends its adult money on a trip to Disneyland. (Ina Francesca Magelli)

I am for an art that is bubbly tiny, cute animals.

I am for an art that embodies the human form.

I am for an art that emulates squishy textures. (Rion Hsuanyi Whitwam)

I am for an art that tells a story.

I am for an art that makes people laugh.

I am for an art that makes people cry. (Ray Thomas)

I am for an art that connects with an audience.

I am for an art that explores new territory.

I am for an art that reflects the artist. (Vivian Wu)

I am for an art that empowers women.

I am for an art that allows me to self-reflect.

I am for an art made for my childhood self. (Rebecca Jean May)

I am for an art that represents the hardships of Mexican immigrants. 

I am for an art that sheds light on some of the issues in my culture.

I am for an art that showcases the struggle of being Mexican American. (Pricila Quinones)

I am for an art that requires my whole body to create it.

I am for an art that I can’t stand to look at.

I am for an art that knows what to say and when to say it. (Chloe Marie Harthan)

I am for an art that is fun.

I am for an art that is curious. 

I am for an art that is never ending. (Al Harris Wills)

I am for the art that glazes the ground when clouds roll over and liquid falls.

I am for an art allows me to create my own reality to escape to. 

I am for an art that springs from pure and honest collaboration and connection. (Alyvia Aivy Luong)

I am for an art that you can be in. 

I am for an art that wears pop culture on its sleeve. 

I am for an art that is okay with just being art. (Kristian Scott Kerschbaumer)

I am for an art that you go home and write about.

I am for an art made of smiling lies. 

I am for an art that dissolves cubes. (Calvin Mamis)

I am for an art that has a narrative or means nothing at all.

I am for an art that plays with surrealism.

I am for an art that is utterly disorganized. (Yaz Cassie Nickols)

I am for an art that is emotionally driven

I am for an art that speaks to the physical body and yearns for contact

I am for an art that uses biomorphism to show the beauty and usefulness of the natural world (August Jane Grube)

I am for an art that connects to oneself

I am for an art that remains vibrant and detailed

I am for an art that has variety (Kass Skye Locke)

I am for an art that touches the deepest parts of soul, of self, of what human and beyond human is. 

I am for an art that heals obsolete ancient wounds of existence.

I am for an art that is a romantic story about the question of all questions told by archetypes, collective unconscious and something language is incapable of transmitting. (Nika Kostyuk)

I am for an art that highlights the human form’s full capacity to contort its flesh

I am for an art that represents the intersex community 

I am for an art that makes penises into teapots (Ezra Liam Scriven)

Students in the Modern Survey course taught by Rhoda Rosen: 

Ina Francesca Magelli, Rion Hsuanyi Whitwam, Ray Thomas, Vivian Wu, Rebecca Jean May, Pricila Quinones, Chloe Marie Harthan, Al Harris Wills, Alyvia Aivy Luong, Kristian Scott Kerschbaumer, Calvin Mamis, Yaz Cassie Nickols, August Jane Grube, Kass Skye Locke, Nika Kostyuk, Ezra Liam Scriven. 

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