Professor Shaw Smith’s lecture of Romare Bearden in terms of “being human” provided a clear transition between unit five on dance studies and unit six on visual arts. After spending a month studying the use of performance to enter a political conversation, I quickly noticed the connections between reading dance and reading visual arts. Smith used the works of Bearden to guide us through the practice of visualizing and performing memory. Bearden’s work emphasizes the importance of remembering and ritualizing in visual arts. His collages represent different rituals as a means of confirming humanity; collages of remembering. Human rituals impose order over the chaos in our lives. Examples of rituals in Bearden’s collages include burials, going back to school, worthing, bathing, and other rites of passage. Through these rituals, Bearden tells his experience and defines his identity through pictorial complexities. In addition to storytelling, Bearden’s work also employs what Smith called “the acoustics of remembrance,” or the study of what paintings sound like. Overall, Professor Smith’s presentation on Bearden gave me a strong foundation for the process of reading and hearing visual arts.

Bearden, Three Folk Musicians, 1967

Additionally, Bearden’s use of collage resembles the Dada works examined in my final research paper. I argue internet memes are a resurgence of the early twentieth-century artistic movement Dadaism. All three artworks, Dada, Bearden, and memes, share a similar aesthetic and visuals rhetoric. The use of collage in Dadaism and Bearden’s work reflect assemblages of memory and vision. The artists use collage to combine culturally significant images and create artwork that comments on the nature of society. Similarly, memes combine various source images to comment on modern society and popular culture. So, maybe memes are also a resurgence of Bearden’s style.

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