Jose Misael Cortez

In an attempt to investigate the concept of identity, our class has a project in which we impersonate one or more identities that do not belong to the way we present ourselves in our everyday lives. My approach to the concept of identity is that it is partly a matter of personal choice, but it is also greatly influenced by culture  Take for example, blue jeans. Up until the mid 19th century this kind of dressing attire did not exist. Though it started as a necessity for workers in the mining industry, it become a commodity as it reached great popularity throughout most the world’s cultures in the lapse of a century. The fact the U.S.A. was at its booming stages during this period and was seen as the leader in innovation influenced great part of the world’s cultures to abandon their traditional costumes in exchange of this new outfit. So in this sense, different cultures adopted some aspect of the identify of U.S. culture.

Sub culturally, however, there have arisen several concepts of identity. People identify with the things that their lives revolve round with. For example, a person who occupies his or her life in a farm tends to wear boots and hats, which are appropriate for the needs of life in a farm. Similarly, others who happen to occupy their lives in the urban setting tend to wear casual and professional attire, which accommodates this life style. Within these styles, people choose (with the intent to either stand out from or join into a certain group) to combine different gadgets, hence creating a sub identity. For example I am the kind of person that does not use sunglasses, tuxedo with tie, a hood over my head, eyeliner, and jewelry. But in my attempt to temperately adopt someone else’s identity, I wore all of these, as shown in the pictures below. As I was preparing myself for each of these portraits, I could not avoid feeling a sense of uneasiness and insecurity. So, this project revealed to me that the concept of identity involves emotions, which are the result of our expectations from society.photo photo copy photo (1)

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Jose Misael Cortez

To be recognized for what we do or what we are seems to be a yearning natural to us. As both Socialists and Scripture claim, humans are meant to be social beings, for it is in this civility that the meaning of life is to be found. Being a member of a society translates into recognition, even if that recognition signifies mere membership. In being part of society, we fulfill our desires of recognition – of feeling that our existence has a purpose. As our recognition goes beyond this basic stage, it becomes ambitious fame. The individual uses corporal beauty and or talent to try new strategies that will help generate and maintain fame. So fame is an ambitious driven desire to magnify recognition. Those that have the vocation or drive to pursue and achieve fame are the ones that become the entertainers of society. Hence the relationship between celebrity and admirer emanates. This relationship becomes a mutual contract. The celebrity feels compromised to innovate and create, while the admirer responds by being a loyal follower. It is at this point that fame has the potential to provide harm to both celebrity and society.

Although fame is a medium through which teachings and messages with a potential benefit to society can be transmitted, that is not what generally happens. Fame has the draw back of corrupting people’s virtues to the point that it becomes unhealthy to be a celebrity. The easy accessibility to things and the grand possession of power over society has shown an effective motor for twisting celebrities’ lifestyles. For example, the celebrity lifestyle of Paris Hilton (notice that I said celebrity lifestyle. Since I do not know anything of her private lifestyle, I will not attempt to judge her from that perspective) can be observed as one that has been harmful for herself at some points and not beneficial for the good of society. The fact that much of her celebrity life has been spent in displaying her physical beauty and in attending parties generates a sort self-centered orientation that does not send a healthy message to the youth of society. Although the young who follow her may think that the style she embraces is great, the reality is that lifestyles of that sort tend to harm the minds of society instead of benefiting them. Moreover, lifestyles that put too much emphasis on the self tend to give more importance to the material side of things than the spiritual one, as this sculptural image of Hilton portrays. Even in her simulated death, she still shows signs of her attachment to physical beauty and her celebrity lifestyle.

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Jose Misael Cortez

As part of the theme Religion as a Conceptual Framework, which focuses on conceptually interpreting different images and sculptures that transmit either a critical, affirmative, or neutral religious message, our class attempts to create images that convey each of the above mentioned. For the purpose of transmitting a religious neutral message, I chose a photo of nature. This photo portrays a neutral message because, as it is very obvious, it does not relate to any known religious imagery. Yet, its content unavoidably evokes the concept of creation. Once the idea of creation comes in, a spiritual meaning overflows the mind of the believer. Thus the message is conveyed without any religious affiliation allowing for neutrality

To transmit a message that affirms religion as a positive social approach that leads to the betterment of humanity, I chose I picture of people gathered by prayer. Prayer in itself reinforces spirituality at the personal level, but collective prayer accomplishes spirituality with greater intensity. Shared prayer promotes the unification of the community and as the community is unified, the lives of people become more purposeful, which ultimately leads to a harmonious environment that generates better spiritual relationships

photo

Finally, to convey a message that critiques religion from a social perspective, I chose to create an image that reveals a priest and a Buda next to each other. Since my understanding of Buddhism is very small and my understanding of christianism is not much greater, my purpose with this image is not to set them as equal (although at the mystical level, it could be argued that they are) nor as one being truer than the other. Instead, my argument is that these two religions mutually exclude each other, by holding different approaches of worshiping and intellectually interpreting truth. As a social observer, I claim that the little knowledge I have about both religions, suffices to make the claim that religion, at the intellectual level, has been and still is a cultural outcome. Religion is an exercise of the mind in combination with culture. For even if one religion claims to be closer to truth than another, that does not suffice to eliminate the culturally developed intellects of other religions.

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Jose Misael Cortez

As discussed in our Visual Literacy class, Kehinde Wiley and Kara Walker invite the viewer to take notice of the bias that has taken place throughout history in regards to race, power, and religion. Both of these artists do it … Continue reading

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Jose Misael Cortez

As I have learned from this class, artist Marcel Duchamp theorized that the creation of art pertains to both the artist and the viewer. The artist conveys his or her work without knowing the aesthetic value of the work until the viewer gives its judgment. For this reason, Duchamp claims that the artist is the medium through which half of the art creating process is achieved. The other half lays in the control of the viewer, since the viewer is the determinant of the aesthetic value of the work. To illustrate this concept, Duchamp gathered previously built objects and slightly manipulated them as to differentiate them from their original purpose. The outcome of that manipulation was a combination of unrelated parts assembled together in order to yield a new object. He intended that any person could reproduce this outcome; since he believed that creative work does not necessarily have to emanate from known artists in order for it to receive the title of “art”. He classified these objects as readymades. One of these readymades, which we students have gotten the opportunity to review, is an upside-down urinal given the title of The Fountain. The fountain had minimum artistic effort, yet it stirred the minds of the viewers whom individually drew different conclusions of it. Therefore, the fountain received artistic meaning.

As part of an assignment for this class, I created a readymade that resembles the characteristics and purposes of those created by Duchamp. To do this, I have gathered three objects that I found in my home. I utilized the half piece of a ceramic soccer ball and a pencil inserted into an eraser. The eraser is there to aid with the suspension of the pencil at the desired position and is not visible in the provided image. With this readymade, I attempt to put in practice Duchamp’s concept of art. My readymade at first sight looks very simplistic since its components are very ordinary, and it should be so, because that is the purpose. However, upon close examination by the viewer, I hope that this readymade has the capacity to stir the viewer’s imagination, and that by doing so; they can find a deeper meaning to it than what its parts plainly indicate.

"even in the absence of heat"

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Jose Misael Cortez

Hello! My name is Jose Misael Cortez. I am originally from Mexico, and I currently live in Elkhart. Soon after my arrival to Elkhart, I found a job and worked for several years. During those years, I also attended adult education classes, and obtained a GED. Then, I enrolled for classes at Ivy Tech.  I transferred to Holy Cross with a concentration in mathematics, and I am currently in my junior year.

My original plans were to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering or mathematics at a different institution. However, the academic programs and the financial aid offered at Holy Cross made me change those plans. I now plan to major in Liberal Studies with a minor in business. Visual Literacy is an elective class for me. I chose this class because I am an admirer of art. However, I am neither an art collector nor an art maker. The little knowledge that I have in the visual arts field is what I’ve been able to draw from looking at images in books, since I have never been to an art museum or practiced any serious drawing. I know that images, particularly the ones from ancient times, have the intention of revealing messages that are to be found beyond the obvious. My hopes from this class are that I gain the ability to analyze art such that I can decipher those messages. I also hope to develop some art making skills. I am looking forward to make my participation in this class an enjoyable one.

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