The Role of Artists in Society

As a whole artists tell a story of time through their works. During their time artists create works of subject matter that is relevant to their times which allows viewers in the present to understand the social issues and historical changes that were going on around them through these works. It also allows viewers several of years in the future to understand the history of that time period. They are perhaps even able to live through the time period by viewing these works from the past. Artists give us an insight to what is happening in our present day lives as well as giving us important history lessons. Because we also have the stories of the past through these works it also allows us to compare them to the present.

By looking at work from the Romantic Era, as an individual who is viewing it from the past, it creates a history lesson for me and other viewers to understand what was occurring during these times.

A popular visual piece during this time was The Oxbow-View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm created by Thomas Cole in 1836.


           Cole not only shows what the landscape looked like during this time but he also emphasizes how important nature was to himself and others during this time. Cole really captures the beauty of the landscape with his use of colors and lighting. My favorite part of this painting is how it fades from dark to light as the thunderstorm rolls out.

A popular piece of music during this time was composed by Franz Schubert titled, Erlkönig written in Austria in 1815.

This composed piece tells the story of a boy, his father and an elf king. The boy is trying to warn his father about the elf king following them but his father will not listen and the boy is killed by the elf king and dies in his father’s arms. This piece offers a look into the past with what popular music sounded like and what its focus was. For this piece, I liked how it built throughout the song and then came to a soft ending. I also liked the haunting melody it had to it, it added to the sad story the song was telling.

A popular theatre performance that was performed during the Romantic Era was Orpheus and the Underworld, created by Jacques Offenbach first performed at Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris in 1858.

This play tells the legend of Orpheus pursuit of his wife Eurydice when she is taken by Hades. This performance allows insight for what was popular during this time along with what  people during this era found humorous. After watching a short clip of this performance, I found it to be kind of humorous but I certainly wasn’t laughing that hard. It’s a good representation of how humor has changed in the last few centuries.

For today’s era, I focused on pieces that are currently very popular. These pieces allow the viewer to see what is popular in today’s age along with social issues that are currently occurring today.

The first piece I looked at is a painting that was done by Mario Sanchez Nevado titled, Betrayal-A Global Warming Illustration which was first shown in an exhibit which was held by the Hysterical Minds in 2012.


              This piece was created using digital illustration in Spain. Nevado uses several images to create a new image of a woman (who represents Mother Nature) having a gun (representing mankind) pointed at her. This work illustrates one of the great social issues that is occurring during this day in age; that being global warming and climate change. This work also shows the great advancements that this world has made in technology and how much art has changed being able to create something like this by morphing several images together on a computer. I like how this work shows the beauty of nature through beautiful images depicted of Mother Nature with beautiful colors and light. I also liked how, on the other end of the image, the hand and the gun is depicted as being dark and violent with dark colors and threatening images.

One of the most popular songs today is Closer composed by Hasley and the Chainsmokers in 2016.

This song has been one of the number one songs for several months in 2016. This song brings light to some of the social issues that are occurring in this day in age. The entire song is about seeing an old romantic partner. It is clear that this old romantic partner was a “hook-up” by the lyrics of the song. This song is a good representation of what music is nowofdays. I enjoy this song because it’s catchy. However, it doesn’t have the best message behind it.

The final work that I chose for the Modern Era is a popular Broadway show titled, An Act of God created by Jeffery Finn and was shown from July 6th to September 4th 2016 on Broadway.

This performance brings today’s social issues to attention and gives them an explanation through the use of humor. My favorite part of the clip is when “God” is talking about not giving anyone “God given power” in their sport or career.

By comparing these six works to each other an individual can see how things have changed through history and time and that is all thanks to the artists that created these works. Artists allow us a look into the window of the past and the present in numerous ways.

As a result of this course I have learned several new things about the arts. I knew close to nothing coming into this course about the arts. It was interesting for me to learn about all the different eras and all of the different styles that they have to offer. My favorite era that I learned about in this course was either the Romantic Era or the Early Modern Era.  As a result of this course I have learned how to appreciate all different styles of art, music and theatre.


Works Cited

An Act of God. “An Act of God Starring Sean Hayes.” YouTube, 30 Mar. 2016, Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.

B, Sherri C. “Franz Schubert’s “Erlkönig” | MASTERPIECES OF WESTERN MUSIC.” EdBlogs, Accessed 26 Oct. 2014.

ChainSmokersVEVO. “The Chainsmokers – Closer (Lyric) Ft. Halsey.” YouTube, 29 July 2016, Accessed 8 Dec. 2016.

Evans, Suzy. “AMERICAN THEATRE | Does God Have a Sense of Humor? Two Testaments on Broadway Say Amen.” AMERICAN THEATRE, 15 June 2015, Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.

“Guide to Musical Theatre – Operetta.” The Guide to Light Opera and Operetta, Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.

Herbert, Christopher. “ORPHEUS IN THE UNDERWORLD at Opera Vivente.” YouTube, 30 Apr. 2008, Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.

“Jacques Offenbach.” Quadrant Newmedia : We Make Technology Work for You, Accessed 8 Dec. 2016.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, After a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow | Thomas Cole | 08.228 | Work of Art | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.


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