Global Artists Shaping Personal Identity

Global artists shaping personal identity. During art school, one of his teachers asked Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare, “Why aren’t you making authentic African art?” He wondered: “What is authentic African Art. What is authentic identity in a global modern world?”

Michel Tuffery is artist an artist of Samoan, Rarotongan and Ma’ohi Tahitian heritage: “We’re this third generation,” says the artist, “we were born here, in New Zealand. If you go to a new place you create a new culture, and that’s what we’re doing…it’s a coming to grips.”

Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing considers what has inspired his work: “As an artist, you ask yourself: Can you channel your life experience through your artwork using whatever is unique to you, to create a new artistic language?”

In the wake of rapid global change, we see the emergence of global, transnational (Links to an external site.) artists worldwide who use art to explore their identity and to comment on socio-political issues. But imagine what it’s like being an expatriate, living away from one’s home country. Imagine what it’s like feeling like an expatriate when you’ve never left the country where you were born. How would you deal with that? What type of art would you create. What would your message be?

These are just a few of the issues contemporary artists are tackling, locally and globally, in the 21st century.

How Artists Explore Identity

Art helps us understand not only the artists, but also ourselves. Works of art can convey the experiences and identities of the artists who create them, and as viewers we may share similar experiences and identities. As you watch this video, consider some of the ways art informs how we see the artist, and what it tells us about how artists see themselves.

Why Global Art?

In our interconnected and increasingly fragile world, we cannot afford to overlook the perspective of global, transnational artists who work from the basis of experiences and traditions that may be very different from our own.

Some of these artists work within our local communities, while others create and display their work far outside our local region. Located in different countries around the world, these artists draw on a broad variety of artistic knowledge, incorporating into their work the ideas and practices of their own culture, as well as innovations from other cultures. For example, an artist working today in China has available the resources of traditional Eastern and Western art practices, as well as the pluralism of modern and postmodern art.

Informed by diverse cultures and personal experiences, these artists communicate values that all persons, irrespective of their particular cultures, can share. Whether celebrating the vitality of local culture and tradition, promoting mutual understanding, or making powerful social and political statements, these artists bring a fresh global worldview that we desperately need.

Key Issues and Themes

Contemporary global artists work in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, installation, and performance art. They create works of art that confront our worldview about the social, political, and environmental challenges we face, including:

  • the socio-political effects of forced migration, displacement, and exile.
  • the trauma of conflict, industrialization, environmental destruction, and natural disasters.
  • the violence, oppression, and misrepresentation experienced by minorities in contemporary society.
  • historical stereotypes, cultural appropriation, and the oppression of indigenous peoples in modern culture.
  • the experience, identity, and roles of women and men in traditional societies.
  • the construction of contemporary identity and self-image within a colonial and post-colonial world.

Key Strategies

These artists use a variety of strategies to draw attention to these challenges.

  • They remove objects and images from their usual context (decontextualization).
  • They present common things in an unfamiliar or strange way (defamiliarization).
  • They emphasize the idea behind the art over its monetary value (dematerialization).
  • They challenge aggressive localism that uses culture as a mark of otherness and as a defense.
  • They critique the institutions of art and the colonial attitudes they sometimes reinforce.
  • They employ radical juxtaposition of forms to reveal hidden meanings.
  • They create art that is grounded in or examines local or national traditions.

Your Assignment

In this Discussion, you will select a global, transnational artist, from the list provided, who makes work that you can relate to or who has an artistic approach that you find powerful and interesting. You will then post a 500-650 word analysis of their artistic approach, and how their work expresses their personal history and identity. You will support your key points with ideas and information you find in the resources I provided, and with your own observations, ideas and insights. Please do not use other sources.

This Discussion is worth 100 points. Please read the instructions and Grading Rubric before you begin.


  • Your initial Discussion post is due by Sunday, May 8 at 11:59 p.m
  • Your responses to posts by at least two different classmates is due by Saturday, May 15 at 11:59 p.m.

Need Help?

If you feel stuck and would like some extra guidance, or if you have any other questions or concerns about this assignment, don’t hesitate to reach out to your professor. I’m here to help!

Instructions and Grading Criteria

Please approach this discussion as you would if you were writing a college paper. In other words, don’t just start writing in the discussion board without having a plan. I recommend that you open a Word document and write a polished 500-650 word paper, then copy and paste this into your discussion post.


Learn About the Artists

Click the link above. Then explore the work of each artist listed until you are familiar with their unique artistic approach. Take the time to watch the videos and read the information about each artist before you select an artist to write about. Be sure to select an artist because you can relate to the artist or the message in their work. If possible, choose an artist who creates work that is directly relevant to your life in some way.


Your post is worth 80 possible points

After you select an artist from the list provided, write and post a 500-650 word analysis of their artistic approach, and how their work expresses their personal history and identity. Please include at least one example of the artist’s work that demonstrates their artistic approach.

At the beginning of each paragraph, write a concise topic sentence that clearly states what the paragraph is about. This topic sentence will help frame the controlling argument for each paragraph and will help your reader follow your key ideas.


This paragraph should be between 150-200 words.

Please post at least one image that is a good example of the artist’s work.

Topic sentence: In your topic sentence, clearly state the main issue or theme the artist is working with. Do this in one sentence. Please refer to the list of key issues and themes in the previous section. Pick only one main issue or theme to write about and focus on that.

Body of paragraph: Next, describe the artist’s unique artistic approach to addressing this issue or theme. How does the artist create their work? What is the message? Introduce at least one example of the artist’s work and describe the main strategies used to convey this message. Please refer to the list of key strategies in the previous section.


This paragraph should be between 200-250 words.

Topic sentence: In your topic sentence, summarize the connection between the artist’s work and their personal history and identity. Do this in one sentence.

Body of paragraph: Next, describe this connection in greater depth. Provide more detail about the artist’s personal experiences and explain how they inform their art. Before you write this paragraph, you may need to do extra research to learn about the artist. Please cite your sources.


This paragraph should be between 150-200 words.

Topic Sentence: In your topic sentence, summarize why (or why not) this artist’s work of art made a difference to you, or to your way of thinking about the issues and themes in the work. Do this in one sentence. Stay focused and don’t try to write about everything. Keep it real.

Body of Paragraph: Next, thoroughly discuss your reaction to the artist’s work and evaluate its effectiveness in more detail. Explain why you think the artist’s work is successful. Support your key points with examples and observations of the artist’s work.

It may be helpful to consider some of these factors:

You don’t need to answer all these questions. They are here to help get you thinking.

  • What initial ideas or feelings come to mind after experiencing the work of this artist?
  • Do you identify with the artist’s work? Based on your life experiences, is it personally relevant to you?
  • Does the work impact your way of thinking about these issues?
  • What is it about the artist’s work that engages you the most? The message? The way it is made? The formal characteristics?
  • Do you think your experience of the work is the same as what the artist intended?


Each post is worth 10 possible points (20 points total)

Next, review the posts of your classmates. Post a thorough and cogent response to a post by two different classmates (at least 100 words each). Add a new insight to the discussion that helps the reader better understand the work of art. To do this consider the following:

  • Do you agree with your classmate’s analysis and evaluation? Why or why not?
  • Did they leave out something important? If you think so, introduce this to the discussion.
  • Did you find something interesting in the post, but you don’t fully understand? Politely ask them to clarify for you.


This Discussion topic is broadly framed and there is no right or wrong answer. Instead, you will be graded on how well you demonstrate your ability to think clearly about this topic and logically support your ideas with concepts from the readings, online sources, and your own observations, ideas and insights.

Before you submit your posts, please take a little more time to proofread and revise your work to make sure that what you write actually conveys what you intend to say. Try your best to submit work that is clearly-written, well-supported, grammatically correct, and free of spelling and punctuation errors. This is a college level assignment!

Please review the Grading Rubric before you begin. You can view the Grading Rubric by clicking the three dots in the upper right of this page, then click “Show Rubric.” Here are more instructions for viewing the Grading Rubric (Links to an external site.).

Earn a High Grade

  1. Before you begin, read all of the instructions, as well as the rubric.
  2. Include key ideas contained in the videos and links provided for this assignment.
  3. Start with an outline and organize your main points into separate topical paragraphs.
  4. Write concise and clear sentences that clearly convey what you intend to say.
  5. Write in third person, present tense, as much as possible.
  6. Support your statements with examples and observations of the artist’s work.
  7. Include your own insights that support your main points.

Assignment Feedback

I care very much about the quality of work you submit and I will carefully read, evaluate, and provide feedback on your post within approximately one week after you submit responses to your classmates (usually sooner). As you can imagine, this takes time and I appreciate your patience while I assess your work.

Click this link for instructions on how to view assignment comments from your instructor. (Links to an external site.)


This is not a research paper. However, you may need to do some very basic research about the artist and their work. Try to identify at least one big idea you find. Be sure to cite your sources and paraphrase ideas in your own words. Contact me and I can show you how to do this. In most cases you can cite the URL for an online source in parentheses after the section in your paper where the reference occurs.


If I find that you have appropriated any ideas or text without giving proper credit to the person or persons who created them, you will receive a zero for this assignment. No exceptions. Please familiarize yourself with the Academic Honesty/Dishonesty and Plagiarism Policies for this course.

Be sure to write your initial post in the first “reply” box you see below.

I will provide my loggg in to respond to two students too