The Art Car Spectacle: a Cultural Display and Catalyst for Community

The Art Car Spectacle: a Cultural Display and Catalyst for Community

Date: August 2012
Creator: Stienecker, Dawn
Description: This auto-ethnographic study focuses on Houston’s art car community and the grassroots movement’s 25 year relationship with the city through an art form that has created a sense of community. Art cars transform ordinary vehicles into personally conceived visions through spectacle, disrupting status quo messages of dominant culture regarding automobiles and norms of ownership and operation. An annual parade is an egalitarian space for display and performance, including art cars created by individuals who drive their personally modified vehicles every day, occasional entries by internationally renowned artists, and entries created by youth groups. A locally proactive public has created a movement has co-opted the cultural spectacle, creating a community of practice. I studied the events of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art’s Art Car Weekend to give me insight into art and its value for people in this community. Sources of data included the creation of a participatory art car, journaling, field observation, and semi-structured interviews. The first part is my academic grounding, informed by critical pedagogy and socially reconstructive art practices. The second part narrates my experiences and understandings of the community along with the voices of others. Dominant themes of exploration include empowerment, community, and art. I ...
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