Gretchen Coombs

About Gretchen Coombs’ Thesis Project

Gretchen Coombs

Art, Politics and the Journey of a Temple

The Bay Area’s rich cultural history, progressive politics, and varied physical landscape have bestowed it with a near utopian reputation. Artists interested in social change are drawn to this progressive haven because they regard it as a place where active cultural resistance can flourish. This study examines a range of current artistic practices that both resonate with and challenge the history and imagined community of the Bay Area. Creative resistance takes on multiple forms—a desert romp, a gift, an interactive gesture, a political statement, a lifestyle—and respond to dominant cultural narratives such as alienation, consumption, and the effects of globalization and technology. As part of a larger ongoing project to “bridge art and life,” artists create small interventions and symbolic interactions in order to envision different ways of negotiating the world.By looking closely at local artists and the Bay Area institutions with which they collaborate, this thesis assesses the meaning and value of such resistance in relation to the larger context of the contemporary art world which currently privileges artistic production commonly referred to as “social practices” or “relational aesthetics.”

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