Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Lori Jo Marso




visual art, public space, political discourse


Seeking to understand the role of art outside the studio, this paper examines the political effects of visual art in public space. With four artists serving as case studies, the paper interprets these artists’ work using the text of a political theorist to understand both how the public absorbs their pieces and what importance this process has. Fist, using political theorist Hannah Arendt to examine the work of the graffiti artist Banksy, the paper explores the relevance of artist’s intention to the public understanding of an image. Moving to socially conscious photographer Aaron Huey paired with author Susan Sontag, the paper addresses the change in public tolerance for images over time, with specific concern to overexposure. The paper then pairs cartoonist and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel with political theorist Davide Panagia to explore the political significance of images as a public, yet nonliterary form of political discourse. Finally, the text of philosopher and theorist Simone de Beauvoir combined with artist Sebastian Errazuriz questions the ethics that motivate art, and what these morals mean for the human condition. Learning from these examples, the author concludes by creating her own poster series intended for the Union Campus.