Steve Brodner presentation enriches students’ understanding of art and politics

By Brittany Muldoon, Staff Writer

November 9, 2012

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, students eagerly gathered in the Phillips Auditorium a few minutes before 4 p.m. to hear professional political caricaturist Steve Brodner speak about his work. With the presidential campaign coming to an end, politics were on everyone’s mind. So why not put a creative twist on the topics about which everyone has been thinking? That’s exactly what Brodner set out to do.

Brodner has been featured in several magazines and has completed a variety of projects. Because of his wide range of experience and obvious talent, many people across campus, especially art majors and members of the Art Club, were excited to hear him speak.

Not only was this an opportunity for them to enrich their understanding of politics, which is relevant considering the current presidential election, but it also allowed them to learn to use their passion for art to communicate in the political world.

His presentation took an informal, conversational tone and he allowed listeners to ask questions when he was finished. He was personable and his use of humor allowed people to relate to him.

While they found his presentation to be intriguing, the co-presidents of the Art Club, Olivia Bruner and Mary Williams, were surprised at some of the things he said. Bruner said she found it “interesting that he finds ways to use new technology, like Photoshop and blogs, in his work.” Williams said she was surprised at the fact that “he was able to be so open with his political views without being offensive.”

Art majors and members of the Art Club also got the pleasure of hearing about his artistic process. According to Brodner, he thinks of a story and sums it up in a single statement before he starts thinking about the final piece. Only after he knows what message he is trying to communicate to the public does he think about composition, color, and other visual elements that go into the final caricature.

Brodner’s presentation also challenged some students to take a different approach to their own artistic processes. Hearing about Brodner’s process provided new insight into creative techniques that many students will be able to implement into their own work.

“One thing I learned from Mr. Brodner was that when working on some drawing, you have to sketch, then sketch and finally sketch some more. He needed to make dozens of sketches of one piece in order to make it perfect,” said David Friedman, Art Club member. “I had always been under the impression that a piece of artwork is one sketch that you draw on top of repeatedly and keep adding and subtracting, but this is not the case with Mr. Brodner.”

Friedman then added that this lesson will definitely stick with him.

After seeing Brodner’s presentation, members of the Art Club were ready to begin working on their own political cartoons as part of a political cartoon project. Bruner said the information she and Williams gained from Brodner’s visit was be invaluable to the project.

Bruner said she learned from Brodner that “the purpose of political cartoons should first be to inform, then make fun” of the issues. In order for a caricature to be humorous, people have to understand the concept at which the artist is poking fun.

“Brodner’s presentation really showed how visual communication can affect history and ideas and get people united on a cause,” said Williams. She and Bruner hope that this project, in addition to Brodner’s presentation, has inspired people to become more involved in politics and to approach it in a more creative manner.

“Anyone would find his presentation interesting and enlightening, even for someone not interested in politics,” said Bruner.