Sample Images

Advocacy Project
Paul Pearce - SUNY Oswego

Paul Strand on photography:
"You have to have something to say about the world, not just take pretty pictures"

Assignment Requirements

4 or more 11x14 fiber based prints (with all proof sheets of film shot for this assignment)
Strong, comprehensive artist's statement about the work and its connection to the issue it advocates.


The act of expressing, imparting or conveying information or impressions from one person to another, by either oral or written means.
The act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy.
A way of presenting a belief that seeks to generate acceptance without regard to facts or the right of others to be heard. Propaganda often presents the same argument repeatedly, in the simplest terms and ignores all rebuttal or counter-argument. It is essentially self- interested and often associated with authoritarian regimes. ...
To make public announcement of, especially to proclaim the qualities or advantages of (a product or business) so as to increase sales.

We live in a world of sophisticated technology and dwindling communication. We are becoming more and more polarized. Great complex issues are reduced to "talking points." Conversation and discourse is reduced to bickering and arguments. Facts and figures can be manipulated to support divergent points of view. Belief systems can be manipulated for corrupt purposes.

What is the role of ART in this dialog?
Art can speak to a part of us unreached by ordinary communication tools. Art can affect the subconscious. Art can bypass the brain and go straight to the heart.
Art can be used for both good and evil, it depends on the creator and the recipient.
Art can also be appropriated for purposes beyond the intentions of the artist.

Assignment Goal
The goal of this project is to examine the fine lines between advocacy and propaganda. To examine an issue that you feel strongly about and create a series of photographs that articulates your point of view, without creating an advertisement. Using metaphor, subtlety and nuance to create strong images that enlighten and entice the viewer.
You will create a series of photographs that go beyond the documentary or photojournalist genre.

You will begin by researching and exploring the dialogue already in the culture about your chosen issue. Collect simplistic, jingoistic examples or propaganda on either or both sides of your issue. You may find advertisements, articles, posters and other forms of media relating to your issue. Your challenge is to analyze these sources and discern the factors that have deeper meaning and insight that can be used in your series.

You will create a short written proposal at the start of this project and note how your approach changes during the process of creating this series.

We will start with a class discussion and examples of advocacy photography.