The Role of an Artist
Since the conception of art, intricate questions have been presented as to the significance and rationale of art in individuals' lives. Various individuals, who lack artistic preferences and sense, are of the view that art has no contributory significance to people's lives. Meanwhile, artistically creative individuals appreciate the worth and significance of art. This is achieved through the representation of art as a reflection of their feelings, moods, perspectives and attitudes towards life. The significant aspects of art through its various forms such as film, fictions, painting images and pictures have been presented in various works of literature. These works have an inherent purpose, for instance, the introduction to Twilight by Ann Deavere Smith and characterization of Tod Hackett in The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West. These works of literature describe the purpose and significance of literature and art.
Ann Deavere discloses her rationale for selecting an inherently delicate subject in the creation of the play in the introduction to the Twilight. The play is a representation of actual events that occurred in California in the early 1990s that culminated to protests and riots. These events were ignited, when four policemen subjected a black man to the inhumane treatment without any significant reason to warrant such treatment. Though the people were expecting some semblance of justice from the trial, the outcome of the trial was unexpected and perceived as a pervasive misallocation of justice. Consequently, these events were the subject of protracted focus in the American history as an embodiment of misappropriation of justice, unjust and unfair laws.
Hackett employs the perspective of an outsider and uses his aesthetic and social value system to illustrate the grotesque nature of life in Hollywood (West). Though his experiences are to some extent disillusioned, Hackett uses painting in the hope of illustrating the frustration and anger experienced by the majority lower classes in his The Burning Los Angeles painting. Meanwhile, Anne Deavere, through her introduction to Twilight offers a number of reasons aimed at enabling her readers to understand the significance of her creations of art. She postulates that theatre has the ability to reflect an accurate account of societal dynamics.
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Art is inherently a conduit through which individuals derive their pleasure and learn intimate details of their respective societies. These include various aspects of their lives, environment, people and concealed truths. As such, a real theatre is that, which takes into account the actual circumstances and realities of society and sensitizes the common people on such issues through plays in a context that is easily understood. Furthermore, Anne Deavere continues to state, We now have the opportunity to be a part of the discovery of a larger, healthier, more interesting picture of America (Smith xxi).
This evidently emphasizes the impact of drama and theatre, which are critical aspects of literature and art. In the event that art is applied in a sensible and sincere manner, it is critical to the presentation of an actual sequence of events and reality to individuals. This is characteristic of the manner in which Anne Deaveres plays present the occurrence of actual events that occurred at various points in time to a theatrical audience. These events were obscured from the public scrutiny; hence, after the delicate process of interviewing different sources and extracting the truth, it was then that people came to the realization of the extent and nature of what had been concealed.
Deavere was of the view that she had a responsibility as a writer to sensitize people on the occurrences of her time through the presentation of an actual picture. She observed that it was her objective to create a different theatre that was inherently sensitive to the events of her time, in contrast to the conventional or traditional theatres. It was her intention to develop a theatre that was contemporary at that point in time; hence, individuals could be sensitized and made aware of the respective events that not only occurred in their time, but also influenced their lives. As such, she wrote a play that people could relate to; hence a characterization of the nature and purpose of literature. Particularly, literature allows individuals to relate in more than one way in an effort to understand the complexity of their world and purpose of their existence.
In The Day of the Locust, Hackett finds an artistic challenge in the attempt to illustrate the lower middle class in Los Angeles as disillusioned and bitter as a consequence of the city's failure to meet their expectations of better jobs and life (West). Deavere realized that it was essential to prevent prejudices and any form of bias in her work; as such, she searched for dramaturges that were highly experienced and qualified to aid her in bringing out her best work. These actions characterize Deavere as an artist who sought to demonstrate her work to the audience with the aim of presenting various issues to the publics eyes.
Various pieces of literature, such as novels, plays and poetry that have characters, can achieve their artistic objectives, since the characters through their performance and presence make it easy to relate to them and underlying themes. Words and dialogue are essential; as such, the objective of art is to provide the audience with an opportunity to perceive the characters through their representation of events. This is done with the aim of creating a deeper and intimate appreciation of the individuals present and their respective intentions. Deavere observes, Words are not an end in themselves. They are a means evoking the character of the person who spoke them (Smith xxiii); as such each person or character that is included in her work has a critical purpose through the presence that is increasingly significant in terms of the information they present.
In the introduction to Twilight, Deavere observes that she played twilight with the aim of calling out to the community in the belief that the society has developed to a stage, where progress can only be achieved through breaking the silence concerning race and encouraging more individuals to join in the dialogue. Deavere argues that artists have the potential to break the silence on critical issues through their works of art, which are essentially liberated from advocating for good or evil. Hence, it is premised on the actual depiction of reality through art, leaving the varied interpretations to the public on the accuracy or inaccuracy of the work. Consequently, her play does not take any definitive sides between the public and the police, but it demonstrates the sequence of events as they occurred at that point in time. As an artist, Deavere believes it is significant that the true events are made known to the public; since this is the inherent purpose of art, namely the evoking of the public.
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The Day of the Locust depicts Tod Hackett as an artist, who is new to the city of Los Angeles and is unfamiliar with its intricate dynamics. However, Hackett is recruited to work as a costume designer in Hollywoods film industry (West). He is deeply fascinated by the city and takes an interest in learning all he can about people coming from the city's lower classes. This leads to the creation of The Burning Los Angeles, a masterpiece that depicts his outlook and perspective of the city, its inhabitants and life in the city.
Hackett continues to seek out people from various backgrounds, professions, cultures, attitudes and values. He gets closer to these people with the aim of learning their way of life, desires, goals, motivations and perception of their society; consequently, he integrates the subject matter of his observations and understanding into the development of his masterpiece. Evidently, Hackett is an artist who uses real characters and actual events to create an artistic painting that not only tells the story of his subjects but also creates awareness of underlying issues that affect the daily lives of the lower middle class Los Angeles residents (West).
Deavere uses art in the form of plays and drama, while Hackett uses art in the creation of a painting that integrates his observations, perceptions and truths concerning the state of affairs as he perceives them. Both Deavere and Hackett use art and literature as a medium, through which they present their observations and accounts of events that influence their respective societies. Hackett uses visual art through the painting to illustrate the life of Los Angeles through the perspective of the characters that he interacts with in the city. Meanwhile, Deavere gained her insight through illuminating interviews given by diverse people, who experienced, suffered through the riots or were victims of the riot's aftermath. As such, she sought dramaturges to portray her work in an artistic drama. This contributed to the pronouncement of reality in a dramatized work of art aimed at bringing people together in a collaborated depiction of the hidden truth.
My Beliefs and Convictions
I am convinced that art and literature are significant in portraying the intricate nature of the world. As such, dynamic aspects of people, their lives, struggles, suffering and triumphs are inherently brought to light through the use of literature and art. Art and literature present the nature of humanity, hence making the ignorant aware of possibilities and events that have the capacity to revolutionize the mode of thinking and perceptions towards society and its people. This makes people more conscious of their surrounding and aids in understanding various complexities in life. Literature and art help in perceiving a deep sense and significance of life through interpretation of relationships, events, consequences of varied actions and the unrealized potential inherent to any person who is willing to take risks in fighting for his/her beliefs. This is achieved through the enriching creativity, imagination and aesthetic sense.
Literature presents varied issues that impact society and sensitizes the public on critical issues that require their attention. In most cases, art and literature are used to illustrate issues of the social, economic and political significance that have a direct or indirect impact on people's lives. The changes in social and cultural contexts have the impact of influencing future directions, attitudes and modes of living in society. Literature and art act as instruments that aid in the development of change or sensitizing members of society on the need for change. Therefore, I believe that literature and art are not only educative and elucidating artist's perceptions of the world, but they also play a significant role in influencing the shape, attitudes and dynamics of society. Art is not merely a representation of unintelligible pictures and shapes; instead, it is the representation of delicate and sensitive issues that impact society on a day to day basis. In light of these, literature and art should not be restricted to scholars and academics, but they should be exposed to a wider audience.