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I was reminded as I read my mail earlier of a student in college with
me, who was Jewish. She was adamant that she was the only person in our
class who had a right to make art that spoke of the Holocaust. Is this
really where we want to go? Only if you experience violence do you have
a right to speak out against it? If you are happy, you may only make
"happy" art. Art has been made through the ages for a variety of
reasons, to protest inequality, to glorify, to beautify. So, because I
am of European background, I can only make "white, European" art, and I
may only teach "white, European" art. I hope not, I will not. And, if
having a student make an artwork from another culture, helps that
student understand that culture better, then I'm going to continue to do
that as well.
By the way, last week, a young Native American student told our class
that we could not make dreamcatchers because we did not have to medicine
to do so. But, he added, we could make them using metal hoops and
wrapping them with yarn, because then they would just be beautiful
decorations, without the power to take away bad dreams. He, however,
could make real dreamcatchers because he had the medicine. It was a
wonderful learning moment, for me and for the class.