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Re: [BKARTS] WOID #XIII-41. Blue Bayou



I was thinking a simple yes or no would suffice, and I'm thinking the purpose of the supplies might perhaps in part be so those who lost who have lost so much might express their plethora of emotions, anger and despair outwardly, rather than keeping them in. I don't know.

What I do know is that here in Utah, we as a society have seen to the physical needs the evacuees now residing here & interestingly enough, the items teachers were requesting for them were journals and writing implements.
23 and counting,
Di in UT



----- Original Message ----- From: "Paul T Werner" <paul.werner@xxxxxxx>
To: <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, September 19, 2005 7:35 AM
Subject: WOID #XIII-41. Blue Bayou



Dear Professor:

I)
A week ago you wrote asking for donations of art supplies for the
evacuees from New Orleans: "children and adults now living in
shelters , [....], children who are entering the public schools whose
budgets are currently overtaxed and overwhelmed, [...] college art
students from New Orleans now enrolled [elsewhere], and professional
artists who have lost not only their supplies but their life's work."

An admirable request, and yet two memories haunt me: an artist friend
of mine who worked with homeless children in New York City once told
me the closets in the welfare hotels were bursting with donated art
supplies. Why didn't she just hand them out, I asked. Because, she
said, her job wasn't to hand out art supplies, it was to teach art.
The other is of people in Louisiana dying, dying even now, because
there are too many people who think it's not their job to hand out
food and water, just to control who gets the food and the water, and
the making of art.

II)
Absolute Poverty: it's not an ad for a brand of vodka, it' a
statistical calculation that defines poverty in terms of "absolute"
necessities: food, shelter, clothing. That's a belief for Barbara
Bush, not you or me, Professor. People need art, not in the way that
they need food or water, but in a way no less important in the long
run, and that's the run we're seeing on Louisiana: the first
responders were the lobbyists and speculators. Close behind, the
social engineers: the churches, activists, the NGOs. With the
breakdown of neighborhoods comes a breakdown of social and cultural
relations, and the charities, activists and government are now
competing to define what new relations will replace them as surely as
charities in Old New England once bid for "their" poor. I think we all
know, now, it's not whether you give, but to whom: Pat Robertson, or
the Red Cross, or to MoveOn.org. The issue isn't whether there must be
food and water and housing in New Orleans, and culture. The issue is:
what kind of each, for whom, and who decides?

III)
And what worries me about your call is the implication, which lies
behind so much high culture in America, that there is no culture among
the poor, that they're merely vessels to be filled, with more or less
benevolence, by more-or-less well-meaning social workers, government
agencies or art professors. From there, of course, it's just a step to
the actual destruction of native habitats and cultures, their
replacement by "something better." Teach a man to fish and you have
him fed for life. Teach a man to mix oil paints and you have him
hooked for life on a charge account at the art supply store. And will
that make him a better artist?

Many years ago a friend of mine, an artist from New Orleans, told me
of a bridge somewhere in the Delta, he wouldn't tell me where. Before
you cross this bridge you walk down under it, and stick your hands in
deep, and you come up with blue mud, the deepest, bluest blue you've
ever seen. Maybe he needs some help, now, but I'm going to wait to be
asked.


Collegially Yours,


Paul T Werner, New York
http://theorangepress.com

WOID: A journal of visual language
"Museum Inc.: Inside the Global Art World" (November 1, from Prickly
Paradigm Press)

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For all your subscription questions, go to the
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