Warning: mysql_fetch_assoc() expects parameter 1 to be resource, boolean given in /var/sites/d/disabilityarts.org/public_html/includes/behaviours/comments_replies.php on line 123 Creative Case: Dreams deferred or realised? - The Creative Case for Diversity
Hassan Mahamdallie addresses the Creative Case Symposium
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore?
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over –
Like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes Harlem 1951
I started the search for the creative case for diversity by looking at the Harlem Renaissance – to try and grasp how was it that an oppressed and ignored community found themselves in the vanguard of American art – the authentic expression for all people about what it meant to be an American at the start of the 20th century – not a black American or a white American – an American.
How was it that, in the words of the intellectual and activist WEB Du Bois – the black American “lay aside the status of a beneficiary and ward, for that of a collaborator and participant in American civilisation”. How did it come to be that black Americans were transformed through their cultural contribution into “a people, rather than a problem”?
In the Harlem renaissance you had the particular and the general coming together – you had an art that attempted to speak with two voices – “one from the stage of national culture and the other from the soul of ethnic experience”.
Between World War One and the onset the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression it was the voice of the black American that became the authentic voice of the mass of society struggling to comprehend what it meant to be human in the modern age. A Du Bois put it – the black American is “born with a veil and gifted with second sight in this American world”.
On the bigger canvas European modernism in the visual arts was in reality an African-European expression. Picasso, Brancusi, Modigliani, Matisse, Klee, Epstein, Hepworth – all drew their inspiration from sub saharan African art – revolutionising a canon of work away from realist representation to the abstract and the symbolic.
I draw an example from the arena of race and class, but clearly there are parallel narratives in the arena of disability and art, women and art, sexual orientation and art, and so on.