Ap­pro­pri­a­tion doesn’t equal orig­i­nal

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: In de­fence of free artis­tic ex­pres­sion (May 18)

Laura Furster con­tends that Amanda PL, as a white artist, should be free to ex­plore an indige­nous art form. While she is free to at­tempt any­thing she could imag­ine, I wish that she would com­plete her stud­ies more thor­oughly.

Trac­ing some­one else’s work does not make it yours. While it may de­velop tech­ni­cal skills, it does not yield works of art. It is not her own work. She needs to cre­ate her own style to be her own work. Those fa­mil­iar with the orig­i­nal works would rec­og­nize her mis­takes. She is a poor stu­dent.

Cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion is not an is­sue of ge­net­ics. It is a mat­ter of be­ing to­tally im­mersed, and thereby trans­form­ing that knowl­edge into an artis­tic form — while still be­ing faith­ful to the orig­i­nal knowl­edge. Dab­blers rarely suc­ceed in mak­ing this trans­for­ma­tion. By steal­ing the spot­light, Amanda PL stole. She stole crit­i­cal gallery space. She stole crit­i­cal me­dia at­ten­tion. And stole valu­able op­por­tu­ni­ties from those she claims to ad­mire.

There is no short­age of amaz­ing indige­nous artists. But au­then­tic indige­nous art is quite vo­cal. Their art work would be too con­tro­ver­sial for most ‘com­fort­able’ art gal­leries to dis­play.

And that is the unspoken di­men­sion of this de­bate. White­washed art is far more ac­cept­able than le­git­i­mate ex­pres­sions from au­then­tic sources. Dar­rell Doxtda­tor, Oh­sweken

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