SWP: Art and / or / as Religion (Week Two)

During Week 2 of the Summer Writing Program I attended a lecture by Donald Preziosi called Art and / or / as Religion ?.

He talked about the different concepts of art in time and place. For example, in the ancient Greeks did not have the same concept of art as we do. Also, historically in China the distinction between painters and poets was not established the way it was in Europe.

The differences between art and religion are not a what ? but a when ?. The question is, when are there differences between art and religion. And for whom are there differences? What does art do? What does religion do?

Because I am now attending these lectures in pursuit of my MFA degree, the most pertinent questions are: What does my art do? What does it do for me? What does it do for the community? What do I want it to do? And how does it do what it does?

And what will my art be doing in ten years? twenty? a hundred? How will what my art does change? How will it change me? How will it change the world?

One intention I hold is to I write stories that can serve as tools for marginalized groups, specifically poor people, black people, and sex workers. This is kind of like a religion, such as Christianity, which uses stories of Jesus to save ? people, or Buddhism, which uses dharma stories to enlighten ? people. My stories empower ? people.

Marginalized groups often do not have a variety stories available to them. For example, a young man growing up in poverty may have access to only a limited number of stereotypical stories that won’t included anyone attending college. But reading a story about attending college opens up that as a possibility in the readers life.

My freshman year at UK I made a friend, Mark, who was studying Electrical Engineering. I asked him why he chose engineering as his major. He said it was because he watched The Cosby Show and Theo had gone off to college and majored in engineering. I also remembered watching a movie about an architect and that influencing me to major in Civil Engineering.

These are obvious examples. But the best stories are filled with subtleties that open possiblities the reader has no names for. Even the writer can only name these possibilities by telling the story.

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