The Role of an Artist: Anne Deavere Smith and Tod Hackett

There are so many writers and artists, who share their talents and ideas with other people and help to comprehend this life better and properly. The role of an artist is not that easy indeed: so many things have to be taken into consideration, and so many facts should be used in order to make a work really significant.

Anna Deavere Smith is one of those artists, who not only analyze current situations and criticize someone, but also clearly define own functions and abilities. Such approach to work makes her worthy of this world and interesting to her readers. In her “Introduction” to Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, she introduces her work, identifies the purposes of this writing, and also speculates upon her own role as an artist in this world.

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In comparison to one literary character, Tod Hackett from The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West, Anna Deavere Smith does not want to lose her mind and be guided by the current events; she is ready to prove her points of view and do everything possible to achieve her purposes and be interesting for her readers.

In order to create Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, Anna Deavere Smith conducted more than 170 interviews and presented captivating facts about the unrest, which happened in Los Angeles during the April, 1992. In the introductory part of the work, the author admits that “Theater can mirror society. But in order to do so theater must embrace diversity.” (Smith, xviii) This is why in order to become a sophisticated writer, it is crucially important to be original and use own potential to its full extend.

Anna Deavere Smith makes a wonderful attempt to present what her work will be all about, and her explanation helps to create more or less concrete picture about her attitudes to work and her preferences. “Basing my scripts entirely on this interview material, I perform the interviews on stage using their own words.” (Smith, xvii) So, the reader gets a clear understanding that Smith is not going to describe or portray something.

She concentrates more on performance but not on describing and using her own ideas. It is not a sign that she is not able to create something own. This approach to the work underlines another point – she is mature enough to combine the ideas of absolutely different people, present a valuable source of information, and amaze the reader. To my mind, her attention to the details and the ways information is presented say a lot about her professionalism and writing abilities.

What is most influences my decisions about what to include is how an interview text works as physical, audible, performable vehicle. Words are not an end in themselves. They are means to evoking the character of the person who spoke them. every person that I include in the book, and who I perform, has a presence that is much more important than the information they give. (Smith, xxviii-xxiv)

She does care about the reader and tries to take into consideration various points of view. Anna Deavere Smith values her role as an artist as a very significant point, because it is important to be able to speak and consider other standpoints and introduce these flows of ideas to people, who are interested.

Smith considers herself as an observe and should follow certain traditions and style, but still, she is ready to prove, reader to show, and ready to share her abilities with the other in the sphere she likes most of all. In comparison to Anna Deavere Smith, Tod Hackett is considered to be a bit weak person, who does not want to use all his potential in order to achieve the desirable purpose.

This is why Anna Smith and Tod are two antonymic characters in literature, who comprehend the role of an artist in absolutely different ways and, at the same time, provide the reader with an opportunity to analyze art and literature from different perspectives. Tod Hackett is not a writer, but painter.

He comes to Hollywood in order to create, but has to work as an illustrator in one studio. “Despite of his appearance, he was really a very complicated young man with a whole set of personalities, one inside the other like a nest of Chinese boxes.” (West, 2) Tod’s consciousness is not that easy to comprehend, and his ideas turn out to be rather captivating for the reader.

In The Day of the Locust, Tod Hackett evaluates his role as an artist not that significant. He is suppressed with violence, inherent to Hollywood of the 1930s, he cannot concentrate on his personal desires and interests, and all his searching to become a successful painter are frustrating because of mutual degradation and commodification of romance and human beauty.

Violence and sexual attraction – this is what turns out to be crucially important for people. Tod defines his work to represent this angry and sad people, who are going to destroy the city they live in.

Physical discontent and power are combined within one and the same person. He is not ready to getting any power and controlling it, this is why his attitude to his place and role in this world as an artist is not that significant as Anna Deavere Smith’s is.

Evaluation of art and literature is one of the most difficult and interesting things for any writer. To my mind, art and literature are the things, which make this world better and safer.

With the help of various pieces of art, people get more opportunities to learn on someone’s mistakes and improve own life; to concentrate on some details and use such awareness in life; to find different ways to demonstrate feelings and be able to forgive.

I value literature and art because it provides me with a good choice to know more and even teaches me how to share my own feelings and abilities with the others. People should have a chance to be educated, and literature and art are one of the possible means to get education.

Without any doubts, the role of an artist is really great. In order to become a successful writer or painter, it is crucially important to evaluate the world and people around, take into consideration personal abilities and preferences, and be ready to prove own positions and points of view. Anna Deavere Smith presents a wonderful story, in the introduction of which, she values literature and her role in it, choosing different approaches, not inherent to all writers.

Tom Hackett, a character of The Day of the Locust, demonstrates another attitude to the role of an artist and proves that sometimes people may be changed by circumstances and do not find the necessary way out. Literature is something, the reader can learn from. Art helps us to concentrate on details and enjoy from any piece of this life. This is why it is very important to value literature and art and do anything possible to develop and improve it.

Works Cited

Smith, Anna, D. Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Anchor, 1994.

West, Nathanael. The Day of the Locust. Buccaneer Books, 1981.

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