Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s The Black Person in Art: How Should S/He Portrayed? (Part II), demonstrates a collection of responses to the questions formulated by W. E. B. Du Bois. Gates provides his audience with a collage of authors trying to figure out the answers to these seven questions. Gates offers his audience with multiple responses, allowing his audience to connect to the multiplicity of opinions inspired by Du Bois.
By compiling these writings, Gates demonstrates the diverse response to Du Bois’ inquiries. One underlying connection is the concept of presenting truth within art. Gates’ structure helps demonstrate the complexity found within Du Bois’ “A Questionnaire”, and after reading through The Black Person in Art: How Should S/He Portrayed? (Part II), I begin to wonder if it is even possible to answer those seven questions with certainty.
Gates’ article only confirms the difficulty found within the topic of portraying certain images within art. The one concept that I could fully grasp from this overall article, is the concept of demonstrating truth, just like the reappearing theme in class. Trying to define the line between truth and what we see can be tricky. As readers we follow multiple perspectives and attempts in describing the solution to this blur of worlds.
Most of the authors in the article came to a general consensus that if you are truthful when creating art, then you are correctly portraying the image. However, no matter how truthful you may think you are being, another person is always going to have the opposite view point. This complexity only demonstrates how intricate art can be. My main issue with this is, isn’t this the main reason for art? To make one think and formulate questions?
Certain aspects of this article annoyed me, because people are so concentrated with being politically correct. This idea of being “correct” just rubs me the wrong way, and I feel that those who need to fulfill these concepts of being correct just miss out on the overall idea and underlying meaning found within the art. For example, Eugenia Collier states that The Color Purple (and others) “tend to exploit the tension between women and men by portraying the men as sexually driven beasts” (318). Along with some of the authors in Gates’ The Black Person in Art: How Should S/He Portrayed? (Part II), I feel that Collier’s critique is to narrow-minded. If Walker removed this ‘tension’ would the novel stand as the same story, would the intensity fade away? What do we lose if we remove this “tension”? I don’t think Collier was even thinking about what is lost if Walker removed this “exploitation”.
Even though I did not agree with every contributor in The Black Person in Art: How Should S/He Portrayed? (Part II), I found that this article represented the wide range of perspectives on finding truth in art. I thought that this article provided our class with solid evidence that the things we discuss in class are also debated in the real world and overall I found that Gates’ work helped broaden my idea on the line between fact and appearance.