“The word “art” is something the West has never understood. Art is supposed to be a part of a community. Like, scholars are supposed to be a part of a community… Art is to decorate people’s houses, their skin, their clothes, to make them expand their minds, and it’s supposed to be right in the community, where they can have it when they want it… It’s supposed to be as essential as a grocery store… that’s the only way art can function naturally.”—
Reminded of me 5 Pointz because it was like an outdoor art museum that you could see for free or for the low cost of a subway ride, one whose awesome exhibits were constantly changing and reflected the interests and tastes of artists of color, and one you could visit any time. Forever missed.
“'We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.'”—
Often, in an immigrant family, it’s a very big departure for a child to say: I want to be an artist, not a doctor, not a lawyer, or an engineer. The father, here, tells his daughter what so many immigrant parents tell their children: Art is not the safest route in life. We didn’t sacrifice all this for you to take up a precarious profession.
He tries to comfort her, at the same time, by insisting that being an immigrant makes her an artist already. And this is a fascinating notion: that re-creating yourself this way, re-creating your entire life is a form of reinvention on par with the greatest works of literature. This brings art into the realm of what ordinary people do to in order to survive. It takes away the notion that art is too lofty for the masses, and puts it in the day-to-day. I’ve never seen anyone connect being an artist and an immigrant so explicitly, and for me it was a revelation.