Minnesota Women's Press | St. Paul, MN


home : readerswrite : bookshelf November 21, 2017

What's the use of art?
BookShelf: Anne Bertram reminds you to take a step back, take a breath, maybe even laugh, and adjust your perspective
"What about the art that reminds you to step back, take a breath - maybe even laugh - and adjust your perspective?"
- Anne Bertram

by Anne Bertram

"As a speaker, a pamphlet-seller, a chalker of pavements, a canvasser on doorsteps, you are wanted; as an artist, the world has no real use for you; in that capacity you must fight a purely egotistical struggle."
- Sylvia Pankhurst, "The Suffragette Movement"

I ran into this statement, ironically, while working on a piece of art. I was doing research for "The Good Fight," a play about the militant English activists who fought to get votes for women. Sylvia was one of four Pankhursts - mother Emmeline and her three daughters - leading that movement.

As an artist the world has no real use for you. Artists get this message a lot. ("When are you going to start making some money at that stuff?") Getting it from Sylvia Pankhurst really stung. Trained as a visual artist, she eventually abandoned that career to pursue her activism full-time. Maybe she had the right idea, says a nagging internal voice.

But ... wait a minute. What about the art that reminds you to step back, take a breath - maybe even laugh - and adjust your perspective? (Like that scene in "Tripmaster Monkey" where Wittman gets his necktie caught in a bicycle he's trying to hang on the wall of the Toy Department and thinks, "So it has come to this.")

Or the art that gives you a refuge so you can recoup some energy? (Like the future Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, where villagers gather on a winter night to share good food, and children play safely in the snow, in "Woman on the Edge of Time.")

Or the art that expands your ideas of what people are capable of? (Like Sylvia's own memoir, where early 20th-century Englishwomen keep the issue of women's suffrage in the news by throwing rocks, lighting fires, going to prison and hunger-striking.)

Or the art that brings people together to talk about what's happening and what needs to change? (Like theatre did in the suffrage movement, and still does today.)

We need that art. We need to make and share it. With respect, Miss Pankhurst, the world can really, really use it.

YWCA Mpls InStory Banner 11-2017

Anne Bertram is a playwright and executive director of Theatre Unbound, "The Women's Theatre" in the Twin Cities. www.theatreunbound.org

Anne Bertram recommends these books by women authors:
The Suffragette Movement: An Intimate Account of Persons and Ideals by Sylvia Pankhurst
Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book by Maxine Hong Kingston
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
Shaw and the Actresses Franchise League: Staging Equality by Ellen Ecker Dolgin
Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theater by Jill Dolan

What's On Your Bookshelf?

Send us 450 words about your booklife, plus your list of five related books by women authors. editor@womenspress.com

Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30    

U of M Cont Educ ROS banner 7-2017

Home | Features | Commentary | ReadersWrite | e-Edition | Get A Copy | Calendar | Classifieds | Advertise | Women's Directory | BookWomen | Extras | Life
Minnesota Women's Press, Inc., 651-646-3968
Site Design and Content
Copyright 2017

Software © 1998-2017 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved