Who Are You?
Prompt: Our class was tasked with creating a book inspired by an artist we learned about and researched in Studio 1, while incorporating research on memory done in Seminar 1.
When presented with this open-ended prompt to create a book incorporating both seminar and studio topics, my mind immediately went to James Baldwin. I was fascinated by his ideas surrounding the artist’s role in society as well as his view of memory and how humanity chooses to ignore and rewrite painful history. While reading his essay, “The Creative Process”, I began making connections to my favorite philosopher and writer, Albert Camus. I thought it would be intriguing to pretend like Baldwin and Camus were reading my seminar essay and responding to ideas I formed surrounding memory and true self. The more research I did on both of these philosophers, the more I started to see the similarities and differences between how they saw the world. Philosophy is a truly unique field as no one can be wrong in their concepts, it all just depends on how one’s outlook; I kept a running theme of eyes on each page in order to illustrate this.
I decided to add an ending letter after reading an essay of James Baldwin’s that he wrote at 4 am. It was a stream of consciousness where he examined the meaning of life, and did settle upon a few. It started out bleak and quite similar to Albert Camus philosophy of the absurd, but transformed into a beautiful sentiment. These two would have an in depth conversation about the true purpose life and if it even exists, and I wanted to translate this through my letter. They seem to understand each other in a way, though Baldwin carries vastly differing views of life’s significance.
Through my art, I sought to capture these overwhelming and unclear notions Baldwin and Camus dedicated their lives to exploring.