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← Chris Ware: Someone I'm Not | Art21 "Extended Play"'

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Showing Revision 5 created 10/10/2019 by Jonathan Munar.

  1. [Art21 "Extended Play"]
  2. I'm obviously a nervous guy
    and I was writing a female character,
  3. through her memory
    and through her stories.
  4. It was sort of an experiment
  5. to write from the standpoint of
    somebody who I'm not,
  6. which is certainly fraught with peril.
  7. ["Chris Ware: Someone I'm Not"]
  8. When I was in art school,
  9. I was told that I couldn't draw women.
  10. That kind of cuts out
    a whole half of humanity right there.
  11. I distinctly remember being told
    by one of my teachers,
  12. "If you draw women,
    you're colonizing them with your eyes."
  13. Do you not draw women and then
  14. maintain an allegiance to some sort of
    experience that only you have had?
  15. Or do you try to expand your understanding
    and your empathy for other human beings?
  16. As a white writer, how dare I begin to think
  17. that I could write from the standpoint
    of even another person.
  18. What I'm trying to do here is draw
    a gesture of a woman
  19. slightly brushing hair away from her eye,
  20. but now it just looks more like
    she's got a headache.
  21. Joanne Cole acts strangely
    towards the younger woman,
  22. and that's because she thinks it's possible
  23. that she might be related to the younger woman
  24. because she's lost in her own
    memories and thoughts--
  25. but that's not clear to the reader yet.
  26. So I'm trying to balance
    a couple of emotions here.
  27. I'm trying to make it feel that it's authentic
  28. and not just a bunch of nonsense--
    or poorly acted.
  29. This particular character is an
    African-American elementary school teacher
  30. who is teaching in a private school
    in the 1960s and 70s.
  31. Hopefully I'm attending to some of the complexities
  32. that a kind of slightly unusual situation
    might have brought up.
  33. I feel very self-conscious about
    writing a story like this.
  34. Am I doing the right thing?
    Am I doing the wrong thing?
  35. Is it about empathy?
  36. Am I introducing things I don't understand?
  37. Et cetera.
  38. It's a complicated question as a writer.
  39. [WARE]
    --Thank you for serving dinner.
    --You're welcome.
  41. [LAUGHS]
  42. [CLARA WARE]
  43. [CHRIS WARE]
  44. Many of my teachers were trying to get
    myself and my fellow students
  45. to find the one thing
    that we were interested in
  46. and then write about that.
  47. I never wanted to do that.
  48. I wanted to be able write about everything--
  49. and anything--
    because that's what life is.
  50. [LAUGHING]
  51. --I have no idea what I look like chewing
  52. --but I bet I don't want to know.
  53. It's up to me as an artist to try to decide
  54. how much can I try to feel
    through another person
  55. and still have it not be
  56. a sentimentalization or a falseness.
  57. I have to try to somehow push my limits
    and my understanding of
  58. how I feel through other people
    in what I'm doing.
  59. And you risk falling on your face doing so,
  60. but that's a risk you have to take.
  61. What art is all about is
    trying to figure out
  62. if the feelings that you're having
    are the same as the feelings that I'm having.