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Art that speaks
Why do you think artists paint or draw? Do they produce their art simply to make a living? Do you think art can be more than decoration? In today’s story and here in the lesson, you will meet two artists who definitely believe they are making more than beautiful pictures. For them, their art is a way of making strong statements, of expressing very strong opinions.
The opinions concern the recent war against Iraq. They wanted their art to make a statement in favour of peace. One of the Outlook writers, Heamakarn Sricharatchanya, visited the exhibitions and wrote the story for you to read today.The writer’s art
There are many ways for a feature story to begin. The important things are that an opening paragraph, called the lead, must be interesting to catch the attention of readers and it must give an idea what the story is about.
Today’s lead certainly fulfills both those criteria. The writer began with a comparison. Read her opening paragraph now. What are the two types of people compared? What is their common aim? What are their individual weapons?
When she sat down to write this story, Heamakarn had some knowledge of the artists because she is familiar with the local art scene. She also had some of her own impressions of the works of art in the two exhibitions she attended. From her impressions she had formed questions to ask as she interviewed the artists. She made careful notes of their responses.
Let’s look at how Heamakarn used those responses as quotes to illustrate important points in the story. Below are three of those ideas. As you read the story, find the statements written by the writer, then highlight the quote that explains, illustrates or gives more detail about it.
There isn’t room here in feature focus for the part of the story focused on Vasan Sitthiket’s exhibition. But here is one of his paintings, with the artist in the foreground. As you can see, like the works of Hongjorn, his pictures express his anger about the war. Also in common with Hongjorn, Vasan has a history of being active in movements for social change. Here’s a quote from the story:
"Before Thailand’s student uprising on October 6, 1975, I used to believe that art was an elevated subject and it should not be used for criticising politics. But after I learned about the state’s oppression on the poor and university students, my attitude changed," he said. "I came to believe that art is the only option to help destroy evil power."
In the story, Vasan also says that the price of his present collection is US$1 million (42 million baht), and that he will give the money to the Iraqis to help revive their country if he sells it.
In the boxed sidebar story are some comments by another artist who expressed his thoughts on the role of artists in society.
After you have read the stories, here are some questions for you to discuss with your classmates or study group friends:
You can read Heamakarn’s whole story on the Internet at <http://www.bangkokpost.com/en/100603_Outlook/10Jun2003_out10.html>.
OUR STORY FROM THE BANGKOK POST
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