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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: the arts and the black revolution

Artist in an age of revolution: a symposium,   pp. [219]-[243] PDF (25.6 MB)

Page 225

Earle Hyman
Has acted professionally in many plays
both here and abroad. In 1966,
he opened the Bergen Arts Festival
in Norway in an original Norwegian play
entitled The Honeybird and the Leopard,
which was written especially for him.
Do you think of yourself as a Negro
artist or an artist who happens to
be a Negro?
I think of myself as an actor
who happens to be a Negro.
Do you personally feel the psychic split
that a number of Negro writers describe
so graphically: the pull, on the one
hand, toward Negro militancy, tradition,
and culture, and the pull, on the
other hand, to the white cultural
institutions and orthodoxies?
I have never felt this psychic split.
African Art moves and inspires me, the
Benin bronzes, for example, but so does
Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel.
"specialness" that makes them artists
and, consequently, their relationship
to society has always been special
throughout the ages.
Do you think the Negro artist has
any degree of responsibility to commit
his art to the fight for Negro equality?
If so, in what way?
Only if he wants to.
Does the Negro artist have something
to offer that no other artist has?
The individual artist has something to
offer that no other artist has, be he
Negro or White. An individual is
not only the result of his racial heritage,
but of his upbringing, his education, his
environment; in a word, his experience.
To what degree and in what manner
can a successful Negro artist use his
success as a weapon or resource to
improve the status of the Negro artist
in society?
The voice of an artist of repute has
a good chance of being heard.
I therefore feel that it is an artist's
duty and responsibility to speak up for
civil and human rights for all mankind
and to speak out against bigotry,
prejudice, intolerance and oppression.
Is it a necessary step in the development
of an American Negro artist to
acknowledge an African heritage?
Not necessarily, unless the individual
artist considers himself an American
Negro first and an artist second.
Do you think there is a special
relationship that the Negro artist has
to American society?
All artists are special people. It is their
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