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    Art As Function Essay (1089 words)

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    “Art is an act of or result of creation, when images and objects, sights and sounds, or drawings and carvings convey beauty or realize the imagination of the artist. Its purpose is self-expression or the shared enjoyment of its creation. Much about art is controversial, including the very definition of art. ” In “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker the narrator highlights the story of Dee, a woman who returns home to her African American family for a reunion.

    While away from home Dee adapts to the Islamic culture and changes her name to, Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo. While visiting home she asks her mother for items that her uncle made years back and for a pair of quilts that once belong to her deceased grandmother; her mother explains that she cannot give the quilts to her because she has promised the quilts the her younger sister, Maggie. Dee (Wangero) claims that her sister will ruin the quilts, “Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts….. she’d probably be backward enough to put them to everyday use”.

    Dee (Wangero) feels the quilts are too precious to be put to “everyday use”, she believes that the quilts should be hung on the wall as art, and tells her mother and sister “you just don’t understand….. your heritage”. The fact that she even wants to hang the quilts shows just what point Alice Walker is arguing in the story. Unlike Dee (Wangero) who is a firm believer that art should be solely decorative, her mother and sister believe that is should be used for everyday purposes also. Art is created and expressed in so many ways, and should not just be decorative as Dee would like, but should be functional as well.

    In “Everyday Use” when Dee (Wangero) returns home she seems to be a completely different person. She now styles and dresses herself according to the “African” way of life. She now demonstrates an American who attempts to become an African, the only thing is she fails at it, and her new self does not seem genuine. Her name, her clothes, her hair, her sunglasses, her patronizing speech, and her black Muslim companion are all quite ridiculous now, considering she doesn’t seem to know much about this new African culture she has adapted to.

    It amazing that she would want to have a culture at all when she doesn’t want to even claim the small rural Georgia town she’s from, let alone her birth name; “I couldn’t bare it any longer being named after the people who oppress me”. While having dinner with her male friend and family, Dee (Wangero) talks to her mother about the dasher and butter churn which had been whittled by her Uncle Buddy. She lets her mother know that she wants to take those items back with her, even though she only wants to use the churn top as a “centerpiece for the alcove table”.

    Dee ( Wangero) said that she would also “think of something artistic to do with the dasher”. It never seems to click in Dee’s (Wangero) mind that her mother and sister may have used the dasher and churn top on a daily basis. Dee (Wangero) probably doesn’t care though because she’s to busy worrying about how she can decorate her and Hakim the Barber’s house. In “Everyday Use” Maggie and her mother seem to live a very simple life. They may not be as educated, well kept, or as trendy as Dee ( Wangero), but they seem like their at ease with themselves and with their lives.

    Their not trying to go out of their ways to being something their not and they respect where they come from. So when Dee’s (Wangero) mother tells her that she can not have the quilts, she should have not made a big deal about Maggie putting them to everyday use because when you think about it, quilts are very artistic, but the true nature of one is to be used for warmth. Dee’s (Wangero) reasons for wanting the dasher, churn top, and quilts were not necessarily wrong reasons, but those items held deeper meaning to the mother and Maggie.

    They were apart of their daily lives and were not things they wanted to showcase as decorative art. Although this story is about family, art, and culture, it also highlights how some people are ashamed of where they come from, and how they are worried about what other people think of them. In today’s society this is happening everyday, you see people claiming new things or changing themselves into something that they are not and know nothing about. In Dee’s (Wangero) case, she was so ashamed of where she came from that she tried to kill her mother and sister, by burning down the house before she went away to college.

    Then she came home claiming her new heritage and acting as if she was interested in her family’s past, which just shows how confused she really was. Anybody can change their name and appearance but that doesn’t mean that a person is changed, because it can be all false like the show Dee (Wangero) put on for her family. In United States society today, there are those who say Blacks have no culture and make it seem as if they are ignorant and have no clue about the finer things in life, when that is indeed not the case.

    Or society acts as if Blacks are courting and sporting nonsense. This is not true considering the fact they have many races that are interested in the African culture. You see many races sporting dreadlocks and visiting foreign countries like the West Indies, Jamaica, and Africa. Art has so many meanings to different people, art can be grouped into two main categories, which are fine art and applied art. Fine art consists of painting, sculpture, and architecture; while applied art consists of decorative art, performing art, printmaking, and many other forms.

    Some people prefer visual art as appose to functional art. This is why people like to go to museums and collect art pieces, while other people prefer art in the form of music or fashion and so on. Art as function is great because there is so much that is involved with it. Art is constantly surrounding us in our daily lives, though some may not recognize its beauty. Alice Walker uses these everyday items in “Everyday Use” to symbolize the story’s focus on the beauty and worth of simple objects and average people, over objects that are stylish and useless.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Art As Function Essay (1089 words). (2018, Feb 28). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/art-as-function-43164/

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