The Duty of the Artist | Letters | Chicago Reader

The Duty of the Artist 

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To the editors:

I am appalled that when asked why he gave Dorothy Tillman "some nasty toenails" in his caricature of her [December 20], David Nelson told Michael Miner, "I don't know" [Hot Type, January 17].

That response might be understandable coming from an art student. But David Nelson is now a professional and as such must accept responsibility for all aspects of his work. Each element of a political cartoon, if we are to take it seriously, ought to be there for a reason.

Kandinsky wrote: "Whither is this lifetime tending? What is the message of the competent artist? "To send light into the darkness of men's hearts--such is the duty of the artist,' said Schumann."

David Nelson's cartoon created no light. It was not an effective critique of handgun proliferation, the rise in the homicide rate, or even of aldermanic foolishness. Instead, it was an ugly personal attack on an individual against whom he bears a grudge, and on an entire race. The fact that neither Nelson nor the publisher of the Reader can see the racism in Nelson's cartoon makes me very sad. I had, until now, thought better of the Reader. You have only added to the darkness of bigotry and hate that is destroying our city and causing so much pain.

Ellen Schleimer



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