In Ilana Brownstein’s first class of the Dramatic literature trajectory, Intro do Aesthetics and Dramatic literature, we read an essay called “Art Objects” by Jeanette Winterson. The author recounts her discoveries when challenging herself to look at a piece of art for a long period of time. My biggest take away from reading about her discoveries is that art confronts more than anything else, and that meeting art where it is at rather than forcing it to come to you is probably more fruitful in the end and tells you much more about yourself than the art. These things forever changed the way I approach the study, and experiencing of art. I proposed an invitation to myself as an experiment of sorts, to meet any and all art I was met with, where it is at. What does that mean you may wonder? Well, I would meet the piece as it is, accept it, find a way to connect to it and appreciate it if I could, and let whatever feelings or thoughts I had about it float around with acute awareness of what they were with the aim to develop a point of view while also being right there with the piece. In short I would approach it with an open heart and with my listening as a fore-front receptor. After a while, I decided that I found this approach to to be very fruitful so, I have kept doing it for the last three and a half years.
All that being said, I would like to reflect upon this approach in relation to my thoughts and feelings toward Hamilton the musical. After our in class discussion of the musical, I realized that on top of the fact that I have been able to meet the piece, accept it, appreciate it and formulate my own opinion, I am also able to leave space for me to change my mind as I realize that first impressions are first impressions. They are valid and useful, but when a wiser human like Ilana, or a fellow classmate provides insights or opinions, I am open to putting that kind of information into the mix and let it matter.
I suppose I have come a long way since first semester freshmen year in my development as a critical yet open theatre artist. I am proud, and I am excited to see how much more learning is going to happen outside the university in the years to come.