I thought passion pushed the artist. A gargantuan gut tumult right in the center of your body and words whirling in your head.
“I must paint, I must write, I must sing. The drive is all consuming.
In last Sunday’s April 22, Connecticut Post, was the article, Art, religion collide in ‘My Name is Asher Lev.’ The article addresses the Chaim Potok novel “My Name is Asher Lev.” It tells the story of a Jewish boy determined to pursue a life in the world of modern art despite the opposition of his parents and the New York City religious community within which his family lives.
Potok set the novel in a very specific time and place, but the tale of a son having to battle his father to find his own way in the world has resonated with readers of all faiths since the book was first published in 1972.
Asher’s deeply religious father is puzzled and then outraged by his son’s fascination with drawing – from a very early age – ultimately forcing the boy to choose between his religion and his passion for art.
You don’t have to be Jewish or an artist to identify with Asher’s quest to be his own man and the result is a coming of age classic that has been added to many high school reading lists over the years.
My issue with this article are the words “quest to be his own man.” The passion to do art and the quest to be your own person are two separate issues. Writers must write, painters must paint, sculptors must sculpt. But growing up, finding your way in the world, the quest to be your own person is part of life. I am an artist, I must paint, I must draw, I have a quest to do art in some form, design, create, fill the negative space, but I am still finding my own way.
The recent stage adaptation, written by Aaron Posner, will be receiving its Connecticut premiere at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Starting May 2.
“It’s a universal story. It’s about Hasidic Jews and a painter, but I think you could substitute almost anything you want,”
actor Ari Brand said of the way so many diverse people have related to the Potok tale for the past 40 years.
“The stronger the pull of the parents and the stronger the pull of a child’s passion, the greater the conflict,” Brand said of the battle so many young people have to go through over their career paths.
The quest to find your own way is a lifelong ambition. So tell me, are you still finding your own way? How, where, why?