The Kiss Of The Fur Queen

1394 words - 6 pages

Thomson Highway’s The Kiss of the Fur Queen has a core theme of art. In this novel, art is integrated into the lives of the characters. The modernist movement would indicate that art has the ability to plainly exist “art of arts sake”. Peter Lamarque notes “To value a work for its own sake is to value it for what it is in itself, not for the realization of some ulterior ends.” (par. 19) This commonly accepted view, that art is valued because it is great art, not for the role or function that it has in society, restricts arts impact. This perspective limits and does not allow for the surfacing of profound effects that art creates. In the Kiss of the Fur Queen, art has power it does not simply exist but has function. The observable function of art in this text is in education, providing identity and finally uniting Gabriel and Jeremiah with their cultural roots.
Art educates. This education can be both positive and negative but art can function as an educational tool that has lasting effects. A 2009 article in the New York Times titled: “Schools Adopt Art as Building Block of Education” indicates the growing acceptance of art functioning in education. In this article, the unique architecture of the building was used practically by students “measuring whimsical figures of hot-air balloons, paper airplanes and pinwheels built right into the walls of their school” (par. 1). The architecture also functioned as inspiration for further learning. In addition, the article documented the perspective of a four-year old child who proclaimed that “When you look at it, it helps you learn.” (par. 20) When Jeremiah looked at the image of heaven and hell he learned significant life lessons. This picture that was presented in residential school was initially introduced to help educated on Theology. Jeremiah viewed this piece of art and it had lasting impressions on him. Later Jeremiah stumbles on a similar scene of a bar that contains “men and women, all dark skin, of hair, of eye, like Jeremiah, all drunk and senseless, unlike Jeremiah.” (105). Peering into these “oozing” “filthy” (105) doorways he is reminded of the “great chart with tunnels and caves and forbidden pleasures” (105). The work of art that was viewed at a young age educated him on cultural stereotypes. Jeremiah made the association with people of color and hell that continued into adolescence. This association went far enough that as Jeremiah passed that bar he looked for the “horned creatures” (105) inside. This is a specific example that demonstrates that art can function as an educational tool. A less concert extension of this is “The Hell Hotel” (130). This image continues to associate native people with “madness [and] drinkers” (130). Again Jeremiah learned at a young age, though art, a cultural association. This image not only has the “B apparently dammed to H by mechanical malfunction” (130) but also has the First Nations people dammed to Hell from a yearly association of art. In The Kiss...

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