Patti Smith discusses music, life
Posted February 5, 2013 at 11:42 pm in News
Smith came to Bovard Auditorium on Tuesday evening as part of a Visions and Voices signature event.
Smith also treated the audience to a mini-concert, performing hits like âBecause the Nightâ and âBanga.â She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 and was included on Rolling Stoneâs list of greatest artists in 2011.
Josh Kun, an associate professor of communication and journalism, moderated a conversation with Smith that touched on her approach to art, relationship with photographer Robert Mappelthorpe and childhood belief that toys come to life at night.
The 1975 release of Smithâs debut album, Horses, earned her the moniker âThe Godmother of Punkâ and included songs that paid homage to some of American musicâs greats, such as Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix.
âThe last song, âElegie,â gave me a great way to deal with losing some of the best voices of my generation,â Smith said, who has often used art to transform grief. âYou have to step back from [grief] and understand that what youâve lost is a beautiful thing.â
In the question-and-answer segment at the end of the evening, Smith responded to one student with a nugget of artistic wisdom.
âAs an artist, one should shed all ideas about race and gender. All of those labels are shackles,â Smith said. âThe whole idea is to create a work that transcends all those things.â
This advice particularly resonated with Maxwell Subar, a freshman majoring in music industry.
âTonight made me want to do what she does and express myself the way she does,â Subar said.
Known also for her activism and seminal artistic voice, Smith was named one of TIMEâs most influential people of all time in 2011. She has been connected with the Green Party and has spoken out against the War in Iraq.
âI love my country,â Smith said after Kun asked her how American tradition influenced her work. âWhat we have going for us is our youth. Rock and Roll, Jackson Pollock, the Declaration of Independence â we gave that to the world.â
But Smith also spoke about her disappointment in America. âWe have a lot of stains. We are tainted. And instead of trying to cleanse ourselves, we keep piling on more tainted-ness,â she said, woefully recounting how even as a 7-year-old she knew dropping bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was wrong.
Smith even touched on the current gun control debate.
âOur forefathers didnât talk about the right to own machine guns,â Smith said. âThey were more concerned about our right to ask questions.â
Many students came to the event to learn more about Smith.
âIâve always admired her but just recently got into her music,â said Robert Guard, a senior majoring in film and television production who saw this as a Visions and Voices event he shouldnât miss.
Meanwhile, some students have been fans of Smithâs for years, like Felicia Ho, a junior majoring in critical studies. Ho was in line to get her copy of Just Kids signed after the event.
âIâve liked [Smithâs] music since I was in high school. Sheâs definitely one of my favorite artists,â Ho said.