Recently by James Cuno
We shouldn't underestimate the power of arts education to simply provide a child acccess to institutions of civic promience. That is, I remember a Chicago school teacher tell me that the most important thing we csn do at the Art Institute is to let her students feel welcome in the museum, that it is their museum too and that all such civic institutions are accessible to them. Once they feel welcomed, and respected, they can engage with the works of art on view with confidence and be ready to return on their own. Sometimes I think we claim too much when describing the benefits of the arts. Sometime it's as simple as a child feeling that the museum or the symphony or the theater is there for them too, that it isn't just for those other folks but that they too have acccess to such instutions and are just as worthy of finding delight in them as anyone else.
What makes people living in the most threatening of situations endow themnselves with beauty (think of Dafur in the midst of starvation and genocide)? The images of women nursing children draped (themselves and their children) in beautiful, brightly colored and richly patterened textiles are heart stopping. We have always ornamented our lives. Nothing we have, at least nothing we value, was made without thought given to how it looks. And that is the artistic quotient in our lives. And this is why art education not only matters but is inevitable. It defines who we are and what distinguishes us as people with a stake in our future. It is, in the face of desperation and even evil, a voice of confidence in the future.
Sorry to be late to these very interesting blog comments. A quick thought: among all the things they do, the arts enhance our sense of place, of how we are part of not only where we live, the immediate community of which we are a part, but also the larger community of which equally a part, the human community of people struggling to make a life and enrich it here on earth and in interlocking and interdependent communities of individuals. For example, the Art institute is a museum in a large and diverse city. Its collections are encyclopedic, represenative of most of the world's artaistic cultures. We show them all, equally: one work of art from one culture next to another without prejudice. And by their presentation we introduce our visitors to the world distant from them/ourselvs in time and space. But since so many people are now living outside the country of their birth - Chicago has some 26 ethnic communities with more than 25,000 members each -- and thus much of the world is moving here, next door, through our collections we are introducing our visitors to their neighbors. All of a sudden, with the tragic news of the bombings in Mumbai and the sectarian violence in Nigeria, our South Asian and West African collections take on new meaning. And our sense of place has been both widened and deepened.
Sam Hope, executive director, The National Office for Arts Accreditation (NOAA);
Jack Lew, Global University Relations Manager for Art Talent at EA;
Laura Zakaras, RAND;
James Cuno, Director, Art Institute of Chicago;
Richard Kessler, Executive Director, Center for Arts Education;
Eric Booth, Actor;
Bau Graves, Executive director, Old Town School of Folk Music;
Kiff Gallagher, Founder & CEO of the Music National Service Initiative and MusicianCorps
Bennett Reimer, Founder of the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, author of A Philosophy of Music Education;
Edward Pauly, the director of research and evaluation at The Wallace Foundation;
Moy Eng, Program Director of the Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation;
John Rockwell, critic;
Susan Sclafani, Managing Director, Chartwell Education Group;
Jane Remer, Author, Educator, Researcher
Michael Hinojosa, General Superintendent, Dallas Independent School District
Peter Sellars, director
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