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.


James Cuno

December 5, 2008 11:34 AM | | Comments (2) |

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.

James Cuno

December 3, 2008 5:43 PM | | Comments (0) |

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.

James Cuno

December 3, 2008 2:20 PM | | Comments (0) |


This Conversation For decades, as teaching of the arts has been cut back in our public schools, alarms have been raised about the dire consequences for American culture. Artists and arts organizations stepped in to try to... more

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