Voice AND Heritage

By Marian Godfrey
I won't have time today to think about, much less respond to, yesterday's rich series of posts.  Will catch up tomorrow.  But just a quick thought about something that has been bothering me about voice and heritage.

Yesterday Bill reiterated his concern that "It feels as if "creativity" in all its permutations pushes us toward "voice" and "awakening the imagination."  It's difficult to bring heritage into creativity, I think..."  I don't agree with this and I think Bill's concern may have embedded in it a kind of cultural bias.  It is often true that within the institutions that purvey and sustain a mainstream European (forgive the reductive terms) culture and heritage, the notion of "creativity" privileges voice over heritage and as such an emphasis on creativity seems to pose a threat to the sustainability or equal weight of heritage.

But in other communities, for example the newcomer communities in Philadelphia that include Cambodian and Hmong groups, the enterprise of young artists is specifically to synthesize voice and heritage, or at least to negotiate a balanced relationship between the two.  These artists start from a stance of exploring their own creative expression but do so overtly within the context of the cultural heritage from which they come.  Russell's example of the graffiti artist's encounter with conservators is another example of a more nuanced relationship between voice and heritage. 

I keep returning to Jim Early's previous post and comment because one of the things he is talking about also seems to connect to this subject--that we have yet to give equal privilege and value to cultural expressions from all quarters in our consideration of the cultural landscape and our current, limited and flawed, cultural policies.
January 28, 2010 7:42 AM | | Comments (0) |

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This Conversation Are the terms "Art" and "Culture" tough enough to frame a public policy carve-out for the 21st century? Are the old familiar words, weighted with multiple meanings and unhelpful preconceptions, simply no longer useful in analysis or advocacy? In his book, Arts, Inc., Bill Ivey advances "Expressive Life" as a new, expanded policy arena - a frame sufficiently robust to stand proudly beside "Work Life," "Family Life," "Education," and "The Environment." Is Ivey on the right track, or more

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