As the semester began, I found myself talking a lot about the role of the arts in society; the value of creativity and wonder, and our ability to make a case for the arts in the face of diminishing resources and tightening budgets. On more than one occasion in the last few weeks, I have quoted from President John F. Kennedy’s historic speech at Amherst College in 1963. Kennedy places the value of the artist as equal to all others and charges the artist with the added responsibility of acting as the conscience of society. He notes:
If sometimes our great artists have been the most critical of our society, it is because their sensitivity and their concern for justice, which must motivate any true artist, makes him aware that our Nation falls short of its highest potential. I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist.
I share this with you to remind you of the incredible potential of artistic citizenship. You can read the entirety of his text at the link below.
Chair, Art Department