Prepare for a unique experience
political art and political language
in close proximity
Encourage dialogue about our democracy
WHY IT'S IMPORTANT
Whether we identify with one of the political parties or consider ourselves independent, we need to deepen our understanding of our nation and how it should work. Our experiment called democracy is still evolving, and we all have an opportunity, and some of you would say, an obligation, to contribute to its further development.
In an era of polarization like this, it is imperative that we find common ground. We should seek ways to go beyond cable news and beyond the usual sources of affirmation in order to expand our knowledge. Many of us want to engage directly in intimate and meaningful personal discussions. The Democracy Studio offers that possibility.
HOW WE DO IT
We create meeting spaces specifically designed to help us discuss politics and democracy. We set the stage by displaying political art - paintings, photos, sculptures, and installations. We then convene conversations alongside the art. We invite politicians, authors, researchers, artists, and others to share their perspectives with us.
By juxtaposing images and words in the front window of a storefront as we watch people scurry about their lives, we offer the prospect of a different kind of discussion – one that is richer, more insightful, and more engaging.
In this arresting depiction of President Trump, the artist captures the noticeable anxiety that appears on the President's face between the moments of bravado and bluster. The large scale of the work at four feet by six feet further emphasizes the all-encompassing reality of Trump's presence in today's society.
Future Voters of America
Artists For Humanity in Boston teaches young adults about the power of art and self-expression. Founded nearly 30 years ago, AFH has made an enormous difference in young lives in neighborhoods throughout Boston and surrounding cities and towns. The movement to use art as a vehicle to instill purpose and self-esteem has taken hold nationally as well - AFH is now active across the nation.
The portraits of young adults are mostly self-portraits by artists who only recently began to express themselves visually. Each seems quite unique and yet a certain freshness pervades the entire set. At 18 years of age, the individuals shown are just now becoming voters and preparing to shoulder the responsibility of participating in our democracy. In a recent meeting at the studio, several expressed support for lowering the voting age to 16 - that's how eager they are to make a difference.
Character has frequently been cited as the defining attribute of great leaders across time.
Character appears to require values, and morals, and beliefs.
Where none seem to appear, there may be little else but the suit.
Some very creative people at Leo Burnett, the media agency in Chicago, realized last year that there are so many unusual Congressional district maps as a result of gerrymandering that there might actually be an alphabet in the soup. They were right. They found 23 maps that resembled letters of the English alphabet and then created 3 other letters by combining two maps into each.
Surprisingly, the font is not only legible but actually somehow eerily demonstrative of the depths that members of both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have sunk in their respective attempts to protect the status quo. Generally, whoever is in power wants to preserve power, and unfortunately, gerrymandering is an effective way to do so.
Casting our Pledge of Allegiance and other sacred texts in such a revealing font is near heresy - and yet nothing conveys the crime like the weapon itself, particularly when used to display the very thing it was intended to protect. Fraud on display.
When we see a person walking away from us, we are reminded of what that person did or meant to us - how they carried themselves through different situations.
We might feel nostalgia or even relief, depending on our relationship and our respect and admiration.
With some people, it's much less than that - it's just a changing of the guard - and a time for a new approach.
"The debate was livelier than I thought it would be - and really worthwhile."
- First-time participant
"Thanks for the special Late Night Edition! Really enjoyed the poems, songs, and improv! Great way to explore the theme of democracy. Profound learning!"
- Harvard ALI Fellow
"Love the format! The art adds an unexpected dimension. Even if you do not agree with it, the context is relevant to the conversation."
- Visiting scholar
"The huge windows make it feel like we are in a fishbowl - right there face to face with real people scurrying past."
- Democracy advocate and NGO founder
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Copyright 2020. Tom Manning. All rights reserved. Entire website.