playlist

Why art is essential to democracy

Art invites viewers into perspectives and ways of life different from their own — and with that, helps foster a sense of empathy required for democracy. Learn about the creative avenues art takes in giving power to the people.

  1. 13:10
    Oskar Eustis Why theater is essential to democracy

    Truth comes from the collision of different ideas, and theater plays an essential role in showing us that truth, says legendary artistic director Oskar Eustis. In this powerful talk, Eustis outlines his plan to reach (and listen to) people in places across the US where the theater, like many other institutions, has turned its back — like the deindustrialized Rust Belt. "Our job is to try to hold up a vision to America that shows not only who all of us are individually, but that welds us back into the commonality that we need to be," Eustis says. "That's what the theater is supposed to do."

  2. 16:42
    Rayma Suprani Dictators hate political cartoons — so I keep drawing them

    "A political cartoon is a barometer of freedom," says Rayma Suprani, who was exiled from her native Venezuela for publishing work critical of the government. "That's why dictators hate cartoonists." In a talk illustrated with highlights from a career spent railing against totalitarianism, Suprani explores how cartoons hold a mirror to society and reveal hidden truths — and discusses why she keeps drawing even when it comes at a high personal cost. (In Spanish with consecutive English translation)

  3. 4:32
    Dread Scott How art can shape America's conversation about freedom

    In this quick talk, visual artist Dread Scott tells the story of one of his most transgressive art installations, which drew national attention for its controversial use of the American flag and led to a landmark First Amendment case in the US Supreme Court.

  4. 12:19
    Ariana Curtis Museums should honor the everyday, not just the extraordinary

    Who deserves to be in a museum? For too long, the answer has been "the extraordinary" — those aspirational historymakers who inspire us with their successes. But those stories are limiting, says museum curator Ariana Curtis. In a visionary talk, she imagines how museums can more accurately represent history by honoring the lives of people both extraordinary and everyday, prominent and hidden — and amplify diverse perspectives that should have always been included.

  5. 12:48
    Anthony D. Romero This is what democracy looks like

    In a quest to make sense of the political environment in the United States in 2017, lawyer and ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero turned to a surprising place — a 14th-century fresco by Italian Renaissance master Ambrogio Lorenzetti. What could a 700-year-old painting possibly teach us about life today? Turns out, a lot. Romero explains all in a talk that's as striking as the painting itself.

  6. 14:14
    Walter Hood How urban spaces can preserve history and build community

    Can public spaces both reclaim the past and embrace the future? Landscape architect Walter Hood has explored this question over the course of an iconic career, with projects ranging from Lafayette Square Park in Oakland to the upcoming International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. In this inspiring talk packed with images of his work, Hood shares the five simple concepts that guide his approach to creating spaces that illuminate shared memories and force us to look at one another in a different way.

  7. 11:00
    Amy Padnani How we're honoring people overlooked by history

    Since its founding in 1851, the "New York Times" has published thousands of obituaries — for heads of state, famous celebrities, even the inventor of the sock puppet. But only a small percentage of them chronicle the lives of women and people of color. In this insightful talk, "Times" editor Amy Padnani shares the story behind "Overlooked," the project she's leading to recognize people from history whose deaths were ignored — and refocus society's lens on who is considered important.

  8. 15:33
    Trevor Copp and Jeff Fox Ballroom dance that breaks gender roles

    Tango, waltz, foxtrot ... these classic ballroom dances quietly perpetuate an outdated idea: that the man always leads and the woman always follows. That's an idea worth changing, say Trevor Copp and Jeff Fox, as they demonstrate their "Liquid Lead" dance technique along with fellow dancer Alida Esmail. Watch as Copp and Fox captivate and command the stage while boldly deconstructing and transforming the art of ballroom dance.

  9. 14:26
    Patrick Chappatte A free world needs satire

    We need humor like we need the air we breathe, says editorial cartoonist Patrick Chappatte. In a talk illustrated with highlights from a career spent skewering everything from dictators and ideologues to selfies and social media mobs, Chappatte makes a resounding, often hilarious case for the necessity of satire. "Political cartoons were born with democracy, and they are challenged when freedom is," he says.

  10. 12:28
    Thelma Golden How art gives shape to cultural change

    Thelma Golden, curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, talks through three recent shows that explore how art examines and redefines culture. The "post-black" artists she works with are using their art to provoke a new dialogue about race and culture — and about the meaning of art itself.