In thinking about what ‘illusions’ by which we want to recreate our nation, might I suggest that we consider a Department of Arts and Culture for the future. Consider the amount of arts programming that already exists, yet, in what ways can the Arts have an even broader impact?
As a very young photographer, I was greatly moved by the work of the WPA photographers, and one of my first favorite photographers, Dorthea Lange- her images were striking. I was struck too by the fact that she had been a photographer – that a ‘she’ could be a photographer. I began dreaming for such a chance myself.
I remember the woman’s face in the image entitled ‘Migrant Mother,’ taken during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. I remember feeling at the time that Dorthea had so captured this woman’s experience in one photograph, I came to fear the poverty for which the Depression is known.
As federal funding of infrastructure projects is debated and considered, I want to bring up
a point that I believe is important to take into account. Yes, infrastructure is important (although I believe building the digital highway is as important as repaving the Golden Gate Bridge), yet, we must keep in mind that the jobs that come out of that investment will be in the majority for men. Given the nature of two parent working families, and the historical length of women in the work force, I really hope we don’t fall back on old models for stimulating the economy. Many mothers must support their children, as did the Migrant Mother.
So, I can’t help but think that having a Department of Arts and Culture that seeks to integrate the arts, artists, and culture as a partner in the recovery process – Let’s be creative in how we stimulate our economy. What we don’t need is stale plans from years back, we need creativity.
The arts can entertain communities, lift spirits, document challenges and lessons learned from our hardships, inform public policy on important issues of our time, local internet journalists reporting to local audiences about what the heck is going on right around the corner offering virtual painting classes for home bound seniors, to creating community projects that address the pressing issues requiring citizen dialog.
If you believe having a Department of Arts and Culture is a positive, join this drive to suggest such a project to the new administration. Visit http://www.petitiononline.com/esnyc/petition.html.