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Changing Audiences Are Making Creators and Institutions Rethink Art Itself

By | June 26, 2017

If the essence of art is necessarily elusive and hard to define, so too is the essence of arts engagement. As audiences grow more diverse and demanding, and new digital technologies allow anyone to become a content creator with the click of a button, arts engagement now embraces a wide array of strategies, methods and goals.
On June 25 in downtown Los Angeles, more than 200 …

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Yes, Classroom Tech Can Tackle Inequality—but Change Takes Politics and Patience

By | June 16, 2017

Even as digital technology has grown exponentially more sophisticated, accessible, and integral to our lives, social inequality has cast a deeper shadow across the United States in recent decades. Simultaneously, getting a quality education has become ever more essential for individual success and fulfillment.
The question of whether tech-enhanced education can help break down—or perhaps even erase—growing social divisions confronted a panel of educators brought together …

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This Color Can Be Dirty, Deceptive—and Divine

By | June 9, 2017

The meaning of blue lies in its contradictions.
The color is associated with introversion and introspection, but it’s also associated with the expansiveness and openness of oceans and skies. It’s a sacred color in the world’s religions, but blue movies are obscene movies. And while the color can represent life in many ways, it’s also true that “when we die, we turn blue,” said art …

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Your Complaints About Globalization Are Old News

By | June 8, 2017

Syrian migrants were being rebuffed by their richer neighbors. Walls were being raised to keep out barbarian hordes. Old empires, having closed themselves off to trade, were in decline. Revolutionary religions and philosophies were being exported overseas, stirring up violent conflicts but also forging connections among far-flung peoples.
These were all challenges of the ancient world—times and places far removed from the 21st-century United States. But …

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Mitchell Duneier Explains the Invention of the Ghetto, as Place and as Idea

By | May 15, 2017

When sociologist Mitchell Duneier was growing up in the 1960s, he said, “references to the word ghetto were references in my house and in my segregated Jewish community on Long Island to the Nazi ghettos.”
A half-century later, Duneier, a Princeton University sociologist, explained to an overflow audience at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles that the word’s meaning has become vastly different. …

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Pledging Allegiance to Our Different—and Shared—Ideals of Citizenship

By | May 3, 2017

Citizenship in the United States is distinguished by how many different and contradictory abilities and actions it requires of citizens, said panelists at a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It Means to Be American” event.
The evening’s discussion, which took up the question, “Do We Still Know How to Be Good Citizens?” unfolded before a large audience at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.
“We are at our best …

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Trump Isn’t the First to Grab More Presidential Power

By | April 26, 2017

King George III imposed taxation on the American colonies without representation. Franklin D. Roosevelt unilaterally exiled Japanese Americans to internment camps. Barack Obama declared his intent to bypass a perpetually gridlocked Congress by exercising executive power: “I have a phone and I have a pen.”
Since the earliest days of the United States, America’s commanders-in-chief have sought to increase their power to act as they pleased—despite …

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Art Can Help Us Understand Reality, Even While Transforming It

By | March 30, 2017

In their different ways, David Simon and Jamel Shabazz both have transformed gritty reality into art, drawing inspiration from the complex, often troubled urban-scapes of places like New York, Baltimore, and New Orleans.
 
On Wednesday night, Simon and Shabazz came together before a packed auditorium at a Zócalo/Getty “Open Art” event to consider the question, “Does Art Capture Reality Better Than the News?” It’s a subject that Simon, …

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Globalization Doesn’t Have to Be a Winner-Take-All Deal

By | March 16, 2017

California has benefitted greatly from globalization—from cheap T-shirts, to leaps in technology, to proximity to Asia, to its agricultural exports. Why, then, is it disparaged by political leaders—as dissimilar as President Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders—as a boon to very few, at the expense of most? This was the question at the heart of a lively Zócalo/UCLA event entitled “Does Globalization Only Serve Elites?” before …

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If TV Wants to Bring America Together, It Needs to Avoid “Preachiness and Condescension”

By | February 22, 2017

“Can television bring America together?” asked writer John Bowman, the moderator of a panel posing that question. He immediately answered his own query with, “God knows I’ve tried.” And so began a lively and engaged conversation between Bowman and several other writers and creators of television shows that have challenged traditional cultural and social boundaries.
The discussion, before a full house at a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What …

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