Sunday, January 27, 2013

Should the U.S. State Department Be Using Art As a Diplomatic Tool?

“In my line of work, we often talk about the art of diplomacy as we try to make people’s lives a little better around the world,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton writes in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. “But, in fact, art is also a tool of diplomacy.” Since starting a visual arts program in 1953, the more than 200 U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the world have featured American artists on their walls. Clinton’s article, however, accompanies the first (biennial) awarding of U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts. Cai Guo-Qiang, Jeff Koons, Shahzia Sikander, Kiki Smith, and Carrie Mae Weems received medals as representatives of the 4,000 American and International artists in the program whose art, as Clinton says, “reaches beyond governments, past the conference rooms and presidential palaces, to help us connect with more people in more places” and serves as “a universal language in our search for common ground, an expression of our shared humanity.” Those honorees range from the safe to the not so safe in terms of diplomacy both home and abroad. Undoubtedly, the question the more risky choices will raise is whether the U.S. State Department should be using art as a diplomatic tool. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Should the U.S. State Department Be Using Art Asa Diplomatic Tool?"

[Image: Kara Walker. The moral arc of history ideally bends towards justice but just as soon as not curves back around toward barbarism, sadism, and unrestrained chaos, 2010. Graphite and pastel on 6-by-9½-foot paper.]

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