Watch Black Curator Sarah Lewis Explain How Art Can Change Society

By Jamilah King Jun 05, 2014

With all of the recent talk about Kara Walker’s sugar sphinx exhibit at Brooklyn’s Domino sugar factory, it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the broader impact of art in society. Curator Sarah Lewis, author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery. Here’s part of what she says: 

Frederick Douglas, during the Civil War, surprised his audience when he spoke about this idea. His idea was that it wouldn’t be combat that would get America to have a new vision of itself, but pictures…the thought pictures create in the mind are the way that we can kind of slip through the back door of our rational thought and see the world differently. I love that. His speech was called "Pictures and Progress" and he retitled it "Life Pictures." When I came across this speech I thought, "this is why I do what I do." How many movements have begun in the world when one person’s work — one song, one impactful aesthetic experience — shifted things entirely for a leader, for a group of people?

(New Black Man)