Diversity is not the usual topic for an art column, but the topic is a valuable one for artists and for all of us. How we get along with people who are different from ourselves can be problematic or it can be exciting. It’s all in perspective and understanding.
The University of Jamestown will on Sept. 19 have a well-known civility/diversity speaker discuss his role as a man with no legs who has managed to live a normal life among people with legs.
Matt Glowacki will take the stage Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Reiland Fine Arts Center on the campus of the University of Jamestown. Fundamentally for college age young people, his message goes through all ages and is important. Not everyone is from here, and not everyone looks the same. He will bring a message that will reach everyone on how we react to people not like ourselves, and how we can adjust how we think about that and behave.
Everybody’s different. It’s what makes life so exciting and keeps us on our toes. That “differentness” is a component of the visual arts as well and is being showcased now at one of the South’s most prestigious Museums of Art: The High.
Michael Rooks, the High Museum of Art’s Wieland Family curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, speaks on diversity like Glowacki, but he does it through a special collection he gathered and curated that showcases the diversity of Atlanta’s people over time. In a short video on the museum’s webpage, he discusses the changing landscape of Atlanta and how he presents those changes in drawings.
He said the first exhibit was “Drawing Inside the Perimeter.” For anyone who has not driven through Atlanta, the logistics of the “perimeter” has long been a challenge. Rook said the next phase was to include Athens (home of the University of Georgia) and Savannah (home of the Savannah School of Art and Design), both of which have different diversity challenges from metro Atlanta. And the challenges faced there are different than those faced in North Dakota and Jamestown in particular.
Having moved here from the South, I found a friendly and inclusive social and work environment at the college and in town. It’s not always that way everywhere for everyone, especially if there’s something that makes a person different from other people.
Glowacki presents himself on a stage, in a wheelchair. Rook said it is important to see the freshest form of visual representation…drawing… to see how acceptance and inclusion has changed for artists over time.
I can’t run down to see the collection in Atlanta, but next Thursday’s speaker is doable. Glowacki’s talk is free to the public and young people are especially invited to attend.
If anyone has an item for this column, please contact Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.