I-C-All of Us?

This is going to be a short post because my message is a simple one. The ideas behind it are not totally formed and maybe too messy to make total sense. But here goes:

We had a great talkback at Firehouse on Thursday. Our production that just closed, AN OAK TREE, was inspired by a conceptual art piece first displayed in the 1970s. So it seemed like a good idea to hear from someone who understands visual art and we got great insight from professor Holly Morrison from VCU. We had some great conversation about how our theatrical piece intersected with the conceptual piece, how it differed, how it extended the ideas, etc. It was heady but exciting stuff.

It occurred to me that there is also an intersection of visual and performing art at VMFA right now, with Quill’s ROMEO & JULIET playing there. But it’s just an intersection of proximity as far as I know.

VCU’s Institute of Contemporary Art had its first big event this weekend, a patron’s gala. The ICA is a big deal and, together with the VMFA, marks Richmond as a visual art mecca of sorts.

Wouldn’t it be great if both the VMFA and the ICA traded on their increasing clout and prominence to raise up other art forms? The ICA says it’s going to feature “experimental performances, films, and programs that encourage in-depth consideration of the central issues of our time.” So that seems to indicate performing arts, right? There are already so many exceptional performing arts organizations in town, doesn’t there seem to be great opportunities for win-win partnerships involving ICA?

There is a popular buzz-word these days: intersectionality. It’s a theory to explain how different social identities overlap. This overlapping can create a hybrid of minority or disadvantageous elements.

The social theory of intersectionality is generally used in consideration of bad things, like racism, sexism, etc. I wonder if intersectionality in the arts could be part of promoting good things. The arts in general are under siege in this country. Even with big boffo openings like ICA, public funding for the arts is diminishing. As per The Atlantic, “[l]arge, mainstream arts institutions...have come to resemble exclusive country clubs. [O]utside their walls, a dynamic new generation of artists, and the diverse communities where they live and work, are being systematically denied access to resources and cultural legitimation.”

With AN OAK TREE, we saw how appreciation for one art form (theater) increased awareness and interest in another (conceptual, visual art). Wouldn’t more of these kinds of intersections be a “rising tide lifts all boats” opportunity? With the flood of money and attention given to the ICA, it’d be nice for some other art forms and art organizations to enjoy at least a small slice of that windfall.

(OK, maybe not so short a post. Sorry about that. Thanks for the indulgence.)

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