Violence, a Keyword for Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King, Jr. ’55 ’59 (Hon)
I invite our community: CFA faculty, students, alumni and friends, as well as the greater Boston University community to participate in a year of creative discussion and action on the concept of violence. Every layer of society is touched by violence. It weaves through the individual and into family and culture, threading its way through war and sports, medicine and politics, constantly fueled by a voracious news media, and via this overload finds its way back to the individual again. Violence – “horrible and heroic, disgusting and exciting, the most condemned and glorified of human acts” (R. Collins) – is one of the world’s most complex problems, and finding solutions requires a holistic, interdisciplinary approach.
The participation we seek may come in the form of attending or hosting activities related to performances or exhibits that comment on different aspects of violence. We are fortunate to work within a University that includes most disciplines; an enriching, plural dialogue can be developed. A successful example is Visions and Voices: The USC Arts + Humanities Initiative. This program focuses on the vibrant community of Los Angeles as an extended campus of the University of Southern California. We aim to go further by utilizing the wealth of resources available in our diverse community to explore solutions to a devastating societal issue.
Our goal is to build a two way street between text and context, in order to develop paths through conflict and obsession to resolution and stability. In choosing to develop a year of programming on the keyword of violence, the College of Fine Arts is taking our School of Theatre’s lead, which will consider violence in drama, from Shakespeare to Masked, a look at the Palestinian Intifada, and Execution of Justice, a play about the murders of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone of San Francisco. The other Schools have already begun programming, with the School of Visual Arts welcoming Enrique Chagoya, head of the painting program at Stanford University, whose recent work denouncing the abuse of children at the hands of priests met with a violent response from one viewer, and the School of Music choosing to present works written in times of violence, such as the French, Mexican and Bolshevik Revolutions, as well as the Second World War.
This initiative welcomes participation by our own students, and faculty, as well as commission and presentation of works from alumni and other members of the community. Our friends at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Huntington Theatre Company will present exhibits, plays and concerts that invite discussion on our keyword.
‘Perspective’ is an important word in this discussion, as no piece of art, no matter how forceful, reflective or coherent, can offer final answers – it can only provoke discussion by presenting one perspective on a multifaceted issue. As John F. Kennedy said, “We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”
BU alumna Nancy Livingston and her husband Fred Levin, have made a generous gift that will help the yearly development of this initiative. We eagerly invite your diverse perspectives on this issue, and welcome all suggestions and feedback as an integral part of the collaborative process. In developing opportunities for cultural participation across the BU campuses and beyond, the College of Fine Arts looks forward to creating new space for the arts within our community and defining a new role for itself within the University.
Benjamín E. Juárez
College of Fine Arts