Critical Perspectives: Writings on Art and Civic Dialogue

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Critical Perspectives is a collection of reflective, critical, and creative essays about the role of arts and humanities in civic dialogue. Twelve essays focus on three very different projects that employed the unique capacities of theater, visual art, and historic preservation to reach people and stimulate them to talk together in new ways about issues that matter in their communities. This book deepens understanding of the practice and impact of arts-based civic dialogue work through the engagement of multiple writers to write about three different Animating Democracy-supported projects from their unique vantage points. The multiple perspective writing experiment suggests a new critical framework that takes into account the efficacy in civic as well as aesthetic terms. Critical Perspectives evolved from       discussions at a November 2000 convening      at  the Getty Art Museum, held by Animating Democracy. At that meeting, artists, scholars, critics, writers, and cultural leaders observed a lack of writing and a lack of venues for writing about civically engaged art. They also observed that existing forms of reflective and critical writing rarely recognize the unique features of civically engaged art and are often inadequate for communicating the multidimensional nature of the work. Art criticism typically favors form over content and context, while writing from community and civic spheres often fails to address aesthetic dimensions rigorously.

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