This October marks the 30th anniversary of National Arts & Humanities Month. The initiative has four goals: Focusing, Encouraging, Allowing, and Raising. Focusing involves increasing support at the national, state, and local level. Encouraging involves increasing the participation of organizations and individuals. Allowing involves creating opportunities for federal, local and state leaders to declare their support for the arts. Raising involves increasing public awareness.
We want to add a fifth item to that list: Inspiring. Where are you reading this? Your desk? Your car? The subway? Take a moment to look around. Everything you see has an aesthetic and philosophical history. In our age of burgeoning AI anxiety, it is more important than ever to remember that even our humble toaster was designed by someone. Our built environment is the manifest expression of human imagination– and it is infinite.
The arts and humanities are endlessly inspiring. They not only make our lives better, they are one of the truest reflections of who we are, and where we have been. If you don’t believe us, here’s Kurt Vonnegut: “They [the arts] are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
And if you don’t believe him, here’s Toni Morrison: “Your life is already artful-waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.”
And if you don’t believe either of those luminaries, ask Maria Niro, Willow O’Feral, Brad Heck, Rodney Evans, Todd McGrain, Kimi Takesue, or Viviane Silvera.
Here at New Day, we’re blessed with an abundance of filmmakers of rich imagination and admirable vision. So in honor of the arts and humanities, here’s some art that reminds us of our humanity.
Diagnosed with terminal leukemia, printmaking artist Brian D. Cohen reflects on his life, work, and relationships. Artifacts of the Present is a powerfully moving and poignant documentary portrait of an artist facing mortality, and immerses the viewer in Brian’s home, workshop, and art. His son David composed the original music.
An artist explores the intimate nature of memory and the science of remembering in SEE MEMORY, a 15-minute film made out of 30,000 hand painted stills. Inspired by the groundbreaking neuroscience of Memory Reconsolidation, which demonstrates that long term memories can be changed and even erased.
For over 50 years Wodiczko has explored the profound impact of violence on humanity and the transformative power of art as a medium for public discourse. The film explores Wodiczko's monumental slide and video projections on architectural facades and monuments, which serve as powerful vehicles for addressing themes such as war trauma, displacement, history, memory, and public communication. This film serves as an invaluable resource for educators offering a catalyst for meaningful classroom discussions and driving social change.
Vision Portraits is a deeply personal documentary by award-winning filmmaker Rodney Evans (Brother to Brother) as he explores how his loss of vision may impact his creative future, and what it means to be a blind or visually impaired creative artist. It’s a celebration of the possibilities of art created by a Manhattan photographer (John Dugdale), a Bronx-based dancer (Kayla Hamilton), a Canadian writer (Ryan Knighton) and the filmmaker himself, who each experience varying degrees of vision loss. Using archival material alongside new illuminating interviews and observational footage of the artists at work, Evans has created a tantalizing meditation on blindness and creativity, a sensual work that opens our minds to new possibilities. Additionally, you can check out Rodney Evans’ acclaimed feature-length drama, Brother to Brother, which received the Special Jury Prize for Drama at the Sundance Film Festival.
The Lost Bird Project is a documentary about the stories of five birds driven to extinction in modern times and sculptor Todd McGrain’s endeavor to memorialize them. The film follows McGrain as he searches for the locations where the birds were last seen in the wild and negotiates for permission to install his large bronze sculptures there. The Lost Bird Project is a documentary about the stories of five birds driven to extinction in modern times and sculptor Todd McGrain’s endeavor to memorialize them. The film follows McGrain as he searches for the locations where the birds were last seen in the wild and negotiates for permission to install his large bronze sculptures there.
A solitary man struggles to cultivate beauty in a desolate, post-apocalyptic world. Heartbroken, he drifts in and out of a haunting dream state, envisioning the promise of regeneration. Rosewater tells a story of hope sustained through perseverance, ritual, and, ultimately, revelation. Featuring striking black-and-white 16mm cinematography and evocative sound design, Rosewater is a master class in short-form visual and auditory storytelling.