Why are you interested in this Salon?

Paul Hendrickson

Art exercises a tremendous influence over our personal identity and public values.  Learning to understand, appreciate, and strengthen that influence enriches our lives as individuals, but also and equally important, it helps us take greater responsibility for the character of our communities and determine whether and to what extent our public artistic and cultural spaces embody the principles we profess.

This is what initially sparked my interest in hosting a salon on art and community, but my interest has been spurred on by many of the fascinating, provocative conversations that have taken place in Jacksonville over the past year.  On WJCT’s Community Thread with Melissa Ross, for example, I saw some great conversations about downtown development and arts education.  This summer, I attended the opening of the Cummer Museum’s exhibit, LIFT: Contemporary Reflections on the African American Experience.  I also had the opportunity to attend several public conversations about the exhibit and the subject of race and art, most notably the conversations hosted by Nyah Vanterpool of UNF’s OneVoice.  All of these conversations generated such passion, such engagement, such thoughtful exploration of injustice and hope, inequality and courage, that I simply felt compelled to explore this topic myself.  Continuing this ongoing conversation about how art embodies our shared democratic values seems to me to be a kind of debt we owe to our forebears and fellow citizens, a great unfinished work requiring renewed dedication and engaged devotion.

I’m especially excited that TEDxFSCJ will be partnering with MOCA Jacksonville to host this salon.  This partnership signals the first in what will ultimately be many examples of collaboration between TEDxFSCJ and the wider community.  The spirit of TED and TEDx thrives when it engages real communities, real people, and real issues with passion, dedication, and rigor, and that’s what I hope this salon will help to further.