Artists in the 21st Century: A Commitment to Ideas

A Commitment to the Arts at Columbia

Artists hold the possibility of hope in their consciousness and in their work by offering another kind of world.


When we want to access the hearts of our fellow citizens, we often turn to the arts to reveal and communicate our deepest concerns effectively, so they might be heard, seen, and understood. Art, in all forms, can be extremely powerful. It is an argument and an encounter that begins between the artist and a chosen form and extends out to the world. Its intent is always to convince us of something, experientially. 


Increasingly, artists take on complex problems in uniquely interdisciplinary and unexpected ways. They approach social issues as felt knowledge that comes to them through the senses and helps us all to engage the world directly—reflecting our interiority in relationship to others. 


As a result of this immediacy, artists now are increasingly called upon to communicate complex ideas and messages about health, sustainability, climate change, tolerance, and social justice to large populations. Art has become the lingua franca of many emerging societies; it is how we speak to each other across disciplines, geographical/cultural boundaries, language, difference and conventional discourses; it is how we access our individuality and collectivity.


Now is the time to strengthen Columbia University’s renowned School of the Arts, so that its artists can emerge uniquely prepared to engage such important global concerns.