I had dreams of doing my thesis with the Louvre. I began to try and live out this dream by emailing all my contacts in the art world (very few people…). I wanted to “mainstream” my love of art to be not just a hobby, but a center focus. While I failed at finding a project with the Louvre, a friend and I decided that we could revive celebration of the arts at the Harvard Kennedy School and recreate a talent show that for years had not taken place.
We had planned it for the Forum – the main event space at our school. It was going to be a grand event – an hour and a half long show of dance, singing, musical performance, with a reception where students, faculty and community would be surrounded by student’s visual arts while sharing in discussion and perhaps a glass of wine. We started planning for this vision in October – meeting with different student groups, with different Centers for funding, and had landed a date on the calendar for April.
I will go ahead and state the obvious – nothing went according to plan.
We were sadden that this dream couldn’t become a reality, but instead we hosted a virtual “HKS Arts After Hours” showcasing the amazing talent of our student body from their homes.
It was timely. It was beautiful. and it was art.
We streamed on Youtube, which still can be watched here:
I also gave an introductory speech to kick off the event and to leave in minds the idea that we all can use art in these difficult times. You can read what I said below as well.
“It’s been a super strange year.”
This is how the Story of Una Fox began. A story about a 10-year-old girl with a superpower. A story that a HKS friend and I started a few months ago. A story that we – two finance and consulting professionals – came up with over a Thursday morning standing breakfast date. A story that we made without any art training.
“It’s been a super strange year”
This too could be said of the time we are living in. The Harvard Yard empty like a zombie-apocalypse movie. Our lives emptied of quorum calls, of nights at ‘La Fabrica’, and of closure.
A year and a half ago, I arrived at the Harvard Kennedy School, wide eyed and eager, quickly finding myself buried beneath problem sets, policy memos and assignments, that sometimes only CAs ended up seeing. And I only found time to sketch, draw and write in what seemed like nonexistent free time.
This is a common story – one in which the arts come in second. Where economics, statistics, policy come first.
Today at Harvard, we have a “Pause for the Arts” – youtube videos of just 2 minutes per day to listen to the talent of our community. Taking up just 0.2% of our waking hours.
So tonight, it is wonderful to have an hour to celebrate the arts – for our first-ever “HKS Arts After Hours” – a revival of what used to be the HKS talent show.
Because we need the arts, and not only for two minutes a day. We need the arts to allow ourselves to think, to heal, to connect. And, we need the arts because it’s our truest expression of who we were, who we are and who we want to be.
I do not ask that you become DaVinci.
I ask that you pick up a crayon and draw with your children.
I do not ask that you sing like Beyonce.
I ask that you bellow your favorite songs with your roommate or spouse.
I do not ask you to “Pause for the Arts”
I ask you to explore art in your day to day life – for you, for your families and for our communities.
In this super strange year, we all need superpowers – like that of Una Fox. And it’s up to us to create them.
Use art to explore what is possible.
Let us begin.