Two Strands of Art DNA

Our friend and sometimes collaborator Nick Rabkin gave a recent Pecha Kucha presentation on the historical role that teaching artists have played in our arts ecosystem. There are lots of great nuggets in the video, but one of my favorites is in the very beginning where he draws the distinction between the “two strands of arts DNA,” and traces their historical roots to the early 20th Century. One strand is represented by the Art Institute in Chicago and other institutions who “drew a bright line around high art.” The other is represented by the Hull House Settlement other “community based” institutions who employed a much more democratic and participatory understanding of art. Unsurprisingly, these two strands have very different legacies today, something that we wrote about in our evaluation (which Nick was a key partner on) of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Cultural Innovation Fund program (page vi). The video is worth watching in its entirety (only 6 minutes long), if nothing else than for the trivia…want to know what “high art” has to do with male pattern baldness?

More from Nick on the importance of teaching artists.