Monday, December 4, 2023


“All cruelty springs from weakness.” -Seneca

An honest mind examines the cruelty enacted throughout history and around the world and can see that it is a weapon against the perception of some vulnerability. The Spartans feared the Helots and so they enslaved them, subjugating them into a life of servitude. History overflows with examples like this of populations masking their alarm with gestures of power.

Michele Cohen is the curator for the Architect of the Capitol where she works in preservation and interpretation. Cohen faces the question of what it means to be a responsible steward in her work from day to day. Preservation indicates that something has value, but much of the public art in the collection she curates no longer communicates a widely shared world view. Her challenge is to decide how to preserve and integrate the various pieces in the vast collection. One particular dilemma involves controversial monuments that were removed from the United States Capitol, one titled The Discovery of America and the other titled Rescue. One option Cohen has suggested is to share images of complex pieces like this in a virtual space. To hear more about her work and some of the challenges she faces, and a description of these two difficult pieces, listen to the complete interview.

Wendy Red Star is preparing for a trip to Washington, DC for a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. She will be examining Crow Indian material with a focus on the delegations who met with Presidents from 1873 through the mid-1900s. Red Star herself is from the Crow Nation. This upcoming research is inspired by discussions of Native American cultural appropriation in art and imagery. She explores the often untold history of indigenous people in the U.S. To hear more from her, including some of this nearly forgotten history, listen to the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Despite the long view of history showing us clearly that cruelty indeed does spring from weakness, humankind repeats the mistake again and again.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Michele Cohen is reading Native American Identities by Scott Vickers. Wendy Red Star is reading Diplomats in Buckskins: A History of Indian Delegations in Washington City by Herman J. Viola.

Join the sixth Feminist Art Collective Residency, this year in Florence, Italy at the OACD University Studios. This residency gathers individuals who focus on social justice issues such as transphobia, rape culture, ableism, ageism, racism and more. For full details and to apply, visit the website. Deadline is November 19.


Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.

Brainard Carey is an author, artist and educator. He is the director of Praxis Center for Aesthetics. He has written six books for artists; Making it in the Art World, New Markets for Artists, The Art World Demystified, Fund Your Dreams Like a Creative Genius, Sell Online Like a Creative Genius and Succeed with Social Media Like a Creative Genius.



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