The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

  • Arts

    PAMM, Cannonball unite to provide art exhibition, lecture series

    June 24, 2015, 1:31 p.m., Posted by Alec Schwartzman

    A new collaboration between Pérez Art Museum Miami and Cannonball Miami aims to provide some clarity in the face of one of the biggest challenges confronting South Florida: climate change.

    “I think a lot of the themes that we are going to be covering as a part of this initiative will have resonance with Miami,” said PAMM curator Rene Morales. “I anticipate we will be dealing with issues of deforestation, scarcity of water and ecological sustainability in the 21st century. The kind of knowledge that we’re going to be producing in this installation will be very useful and interesting given the local context.”

    Marjetica Potrč

    Titled “The School of the Forest: Miami Campus,” the project, designed by Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrč, portrays a brightly painted, open-air wooden pavilion emulating those found among Amazonian forest communities, which the artist discovered while researching the Brazilian state of Acre. The concept will focus on sharing the knowledge of rural communities.

    “It was the idea that people of the forest are not just the objects of the study, but they are subjects of knowledge,” Potrč said. “It was about sharing knowledge between scientists and local communities.”

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    Engaged Communities

    'Knight Cities' podcast: Pop-up Pool Project adds a splash of cool in Philly

    June 24, 2015, 11 a.m., Posted by Carol Coletta

    Knight Cities podcast

    It’s summer, and who doesn’t like to hang out at the pool? 

    In most American cities, that used to mean heading down to the neighborhood pool where you found familiar faces and lots of strangers.  In fact, prior to 1940, private swimming pools were almost exclusively the province of the extremely wealthy. In 1950, the U.S. had only 2,500 private, in-ground pools. But by 2009, there were 5.2 million private pools in the nation.

    Ben Bryant is a self-professed fan of Philadelphia’s public pools, and he is determined to make them, once again, convivial places for people to hang out and enjoy the company of neighbors and friends. Ben, who is with Group Melvin Design, is a winner of this year’s Knight Cities Challenge with his Pop-up Pool Project.

    Here are five things you should know from my conversation with Ben:

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  • Arts

    Creating Citizen-Artists with ArtistYear

    June 24, 2015, 4:45 a.m., Posted by Alexandra von der Embse

    Today, Knight Foundation is announcing new funding for the Curtis ArtistYear Fellowship Program, which will allow the arts-based service corps piloted by the Curtis in partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project, to expand. Below, one of the program’s first fellows, Curtis graduate and oboe player Alexandra von der Embse, reflects on her year teaching music composition at John H. Taggart Elementary School in South Philadelphia.

    I have always considered myself “socially minded.” At first, I had a vague understanding of wanting to improve the world in which I existed. In high school, this meant political activism and involvement in organizations I cared about. I spent two years volunteering at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and once flew to Washington, DC from San Francisco to attend a protest for women’s rights. Because I couldn’t miss youth orchestra rehearsal on Saturday, or school on Monday, I flew there and back on the same day. Although I have always believed music is an honorable endeavor that does improve the world, the part of my life engaged with causes I cared about seemed as if it belonged to another world as I found myself delving deeper into my passion for music.

    Alexandra von der Embse.


    The Curtis Institute of Music’s former Executive Vice President Elizabeth Warshawer approached me in the early stages of ArtistYear. As soon as she described it – as a way to create a year of service for artists – I jumped at the opportunity. It was becoming harder for me to justify a career where I felt I had to separate my desire to create meaningful change in the world from my dedication to performing music at the highest level. When I was introduced to Margo Drakos, Curtis alum and co-founder of ArtistYear, I was deeply inspired by her life as an artist with an innate sense of social responsibility. A cellist turned technology entrepreneur, she questioned whether instead of asking what communities could do to support the arts, we could ask what artists could do to support their communities.

    For my own work with ArtistYear, I was drawn to the Philadelphia Public School District because of students’ increasingly limited access to music.  I thought about my own education and how music had influenced it. I was never a particularly studious pupil but I loved school, and I learned to think. Having ownership of a project, the confidence of creation and constantly striving to improve to the levels of leaders in my field (I knew they had practiced hours upon years to reach the levels that moved me, and I could one day get there too) gave me a need to learn everything I could.

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