Walker Art Center
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Interactions/Intersections: Cultural Globalism and Educational Practice


indicate the cultural background that may have influenced the artist's philosophy. But, if that person moves around and lives somewhere else for a long period of time, then nationality isn't so relevant. Knowing that Kusama is Japanese and currently producing work in Japan means something different to me than categorizing Yoko Ono as a Japanese artist who is based in New York City.

SS: How can we avoid presenting ourselves as a cultural authority? What does it mean to be a responsible global institution?

MW: We are an American institution in a global network of other institutions. We don't have to be an authority on art from everywhere, because we can't be. To get back to the mapping metaphor, I have to locate myself pretty specifically and culturally in terms of the education that I have received, the institution that I'm working in, and my knowledge of other places culled through reading. While it's great that we've all expanded our knowledge through the articles that our colleagues shared with us, I haven't been to China or South Africa, so for me to shape something from my realm of experience, my place on the map, about global issues, I need to be honestly aware of all that I don't know.

CA: I try to dispel the notion, with whatever group I'm talking to or working with, that I, or the Walker, know the one and only way an artwork should be interpreted. I can articulate the museum's view and at the same time reinforce that there are many other views, some well supported, some not.

SR: I agree with Christi's comments about making different points of view transparent, along with what informs them. That doesn't necessarily mean being critical of what you're hearing, but it does require being reflective about it. To be truly responsible to the community, to schools, to families, means to not oversimplify things. There is a real impulse among people who have to condense a lot of information into a curriculum, a tour, or a lecture to make it simple, to formularize it, to come up with a catch word or phrase. We need to keep it open-ended, keep the questions hanging, not always answered.

SS: I'd say that to be a responsible global institution you should be a responsible local institution.

MW: I've become aware of how difficult and necessary it is to keep our institutional identity in mind when we work with partners both on a global level and on a local level. When we work with our local partners, we need to be conscious of the fact that we're multidisciplinary and that we're a major arts institution. We have to be mindful that we don't squash the identity of our local partners, that we encourage them to hang on to their structures and ideas.

KMS: I'd like to add that we should not create a hierarchy between our local community and the global community. We often bring in speakers from overseas or out-of-state. We present artists, for example, from East India as part of the global programming, while in the local community there are East Indian immigrants who also are artists. Their voices are no less relevant than those of the people who are coming directly from East India. This is a very delicate balance that we face with our programming. I want to be sensitive about validating the work, the voices, and the stories coming out of our global local community. Without acknowledging the importance of this work, it will be difficult for us to move forward.

MW: And then on another level it is important to build a network globally and to create partnerships with other institutions and organizations, choosing guides in localities all across the globe.

KMS: We must choose the right guides locally as well.

SS: I believe our audiences are guides. We learn a lot from the communities with whom we work and from our visitors. We guide one another. Perhaps the most important lesson we've learned is that we have to choose our guides carefully and then trust them. That's a key for being a responsible institution, both globally and locally. It gets back to what you said, Meredith, about acknowledging what you don't know and finding people to guide you in the right direction. The global advisory committee is a wonderful example of finding exceptional guides.