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T H E   A R T S   P O R T A L

Apollo Belvedere

The arts are a very wide range of human practices of creative expression, storytelling, and cultural participation. They encompass multiple diverse and plural modes of thinking, doing, and being, in an extremely broad range of media. Both dynamic and a characteristically constant feature of human life, they have developed into innovative, stylized, and sometimes intricate forms. This is often achieved through sustained and deliberate study, training, and/or theorizing within a particular tradition, across generations, and even between civilizations. The arts are a vehicle through which human beings cultivate distinct social, cultural, and individual identities while transmitting values, impressions, judgements, ideas, visions, spiritual meanings, patterns of life, and experiences across time and space.

Prominent examples of the arts include:

They can employ skill and imagination to produce objects and performances, convey insights and experiences, and construct new environments and spaces.

The arts can refer to common, popular, or everyday practices as well as more sophisticated, systematic, or institutionalized ones. They can be discrete and self-contained or combine and interweave with other art forms, such as the combination of artwork with the written word in comics. They can also develop or contribute to some particular aspect of a more complex art form, as in cinematography. By definition, the arts themselves are open to being continually redefined. The practice of modern art, for example, is a testament to the shifting boundaries, improvisation and experimentation, reflexive nature, and self-criticism or questioning that art and its conditions of production, reception, and possibility can undergo.

As both a means of developing capacities of attention and sensitivity and as ends in themselves, the arts can simultaneously be a form of response to the world and a way that our responses and what we deem worthwhile goals or pursuits are transformed. From prehistoric cave paintings to ancient and contemporary forms of ritual to modern-day films, art has served to register, embody, and preserve our ever-shifting relationships to each other and to the world. (Full article...)

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Battle of Churubusc
Battle of Churubusc
Credit: Artist: John Cameron; Restoration: Lise Broer
The Battle of Churubusco took place on August 20, 1847, in Churubusco (now a suburb of Mexico City) during the Mexican–American War. Three Mexican battalions—including the Saint Patrick's Battalion made up of immigrants—took up defensive positions inside a convent and were able to repulse the American attacks until they ran out of ammunition.

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Roman Vishniac, c. 1981

Roman Vishniac was a Russian-American photographer, best known for capturing on film the culture of Jews in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. He was, however, an extremely diverse photographer, an accomplished biologist and a knowledgeable student and teacher of art history. Throughout his life, he made significant scientific contributions to the fields of photomicroscopy and time-lapse photography. He later became a teacher and collector of historic art and artifacts.

Vishniac was very interested in history, especially that of his ancestors. In turn, he was strongly tied to his Jewish roots and was a Zionist later in life. Roman Vishniac won international acclaim for his photography: his pictures from the shtetlach and Jewish ghettos, celebrity portraits, and images of microscopic biology. He is known for his book A Vanished World, published in 1947, which was one of the first such pictorial documentations of Jewish culture in Eastern Europe from that period. He is known also for his extreme humanism and respect and awe for life, sentiments that can be seen in all aspects of his creation and his work. (Full article...)

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