Yakutsk art museum

July 5th was a very unique and interesting day in Yakutsk. We attended the opening of a new exhibit at the Yakutsk Art Museum, an exhibit of the art of Siberian schoolchildren, mostly from Zhigansk, that Max Holmes and Kate Bulygina have put together. Max and Kate both warned me that I would be giving a speech so I was prepared for that. What they didn’t mention: radio interview, two television interviews, receiving a gift, presenting a signed letter and helping cut the ceremonial ribbon. I hope I managed to smile at all the right moments. Seriously, this was a great experience for all of us because it really showed how important this project is, the impact we can have just through these international and cross-generational interactions.

The interviewers questions were interesting and I think suggestive of something important. In all the interviews, the main interest was in how Americans were responding emotionally to the art and whether these types of art exhibits can actually impact people’s behavior. I believe that it can and in fact sometimes think that art can carry us farther towards action because of the emotional response we have. Gut level responses often are more motivating than the cerebral responses scientific information elicits. That being said, we need to continue to use the tools of scientific inquiry to assess ecosystem responses to environmental changes.

I took pleasure in the opportunity to share with the interviewer the strong impression this art has had on Americans all across the nation. I especially recall sharing with my students the power of this art and the reverence they felt towards this material when a similar exhibit came to St. Olaf College. There is something very important about the symbolic connection and common experience of our mutual response, Yakutians and Americans, to these beautiful works of art and I am happy we were able to participate in this event.

4 Responses to “Yakutsk art museum”

  1. July 08, 2009 at 2:40 pm, Monique said:

    Kudos! Art is the language of the soul.

  2. July 08, 2009 at 7:14 pm, Nancy Cedar said:

    As a Coordinator of federally funded afterschool programs, I also concur on the importance of the Arts. I am glad to see that this is valued there! I love the picture Erin posted on the blog of a student’s art work. Interesting mix..the arts and science!

  3. July 14, 2009 at 7:57 pm, Anya from Zhigansk said:

    John you did great!!! Yesterday I was talking to Galina (director of the museum) she told me about your speech. I think it is very important for young generation. Thank you.
    It was published in many leading newspapers)))))


  4. July 15, 2009 at 4:43 pm, max said:

    I’m happy to see that you are following the website Anya! For those of you that don’t know, Anya was one of the Polaris Project participants last year – and once a Polaris Project participant, always a Polaris Project participant! Anya is from a small town on the Lena River in the Siberian Arctic (Zhigansk), and has been working with scientists on climate change research since she was 13 years old. She is currently a student at Yakutsk State University and just returned from a summer internship in Sweden. Well done Anya!