SPEECH BY SAM CORSO
TO THE DOWNTOWN ARTS ALLIANCE OF MONROE
October 2, 2013
Thank you, Charlie, for that introduction. I would also like to thank the Monroe Downtown Arts Alliance for inviting me to speak to you this evening. It is always a pleasure for me to return to North Louisiana, to interact with the many friends and family members that I have here in the city and to visit the works that I have scattered throughout the area. Monroe, in particular, and her people hold a very special place in my heart.
I have been asked to speak to you about the importance of art to a community and how, together, we can learn to appreciate and support the Fine Arts. I would like to take a few minuets to share my thoughts with you. We all have special gifts and talents, and it takes both art creators and art appreciators to knit together the fabric of an arts community.
Why do we make art? Why do we collect art? Why do we talk about art? Why do we need art? Why is art so important to us? There is no simple answer to any of these questions. But I can offer a few suggestions this evening.
Art is, and always has been, a form of communication. Throughout history, man’s artistic endeavors have recorded the human condition and given us great insight into our origins. These personal expressions began as observation, transitioned into offerings to some form of a Higher Power, and evolved into self-expression. Think of the powerful examples of cave paintings, the stone carvings at Easter Island, the monument of Stonehenge or the works of the French Impressionists or German Expressionists. I believe that the makers of these art forms had one single purpose—to leave documentation that said “I was here.”
Second, art is important to us because it spiritually uplifts us. Consider the beautiful medieval stained glass windows and paintings that embellish European churches, like Chartres, Notre Dame or the Sistine Chapel that some of you might have seen. Without the ability to read or write the local language, ordinary people moved through these sacred spaces, identifying images of saints by their clothing or symbolic attributes, no matter their country of origin. Today these same magnificent buildings continue to draw tourists from all over the globe who are uplifted by this ancient art.
Further, I believe that all people have an innate quest for beauty, whether they create it or experience it. Many of you who travel spend much of your time seeking beauty in some form, either in Nature or in man-made works. In the world’s greatest cities, like Paris, Rome or New York, where one might visit the Louvre, the Vatican, or the Museum of Modern Art, people come in droves to view the works of Old World or modern masters like Rembrandt, Michelangelo or Picasso. Likewise, in smaller cities, people come to centers within their local communities to view art produced by local artists, like here in Monroe and West Monroe, where you attend the monthly Art Crawls.
Art awakens our spirits and defines us as a society. Yet, sadly, the first cuts in state and federal funding are always to the visual and performing arts. So whether we are creator, promoter, collector or admirer, we share a civic responsibility to keep the arts alive. For it is through art that we leave a legacy of treasures for the next generation.
Sam J. Corso, President
Dufour / Corso Studios, LTD
813 North St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70802-5535
(225) 344-4504 (tel)
(225) 344-7577 (fax)