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|Sean Garrity • 12/27/16|
The Short Version: Through cutting-edge art, Art Museum of the Americas addresses issues impacting society and is the oldest institution in the U.S. displaying Latin American and Caribbean paintings, sculptures, installations, prints, drawings, and photographs. Part of the Organization of American States, whose aim is to “promote peace, justice, and solidarity” internationally, the AMA also offers a broad range of programs, events, and workshops that can help patrons interact with other art lovers who have an interest in social and political justice as well.
No matter the medium, art has always been a platform from which to tackle societal issues and express the human condition. Early cave paintings told stories about the struggles to find food. Western medieval art presented scenes of religious devotion and, later, canvases that echoed the despair of plague. The Renaissance brought scenes of rebirth that embodied a zeitgeist encompassing a continent.
The arts have been bringing people together to discuss the important issues of their times for centuries. Today is no different. Art Museum of the Americas (AMA), the oldest museum of Latin American and Caribbean art in the United States, provides a venue where patrons can come together and discuss aesthetics and socially-charged topics. The AMA is part of the Organization of American States (OAS), an international public organization that strives to promote democracy, peace, justice, and solidarity among its 35 member countries.
The AMA showcases trailblazing exhibits of artists who combine the visual arts with social and political activism. With events, such as book readings and exhibit openings, and programs, such as workshops and societal impact projects, the museum is an ideal place to make connections with others who are passionate about the arts and looking to make important changes in their communities.
If you live in the D.C. area, the AMA is your passport to thought-provoking conversation and camaraderie. The museum revolves around the same pillars as the OAS, including themes of democracy, development, human rights, justice, freedom of expression, and innovation.
AMA events work to bring like-minded individuals together to address the issues central to today’s society. Patrons can socialize at visual art exhibit openings, book readings, academic and cultural presentations, and more.
Imagine the conversations that can be had at events like The Sertao Cerrado or The Great Swindle exhibits. Whether the topic is sustainability and restoration or the way financial systems have become an intimate part of our lives, these kinds of activities bring folks together for a common goal.
The AMA’s programs are wonderful opportunities to learn more about community and culture and get to know people. Art lovers and activists from all walks of life attend these programs, which is why they’re such successful venues to socialize. There’s something for everyone.
The AMA has several social impact programs, which are largely incorporate the arts and social activism and are often directed at the youth of today. This is a great way for you to give back to your communities while simultaneously meeting other philanthropic individuals.
For example, the Student Art Contest: Pan-American Art Exhibition, a collaboration between the AMA and The Pan American Association of Kansas City, encouraged students to research another culture and create original art that represents it. Winners were featured on Kansas City’s Grand Boulevard of the Americas, which runs through downtown to the city’s riverfront.
The AMA also supports causes like Palas por Pistolas, a bi-national project to trade weapons into shovels that are then used to plant trees, and the OAS Orchestra Program (OASIS), which is focused on reducing violence in youth by involving them in orchestral training.
Those interested in contributing to future projects can call 202-370-0147 to find out how to join a community of other social crusaders.
AMA’s education and outreach programs are designed to, “interconnect, promote, and create a positive impact on the range of people and cultures of the western hemisphere.” They offer group and family workshops, guided tours, and even internships to increase participant knowledge and involvement.
While group workshops center around children aged 5 to 15, parents can take this as an opportunity to get acquainted with those who are like-minded and want to pass on the gift of cultural knowledge and community involvement to their children. The museum offers other fun activities, like piñata and bracelet-making workshops, where children can hone their creative skills. Parents and children alike may leave with not only a piñata but a great group of new people with whom to engage.
In terms of AMA internships, whether you’re networking for business or pleasure, you’ll be surrouned by social mavericks and supporters who are committed to human rights and democracy. Every day you could get to know one or 20 culturally-informed people just by “going to work.”
AMA’s film program highlights progressive and informative documentaries and films that are sure to spur explosive dialogue. Earlier this year, the museum screened “1980,” a documentary exposing the turbulent and volatile year in which Spain struggled to find balance in the midst of an oil crisis and terrorist acts committed by the ETA.
Museum attendees can also catch screenings like the Dominican Film Showcase, which provides and prompts new narratives about life. Follow up a viewing of, say, “La Familia Reyna” with a discussion on the complexities of family on our daily lives. With AMA’s film programs, greater cultural understanding and exploration are just a ticket away.
AMA’s dedication to social justice makes it an ideal place to expand your knowledge and make a difference in your community.
Throughout human history, people have been gathering together to discuss issues impacting their societies, and these conversations are many times sparked by artistic representations that reflect those issues. AMA’s events and programs enable patrons to meet and theorize with other socially-conscious minds and inspire action that impacts the world.
Dominican Film Showcase photo sourced from Global Foundation for Democracy and Development.