Berenice Abbott, “Pike and Henry Street” (Photograph, 1936)

Category : Arts


James Baldwin, “The Creative Process”

Category : Arts, Students, Writing

Perhaps the primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone. That all men are, when the chips are down, alone, is a banality—a banality because it is very frequently stated, but very rarely, on the evidence, believed. Most of us are not compelled to linger with the knowledge of our aloneness, for it is a knowledge that can paralyze all action in this world. There are, forever, swamps to be drained, cities to be created, mines to be exploited, children to be fed. None of these things can be done alone. But the conquest of the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.

Source: Creative America, Ridge Press, 1962.

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Thomas Hart Benton, “Mural for 66 W. 12th Street Building” (1931)

Category : Arts, Buildings, Murals


Sally Bick, “In the Tradition of Dissent: Music at the New School for Social Research, 1926-33”

Category : Arts, Music

In his 2002 Reflections of an American Composer, Arthur Berger recalls that during the 1920s and 1930s, the musical landscape in New York appeared desolate for American art composers who found themselves “truly underground.” Among such bleak conditions, Berger identifies one bright oasis, isolated from New York’s mainstream concert scene: a place where one could not only hear and discuss the music of important American modernist composers, but also meet them.1 Berger’s oasis was the New School for Social Research, a small private educational institution tucked away in the bohemian community of Greenwich Village.

Source: Journal of the American Musicological Society 66.1 (2013): 129-190

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Colette Brooks, ‘The Play’s the Thing’: A Polemic”

Category : Arts, Theater, Writing

Though other literary forms wax and wane, the novel, short story, diary, epic and such forever suffering favor or oblivion at the hands of the reading public, plays, it seems, are always out of fashion; unread by all but the very few, those generally drama students, sui generis, indefatigable by definition. It is possible to account for this lack of readerly interest by holding, as many have, that plays are not primarily literary objects at all and thus cannot exert the kind of imaginative claims that inhere naturally in real literature; but this argument simply cedes the point to those who would discredit dramatic literature in any case. It is perhaps more promising to grant the legitimacy of plays as literature, by fiat, and turn the inquiry to our reading practices themselves; to determine whether there is something inherent in the way in which we read, think about, talk about and teach drama that causes our powers and imagination to falter at the point at which we approach the individual play. If this is so, the layman’s lack of affinity for the form should come as no surprise.

Source: Performing Arts Journal 9.2/3 (1985): 160-162

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John Cage, “Experimental Music”

Category : Arts, Music

Formerly, whenever anyone said the music I presented was experimental, I objected. It seemed to me that composers knew what they were doing, and that the experiments that had been made had taken place prior to the finished works, just as sketches are made before paintings and rehearsals precede performances. But, giving the matter further thought, I realized that there is ordinarily an essential difference between making a piece of music and hearing one. A composer knows his work as a woodsman knows a path he has traced and retraced, while a listener is confronted by the same work as one is in the woods by a plant he has never seen before.

Source: Music Teachers National Association, Convention Address (Chicago, 1957)

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Aaron Copland, “How We Listen”

Category : Arts, Music

We all listen to music according to our separate capacities. But, for the sake of analysis, the whole listening process may become clearer if we break it up into its component parts, so to speak. In a certain sense we all listen to music on three separate planes. For lack of a better terminology, one might name these: (1) the sensuous plane, (2) the expressive plane, (3) the sheerly musical plane. The only advantage to be gained from mechanically splitting up the listening process into these hypothetical planes is the clearer view to be had of the way in which we listen.

Source: Aaron Copland: A Reader (NY: Routledge, 2004): 3-7

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John Dewey, “Art as Experience”

Category : Arts, Founding

By one of the ironic perversities that often attend the course of affairs, the existence of the works of art upon which formation of an esthetic theory depends has become an obstruction to theory about them. For one reason, these works are products that exist externally and physically. In common conception, the work of art is often identified with the building, book, painting, or statue in its existence apart from human experience. Since the actual work of art is what the product does with and in experience, the result is not favorable to understanding. In addition, the very perfection of some of these products, the prestige they possess because of a long history of unquestioned admiration, crates conventions that get in the way of fresh insight. When an art product once attains classic status, it somehow becomes isolated from the human conditions under which it was brought into being and from the human consequences it engenders in actual life-experience.

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“Dynamic Symmetry” Student notes and drawings

Category : Arts, Design, Students

Source: New School Archives (1926)


Camilo Egas, “Civil War in Spain” (Painting, 1940)

Category : Arts



Robert Frost, A Boy’s Will: Excerpts

Category : Arts, Writing

Source:  NY: Henry Holt , 1915

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Robert Frost, New Hampshire: Excerpts

Category : Arts, Writing

It was long I lay
Awake that night
Wishing that night
Would name the hour
And tell me whether
To call it day
(Though not yet light)
And give up sleep.
The snow fell deep
With the hiss of spray;
Two winds would meet,
One down one street,
One down another,
And fight in a smother
Of dust and feather.
I could not say,
But feared the cold
Had checked the pace
Of the tower clock
By tying together
Its hands of gold
Before its face.

Source: NY: Henry Holt, 1923

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