At a time when Americans are more polarized than ever, especially on the issue of immigration, national and local organizations have partnered together to help bridge the divide. Looking for America seeks to bring people together across a multitude of political opinions to answer the question, “What does it mean to be American?”
The invite-only dinner and dialogue is part of a larger exhibit — on display and open to the public at the El Paso Museum of History starting in October 2019 — featuring local artists who represent different backgrounds, countries of origin, political viewpoints, and art practices.
A dinner that features cross-political civil discourse will take place on Monday, October 14 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the El Paso Museum of History.
Approximately 50-75 participants, including local leaders and community members with different political identities, will attend the event, viewing and interacting with curated art exhibitions from local artists, all centered around the question, “What does it mean to be American in El Paso?”
Participants will share their reactions to the art and their perspectives and stories over a shared meal.
Along with the El Paso Museum of History, partners include the El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department, the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, New American Economy, the American University School of Public Affairs, CuriosityConnects.us, and the Tenement Museum.
“History, as a discipline, is about finding the common ground between different perspectives. As a historian, you want a variety of voices so that you can better understand what really happened in the past,” said Vladimir von Tsurikov, Director of the El Paso Museum of History. “Looking for America takes this same approach in order to resolve divisions in the present and create a way forward for the future. We are excited to host this project at the Museum and look forward to the ways in which it can further encourage civic discourse in El Paso.”
“When you really think about it, the creativity we see in art is an exploration,” said David Jerome, Chair of the El Paso Chamber of Commerce. “This aspect of Art sets an excellent example for all discourse.”
“We are proud to host Looking For America in El Paso as it’s a city that represents some of America’s most cherished values, like endurance, hard work, ingenuity, and perseverance,” said Dan Wallace, Director of Special Projects at New American Economy. “El Paso’s unique status as a border city makes it is an ideal setting to explore thoughts around American identity and immigration whose perspective resonates with cities near and far from the southern border.”
“Art can help us to process complicated ideas and emotions,” said Philippa P.B. Hughes of CuriosityConnects.us. “Sometimes people find it easier to identify with something that expresses how they feel, rather than what they think. In this way, art can lead to greater empathy between people who may not necessarily see eye to eye.”
“The School of Public Affairs at American University is committed to civil discourse as a crucial aspect of our democracy, and faculty members are committed to sharing these skills on and beyond campus, especially in this time of hyper-partisan divide,” said Vicky Wilkins, Dean, School of Public Affairs at American University.
“We also look forward to listening to and learning from community members in El Paso — and bringing those important learnings back to Washington, D.C.”
Who: The event will feature remarks by:
Vladimir von Tsurikov, Director, El Paso Museum of History
Vicky Wilkins, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at American University
Dan Wallace, Director of Special Projects, New American Economy
Philippa Hughes, Founder & Chief Creative Strategist, CuriosityConnects.us