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The Arts Issue 2014

Conversations

Thursday November 6, 2014 04:00 am EST

In a world where social media, advanced handheld technology, and the Internet are threatening to smother intelligent discourse, the art of conversation gets lost. Face-to-face human interaction and the mutual sharing of ideas, whether it’s among peers or total strangers, seems to have taken a backseat to Facebook profile page rants, trolling commenters, and a plethora of other digital excuses to get folks out of actually having a tangible dialogue.


Psychologist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sherry Turkle said as much in her 2012 New York Times opinion piece, “The Flight From Conversation.”

“We use conversation with others to learn to converse with ourselves,” Turkle writes. “So our flight from conversation can mean diminished chances to learn skills of self-reflection.”

Here in Atlanta, nowhere are thoughts of self-reflection more prevalent than in the local arts scene and the creative communities that’ve emerged from its energy. Whether it was Elevate turning city dumpsters into works of art that made us rethink how we view Downtown’s potential for cultural growth, or debates among government, artists, and local residents over the Krog Masquerade, one thing was clear: ATLiens are very vocal. But how are often are we actually talking with each other?

For this year’s Arts Issue, we wanted to encourage conversations between artists, and give other members of Atlanta’s arts community a chance to be heard. In our effort to explore the topics of conversation we learned a lot about ourselves: http://ow.ly/DJGjZ ” rel=”external”>Deer Bear Wolf’s Davy Minor and the High Museum’s Michael Rooks talking together about their approaches to curation showed us there can be a middle ground between the underground and mainstream art worlds. Sharing beers (and Sprite) with comics Rob Haze, Jake Head, and Paige Bowman offered healthy debate on whether Atlanta is a comedy destination or just another stop on the way to comedic success. We spoke to Instagram photographer @WhyILoveATL, and the co-founders behind #weloveatl about using photography and a hashtag to connect citizens ITP, OTP, and everywhere else. We caught up with Camille Russell Love, executive director for the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, a Chosewood Park resident, and artist Michi Meko to let them share stories of how they view the city’s public art growth — past, present, and future.

Our hope is that in giving these varied voices of the arts scene a chance to express themselves through the vehicle of conversation, we can all take a moment for a little self-reflection.

— Gavin Godfrey