“As a musician, I’m trained to do two things at the same time: work toward a goal larger than myself and pay attention to the smallest possible detail,” said recently named 2013 Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence Yo-Yo Ma. The acclaimed cellist joins Aspen Institute Arts Program Director Damian Woetzel in what the latter has named the “Year of the Citizen Artist.”
“I think Citizen Artists engage their communities with a similar approach,” said Ma. “They ask, ‘What is the largest challenge facing my neighborhood, city or country?’ and ‘How can I, as an artist, contribute to a solution?’”
The Arts Program has embarked on a series of national conversations on the role of Citizen Artists—individuals who recognize the need to take artistic practices beyond traditional settings, where they can serve needs and solve problems in realms including education, community building, diplomacy and health care. As artistic director of the Silk Road Project, an organization Ma founded to promote learning across cultural boundaries, and as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (along with Woetzel), the artist has led the charge to increase opportunities for audiences to experience music in their communities. He’s also instituted model educational programs bringing the arts into classrooms. As the Institute’s artist-in-residence, he will continue his work regularly engaging with students and inner-city schools while on tour around the country.
“I am delighted to join my good friend Damian Woetzel in catalyzing a national conversation about how artists practice citizenship,” said Ma as he kicked off his tenure. Expect to see him at the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival, among many other Institute events.
To learn more about the launch of the Citizen Artist program and Yo-Yo Ma’s involvement, watch the video below.