Novelist Imbolo Mbue is one of the featured speakers at the 2019 College of the Atlantic Champlain Institute, "Art: Dissent and Diplomacy." PHOTO COURTESY OF COA

Champlain Institute begins July 29

BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic’s third annual Champlain Institute, “Art: Dissent and Democracy,” will run from July 29-Aug. 2.

The event “turns its lens on the ways art undermines or advances political, social, and cultural norms,” organizers said. “Over the course of five days and 11 sessions, curators, artists, writers, historians, scholars, and filmmakers will explore the crucial role of art in shaping, illuminating, and challenging important ideas and issues of our times.”

“Art: Dissent and Diplomacy” features a slate of lectures, screenings, receptions, and book signings. All events will be held under a tent on the sea side of the Kathryn W. Davis Center for International and Regional Studies on COA’s south campus. The Institute is free and open to the public.

Pre-registration closes July 20, with walk-up registration available as space allows.

“The 2019 Champlain Institute gathers a remarkably diverse group of experts to help us examine how art can move society through times of immense instability,” said Lynn Boulger, COA’s dean of advancement. “We’ll look closely at various times in our history to see how art has shaped the conversation around critical issues of the day — and how today’s culture wars are being fought on canvases, on the big screen, and in the pages of novels.”

Champlain Institute speakers will join in conversation over multiple events to grapple with these questions and more: Do artists have the right to tell the story of a gender or race not their own? When does a “female artist” or “black artist” become just an artist? What responsibility do institutions have to represent cultural heritages, races, and religions?

The Institute begins on Monday, July 29 at 5 p.m. with “Bloomsbury: Private Consciousness and Social Conscience.” Art and dissent went hand-in-hand for members of the early-20th Century Bloomsbury Group, which included artists and intellectuals such as Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and E. M. Forster. Woolf’s grand-nephew Julian Bell will join Washington Post senior editor Frances Stead Sellers to discuss Bloomsbury’s relevance today.

Topics through the week include “Soul of the Nation: Art in the Time of Black Power,” “Can Islamic Art Change Minds? “The Art of Dissent” and “Who Gets to Tell the Story?”

The Institute closes on Friday, Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. with “Art in the Time of Discontent.” Join Nelson-Atkins Museum Director and CEO Julián Zugazagoitia and Judith Goldstein, founder and director of Humanity in Action, as they ask “are art museums are a new paradigm for tolerance and diplomacy or an endangered species challenged by virtue of their founding in the values of the encyclopedia?”

“Art is a lever for driving our society toward a more direct, experiential, and active relationship with our surroundings,” said COA president Darron Collins. “Doing so is not always comfortable, nor often easy, and the questions art addresses and raises don’t often have simple answers. It’s essential that we face these questions, however, and I can think of few better ways to do so than during the Champlain Institute.”

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