The arts and humanities, central to our mission at IU Bloomington, have long inspired our community, challenged our thinking, and brought us together. Our pride in the concerts, films, lectures, readings, performances, and exhibits that have filled our campus runs deep. On this campus, the arts and humanities are, and will remain, essential, in every meaning that term has now acquired.
With this in mind, our Arts and Humanities Council is launching a variety of new series with contributions from dozens of departments and units around campus. Meant to keep our community connected during this period of essential physical distancing, these programs spark reflection and conversation and affirm our ties to one another as one big IU family. The wealth of content includes reflections from campus leaders on the importance of the arts and humanities; a live variety show featuring faculty and student poets, musicians, actors, and dancers; COVID-19-related discussions with humanities faculty; a compendium of weekly curated content from around campus; and more.
We hope that you will continue to visit the Arts and Humanities website and Facebook page for details. IU Bloomington is proud and grateful that, amid the daily uncertainties that shape our lives in unforeseen ways, we can host this space of depth, connection, warmth, and authentic expression.
Among his many gorgeous writings, IU professor Ross Gay has a poem called “Opera Singer.” In it, the speaker, who is weighed by grief, decides to walk to a nearby café. On the way, he cannot perceive the light in the trees that surround him nor feel the paper money in his pocket. And yet when the notes of an opera float out from a window, his world transforms. Suddenly “the sun peeks ever-so-slightly from behind his shawl.” Suddenly the “delicately rolled r’s [are] like a hummingbird fluttering the tongue.” The world takes color. It fills with people and shapes and light—the speaker notices objects he could not see before—and in the end, he is overtaken by gratitude.
This is what the arts and the humanities do. They infuse our world with meaning. They remind us of the ways our human communities have found meaning across millennia. They call us to beauty and nuance and the experiences of others, which somehow always bring to light our own innermost experiences, as well. This is what we aim to provide with our new series, and this is what we are grateful to share with all of you.
Provost, Indiana University Bloomington
Executive Vice President, Indiana University