Current Event February 9, 2021
Mardi Gras is a festive occasion celebrated in New Orleans each year with parades, music, art, and other cultural events. The annual parades have been canceled this year because of the pandemic, but organizers have invented a creative alternative. They founded Hire a Mardi Gras Artist, a program pairing talented artists with New Orleans residents interested in installing “house floats” at their homes. Money raised from the project supports the city’s “culture bearers” – artists, musicians, and performers who embody the special culture of New Orleans. Listen to learn how the project is inspiring the city during a challenging time.
Current Event August 28, 2020
Statues of Confederate leaders, long considered offensive by many, have been removed in states around the country. Now, protesters are calling for the dismantling of statues with more complex backgrounds. These statues depict historical figures respected for their significant contributions to the advancement of America’s democratic ideals, but whose personal stories include ownership of enslaved people or other examples of complicity with systemic racism. Listen to a Civil War historian caution against extreme responses to monuments and then debate: Should statues of historic figures with complex legacies be removed?
Current Event July 29, 2020
The Emancipation Memorial in Washington, DC, was created in 1876 to commemorate the freeing of enslaved people. It depicts a newly freed slave kneeling at the feet of Abraham Lincoln. Now, as Confederate statues and other symbols of racism are being dismantled around the country, some people are calling for this statue’s removal, too. They view the statue as a representation of oppression, while others see it as an image of liberation. Listen to learn more about the history of the Emancipation Memorial and the controversy surrounding it and hear black citizens from different generations express their views.
Current Event May 24, 2020
Listen to hear about a mother who creates chalk drawings reminding people to social distance.
Vocabulary: reminder, recreate
Current Event April 1, 2020
The group in charge of emojis is issuing some new designs, and scientists are buzzing. Researchers studying mushrooms, rocks, microbes, and insects enjoy using emojis to represent their work. They are happy to have appropriate images to share on social media, even if the emojis do not represent every scientific detail correctly. Listen to learn which group of animals has the most emojis, which groups are not well represented, and what happened when marine scientists complained about the accuracy of the squid emoji.
Current Event February 25, 2020
An interactive art installation with giant lights and booming loudspeakers is helping people communicate across the U.S.-Mexico border. Visitors to the exhibit on both sides of the border are invited to send searchlights into the sky and when they intersect, a conversation can begin. Americans and Mexicans are using the opportunity to chat, sing, and even celebrate birthdays together. Listen to hear visitors describe the effect of speaking to neighbors across a border wall and why the artist calls his creation a “bridge.”
Current Event January 23, 2020
A striking sculpture by artist Kehinde Wiley is moving to a Virginia street alongside several statues honoring Confederate war heroes. Wiley’s sculpture is called “Rumors of War” and features an African-American boy on a horse wearing a hoodie. It is meant to challenge how the Civil War and its aftermath are memorialized on the street and throughout the country. Listen to learn more about the sculpture and to hear a professor explain why it is sure to spark conversation about how we remember the past.
Current Event December 12, 2019
Can a first-day-of-school dress or a pair of mismatched cleats reveal anything important about history? The author of a new book argues that examining clothing from the past helps us remember historical moments and view them in a new light. Listen to hear a fashion historian explain how a belt from the Holocaust and an outfit worn by Princess Diana in a minefield can make history come alive.
Current Event April 4, 2019
Dr. Seuss is well known for his popular children’s books full of fanciful rhymes and whimsical illustrations. His earlier cartoons, however, include many racist and anti-Semitic images, which the artist later regretted. Listen to this commentary by another children’s book author and illustrator who reflects on the importance of explaining Dr. Seuss’s evolution as an artist and a person in an exhibit of his work at the Dr. Seuss Museum.
Current Event February 26, 2019
Jonah Larson has become a very successful artisan and entrepreneur at the age of eleven. Larson got his start crocheting from watching YouTube videos, and now the pre-teen has become a social media star himself. The young entrepreneur sells his handcrafted products through his very popular Instagram page. Larsen’s business has grown so much that he has had to pause new orders as he catches up on old ones. Listen to hear how Jonah learned to crochet and what is next for this enterprising sixth grader.
Current Event January 8, 2019
Artist Georgia O’Keeffe is famous for her paintings of flowers and southwestern desert landscapes. Few know, however, that her sister Ida O’Keeffe was also an artist. Ida’s work is being exhibited at the Dallas Museum of Art. Listen to this interview with a museum curator to hear Ida O’Keeffe’s story and learn why her name is virtually unknown, while her sister Georgia is one of America’s most recognized 20th century painters.
Current Event December 4, 2018
Laurie Simmons is a New York artist whose photographs frequently feature dolls in domestic scenes. As a retrospective exhibit of her work opens in Texas, she reflects on her art and what it means to her. Listen to this interview with the artist to learn more about what is behind her fascination with photographing dolls.
Current Event November 29, 2018
A former illustrator who now owns an ink company finds ingredients for his ink in unlikely places, including city streets. Jason Logan has written a book that explains how he searches the environment for interesting sources of color that he uses to create a wide variety of inks. Listen to this story and follow the artist and his interviewer as they turn city trash into colorful ink.
Current Event November 20, 2018
Art can be a helpful outlet for self-expression. This is the case for Texas-based artist Arthur Peña, who found that art offered him a safe retreat while growing in a community that could be dangerous. His mother, who was also an artist, encouraged his interest. After earning his credentials at prestigious art schools, he moved back to Texas and began a successful career. When he encountered some life challenges, however, Peña’s art suffered. Listen to hear how working through his relationship with art helped to put his life back on a positive course.