Looking for America: Northwest Arkansas is part of a new dialogue and art initiative that began in Detroit and toured four other cities across the United States before coming to Northwest Arkansas. The Looking for America tour is an effort to hear different perspectives on immigration in America through the lens of very different communities. At a time when Americans are more divided than ever, especially on the issue of immigration, Looking for America seeks to bring people together across political divides and answer the question, “What does it mean to be American?” This series serves to reveal what different Americans and communities think about immigration, how local cultures and circumstances are shaping political perspectives across the United States, and how we can build a more constructive dialogue and understanding at a time of increasing division and polarization across America. Media are invited to preview, attend, and cover Looking for America: Northwest Arkansas.
What: A dinner and dialogue at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is part of a larger exhibit — on display and open to the public — at four different touchpoints from December 15, 2019 – March 31, 2020. The exhibit features local artists who represent different backgrounds, countries of origin, political viewpoints, and art practices. Approximately 75 participants, including local leaders and community members with different political identities, will attend the event, viewing and interacting with curated art exhibitions from local artists, all centered around the question, “What does it mean to be an American?” Participants will share their reactions to the art and their perspectives and stories over a meal.
The remaining art tour includes: Brick & Mortar in Rogers (Dec 15 – Jan 10); Northwest Arkansas Community College (January 12 – 31); Fayetteville Public Library (Feb 2 – 29); and
Springdale Public Library (March 1 – 31).
The previous host cities and regions for the Looking for America program included Anchorage, Alaska; Detroit, Michigan; El Paso, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Sioux City, Iowa. In addition to local partners, the national organizers of Looking for America are New American Economy, the American University School of Public Affairs, and CuriosityConnects.us. These groups have come together to build a model for hosting constructive dialogue and civil discourse around pressing topics like immigration, which can eventually be taken to cities across each of the 50 states.
The event is co-hosted by Mayor Doug Sprouse of Springdale and will feature remarks by:
● Mayor Doug Sprouse, City of Springdale
● Philippa Hughes, CuriosityConnects.us
● Vicky Wilkins, Dean of the American University School of Public Affairs
Looking for America: Northwest Arkansas is supported by Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation.
Tuesday, December 17, 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, AR 72712
“I’ve been concerned for some time that as a nation, we seem to be losing the ability to respectfully discuss issues that matter to all of us,” said Mayor Doug Sprouse of Springdale. “We’ve got to be able to talk with each other and to hear and understand different points of view, even when we disagree. When we make a conscious effort to be better listeners and to remember that every person has value and purpose, we bring out the best in each other. This is important work, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it.”
“Northwest Arkansas provides a compelling and unique context to talk about immigration, identity and what connects us,” said Kate Brick, Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “We are excited to host Looking for America here and look forward to a discussion with a diverse group of community members, many of whom will be engaging with each other on this issue for the first time.”
“Art can help us to process complicated ideas and emotions,” said Philippa P.B. Hughes of CuriosityConnects.us. “Sometimes people find it easier to identify with something that expresses how they feel, rather than what they think. In this way, art can lead to greater empathy between people who may not necessarily see eye to eye.”
“The School of Public Affairs at American University is committed to civil discourse as a crucial aspect of our democracy, and faculty members are committed to sharing these skills on and beyond campus, especially in this time of hyper-partisan divide,” said Vicky Wilkins, Dean, School of Public Affairs at American University. “We also look forward to listening to and learning from community members in Northwest Arkansas–and bringing those important learnings back to Washington, D.C.”
● Liza Morris, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 251-8287
For more information, visit LookingForAmerica.us.
Editor’s note: Only attendees who confirmed they can be on the record can speak to reporters.