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Abstract:

African stiltwalkers, subway singers, sailors shopping in Little Italy, rescue workers, shopkeepers with relatives in Mali, and window washers, students re-crossing the George Washington Bridge conclude, "What we will miss most is the friendly people." People, places, and events dramatically etch the value of multiculturalism on rural students making their pilgrimage to New York City.

 

In a multidisciplinary, introductory course on New York City's visual arts, literature, drama, dance, music and architecture within their cultural contexts, students investigate art and then journey to taste first hand the city's joys. This cosmopolitan giant teems with the products of the mingling of centuries of immigrant cultures. Speaking to our class, Peter Rutkoff explains, "Art is a window, mirror and instruction book." Art pleases but also helps us to get inside a culture, asking us to change our points of view or our actions.

 

In this paper, I describe how artists in the twentieth century understood the term "modern," define "art" and "cultural pluralism," outline representative educational activities in the local and New York "classrooms," and demonstrate how rural students respond to encountering many ethnicities through their art.

 

Keywords:

modern art, cultural pluralism, New York City experience

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