It’s been over a year since I became a Boulder County resident and joined CU Boulder as the director of the Center for Humanities & the Arts (CHA). And, of course, I write this letter not from the offices of the CHA in Macky Auditorium, but from my kitchen table. This was not the first year on the job that I expected, but none of us could have predicted that a global pandemic would upend our lives in the way that it has. And if you are reading this and you have experienced acute losses—of income, of family or friends who have died or are living with chronic illnesses—my heart goes out to you, and in some ways, nothing I write will be of much solace.
Solace is a word I think about a lot, as well as comfort, hope, and inspiration. These seem in short supply sometimes. And when I am feeling in need of comfort, hope, inspiration, and solace, what I turn to is art. Poetry is the first thing I devoured in the early days of the pandemic, and it’s what I always turn to when I want to reflect on the meaning of my life and the world around me. Music playing in the background sustains me in my new remote working life—there’s a French cooking station that plays on Pandora that I’m particularly fond of, which also makes me wish I had paid more attention to my high school French classes and which inspires me to one day sign up for French language classes. And of course visual art—theater and dance performances that you can stream online, as well as films and tv serials, and paintings that are found in on-line galleries—these are also balm for my weary self.
I don’t know what the future holds—there is so much that is uncertain. But I do know that we need art and we need humanities scholarship and we need community to sustain us—to provide solace, comfort, hope, and inspiration. At the CHA we will always support and promote the humanities and arts, because we believe that the arts and humanities give meaning to our lives. I hope it gives meaning to yours.
Director, Center for Humanities & the Arts
Professor, Ethnic Studies