“The least movement is of importance to all of nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.”
–Blaise Pascal, Pensées (1670)
Throughout the 2023-24 academic year, the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will explore the theme of movement. We live, after all, in a world of constant motion, from quivering quarks to daily commutes, summer breezes, immigrants seeking new lives, and people coming together to advocate for change. In deciding on this topic to guide our work, the board returned consistently both to its capacious intellectual nature as well as its ability to capture something important about the dynamism of our present moment.
Movement, as Pascal suggests, is a way of thinking about change and seeing the world not as a fixed reality, but rather as a dynamic flux through which we sometimes race and other times dance. Our humanity is defined, in part, precisely by our ability to adapt to such circumstances and to marvel at the ways that those small pebbles—a decision to leave home, start something new, gather with others, or pursue a vision—can indeed cause ripples that radiate through our lives and communities. We thus plan to embrace the wide reach of the theme, by looking at movement as motion, as shifts in art or politics, as music and dance, and as a physical activity that can take us to new destinations.
We have already started building a rich array of programs around this theme, including:
- Our newest exhibition at 101 Archer about the movement to restore citizenship to the Cherokee Freedman;
- An October Presidential Lecture by Danielle who will talk about how she turns computer code into living characters and emotional stories at Pixar;
- An exhibition still in planning about the science, beauty, and terror of tornadoes;
- And a city-wide reading of Victor Luckerson’s Built from Fire, which will encourage people throughout Tulsa to move out of their comfort zones and explore our shared histories in unexpected places.
There’s much more currently in the works as well, including lectures on the history of dance, critiques of Western liberalism, and a special theatrical performance that will ask the audience to move around 101 Archer for Halloween-inspired stories.
I invite you to join us by visiting our galleries, attending our talks, and reaching out with ideas for events and collaborations. Although under punishing stress at the moment, the arts and humanities alike offer us a way to shake loose from stasis, to imagine alternative worlds, and to knit together our fractured communities. In a word, they urge us individually and collectively to embrace movement as a fundamentally human experience.