Raid the Icebox Now with Sebastian Ruth
Much of my work questions how to integrate musical experiences and the life of a community for mutual benefit. I’ve been inspired by educator John Dewey’s project in the 1930s to find ways of “restoring continuity” between art and everyday life experience. Dewey worried that the formality of art spaces prevented people from seeing art as lively, meaning-rich encounters connected to a sense of purpose as humans in the world. Philosopher Maxine Greene took this a step further and said we can and must “lend works of art” our lives—we must allow ourselves to see art as speaking to our core questions, not in an abstract or cerebral way, but in a way that connects to our memories, our pasts, our lived lives.
Witnessing considers how museum galleries can be places to see the everyday as art and art as belonging to the everyday. Smokestacks and factory scenes, a cluster of chairs, trees next to water—how are these possibilities for stopping and seeing differently?
Sebastian Ruth is a musician, educator, and organizer whose work has been in reimagining careers for musicians at the intersection of performance, teaching, and deep community collaboration. Through the work of Community MusicWorks, the organization he founded in 1997, Sebastian and his colleagues have continually experimented with the forms and traditions of music making.
Raid the Icebox Now is made possible by a lead grant from the National Endowment for the Arts with support from Taylor Box Company, Pace Gallery, and a generous in-kind gift from Meyer Sound Laboratories. RISD Museum is supported by a grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, through an appropriation by the Rhode Island General Assembly and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and with the generous partnership of the Rhode Island School of Design, its Board of Trustees, and Museum Governors.