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Arts & Entertainment

'A Nation Engaged': 'I feel most American when I'm not in the States'




Los Angeles artist Edgar Arceneaux.
Los Angeles artist Edgar Arceneaux.
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KPCC and other NPR Member stations are participating in a national conversation called "A Nation Engaged." This week at The Frame, we're asking creators who work in arts and entertainment to weigh in on our nation's state of affairs. 

Edgar Arceneaux's thought-provoking artwork is exhibited internationally and it’s in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum in New York, and museums in Germany and France. The L.A. native employs a wide range of media to explore the African-American experience.

Here’s what Arceneaux had to say for "A Nation Engaged":

What does it mean to be an American?

I typically feel the most American when I'm not in the [United] States. I remember the first time I was in France and I felt a sense of freedom that I'd never really experienced here before. I didn't have any fear of being harassed by the police. I didn't feel like people were following me in stores. It did make me think back to my experience here upon the subtle interactions that sometimes can be violent, but we take them for granted as being natural and normal. 

What could the next president do to advance your vision?

In our country, we appreciate the art but we don't typically appreciate the artists. And the vision of our future that I would like to see is a broader support of cultural production as a whole. That doesn't mean just having more museums and galleries, but that means employing artists to do the things that they do best. Let the poet write poetry. Let the sculptor sculpt. Let the builder build. It gives us all the capacity to build a world that we want to live in. If we want to believe that a president has the power to make more space for arts and culture to show how vibrant and important it is, I'm trying to imagine them doing that with a gridlocked Congress, which can't even create the jobs that we need to improve the infrastructure within our own cities.

Series: A Nation Engaged

NPR and KPCC's coverage of critical issues facing the nation before November's presidential election. The stories seek to build a nationwide conversation around focusing on a specific question each time.

Read more in this series and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on Facebook.



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