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John Lithgow on the Arts, and Life


John Lithgow

John Lithgow

Photograph by Jon Chase/Harvard News Office

Actor and author John Lithgow ’67, Ar.D. ’05, made some extended remarks on the arts, including personal reflections on his own childhood experiences with visual arts, at the first meeting of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences' Commission on Humanities and Social Sciences, held in Chicago in June. The Academy's Bulletin published Lithgow’s talk in its Summer 2011 issue.

In his presentation, he invites the audience to try the "hoary old Actors' Studio exercise called 'sense memory' " and thus recall "the eureka moments of discovery, creativity, and joy that created in you the habit of learning." Lithgow relives a time his his own childhood, ninth and tenth grade years spent in Akron, Ohio, where he had the "extraordinary luxury" of beginning every school day with two periods of art. "Art would launch me into the rest of my day with a heady creative rush," he declares. "The expressive energy of those art classes served as a kind of booster rocket to my entire educational career."

The actor's 2005 Commencement address appeared in Harvard Magazine. 

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