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Arts

John Lithgow on the Arts, and Life

9.16.11

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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SKALA SIKAMINEAS, LESBOS, GREECE

Refugees from Syria rest on the coast of the Greek island of Lesbos. Thousands of refugees cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey in rubber boats every day, fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

A Syrian refugee who came to Lesbos that week by one of many boats told me his new life had just started. “New life as a human being,” he added. 

     I hope he will not question this emotional sentence on the long way to a new home even though there are signs from the first seconds of their arrival that the refugees didn’t land in a paradise. 

     Every boat that comes to the island is greeted by two groups. There are dedicated volunteers who work in shifts during day and night to help refugees in their first hours in Europe—and then there are also groups of   “engine hunters,” as they are called here. Very often they come first. They only care for the boat. The engines are removed before the last person is taken care of. Business is business.

     It was a long week full of almost surreal scenes…

Photograph by Maciek Nabrdalik

Documenting refugees fleeing war to seek safety in Europe

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SKALA SIKAMINEAS, LESBOS, GREECE

Refugees from Syria rest on the coast of the Greek island of Lesbos. Thousands of refugees cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey in rubber boats every day, fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

A Syrian refugee who came to Lesbos that week by one of many boats told me his new life had just started. “New life as a human being,” he added. 

     I hope he will not question this emotional sentence on the long way to a new home even though there are signs from the first seconds of their arrival that the refugees didn’t land in a paradise. 

     Every boat that comes to the island is greeted by two groups. There are dedicated volunteers who work in shifts during day and night to help refugees in their first hours in Europe—and then there are also groups of   “engine hunters,” as they are called here. Very often they come first. They only care for the boat. The engines are removed before the last person is taken care of. Business is business.

     It was a long week full of almost surreal scenes…

Photograph by Maciek Nabrdalik

Documenting refugees fleeing war to seek safety in Europe