Bonnie Thornton Dill, Storyteller
Bonnie Thornton Dill
Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities
How do the arts help raise the profile of the College of Arts & Humanities?
The arts are like a really good metaphor. Sometimes people will be talking to you about something and you might understand, but then they give you a metaphor and the metaphor stays with you because it’s a picture. It’s visual and it expresses the ideas. So suddenly these ideas can take on greater meaning and they can be with you in another way. They may draw you in emotionally, physically or experientially, not just intellectually.
I think the arts bring people to the college. They bring people to the questions that are important to us and they give us multiple ways of experiencing the answers.
The arts also bring the humanities to life. One example I thought of was when Bill T. Jones came, during the conversation after the performance, he started talking about his work. He talked about his inspirations. Those were very much grounded in the humanities. They were grounded in the Classics and philosophy and all these issues and questions we talk about in the humanities. Issues we grapple with about what it means to be a human being, what is the nature of the human experience, why do we do the things we do and what’s ethical. All those things were things he was grappling with in the art. You had the chance to experience it, relate it to your own life, see it and then hear him talk about it and see the intellectual connections and the ways in which they inform the art. You can think about, well, if I were grappling with these same issues, what would I create? It opens that opportunity for you.
So I think there is this kind of back and forth interplay between what the arts do and their relationship to the humanities and understanding the human condition, expressing it and showing it in many ways. I think the arts bring people to the college. They bring people to the questions that are important to us and they give us multiple ways of experiencing the answers.