When you were at San Diego you were part of a bilingual outreach -- have you thought about how something like that might apply here?
The whole idea of bilingual goes right to the core of making a place familiar. In a community like San Diego, bilingual is a very obvious direction. And it also proved to be very controversial. We can get into semantics, but it's not so much about taking a political stand. It's a practical stand. Do you want your institution to thrive? Not just to keep your nose just above the water line. If the answer's yes -- for me, it's yes -- then you have to connect. In San Diego it was simply getting some Spanish on the walls. The first exhibition that was bilingual as a part of this initiative was on Rembrandt -- and the response was terrific. I believe that has extended to the entire museum. I'm not sure how to do that here. I'm not sure what the needs are.
There are some sizable communities, and Syracuse is a re-settlement point for refugees.
This is a museum that collects American art. The challenge is to think about how we're using the word "American." We've got these boundaries set up that are very real but also very artificial. Let's face it. When it comes to the flow of artistic inspiration -- like mosquitoes, they don't stop at the border. And so let's look at the way "The Seven" in Canada were working -- around the same period as "The Eight" in the United States -- how a rural vision versus an urban vision, what was going on with the muralists in Mexico -- where did these things intersect and merge in the visual arts? Again, Mary Cassatte. Was she American? It's really difficult to consider her one of the cornerstones of American art because she spent her entire career in -- France! Whistler lived in Springfield, Massachusetts for a while. But he's considered as English an artist as you can get. Sargent, born in Italy, spent time in Paris, London, did work in Boston -- embraced as one of the great American artists. Or Conrad Kramer, one of the great leaders in abstraction in the early teens. Got the heck out of Germany! Now he's an American artist, as is Walter Gropius!