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The Inclusive Vision

Essays in Honor of Larry Gross


Edited By Paul Messaris and David W. Park

Larry Gross is one of the most influential figures in the history of media studies. In this collection of original essays, his former students reflect on his groundbreaking contributions to three major developments: the emergence of visual studies as a distinct field of media theory and research; the analysis of media fiction as a symbol of power structures and a perpetuator of social inequalities; and the growing scholarly attention to the relationships between mass media and sexual minorities.

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1. Toward Art for All: Art Museum Education and the Reinvigoration of American Art Museums (Lois H. Silverman)


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1. Toward Art for All: Art Museum Education and the Reinvigoration of American Art Museums


Larry Gross’ writings about art have yielded profound contributions to art-related scholarship, practice, and education. Gross deepened the understanding of art as a communication process. He showed that the acquisition of artistic competence is a social phenomenon, involving many communication systems and institutions, from American schools to public art movements. He modeled innovation in “art worlds” critique (Becker, 1982) to reveal how communication codes and modes impede or promote the inclusive and democratic practice of art. Collectively, Gross’ work demonstrated that while art is communication, it is communication about art that creates and sustains art’s collective meaning. In On the Margins of Art Worlds, an edited volume that evinced the broad applicability of his ideas to many art contexts, Gross (1995) made a provocative observation about that collective meaning: “modern Western societies have come to view the arts as a preserve for elites from which most citizens are estranged” (p. viii). As remedy, Gross called for nothing less than “radical changes in the ways our culture conceives of both art and education” achieved through a “restructuring of our educational priorities and methods” (p. 14). Ultimately, Gross linked the future of art to education, offering blueprints for practical change.

Historically speaking, perhaps no institution in the United States has embodied the idea of “the arts as a preserve for elites...

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