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Demuth: What do you think the Art Center’s role in the community should be?

Cook: I see the art center as a laboratory; a place of experimentation and collaboration; a place where everyone should be comfortable in exchanging and participating in a world of ideas. As long as we can build a platform here that nur- tures community involvement by exploring issues relevant to their lives and the contemporary human condition, we’re doing our jobs. It’s fair and easy to predict that not everyone is going to agree with your choice of exhibits. The important thing is that we have discussions to find out why he or she doesn’t agree with your choices.

Demuth: What is your vision for the future of the Salina Art Center?

Cook: I have a rather limited perspective at this moment, so it’s difficult for me to sketch out grand visions and realistic roadways for the future. Just from speaking to people here, the interaction they have with artists and artists-in-residence have been such rewarding experiences. I’d like to increase the dialogue between art makers and viewers.

Demuth: What value does a nationally recognized art center have for Salina and the region?

Cook: An art center adds another layer of complexity, education and insight into all of our lives. Whether we engage art for those reasons or not, it’s there to enrich us and enrich society. This community is very sophisticated and has built a foundation that supports the arts here. It’s been made quite clear to me, to the community, and to visitors on their way to Denver or Kansas City that Salina advocates for all the arts. In my line of work, that’s what you are looking for—to be part of a community that you can support and that can support you.

Christopher Cook

Executive Director Curator Salina Art Center

The Salina Art Center is accredited by the American Association of Museums.

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