Cynthia Tobar & Nathaniel LaNasa
American Icons addresses the mythology behind the National Anthem and other outdated commemorative art. We create new, local musical monuments based on oral histories of NYC residents. American Icons is a collaborative project centering music and stories by Americans who live in the shadows cast by our national myths and monuments. Whose stories are told, whose erased? Cynthia Tobar, artist and oral historian, will collect oral histories from Students and teachers from Brooklyn Music School will share their own experiences learning and working with musical monuments that fail to reflect America’s diversity. Composers and musicians led by Nathaniel LaNasa will be entrusted with their stories, choosing excerpts of these narratives to set to music for voice and piano. Our collaborative, socially engaged art project resists the "conservatory" model of classical music, and reaches towards an inclusive approach for defining nationality and nationhood. We propose a participatory, community-based approach to addressing mythology behind the national anthem, public art, and how we view ourselves as Americans. We assert community members’ right not just to experience art that reflects their reality, but to also participate in the creation of such works and generate their source materials.