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This story in today's New York Times highlights a new program that could be incredibly interesting. Unlike in Cold War times, when the U.S. sent paintings around the world divorced from their creators, this program would send the artists themselves to work—which is likely to create a more intelligent interaction on the ground for both the artists and the recipients of the art.

I tend to agree with one of the people interviewed here that the American place and portrait in the world has to change through policy—actions, not images—but art, done this way, is as active as art can be, and adds nuance and personality that policy can rarely achieve.

The new program, known as smART Power, will be administered by the Bronx Museum of the Arts, which was selected from a dozen institutions to choose the artists. They will be sent to places that include Pakistan, Egypt, Venezuela, China, Nigeria and a Somali refugee camp in Kenya.

The museum will put out an open call for proposals early next year; the 15 artists will be selected by a panel of experts put together by the museum.

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