PITTSBURGH, PA (AP).- First lady Michelle Obama, a supporter of arts education, says the arts are a form of diplomacy that challenges assumptions and helps people learn from and inspire each other.
Underscoring her point, she spoke at the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School. Its students are like those depicted in the movie, "Fame," majoring in dance, music, theater and other creative arts.
"It is through our music, our literature, our art, drama and dance that we tell the story of our past and we express our hopes for the future," Mrs. Obama said Friday, the final day of an international summit at which she introduced her foreign counterparts to some of her interests, including the arts and arts education.
"Our artists challenge our assumptions in ways that many cannot and do not," she said. "They expand our understandings, and push us to view our world in new and very unexpected ways."
Mrs. Obama said CAPA was the perfect place to introduce her guests to what she described as some of the most creative and accomplished young people her country has to offer.
The arts, she said, aren't just for people with spare time and money. She said arts education literally helps youngsters find their voices and develop their talents. She also noted the tradition whereby the spouses of world leaders forge bonds by sharing the arts music, dance and culture during international visits.
"It's through this constant exchange ... that we learn from each other and we inspire each other," the first lady said. "It is a form of diplomacy in which we can all take part."
At CAPA, the spouses separated into smaller clusters for classroom visits. Mrs. Obama saw students perform scenes from "Porgy & Bess" and heard a female vocalist sing "I Dreamed a Dream."
The highlight was a half-hour show Mrs. Obama organized to expose the students to renowned artists.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma was joined by a CAPA junior playing the marimba. Country superstar Trisha Yearwood sang "How Will I Live" and singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles belted out her popular hit "Love Song."
CAPA students also sang and danced in the show.
"I wanted to come here because I wanted to showcase the value of arts education. And you put that on display," Mrs. Obama told hundreds of students as they waited for the show to begin.
Mrs. Obama and the other spouses also posed for a group photo. Mrs. Obama stood between Marisa Leticia da Silva of Brazil and Ani Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia.
Afterward, spouses crossed the Allegheny River for a tour and luncheon at the Andy Warhol Museum.
The seven-story building houses the art collection and archives of the late 20th century pop artist and Pittsburgh native. Some of the spouses donned aprons and tried out the silk-screening technique Warhol popularized.
(This version CORRECTS New version. corrects song title to 'I Dreamed a Dream'; corrects that Mrs. Obama stood next to first lady of Indonesia, sted Mexico. Moving on general news and lifestyles services.)
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.