TACOMA, Wash. – Artwork, music, comedy, poetry, spoken word, discussions—it will all be happening, with contributions from dozens of local and national artists, at the 2014 National Race & Pedagogy Conference (Thurs.–Sat., Sept. 25–27) at University of Puget Sound.
The coalition of artists are adopting the conference theme of “What NOW is the Work of Education and Justice?” and expressing it in a rainbow of styles that will speak to the young, to parents, to educators, politicians, artists, activists, administrators, and the just plain curious.
“The arts will saturate the conference because sound, vision, imagination, and emotion engage ideas in vivid, persuasive ways,” said Elise Richman, an art and art history faculty member, who is coordinating the arts side of the conference, with the help of well-known Tacoma artist C. Rosalind Bell, Professor of Theatre Arts Geoff Proehl, and others. “Our commitment to the arts reflects the conference’s commitment to examine and expand how and what we teach, making learning more inclusive and inspirational.”
The creative events add another layer to a conference featuring keynote speakers Henry Louis Gates Jr., Angela Davis, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, and Winona LaDuke, in addition to three days of sessions and workshops, as well as a Youth Summit—all probing issues related to education and social justice. The visual art exhibits are free and open to the public (as marked below). Performances and lectures require conference registration ($200 one day; $375 three days; see link below). Ticket sales enable the university to make the conference available to those who could not otherwise attend.
Some of the arts highlights are listed here. Full details about additional events, dates, and venues will be available later this month at: pugetsound.edu/RPNC.
Marita Dingus, They Still Hold Us (Art exhibit; Free and open to public)
Aug. 25–Sept. 27 (M–F 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat. noon–5 p.m.)
National artist Marita Dingus gives new life to discarded materials. Her use of cast-off items comments on historical and contemporary policies and practices that tragically devalue human life. This exhibit examines the persistence of forces that restrict people of color from prospering and asks how we can prevent these deterrents and move forward.
Awadagin Pratt, Master Class for Music Students (For invited music students; see “What is the Sound?” for conference performance)
Thurs. Sept. 25, 10 a.m.–12 noon
Rialto Theater, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, Tacoma
Acclaimed pianist Awadagin Pratt has performed in many of the world’s top venues and three times at The White House. He won the Naumburg International Piano Competition, and has been profiled in or has performed for media including Newsweek, People magazine, National Public Radio, the Today show, and Good Morning America. Pratt will conduct a master class for selected local high school music students on stage, for an audience of students. The event is sponsored by the Rialto Theater, Broadway Center.
What Now is the Word? (Stage performances; For conference attendees)
Friday, Sept. 26, 7:30–9:30 p.m.
Schneebeck Concert Hall
Playwright and fiction writer C. Rosalind Bell directs a stirring night of presenters and performers including: Yazmin Monet Watkins, actress, spoken word artist; poets-in-residence Luke Smiraldo, Elijah Muied, Necashaw Montgomery, and Giovanni Perez; Michael Benitez Jr., spoken word artist and activist scholar; Antonio Davidson-Gómez ’93, musician and speaker; Donald Lacy, writer and performer of Color Struck, including comedy, drama, music, and visuals.
The Fab-5 (Interactive exhibit; Free and open to public)
Thurs. Sept. 25 –Sat. Sept. 27
Tacoma’s own Fab-5 artists, from the Fab-5 community youth initiative, will create an interactive lab space on campus that invites public participation. They will use physical and digital means to map regional and historical disparities relating to education and race, while involving the community through social media.
Arts & Public Pedagogy Spotlight Session (Panel presentation; For conference attendees)
Sat. Sept. 27, 10:45–11:45 a.m.
Norton Clapp Theatre, Jones Hall
A distinguished panel of artists and arts educators led by educator/artist Antonio Davidson-Gómez will engage with conference attendees in a free-wheeling, fast-paced, tag-team conversation on the importance of the arts (dance, digital media, film, music, spoken word, theater, visual arts) to the work of education and justice. The session is titled, “Why are the Arts the Last Thing We Should Cut?” Music will be performed by students from Grant Center for the Expressive Arts.
Carletta Carrington Wilson’s chain letter of debtors(Interactive installation; Free and open to public)
Sept. 25–27: Thurs. 7:30 a.m.–2 p.m.; Fri. 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Collins Memorial Library
The chain letter of debtors by Carletta Carrington Wilsonis a ghost chain. Visitors to the exhibition will be invited to contribute written words on a paper link to a literal “chain letter” that thanks the legions of individuals whose labor built the infrastructure of this nation and other nations, and who found themselves to be a slave, serf, or indentured person. In particular, the chain letter addresses the millions of American slaves whose lives were consumed by historical events that continue to shape and define our society.
Brandywine Workshop (Printmaking exhibit; Free and open to public)
Sept. 4–Nov. 13 (For hours: 253.879.3675)
Opening reception: Sept. 4, 5–7 p.m.
Collins Memorial Library
Since 1972 the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia has inspired artists of diverse backgrounds to produce innovative collaborations in printmaking. This exhibition features six artists associated with the workshop: Curlee Raven Holton, Letitia Huckaby, Samella Lewis, Alan Edmunds, Richard Whitman, and Tomie Arai. The opening reception will be shared with Book Power Redux (see below).
What is the Sound? (Music and stage performance; For conference attendees)
Sat. Sept. 27, 7–9 p.m.
Schneebeck Concert Hall
Acclaimed pianist Awadagin Pratt, through his music and words, will bring to life the sounds of the freedom movements in America. Pratt has performed in many of the world’s top venues and three times at The White House. His talents have been celebrated or demonstrated in media including Newsweek, People magazine, National Public Radio, the Today show, and Good Morning America.
Carletta Carrington-Wilson: book of the bound (Slide presentation; For conference attendees)
Date, time TBD
Collins Memorial Library
A slide presentation titled “book of the bound: On the Language of History and the Binding of Mystery” will examine works from the art exhibit book of the bound and explore the “language of cloth” as it relates to cloth’s role in the binding and redefining of a body as a commodity.
Book Power Redux(Online book art exhibit and panel presentation; Free and open to public)
Aug. 5–Oct. 15, Online book art exhibition, presented by Collins Memorial Library
Thursday, Sept. 4, at 4–5 p.m. for panel presentation; 5–7 p.m. for opening reception
Collins Memorial Library, Room 020
This international juried online exhibition of book art includes works that shine a light on issues including race, diversity, equality, justice, bullying, poverty, civil rights, war, and more. Artists were challenged to use their creativity to solve the problems of the world. Visit pugetsound.edu/library to view. The panel presentation, called “Artists’ Books as Catalysts for Social Change,” will invite a public conversation.
In addition to these artist presentations, the conference will hold workshops and sessions focused on questions arising at the intersections of art, race, and education. These will include sessions with percussionist and educator Antonio Davidson-Gómez ’93, stage performer Donald Lacy, and artist Carletta Carrington-Wilson, among others.
Participating students, faculty, and staff members also will present sessions and workshops on topics including poetry and writing, art as education, post-civil rights fiction, African-American music in the classroom, artists’ books as agents of social change, teaching slave narratives in the age of electronic surveillance, using personal narratives to pursue social justice, the soul music movement, and Native American theater.
The 2014 Race and Pedagogy Conference is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Puget Sound Energy, Russell Investments, State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tacoma Arts Commission, University of Puget Sound, Wells Fargo, and an anonymous local foundation donor.
For conference registration, schedule, or information visit: pugetsound.edu/RPNC or call 253.879.2435.
The latest conference news is on facebook.com/raceandpedagogy and Twitter: @PSRacePedagogy.
Press photos of the artists or their work are available upon request.
Photos on page: From top: Awadagin Pratt; Family 3, by Tomie Arai; Leaf Fence, by Marita Dingus; Yazmin Monet Watkins; Antonio Davidson-Gomez; Boy on a Bench, by Samella Lewis; book of the bound, by Carletta Carrington-Wilson.
For directions and a map of the University of Puget Sound campus:pugetsound.edu/directions.
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