Art, Justice & Global Aesthetics: The Equity and Diversity Lecture Series
Sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Diversity Committee at CalArts, this lecture series was established to bring renowned artists and speakers to campus to address issues of equity and diversity and their intersections with aesthetics and art making practices.
Two courageous authors have fiercely insisted on voicing consciousness and social criticism: novelist Shahrnush Parsipur and poet Suheir Hammad. Parsipur’s most famous works, Touba and the Meaning of Night and Women without Men, use fabulism and history to portray women’s sexual and intellectual agency; both are banned in her native Iran. The latter novel has been filmed by artist Shirin Neshat. Hammad, a Palestinian born in Jordan, emerged in the ’90s on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. The author of the collectionsBreaking Poems and Born Palestinian, Born Black, she is known for her impassioned lyricism and commitment to social justice. Parsipur and Hammad are joined by editor and scholar Persis Karim, who moderates this evening devoted to creative conviction linking nations, genres, and generations.
Roger Guenveur Smith's FREDERICK DOUGLASS NOW is a solo performance inspired by the life and work of abolitionist and pioneering feminist Frederick Douglass (1818-1895). Smith interprets original narratives as well as Douglass' classic texts, culled from his speeches, letters, and editorials. FREDERICK DOUGLASS NOW was commissioned off-off Broadway by the late Ellen Stewart.
Roger's other history-infused plays includes CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS 1992, WHO KILLED BOB MARLEY?, IN HONOR OF JEAN-MICHEL
BASQUIAT, ICELAND, TWO FIRES, JUAN AND JOHN, PATRIOT ACT, INSIDE THE CREOLE MAFIA (with Mark Broyard), and the Obie Award-winning A HUEY P. NEWTON STORY, which he adapted into a Peabody Award-winning telefilm, directed by his
longtime colleague Spike Lee.
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Luis Camnitzer is a German-born Uruguayan artist and academic who resides in the United States. He is a conceptual artist who reates work in a variety of media—including installation, printmaking, drawing, and photography—that breaks down limitations and questions that define the center versus the periphery. Even though select works of Camnitzer deal with explicitly political content, he states that all his art is deeply political, "in the sense of wanting to change society." His approach to Conceptualism often utilizes language to underscore issues of power and commodification, exploring the relationship between images, objects, and texts. He is the author of several books including New Art of Cuba, Conceptualism in Latin American Art: Didactics of Liberation, and On Art, Artists, Latin America, and Other Utopias.
Michele Wallace is a feminist author and daughter of artist Faith Ringgold. In 1979, at age 27, she published Black Macho and The Myth of The Superwoman (Verso), a book in which she criticized black nationalism and sexism. Her writings on literature, art, film, and popular culture have been widely published and have made her a "leader of a [new] generation of African American intellectuals." The cogency, focus, and insightfulness of Wallace's essays on visual culture and its relationship to race and gender is typified by "Modernism, Postmodernism and the Problem of the Visual in Afro-American Culture" and her afterword in the book Black Popular Culture (based on a groundbreaking conference organized by Wallace at The Studio Museum in Harlem in 1991): "Why Are There No Great Black Artists? The Problem of Visuality in African-American Culture". Her attention to the invisibility and/or fetishization of Black women in art, film, and television has inspired new critical thinking about race and gender in popular culture, particularly in what she has called "the gap around the psychoanalytic" in contemporary African-American critical discourse. Books like Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, for example, have been a galvanizing and highly influential force in both African-American and feminist circles. The real power of Wallace's writing--a commanding force evident in works as diverse as her essays on film and literature both for scholarly journals and popular essays, such as for the Village Voice--is a clarity and rigor that allows her to reach a broad and committed audience. Wallace’s more recent works include Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory, (Verso, 2008), Dark Designs and Visual Culture (Duke University Press, 2004) and Black Popular Culture: Discussion in Contemporary Culture, Project by Michele Wallace, (New Press, 1998). Wallace earned her B.A. and M.A. in English from The City College of New York and has a Ph.D. in Cinema Studies from New York University. She is Professor of English at The City College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York. For more information visit: http://www.michelefwallace.com  and http: www.faithringgoldsociety.org .
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, currently holds the Reynolds Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska and formerly held a National Endowment for the Humanities Chair at Hartwick College. Her five authored books include: Dog Road Woman (American Book Award), Wordcraft Writer of the Year for two Poetry volumes Off-Season City Pipe and Blood Run (verse-play); and Rock Ghost, Willow, Deer, an AIROS Book-of-the-Month memoir. Fiction publications include: American Fiction, Black Renaissance Noire, Florida Review, and Bombay Gin. Her play, Icicles, was a National Repertory Theater National Play Award First Finalist. Hedge Coke has edited eight additional collections. She is Oendat, French Canadian, Portuguese, Tsalagi, Irish, Scot, English, Metis and Creek descent and came of age cropping tobacco and working fields, waters, and working in factories. A 2011 Lannan Foundation Marfa Writing Resident, annual Weymouth Center Fellow, and UNL Great Plains Center Fellow, Hedge Coke directs the Literary Sandhill Cranefest and Reynolds Series, and is senior editor of Platte Valley Review.
In Collaboration with the School of Film/Video Visiting Artist Series
Writer, producer and director Julie Ethel Dash was born on October 22, 1952 in Manhattan, New York to Rhudine Henderson and Charles Edward Dash. After graduating from Jamaica High School, Dash received her B.A. degree in film production from City Colleges of New York in 1974, and her M.F.A. degree in film and television at the University of California Los Angeles. Prior to receiving her M.F.A. degree, Dash was a two year Conservatory Fellow (Producing/Writing) at the American Film Institute's Center for Advanced Film Studies.
Dash began her study of film in 1969 at the Studio Museum of Harlem's Cinematography Workshop, with a special interest in foreign film. She was then accepted into film school at the Leonard Davis Center for the Performing Arts, where she wrote and produced a promotional documentary for the New York Urban Coalition called Working Models for Success. After Dash graduated, she moved to Los Angeles and attended the Center for Advanced Film Studies and the American Film Institute. In 1975, Dash directed Four Women, a "choreopoem" based on the song of the same title by singer Nina Simone. In 1977, Dash directed the film, Diary of an African Nun, which was shown at the Los Angeles Film Exposition and won her a Director's Guild Award for student filmmaking.
In 1983, Dash directed Illusions, a short film about a young African American woman passing for a white executive assistant in 1940s Hollywood. The film won her the 1989 Jury's prize for Best Film of the Decade by the Black Filmmaker Foundation.
Dash received her highest acclaim for the 1991 film, Daughters of the Dust, an original story and screenplay. The release of the film marked Dash as the first African American woman to have a full-length general theatrical release in the United States. In 1999, the 25th annual Newark Black Film Festival honored Daughters of the Dust as being one of the most important cinematic achievements in black cinema in the 20th century. In 2004, The Library of Congress placed Daughters of the Dust on the National Film Registry. This distinguished film joined 400 other American made films that are being preserved and protected as National Treasures.
The novel, Daughters of the Dust was published by Dutton Books in 1997; in paperback, Penguin Book. Although the novel is the continuing story of the Peazant family from the movie, and Dash wanted to have the novel titled Geechee Recollections, when going to press the publisher chose to go with the well-known title from the original movie.
Dash has directed multiple music videos, television commercial spots, shorts and long form movies for cable and network television including the double NAACP Award-winning CBS network television movie, The Rosa Parks Story, Funny Valentines, Love Song, Incognito and "Sax Cantor Riff" a segment of HBO's SUBWAYStories: Tales from the Underground. She has directed music videos for music artists including Raphael Saadiq, Tony, Toni, Tone, Keb 'Mo, Peabo Bryson, Adriana Evans, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Tracey Chapman's "Give Me One More Reason".
Robert Owens-Greygrass is a writer, storyteller, actor, and wellness consultant, working throughout Turtle Island (the United States), Canada, Germany, England and Australia. From 1995 to 1996, he was with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, then 2 years on OSF school tour. A company member of Native Voices at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage, he can be found on stage often in new works as well as traditional theater. He has been on stage with Culture Clash at the Mark Taper Forum and has spent 15 years with D’White Dog Productions LLC; touring, performing, producing and bringing his unique performance style and “Wellness through the Arts” to countless festivals, universities, reservations, public and private schools, the United Nations, prisons, and theaters. He continues to perform and tour his two original one-man plays, Walking on Turtle Island and Ghost-lands of an Urban NDN, which both received critical acclaim in 2005, in Los Angeles. Always helping people get a laugh, Robert will introduce himself ; “on my mom's side we are Native American and European, on my dad's side Alabama redneck....aaayy."
Judy Baca is a native Angeleno, a visual artist, arts activist, community leader and educator. Baca is best known for her large-scale public organizing murals. Her art involves extensive community dialogues and participation. Baca founded the first City of Los Angeles mural program in 1974. In 1976 she founded the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) in Venice, California. SPARC is a socially relevant, activist minded and spirited organization, at the heart of what it believes is that art is a tool for social change and self-transformation. Baca’s true signature piece is “The Great Wall of Los Angeles”: As a site of public memory, the Great Wall is one of Los Angeles’ true cultural landmarks and one of the country’s most respected and largest monuments to inter-racial harmony produced with the participation with over 400 inner city youth, 40 ethnic historians and 100’s of community residents. Baca and SPARC continue to work on The World Wall: A Vision of The Future Without Fear, which consists of eight 10ft x 30ft portable mural panels on canvas. This 240ft mural addresses contemporary issues of global importance: war, peace, cooperation, interdependence, and spiritual growth. As the World Wall tours the world, eight additional panels by artists from eight countries are added to complete this visual tribute to the “Global Village-An Arena for Dialogue.” To date Finland, Russia, Palestine/Israel, and Mexico panels have been added; Canada is currently being worked on.
To advance the field of muralism, in 1996 Baca created the UCLA/SPARC Cesar Chavez Digital/Mural Lab, a research, teaching and production facility based at SPARC. She serves as a full Professor in the UCLA Chicano/a Studies Department and World Arts and Cultures Department. She is currently working on the Cesar Chavez Memorial at San Jose State University, the Robert F. Kennedy monument at the Old Ambassador Hotel site, which will become the RFK Learning Center for K-12, the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in San Diego and a digital painted mural for the Richmond Arts Center.
Stanley Nelson, an Emmy-winning MacArthur “genius” Fellow, is co-founder and Executive Producer of Firelight Media, which provides technical education and professional support to emerging documentarians; and co-founder of the for-profit documentary production company, Firelight Films.
His latest film Wounded Knee is part of the landmark series on Native Americans We Shall Remain. The film produced for American Experience premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and aired nationally in May 2009. Nelson’s oeuvre spans the range of documentary forms. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Templepreviewed in April 2006 at the Tribeca and San Francisco Film Festivals to sold-out audiences and won awards at both festivals. Jonestown was subsequently shortlisted for the Academy Awards and won the International Documentary Association Award for its use of archival footage. The 2005 film, Sweet Honey in the Rock: Raise Your Voice documented one of our country’s most vibrant and progressive music ensembles and premiered on American Masters, the multi-award winning PBS series. Nelson’s 2004 A Place of Our Own, a semi-autobiographical look at the African American middle class, was shown at the Sundance Film Festival documentary competition and in national broadcast on PBS’s acclaimed series Independent Lens.
With five films in competition at Sundance in ten years and multiple industry awards to his credit, Nelson is acknowledged as one of the premier documentary filmmakers working today. In 2004, he received the CINE Leadership Award for his body of work, and his films have individually won nearly every award in film and broadcasting. His 2002 film Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind was named best production of the year by the Black Filmmakers’ Hall of Fame and the Black International Cinema Festival in Berlin; his 1999 film, The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords, won a duPont-Columbia Silver Baton and the Sundance Film Festival’s Freedom of Expression award, was named Best Documentary at the San Francisco Film Festival, and won an Emmy nomination. Two Dollars and a Dream: The Story of Madame C. J. Walker and A’lelia Walker was named Best Film of the Decade by the Black Filmmaker Foundation.
Nelson’s work has also received broad recognition outside the film and television community. In 2004, he received the Educational Video Center’s Excellence in Community Service award and was honored by New York Lawyers in the Public Interest. Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promisehas served as a centerpiece for reflection on the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education by such organizations as the NAACP, the National Baptist Convention, and the Children’s Defense Fund since airing nationally on PBS in May 2004.
Nelson cites as one of his greatest achievements the impact of his film The Murder of Emmett Till in the reopening of the investigation of the 1955 murder of a 14-year-old Black boy for whistling at a white woman. In its announcement of this historic move, the U.S. Justice Department cited the presence of witnesses unearthed in the film as the major factor in their decision. The massive card and letter-writing campaign engineered by Nelson’s production company undoubtedly made a difference as well.
In recent years, Nelson has also served as Executive Producer on a number of award winning films including, HIP HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, Faubourg Treme – The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, and Faces of Change. Nelson’s other award-winning, independently produced films include Methadone: Curse or Cure; Free Within Ourselves, a profile of four contemporary African American artists; and Puerto Rico: Our Right to Decide. His credits as a television producer include What Can We Do About Violence?, a Bill Moyers program; Listening To America with Bill Moyers; and Michael Moore’s TV Nation. Nelson was a Senior Consultant to the award-winning HBO program, On the Recordwith Bob Costas.
Chris Abani's prose includes Song For Night (Akashic, 2007), The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007), Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006) GraceLand (FSG, 2004), and Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985). His poetry collections are Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), There Are No Names for Red (Red Hen Press, 2010), Feed Me The Sun: Collected Long Poems (Peepal Tree Press, 2010) Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon, 2006), Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004), Daphne's Lot (Red Hen, 2003), and Kalakuta Republic (Saqi, 2001). He holds a BA in English (Nigeria), an MA in Gender and Culture (Birkbeck College, University of London), an MA in English and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing (University of Southern California). He is a Professor at the University of California, Riverside and the recipient of the PEN USA
Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize & a Guggenheim Award.