Archive | September 2013

Move This World 4th Global Summit

Looking for a way to get moving and develop strategies for social change this weekend? The Move This World 4th Global Summit is taking place is Baltimore this weekend on Saturday, September 21st through Sunday, September 22nd. The Summit brings together activists, artists, students and educators to learn Move this World’s evidence-based curriculum using creative movements to spark social change.  Those in attendance will collaborate in a variety of activities led by MTW’s PeaceMover Facilitators and global staff, engage in group dialogues, self-reflection, and direct action planning.

Move this World uses creative movement to inspire empathy, viewing movement as an embodiment of cultural knowledge. Through creative movement sessions attendees will practice active listening, conflict resolution, civic engagement, appreciating differences, and social awareness. The skills offered by the Move this World summit are both personal and political, providing techniques toward creating larger social change, as well as help for you while traveling that often stressful road.

For more information on the Move the World summit, email MTW’s Program Coordinator and Global Summit aficionado, Alejandra Paucar at apaucar@movethisworld.org

To register for the summit visit: http://movethisworld4thglobalsummit.eventbrite.com/

Saturday, Sept. 21st-Sunday, Sept. 22nd

National Academy Foundation School of Baltimore
601 N. Central Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21201

Guest Blogger: Peter Bruun

Is it art?

Is it art?

Using art to advocate creatively is rich with potential, and riddled with challenges. Not least among these is grappling with what we mean by “art”; regardless of how one may feel about feminism, globalism, or multiculturalism, there is no avoiding these phenomena have contributed to eviscerating shared understandings of art as a concept.

I believe the notion of art is itself a construct; a cultural invention to imply certain shared understandings on value, meaning, and status. Objects of any kind are never inherently art or not, but rather objects are understood to be art because we make decisions to anoint them as such. Art is (indeed) in the eye of the beholder.

For me, a key criterion on whether or not something ought to be thought of as art is its standing as an emblem of cultural or personal identity: if notions, qualities, and/or meanings of identity are embodied or conveyed or elucidated for the attentive observer by an object, that object most likely qualifies as art (at least to my eyes).

I accept that something may be art for me but not for someone else. In this regard, I stand in agreement with Arthur C. Danto, who wrote about art as an object plus a context—the context being to my mind the subjective perspective of a viewer.

Given an “art” world of ambiguity and uncertainty, I believe using art to advocate creatively begins with persuading others that what you put in front of them is not only art, but also art worth paying attention to. My presumption here is art carries an aura of authority and authenticity, so if a targeted audience can be convinced on the art-hood of what they perceive, then one is well on the way to achieving advocacy goals.

I have been involved in numerous art projects intended to challenge predominant (and predominantly negative) stereotypes of one social group or another. In project after project, engaging artists and non-artist community members alike, we sought to build and promote inventories of positive identity image.

These art projects have been nothing less than campaigns to change perceptions, only often with divergent value systems in tension with one another: one privileged a more esoteric and elite attitude toward art (i.e. art is the domain of practiced experts), while the other favors a more democratic, vernacular notion on art and imagery (i.e. art works by the unpracticed ought to be considered on equal footing with that of well-established artists).

The solution these projects sought to strike became not so much “this” or “that” kind of art to emphasize but rather “this” and “that”—project leaders spent time cultivating the involvement of well-established artists and including traditionally art-centric exhibitions and events, and also organizing widespread community participation via art workshops and partnerships with non-art, social-minded organizations.

The range of activities was inevitably rich—but at times divided. That is, from time to time, works by the art folks appealed to the art folks, and works by the community folks appealed to the community folks, with little bridging betwixt the two. In such instances, projects fell short of intended goals because the “art” successfully spoke only to the already converted, perhaps fortifying attitudes but carrying little sway in changing them.

Ironically, this proves true most often not with community-made art, but rather with the art made by so-called professionals—art by highly practiced artists frequently does not appear relevant to non-art-centric audiences. In such instances, there is a gap—and need for translation—between art that subtly expressed meaningful content, and a lay audience ill-equipped to find merit on their own.

Such art’s worth is too often thought to be implicit, leaving the art-centrically inclined feeling little need to put energy into convincing the public that their art matters. The art’s efficacy as an advocacy tool is then limited.

(A similar shortcoming could be said to be true for the efforts around the community-made art: if it fails to speak to the art-centric, whose notions on “quality” often inhibit accepting such work’s “art” status, then it too suffers from diminished efficacy.)

I suspect one’s biases on what art matters always informs assumptions about audience response: if one is convinced of the inherent value of the art one favors, one does not take pains to render that value transparent to others. Put plainly, art neither persuasively explained nor adequately presented leaves it under-appreciated as art among those it could have reached, and therefore less effective as creative advocacy than ought to have been the case.

Advocating creatively sounds good, but to do it well is hard and humbling work, demanding of practitioners a combination of self-confidence and reserve, diffidence and insistence, and attention to what speaks to those around you as well as those you want to reach with your message.

Peter Bruun

Guest Blogger: Devlon Waddell Credentialization: A Social Construct

I am Devlon E Waddell; author of three published works (and contributor to others), publisher of a dozen, founder of an organization that has sent youth across the country and shifted the operating budget of a high school by well over a million dollars, developer and implementer of high school creative writing curriculum, founding member of a BCPS middle/high school, public speaker, mentor, coach, husband, father and the grinch that stole poetry…

What does this mean, toward the end of Social Justice? Absolutely nothing. In the realm of employment, a resume offers key indicators as to skill, will and fit, in terms of performing a specific task. Beyond a practical application of a certain skill-set, past experience serves only as a historical context for the work that lies ahead. However, with issues of equity, we are faced with “the fierce urgency of now”. There is no room for the revisiting of days gone by. And, by virtue of our humanity, we are all equal contributors in the building of a larger community.  It is with that in mind that I choose to engage. I find no hierarchy in interpersonal relationships. Regardless of credentials, we are equal; in voice, contribution and authority. The manifestation of such principles is simple. How is it done? At your next convening:

1. Don’t ask the folk you meet about their organizational affiliation. It doesn’t matter.

2. Do genuinely ask the folk you meet about their day. You may learn something meaningful.

3. Don’t present your agenda as if it is everyone’s top priority. It isn’t.

4. Do listen intently AND respond appropriately. Validation of voice does matter.

This notion of inherent authority beyond that which comes along with experience is laughable. Even as ‘do-gooders’ we cannot seem to escape such divisive constructs.

Profile of the Week: Make Studio

Make Studio works to create an inclusive, supportive space for adults with disabilities to explore their artistic talents and create their own work. The artists that attend Make Studio’s programming are able to experiment with diverse techniques and mediums alongside the studio’s staff. Additionally Make Studio’s artists are able to earn income through the sale of their art via Make Studio’s online shop where the artists receive 70% of the price of their sold work. Make Studio is striving for their artists to receive recognition for their art and talent by not only promoting the sale of their work but creating exhibit opportunities for their artists to share their creative works with the public. Through their exhibitions artists are able to not only display their talent but can help destigmatize how our society views individuals with disabilities.

Make Studio has a new exhibit coming up entitled Take A Look: Mine Ours Yours. The exhibit will run from September 9th-October 17th, 2013 at The Julio Fine Arts Gallery in the College Center of Loyola University, 4501 North Charles St. An Artists Talk and Reception will be held on Thursday September 12th from 5pm-7pm. For more information on the Exhibit and the featured artists, view the event flyer

event

**If you would like to be featured as our Profile of the Week, go to artplusjustice.org and put yourself on the map!**

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