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The Art of Social Justice: How Creativity Complements Advocacy

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The Art of Social Justice: How Creativity Complements Advocacy


Art is both a reflection of society and a powerful tool for social change. Through music, film, performance and visual arts, the realities of the world are made vivid. Art can transcend the canvas or stage and provoke real change. Through opera, Toni Morrison has brought to life the searing 1856 story of Margaret Garner. We are forced to face our past as well as examine how its legacy of racism, sexism and classism persists today, particularly for women of color. Listen in for short presentations given by each panelist, a special performance by Teatro Luna, and a talk-back discussion, as we examine how art transcends the canvas and stage to create real social change.

Presented as part of the Chicago Foundation for Women 23rd Annual Luncheon and Symposium, the event’s keynote lecture featuring Denyce Graves from Margaret Garner, was also recorded and can be heard by clicking here.

Jane M. Saks is the Founding Executive Director of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago. The Institute’s mission is to deepen the understanding of and appreciation for how issues related to women, gender, creativity and community shape social policy, culture, history and critical theory through the arts and media.

Romi Crawford is an Assistant Professor of Literature, Africana, and Visual Critical Studies in the Liberal Arts Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was previously the Curator and Director of Education and Public Programs at the Studio Museum in Harlem and from 2000-2006 she was Director of the Visiting Artists Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Katrina Browne is producer/director of Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North, a documentary film about her slave-trading ancestors from Rhode Island and New England’s complicity in slavery. The film premiered in January 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on PBS’s P.O.V. series in June 2008.

Susan Nussbaum has been an activist for many years, most notably in the disability rights movement. She works at Access Living where she co-created the Empowered Fe Fes, a support and action group for teenage girls with disabilities. Susan is also a playwright whose work has been produced in many theaters including here in Chicago at Second City ETC, Live Bait, Victory Gardens and Goodman. Her play No One As Nasty is included in the anthology Beyond Victims and Villains: Contemporary Plays by Playwrights with Disabilities.

Coya Paz is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Teatro Luna, Chicago’s all-Latina theater company. Coya has collaborated with Teatro Luna on all of its ensemble-built projects, including Generic Latina, Dejame Contarte/Let Me Tell You, The Maria Chronicles, and S-e-x-Oh, and directed and developed the show Machos, which won Jeff Awards for Best New Work and Outstanding Ensemble. She is a visiting professor at The Theatre School of DePaul University.


Recorded Friday, October 31, 2008 at McCormick Place.

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