In vivid illustration, artist Ariston Jacks captured the 2015 Imagining America conference in Baltimore, Maryland, through a process of visual documentation and synthesis. His art pieces bring to life key moments from the conference, which centered on the theme “America Will Be! The Art and Power of Weaving Our We.”
The purpose of the Imagining America conference is to facilitate bold, creative and effective work that enables people to build and sustain the relationships that will fulfill the democratic purposes of higher education and address community challenges. Jacks’ artwork animates the dialogue around urgent issues of sustainability, racial equity, criminal justice, health and wellness, and public education ongoing at diverse conferences sessions and events.
Native to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Jacks’ currently resides in Baltimore as a local artist who works across disciplines including painting, printmaking, and photography. His work creates a modern day aesthetic that narrates his perception of memory, social interactions and history. Explore Jacks’ art at the 2015 conference below.
The conference kicked off with an An Honest Conversation between UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski and two community arts leaders, Rebecca Alban Hoffberger and Joseph T. Jones, around today’s most pressing challenges in higher education.
Jacks sat in on the annual Imagining America Presidents’ Forum, which includes presidents and chancellors from IA member institutions and serves as a brain trust to increase the visibility and impact of the publicly engaged humanities, arts, and design.
The second day of the conference began with a plenary conversation on Re-Imagining Assessment: Unleash Your Radical Imaginations. Imagining America’s assessment initiative broadens focus of engaged projects from student outcomes and/or project outputs to community impact.
In one particularly stirring session, “CultureWorks: A Community Event on Art and Economic Development in West Baltimore,” participants examined the dimensions of West Baltimore, including “The Highway to Nowhere,” an uncompleted interstate project that divided the neighborhood in the 1980s.
As the conference drew to a close, UMBC ‘18 undergraduate student Manisha Vepa led reflections and provocations from attendees and Morgan State University Professor of Theater led a musical closing ritual.