The North American Review (NAR), the nation’s oldest literary magazine is currently housed at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) and is celebrating 50 years at our university. This spring the NAR hosted a conference that celebrated this milestone and asked writers, contributors, and attendees to reflect and respond to ideas related to The Open Space of Democracy prompted by the writing of Terry Tempest Williams. As part of this event, the NAR invited visual artists and designers to respond to these writings through a national poster exhibition juried by members of the UNI Imagining America chapter. These posters were exhibited throughout the conference and will be traveling to additional venues.
The Aldo Leopold Distinguished Lecture Series at UNI was launched in the 2019-2020 school year. This inaugural series kicked off with a lecture from Pulitzer Prize-Winning author, Elizabeth Kolbert, and included in the exceptional lineup were former tribal chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II, distinguished author, Terry Tempest Williams, and former US representative, Bob Inglis who all engaged in public conversations regarding climate change and our relationship to the natural world.UNI’s Office of Community Engagement hosts an annual Community Engagement Celebration Day where many art, design, and humanities projects are highlighted. Check out the embedded link to the UNI ScholarWorks page for projects showcased at the 2019 Community Engagement Celebration Day!
Project Highlight: From Colored to Black
Scholars in African American Studies have been exploring the ways in which Black identity
today is interwoven with intergenerational stress and prejudice. By examining the
cultural tropes that shape our identities, the humanities create spaces for communities
to talk about concerns in their lives and articulate resilience. But, these important
conversations are not often found where they are needed the most: in young audiences.
From Colored to Black is an original multi-media play that sits at the intersection of oral
history performance, participatory action research, community arts activism, and health
education. The play is a platform to connect youth to Florida’s Black history and expose
the origins and mechanisms of systemic racism in America. This content is delivered
through an entertaining and non-confrontational lens designed to educate youth of all
races and provoke critical dialogue. The play features a Black family who gather for a
backyard BBQ to talk about the issues facing Blacks today. Weaving filmed oral histories
with the dialogue at the BBQ, the play reveals the untold history of:
• The St. Augustine Civil Rights Movement,
• Women’s roles in the Movement,
• Developing the first beach for Blacks in Florida,
• The Rosewood Massacre and resettlement of Rosewood, and
• The lasting effects of integration on Black education.
This history provides the platform to discuss:
• The legacy of redlining,
• The portrayal of Blackness in the media,
• The barriers to Black prosperity,
• Intergenerational stress and trauma, and
• Racist public policies on education and health.
Developed in 2018/19, this project is led by Jeffrey Pufahl, a publically engaged scholar
and theater/filmmaker. The play was written in collaboration with emerging African
American playwright Ms. Brittney M. Caldwell and had its pilot performances March 15-
17/19 (263 attended).
We are currently developing a web-based, modular companion course which will include
complimentary educational materials including full oral history transcripts, supplemental
history, and reflective activities. This course will provide the space for students to
deepen their experience of the humanities content and can be administered in the
READ MORE & WATCH FROM COLORED TO BLACK
Imagining America welcomes the newest member of the IA consortium, University of Arizona. In this month’s member feature, we invited Director of the School of Art Colin Blakely to write a special guest blog, below. Discover the fantastic work and initiatives currently at University of Arizona that align with IA’s mission and values!
The University of Arizona is excited to be joining Imagining America! IA’s mission and values are in perfect alignment with the current trajectory of the Arts and Humanities on campus. While there is always work to be done in aligning our work with the aspirations set forth by these values, we are excited to share some examples of current initiatives that showcase our work in this regard:
‣ The University of Arizona College of Humanities recently launched a new Department of Public and Applied Humanities (https://pah.arizona.edu). This department works to translate the personal enrichment of humanities study into public enrichment and the direct and tangible improvement of the human condition. Through research-driven, collaborative, and publicly facing projects built to explore and enhance life in the community and beyond, students and scholars convert understanding into action for the measurable betterment of society. The department is home to two undergraduate and one graduate program, including a new BA program in Applied Humanities.
‣ The School of Art and the James E. Rogers College of Law have developed a new course entitled Visualizing Justice. This interdisciplinary service learning course combines legal, art and design concepts to explore: (1) what are legal rights; (2) how do we communicate legal rights; (3) how do we navigate legal processes; (4) how can art and design inform how legal rights and legal information are conveyed, in order to empower people and make legal systems more accessible and navigable? The course is being taught for the first time this semester and is focusing on Tucson Housing Court with an eye toward developing solutions for creating a more equitable balance of power between landlords and tenants.
‣ The University of Arizona Museum of Art’s Mapping Q program will soon be entering its sixth year of programming. Mapping Q is an innovative community arts education program that invites LGTBQ+ youth ages 13-24 to explore representations of self within art, museums, and the wider community. Participants that complete the program will have artwork displayed in the museum.
‣ The School of Art, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts is in year one of a two year lecture and visiting artists series entitled LOOK.LISTEN: Art and Social Justice. In addition to bringing eight artists and scholars to campus, the project invites one social practice artist for each of the two years for an extended visit to Tucson to work with students as well as local non-profits in development of a public art project. This year’s visiting artist is Andres Hernandez. His project examines public spaces in and around downtown Tucson with an eye toward initiating discussions around design that promotes equitable use of those spaces for different populations.
We are looking forward to developing a meaningful and collaborative relationship with Imagining America, and know that in the years to come there will be many more exciting things at the University of Arizona to report!