Call for Participation

A Collective Creative Engagement hosted by Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life

Through Tumultuous Times:
Reimagining and Rebuilding ‘America’

Submission Deadline: Friday, August 28, September 4, 2020

The coronavirus has laid bare long-standing inequities and vulnerabilities in the institutions and systems that shape our lives: our schools and universities, hospitals, housing, jobs, transportation, and the ways in which we access food and other basic needs. It has reminded us of what is essential, and it has called on us to reflect on our interconnectedness.

With COVID-19’s toll of over 500,000 deaths worldwide, 10 million infected, and a global economic depression, we mourn. We undertake the task of healing our individual, community, and collective traumas. As we slowly emerge from shelter-in-place directives, we are called to consider possible futures amidst a resurgence of social protest in the long arc of the Black freedom struggles. In Ancestor, New Orleans poet Sunni Patterson reminds us of our ancestral and community resilience as we traverse these tumultuous times. “You who know the potential of possibility posing in the dark…touch our drums, make us hear the rising, make us move a steady stump, a choir of voices so majestic heaven hides us in a tapestry of light for we are stars.” How might our pasts serve to transform the ways in which we hear, move, and see pathways forward?

If “[t]he pandemic is a portal,” as Indian author Arundhati Roy writes, and we chose to move towards the future divesting ourselves of “our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies,” what might the world we enter into look like? What memorials would we create to reckon with and help us process so much suffering? And how do our communities re-imagine and build an equitable ‘America’?

This year, in place of an in-person IA National Gathering, Imagining America invites creative responses that offer opportunities for community reflection, healing, and the creation of spaces and places for a radical reimagining of the world in which we live. This collective creative engagement will explore questions such as:

● What is the role of art, design, and creative culture in reimagining and rebuilding our world in ways that create antiracist institutions, structures, practices and ways of thinking?

● How can we work towards a post-COVID university that lessens rather than deepens inequality in access, pedagogy, and forms of knowledge production? How might we re-imagine our educational systems, and particularly our colleges and universities, in ways that divest from forms of violence and inequality and invest in cultures and communities of care within institutions and as stakeholders in regions? What are the opportunities and imperatives of our moment?

● What are local communities doing to move towards a more caring, just, and liberatory ‘America’ and world? What are the new and remembered ideas, images, symbols, forms of knowledge, and ways of being that will lead the way?

Live and web-based project sharing will take place in October, with live-streamed opening and closing plenary events. Throughout the month, IA will showcase curated and open call creative responses.

Review the Creative Response Criteria

Explore the Collective Creative Engagement Map

Questions? Check out the Creative Response Criteria or email us at