Indiana history journal examines public art and controversy

Art, race and space fill the most recent issue of the Indiana Magazine of History. In an issue guest-edited by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis public historian Modupe Labode, leading scholars of public art and urban life show how art can reveal fault lines in modern society.

The March 2014 issue features four articles reflecting on the artwork that prompted IUPUI’s recent symposium, “Art, Race and Space”: artist Fred Wilson’s proposed “E Pluribus Unum” sculpture, which re-imagined a new identity for the freed slave portrayed on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in downtown Indianapolis. Wilson’s work, commissioned for the city’s Cultural Trail, was ultimately canceled after long and intense public controversy.

In her introduction to this special issue, Labode, who helped organize the original symposium, revisits the contentious history of Wilson’s proposal. She reviews the public struggles over the freedman image and its placement in the city center, and the tensions of race, class and public space discussed by symposium members. Wilson himself follows with a discussion of monuments and memorials that have inspired his work and comments on some of his installations for museums in New York City and Savannah, Ga.

Art historian Bridget Cooks looks at Wilson’s work in light of the conflicting ideals of preservation and activism. Geographers Owen Dwyer and Matthew McCourt examine the history of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and consider the relationship of the public spaces and public art along its eight miles.

Two articles examine other public artworks that have spoken to and created public controversy outside Indiana. Art historian Renée Ater studies the public outcry that followed the commissioning by Rocky Mount, N.C., of a statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Historian Erika Doss discusses a Duluth, Minn., public memorial to three young black men who were lynched in that city in 1920, arguing that such public art can “generate profound responses of renewal and reconciliation.”

The Indiana Magazine of History is published quarterly by the history department of Indiana University Bloomington. For general information on the articles or to order a copy of the issue, contact the editorial office at 812-855-4139.

“The Education of Auma Obama,” a film by Branwen Okpako: screening and discussion with filmmaker

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
University Library, Lily Auditorium
755 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN 46202

Admission free Reception with light refreshments to follow

Branwen Okpako is a highly talented and successful Nigerian-Welsh documentary filmmaker, who now lives and works in Berlin, Germany, where in 1999 she received a degree in Film Directing from the prestigious German Film and Television Academy in Berlin. Since 1995 she has produced several videos, mixed media installations, and films. Her work has been selected to be shown at film festivals in Europe, Great Britain, Africa, North America, and the Middle East. In addition to her work as a filmmaker, Okpako offers seminars, workshops, and projects in film studies and filmmaking and lectures at universities in the US, Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world. Topics of her presentations include: Intersections of Race, Gender, and Otherness in Film; Black Identity in German Cinema; Migration and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Europe; The Art of Filmmaking; The Theory and Practice of Screenplay Writing, to name just a few.

For her 2000/2001 film, Dreckfresser (Dirt for Dinner), Okpako received, among others, the German Next-Generation-First-Steps Award for Best Documentary Film. For her 2002 film, Sehe ich was du nicht siehst? (Do I see what you do not see?), she received the D-motion special prize for the city of Halle, Germany. Her most acclaimed film, The Education of Auma Obama, (Die Geschichte der Auma Obama) has brought Okpako much attention. The film is a captivating and intimate portrait of the U.S. president’s older half-sister, who embodies a post-colonial, feminist identity. Dr. Auma Obama studied German at the University of Heidelberg from 1981 to 1987 before continuing with graduate studies at the University of Bayreuth, earning a PhD in 1996. Her dissertation was on the conception of labor in Germany and its literary reflections. For The Education of Auma Obama, Okpako received the 2012 African Movie Academy Award for Best Diaspora Documentary, the Festival Founders Award for Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles (both in 2012), and the Viewers Choice Award at the Africa International Film Festival (2011).

Her most recent project, Fluch der Medea (The Curse of Medea), a docu-drama about the life of the late German writer Christa Wolf, was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 2014.

Okpako is currently a visiting professor of German at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. This event is co-sponsored by the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute and the IUPUI Max Kade German-American Center, with additional support from the Department of World Languages and Cultures and the German Program. For additional information contact: Jason M. Kelly, Director, IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, iahi@iupui.edu, (317) 274-1689 Claudia Grossmann, Interim Director, IUPUI Max Kade German-American Center,cgrossma@iupui.edu, (317) 274-3943

Taylor Symposium marks 25th year by exploring “Politics. Race. Place.”

The 25th Joseph T. Taylor Symposium, hosted by the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, will focus on how 25 years of demographic and social change has shaped Indianapolis while exploring the topic, “Politics. Race. Place.”

The symposium will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the IUPUI Campus Center, 420 University Blvd.

Registration deadline is Feb. 18, but guests are encouraged to register early to reserve a seat.

A schedule and registration are available on the School of Liberal Arts website. To register by phone or for more information, call 812-855-4224 or 800-933-9330, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or email iuconfs@indiana.edu. Symposium attendance is free and open to the general public, but conference registration is required. Lunch is available for a fee: Single luncheon tickets are $40 each or $35 if purchased by Feb. 3. Single sponsor tickets are $75, and patron tables of 10 are $550.

Leading local practitioners, politicians, policy-makers and researchers will come together with symposium attendees to examine how shifting demographics and an increasingly diverse population have contributed to the direction of the city and its future path.

The event begins with a conversation between William Blomquist, professor of political science and dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, and Rozelle Boyd, retired president of the Indianapolis City County Council, discussing “Understanding the Evolving Indianapolis Electorate.”

“The Taylor Symposium has been a signature event drawing campus and community together for a remarkable 25 years now,” said William Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “I’m looking forward to this year’s symposium in particular, talking about political change in our city over the past quarter-century with Rozelle Boyd, and listening to the other participants—it’s a terrific line-up.”

Panel discussions follow on the topics of “White Flight and the Politics of Place” and ” Building a Multicultural Community.”

Panelists and moderators include:

  • Amos Brown, director of strategic research, 100.9 Radio Now.
  • Patricia Castaneda, cultural consultant, SosaGroup.
  • Olgen Williams, deputy mayor of Indianapolis.
  • David Coats, associate director, The Polis Center.
  • Terri Morris Downs, executive director, Immigrant Welcome Center.
  • Johnny Goldfinger, associate professor of political science, director of prelaw studies, Marian University.
  • Lun Kham Pieper, attorney at law.
  • John Ketzenberger, president, Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute.

Byron D’Andra Orey, professor and chair of political science at Jackson State University, will deliver the keynote address, “Contemporary Topics in the Study of Race and Politics,” during the symposium luncheon. Luncheon activities also include IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz’s presentation of the Joseph T. Taylor Excellence in Diversity Award and a performance by the Indianapolis improv group ComedySportz.

In the days leading up the event members of the campus community and visitors will also be able to share their views on race and politics in Indianapolis on the IUPUI Democracy Plaza walls.

LEU continuing credits are available to Indiana’s library professionals for select workshops and, pending approval, CLE credits to attorneys for this event.

For questions about the educational credits or event program, contact Lauralee Wikkerink, lstel@iupui.edu or 317-278-1839.

For the past quarter century, the Joseph T. Taylor Symposium has tackled issues of concern to Indianapolis residents. The symposium is named for the late Joseph T. Taylor, the first dean of the School of Liberal Arts. Taylor is remembered for his commitment to dialogue and diversity. The 2014 symposium is presented by the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI in partnership with the Department of Political Science and the Polis Center, with support from the Spirit & Place Festival, IUPUI Democracy Plaza, and the IUPUI Common Theme Project.

Trayvon Martin case sparks public IUPUI Dialogue Series

The Florida case involving the 2012 fatal shooting of an unarmed African American youth and the gunman’s acquittal in July proved a social tinder box for racial issues in America.

Diversity leaders on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus have organized a series of public meetings, four dialogue sessions and two town hall meetings built around the high-profile case.

The leaders say the very strands of discord sparked by the Martin case make it a great learning tool. Their hopes are the six meetings will encourage people, particularly students, to engage in civil discourse when faced with hot-button issues.

“It is easy to engage civilly on conversations over matters for which we agree,” said Daniel Griffith, director of the IUPUI Intergroup Dialogue Group, one of the series co-sponsors. “The need for civil discourse is especially important for conversations over matters for which there is significant disagreement and strong emotion. Without civil discourse, where conversation becomes strident and negative, the opportunity for learning and the chance for increasing understanding and finding common ground will be lost.”

The public meetings, titled “A Dialogue Series on Race, Politics and the Pursuit of Justice: America After Trayvon Martin,” kick off with a town hall meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in the auditorium of Hine Hall, formerly the University Place Conference Center, 850 W. Michigan St.

According to Wayne Hilson, the interim director of the IUPUI Multicultural Success Center and director of Multicultural Academic Relations, the series is a prime example of the spirit of the IUPUI 2013-15 Common Theme, “Find Your Voice and Hear My Voice.”

“People seem to have increasing difficulty speaking to one another about serious matters in a civilized manner,” Hilson said. “We think it’s vital that our young people learn how to engage in productive, positive discourse, even on issues that can be divisive or uncomfortable.”

Hilson and the other organizers are hopeful that participants from various ethnic and racial backgrounds will attend and not just those who might empathize more with Martin because of their own racial or ethnic backgrounds.

“This is for everyone,” Hilson said. “Any true dialogue begins with a willingness to come and learn some things. These meetings will be a safe place to share one’s opinion regardless of what side of the fence you are on.”

The IUPUI Multicultural Success Center, the IUPUI Intergroup Dialogue Group and various academic units are co-sponsors of the series.

Following are the dates, times, locations and topics of the sessions:

  • Oct. 31, Dialogue Session 1: “Legal Aspects + Implications of the Trayvon Martin Case,” featuring IU McKinney School of Law faculty and legal experts from the greater Indianapolis community, 6 to 8 p.m., Room 132, Hine Hall
  • Nov. 7, Dialogue Session 2: “The Impact of Social Injustice: The History and Impact of Profiling,” featuring faculty from the Department of Africana Studies in the School of Liberal Arts, 6 to 8 p.m., Room 132, Hine Hall.
  • Nov. 12, Dialogue Session 3: “Being Stopped by the Police or Others: Managing Confrontation, Avoiding Conflict,” featuring IU Police Department officers and representatives from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, 6 to 8 p.m., Presidents Room, The Tower, formerly the University Place Hotel.
  • Nov. 21, Dialogue Session 4: “Cultivating Positive Change on Campus and in the Classroom,” featuring faculty from the Department of Psychology in the Purdue School of Science and the IU School of Education, 6 to 8 p.m., Room 132, Hine Hall.
  • Dec. 5, Town Hall Meeting: Closing session, 6 to 9 p.m., Hine Hall Auditorium.

Cuba’s 2013 Venice Biennale representative to speak at Herron School of Art and Design

Artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons will appear at Herron School of Art and Design as the 2013 Jane Fortune Outstanding Women Visiting Artist Lecturer.

Her artist’s talk, titled “Global Journey,” is scheduled to take place on December 4 in the Basile Auditorium at 6:00 p.m., the same night the Undergraduate Student Exhibition opens in the Berkshire, Reese and Paul Galleries. Both events are free and open to the public.

Inclusion in the juried undergraduate show is an honor for the students whose work is chosen. In a typical year, the jury must select from more than 300 very strong submissions. The exhibition usually contains 60 works across a wide variety of media.

Also opening in the Basile and Marsh Galleries will be two exhibitions from the graduate Collaborative Practices course taught by Professor Andrew Winship and Basile Center Director Kathryn Armstrong.

The three exhibitions continue through December 19.

photo campos-pons

Photo of artist by Ricardo Gay Luger Courtesy of Maria Magdalena studio and Galleries.

Campos-Pons was born in Cuba in 1959. She is a faculty member at the School of The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. According to its website, “Her work of the last 20 years covers an extended range of visual language investigations…from the early 1980s focus on painting and the discussion of sexuality in the crossroads of Cuban mixed cultural heritage to incisive questioning, critique and insertion of the black body in the contemporary narratives of the present.” She represented Cuba in the 2013 Venice Biennale.

“Campos-Pons’s work is largely autobiographical but speaks to a much-needed dialogue about history, place and identity. She does this through a contemporary language that also provides universal access to discussing our current socio-political landscape,” said Herron’s Gallery Director Paula Katz.

It is the generosity of Jane Fortune—author, cultural editor, art historian, art collector and philanthropist—that brings Campos-Pons to Herron. “I want to make an impact on the community that surrounds me and help make the arts accessible to our residents,” she said. This is the sixth Jane Fortune Outstanding Women Visiting Artist Lecture, which has welcomed artists including Judy Chicago, Polly Apfelbaum and Judith Shea to Herron.

2013 Spirit & Place Festival accepting proposals for $20,000 community-building projects

The 2013 Spirit & Place Festival is going to open its 10-day November celebration with a groundbreaking event: it will give away a $20,000 award to one innovator who has a daring, original idea about re-shaping notions of race in Central Indiana.

Individuals and organizations from any sector and discipline—artists and cultural organizations, faith leaders and congregations, scholars and educational organizations, social entrepreneurs and civic organizations—are invited to submit original projects by October 1. Four finalists will present at “$20K: A Competition about Race,” the opening night event on Friday, November 1, 7:00 PM in The Toby at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The winner will receive $20K for project implementation. Details and submission information available here.

With this event, Spirit & Place seeks to continue its mission of creating space for creativity and conversation, trusting in the talent and capacity of Central Indiana’s own citizens to build community, and providing a platform on which, together, all people can dare to imagine a better life.

Art, Race, Space Symposium on 25 January 2013 at IUPUI

Art, Race, Space Symposium

 

Date: January 25, 2013

Location: Campus Center, IUPUI Campus, 420 University Blvd.

Time: 8:00 am–5:30 pm

 

Artists and scholars from across the country will join leaders from Indianapolis’s arts and culture sector in an interdisciplinary daylong symposium dedicated to exploring the complicated relationships between art, race, and civic space.  Participants will begin by reflecting on artist Fred Wilson’s E Pluribus Unum, a public art commission for the Indianapolis Culture Trail that was cancelled in 2011 due to controversy surrounding Wilson’s appropriation of a freed slave figure from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.  Building on the ideas about race, class, visual culture, and democratic debate that emerge from the Indianapolis project, presenters will also address related historical and contemporary examples from other parts of the United States.  In order to encourage public dialogue about art, race, and space, the symposium will provide an opportunity for audience members and presenters to engage in conversations about these matters throughout the day.

The symposium is free and open to the public.

Hosted by the IUPUI Museum Studies Program and the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

Sponsored by the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute.

Campus maps and parking information.