Promoting social justice through the arts is the theme of an inaugural event being held this month by the University of Guelph’s Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice.
Called “Practicing the Social: Entanglements of Art and Justice,” the free online gathering will explore non-or anti-normative art production, decolonizing and indigenizing themes, gender and sexuality, difference and identity, Black feminism and intersectionality, and crip and queer culture.
The event on Jan. 20-22 is free and open to everyone. It will feature international speakers, performances, multimedia exhibitions, a book launch and a virtual dance party.
Organizer Jodie Salter, a research associate with Re•Vision, said the event is partly intended to raise awareness of issues including accessibility and to call for relevant policy changes to widen inclusivity for often-marginalized groups.
The gathering is led by Re•Vision, an arts methodology research hub at U of G that uses arts, especially storytelling, to address injustices in health care, education and the arts.
Also co-leading the event is Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life, a research project of Re•Vision in partnership with Tangled Art and Disability, a Toronto-based charitable arts organization that supports artists with disabilities. That project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
“Art is an avenue into exploring stories, experiences and ways of being,” said Salter. “It can be used as a practice and also as a methodology to disrupt normative assumptions and representations.
“Art is a way that we can give voice, create space and do things differently.”
Event to feature speakers, book launch, edit-a-thon
Keynote speakers during the gathering will include the following:
- Dr. Ajay Heble, founding director of U of G’s International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation
- Carmen Papalia, a non-visual social practice artist with severe chronic and episodic pain
- Jeff Thomas, an urban-based Iroquois photo-based storyteller, writer and curator
- Sean Lee, an artist and curator exploring disability art
- Dr. Kim Tallbear, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience and Environment at the University of Alberta
- Cyrus Marcus Ware, professor in the School of the Arts at McMaster University
- Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, an Iqaluit-based performance artist, poet, actor and storyteller
- Vanessa Dion Fletcher, a Lenape and Potawatomi neurodiverse artist
The event will include a Wikipedia edit-a-thon and the launch of the book The Aging/Disability Nexus co-edited by Rice; Dr. Katie Aubrecht, Canada Research Chair in Health Equity and Social Justice, St. Francis Xavier University; and Dr. Christine Kelly, professor in community health science, University of Manitoba.
The event will also yield a peer-reviewed book collection of essays based on presentations from Practicing the Social, as well as a peer-reviewed online multimedia publication of performance and galleries held during the gathering. Both projects will involve Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Other event partners and sponsors are Arts Everywhere Festival, Art Gallery of Guelph, Art Gallery of Ontario, Creative Users Projects, Musagetes, Tangled Art and Disability, and Wilfrid Laurier University Press.