Powerful afternoon. Truthworker Theater Company, LA CAN (Community Action Network) Freedom Singers, Dolores Huerta, Emiliana Guereca (Women’s March Action), Edna Chavez ( break out speaker at March for Our Lives) .... Si Se Puede!
#ForFreedomsCon @ForFreedomsCon Truthworker Theatre Company
I am grateful to ForFreedoms.org for the stipend that enables Alaina Buffalo Spirit, Marci Mc Lean - Pollock, Dylan Running Crane and me to be part of, what will be, a high-energy, engaging series of artist-led programs, workshops and conversations . . . The For Freedoms Congress in Los Angeles, next week.
In the fall 2018, I pulled together some local activations for the For Freedoms 50 States Initiative Billings. Our foursome will build on this and be looking at ways to create art-based amplifications of Native issues throughout our tribal nations in Montana and connecting to other events which encourage dialogue here and across the country.
The Montana Warrior Women (thank you to Alaina for giving us this name!)
Alaina Buffalo Spirit is a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, who creates Ledger Art. This form of art began in the 1860's when tribal warriors were imprisoned at Ft. Marion, Florida. She is active in bringing attention and solutions to Missing and Murdered Indigenous People and environmental challenges on her people's land.
Marci McLean, who is Piikuni, is the Executive Director of Western Native Voice, a non-profit, non-partisan social justice organization working to move Native leaders to engage Native Americans in long term decision making to address issues in their communities.
Dylan Runinng Crane is a Blackfeet filmmaker, musician, writr and student working to shed light on the life, happiness, and humanity of indigenous people.
Sherri Cornett is an artist curator who combines her political science, advocacy and art skills to create opportunities for dialogue and community building.
#forfreedoms #forfreedomscongress #ffcon
#communityengagedart #memoriesat60 #humantrafficking #commercialsexualexploitation
The Ragdoll Project: at the UN, in China and across the country
The Ragdoll Project is an ongoing community art project created by Joanna Fulginiti and Bonnie MacAllister and members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art. It educates and encourages dialogue about human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). Sales of the dolls supports survivors and at risk women and children.
I first saw the project and dolls when I had a piece in "Honoring Women's Rights, Echoing Visual Voices Together" at the National Steinbeck Center, 2012-2013. The variety and multiplicity of dolls hanging on the wall stopped me in my tour of the exhibition. I reached out to Joanna to see how I could get involved. A multi-year relationship ensued.
Maureen Burns-Bowie (Women's Caucus for Art UN Program Chair and UN Rep) and I (as WCA's International Caucus Chair and UN Rep) took them to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women conference in 2013. A version of the dolls came with us to China for "Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art" in 2014 and was part of Karen's and my exhibition at St. Mary's College "Social Justice: It Happens to One, It Happens to All" in 2016. Joanna, Bonnie and Eva and crew have shown them and created workshops in many, many other places.
While cutting out fabric and making the dolls, we sent out our collective hope for the end of trafficking. As we all know, there has been no end to it, but awareness is growing.
The Ragdoll Project Committee: Joanna Fulginiti (Chair), Bonnie MacAllister, Rachel Udell, Eva Preston, Heather Penn, and Jeanne Lombardo.
Creating Space for Dialogue
I am finishing up my home-made baba ganouj this morning and reflecting on the thought-provoking, conversation-inducing presentation (and delicious Palestinian food) by the staff (the director is Jewish) of @conflictkitchen during the Open Engagement Conference in Pittsburgh in 2015.
We talked about how important it is to keep dialogue open between people, even if governments and organizations find it politically incorrect. And how the sharing of food during can assist in these conversations, such as the meals the Half the Sky: Intersections of Social Practice Art delegates shared as we discussed, processed and problem-solved our time and interactions in China.[Mido Lee, Rosemary Meza DesPlas, Christine Giancola, Priscilla Otani and I presented a panel at Open Engagement, "Considerations and Challenges: Socially-Engaged Art in China" about our Half the Sky project in Shenyang in 2014.]
"Conflict Kitchen is a restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Each Conflict Kitchen iteration is augmented by events, performances, publications, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus region. The restaurant rotates identities in relation to current geopolitical events.... These diverse perspectives reflect a nuanced range of thought within each country and serves to instigate questioning, conversation, and debate with our customers."
Photo courtesy of conflict kitchen website
FLOW: Interactive Exhibition and Community Project
Northcutt Steele Gallery, Montana State University Billings, January 28 - March 18, 2016
It began with a big, but, initially, manageable goal, given our backgrounds - to bring more people into the gallery and to engage them across departments, across the city and between the two institutes of higher education in Billings around the theme of water issues and focused on the Yellowstone River. Early on, we consulted MSU Billings' long-range plans, goals, & strategies and ... Leanne K. Gilbertson, Ph.D of Art History and Nothcutt Steele Gallery Director at MSU Billings and me, an artist curator with a passion for community engagement, were soon neck deep in conversations with potential partners, who were enthusiastic and willing to sign on.
The gallery was set up as a laboratory and nexus for exploration and dialogue with an exhibition of my Grottoes - mixed media wall sculptures with video meditations on water - and juried works by students and alumni. We commissioned two students, Bonny Beth Luhman and Ariel Rebecca Grosfield, to create an animated short about river users. Art Ed students discussed water issues with the Girl Scouts, Boys & Girls and other K-8 students, who then made 5 x 7 panels with their responses. Presentation of research by Rocky Mountain College students. Precious McKenzie, teacher of English at Rocky Mountain College, donated her water-themed children's books to the MSU Billings library, which became the anchor for pre-school readings there. Poetry and jazz students held a water-themed reading and improvisation night. Northern Plains Resource Council and Eric Warren presented his film "Mixing Oil and Water" featuring conversations about oil & gas development along the river. Dr. Susan Gilbertz offered a course for students from both campus about the findings from the Yellowstone River Cultural Inventory, which was part of the 16 year, most comprehensive study in the world on a watershed, our Yellowstone River, which was the basis for our keynote symposium, which included Dr. Gilbertz' students, some of the key scientists of that study (Warren Kellogg, Burt Williams and Kayhan Ostovar) as well as a beautiful argument for personhood rights for rivers by Carrie La Seur.
The amount of creativity and information shared and the community of collaborators, brainstormers, participants and supporters was a heart-warming overlay and reward for the intensity of coordination: Gerard Baker, Sue Beug, Karin Eilertsen Calabrese, Reno Charette, Michelle Dyk, Teresa Erickson, Megan Fetters, Samantha Finch, Leanne Gilbertson, Ph.D, Susan Gilbertz, Ph.D, Ilene Goddard, Ariel Grossfield, Tami Haaland, Ruby Hahn, Joy Crissey Honea, Hannah Hostetter, Warren Kellogg, Luke Kestner, Korilynn Kessler, Carrie La Seur, Ph.D, J.D., Jodi Lightner, Bonny Beth Luhman, Larry Mayer, Precious McKenzie, Joel Miller, Patrick Mueller, Kelsey Nix, Carolyn Ostby, Kayhan Ostovar, Mara Pierce, Ph.D., Megan Poulette, Tabetha Rindahl, Brent Roberts, John J. Roberts, Maria Selvig, Stephanie Slavin, Rebecca Summers, Peter Pete Tolton, Patricia Vettel-Becker, Ph.D., Eric Warren, Burt Williams, Patrick Williams, Dylan Woods and so many more who came to share their thoughts, listen and expand the dialogue around water issues, rights, access and conservation in our region.
Project overview page with links to further details at https://www.sherricornett.com/flow-interactive-exhibition-and-community-project.html
Inspiration and Motivation ... Taking my community-engaged work to the next level, with a generosity of spirit .... that is what I came away with after having breakfast with Judy Baca after the Women's Caucus for Art's Honoring Women's Rights conference and exhibition at the National Steinbeck Center in 2012.
As the founder of the first City of Los Angeles Mural Program in 1974, which evolved into a community arts organization known as the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), she is best known for "The Great Wall of Los Angeles" which was "tattooed along a flood control channel in the San Fernando Valley and employed over 400 at risk youth and their families from diverse social and economic backgrounds working with artists, oral historians, ethnologists, scholars, and hundreds of community members. The Great Wall depicts a mile long multi-cultural history of California from pre-history through the 1950’s."
"Underlying all of Baca and SPARC’S activities is the profound conviction that the voices of disenfranchised communities need to be heard and that the preservation of a vital commons is critical to a healthy civil society."
Her other projects include:
The World Wall: A Vision of the Future Without Fear - "in addition to being able to imagine nuclear destruction, we must also be able to imagine peace,"
Tiny Ripples of Hope / Seeing Through Other’s Eyes (2010) - about the optimism–and hope–that surrounded Robert Kennedy’s pursuits
S.A. Bachman/Neda Moridpour/Louder Than Words
"LOUDER THAN WORDS is a cross-cultural, intergenerational art collective that targets sexual assault, domestic violence, women and migration, LGBTQ+ equality, and jail reform ... We strive to ignite civic dialogue, unravel obstacles, reorder entrenched cultural gridlock, and generate languages of critique and possibility."
Their presentation of "These Walls Can Talk" during "Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art", which I directed in China on behalf of the Women's Caucus for Art, was a powerful, interactive event with Chinese students and faculty and addressed "domestic violence. It alludes to domestic space by juxtaposing wallpaper with information on gender violence, video, and “don’t remain silent” stickers. The wallpaper design incorporates a number of common objects that are frequently used to inflict injury: fists, knives, belts, guns and irons. Conversely, the video presents famous world leaders including President Obama and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia reciting Jackson Katz’s 10 Things Men Can Do To Prevent Gender Violence."
As socially-engaged artists, activists and educators, S.A and Iranian-born Neda, continue to develop community-engaged projects, including:
"Women on the Move" " transforms a 26-foot truck into a mobile billboard and resource center to address sexual assault, harassment and domestic violence" and "Vehicle for Change" which will transform" a 26-ft truck into a mobile billboard and resource center addressing jail reform and incarceration alternatives in L.A. County. The truck will travel throughout L.A County promoting passage of the 2020 ballot initiative, registering voters, educating, participating in healing justice events."
A link to a video about them is posted in the comments.
Photos by Christine Giancola and courtesy of the Louder Than Words website.
My "Home : Peace" community-engaged installation at Toucan Gallery continues to grow with additions by the Billings Public School's Quest Program's 4th, 5th, and 6th graders (with whom I spent a week discussing community-engaged and environmental art), attendees at the Billings Art Walk, attendees at my discussion about community-engaged art at Kirk's Grocery and preschool visitors from St. Luke's Enrichment Center (who field-tripped to the gallery). ! Here are some shots of the many responses to concepts of home, be it a physical space, loved ones, events, emotions . . . I love that I overheard comments about the painted cushion in front looking like the ripples in the river and the ovals on the wall as partially submerged river rocks!
"Home Grove" is a set of mixed-media sculptures designed to invoke thoughts of peace, comfort, rest and ease. Similar to my public art piece, Thicket, installed under the Sky Point in downtown Billings, these sculptures use the structure of groves of willows and red twig dogwood, which grow along our river and form protective spaces for insects and animals, as symbolic of how our community provides haven for our many and diverse citizens.
Such a stimulating, community-infused day at Back Alley Arts Festival - BAAF yesterday! Conversations about creativity while I worked on my "Home : Peace" sculpture (to be completed this week while it resides at Toucan through September), conversations about thoughts and feelings and memories of home as visitors wrote and drew on the painted, canvas panels which will displayed around "Home: Peace", and conversations about continuing the conversation about how we recognize and encourage more comfort in our and others' lives.
My vision for "Home : Peace" evolved as I was working on it ... the nests within the protective alcove of branches, each providing a peaceful haven or home and collectively providing a larger, peaceful home or community. It is part of my Home Grove series: https://www.sherricornett.com/home-grove.html
Thank you again to Samantha, Allison and Mark for inviting me to participate.
As part of For Freedoms 50 States Initiative Billings, I invited participants in our various events to create lawn signs.
The beautiful What Freedom Means to You banner created by MSUB's Club Art Collective and the Freedom lawn signs that we are creating at the town halls
For more information about this project: https://www.sherricornett.com/for-freedoms-billings.html
The Dinners Project: Billings Creatives Potluck and Conversations
Part of For Freedoms 50 States Initiative Billings
Thursday, October 4, 2018
First Congregational Church of Billings, Community Room, 310 North 27th Street, Billings, MT 59101
Free To Be Me: Diversity at MSUB
Part of For Freedoms 50 States Initiative Billings
Saturday, September 15, 2018 (2:30 – 4:30)
MSUBillings Student Union Building, Rooms A & B (lower floor and east through the cafeteria) and Free Speech Lawn
1500 University Dr, Billings, MT
Native American Race Relations and Healing Series “For Freedoms”
Part of For Freedoms 50 States Initiative Billings
Thursday, September 13, 2018, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.,
Billings Public Library
510 N Broadway, Billings, MT
Thanks to all who came out for the “A Series of Fragments of Memories” show and “Luminous” in the other gallery! Lots of interaction and sharing of experiences at my piece “What [(Is It) About My] Memory” made this first mini-installation so satisfying.
Collin Kriner, Emily Botel, Courtney and Chris Scott, Judy Johnson-williams, Durba Ghatak Sen, Rebecca Stroth-Pickens
And loved sharing the evening with the artists:
Shannon Amidon, Katelyn Dorroh, Sally Beth Edelstein, Penny McElroy, Priscilla Otani, Blond Jenny and David Weinberg and especially Karen Gutfreund, the curator and artist.
What [(Is It) About My] Memory? What about my memory? What memory?
Memory Cards http://www.sherricornett.com/memory-cards-what-is-it-about-my-memory.html
Thank you to all who have shared their memories with me so far via the memory cards of my What [(Is It) About My] Memory project. They will be installed, with my Somas (http://www.sherricornett.com/somas-what-is-it-about-my-memory.html) as part of Karen's show "A Series of Fragments of Moments" at Arc Gallery San Francisco next month as prompts for visitors to recall their own memories and add, if they wish, to the collective memory in this project.
What a beautiful collection of story snippets about family, friends, nature, adventure, pets, humor, music. . . This project is ongoing, with many more Somas and Memory Cards in the works, so if any of you are interested in learning more and/or wish to participate, please let me know! Their are several ways to share your memories- including text, email and me sending you blank cards. And check out the Memory Card link.Thanks in advance for your consideration.
Participants include: Abington Friends School (the second, third and fourth grades), Ann Botel-Barnard, Scott Botel-Barnard, Norma Buchanan and Family, Karen Gutfreund Kari McIntyre Kaiser, Linda Bria Lemire, Jodi Lightner, Rachel BB Mainwaring, Priscilla Otani, Debra Riezebeek, Rocky Mountain College Writing Classes (taught by Jaci Webb), Robin Taylor and University of Pennsylvania Professional Development Class for Teachers.
What [(Is It) About My] Memory? What about my memory? What memory?
While my mother was being diagnosed with frontal-temporal dementia and she was losing her own stories, my innate curiosity about memories, how the brain stores them and loses them, escalated. The neurologists and memory specialists fed me with new terminology, theories, suggestions for activities that preserve brain function, images and . . . more questions. How do we influence each other’s memories? How does telling our stories alter our memories? What is shared, collective, societal memory? I decided to use my personal history as my laboratory, as the creative resource for work about memory. And, then, develop ways to weave in other people’s memories and ways to explore those memory preservation activities with others. The beginning manifestations of all of this are the soma or neural cell body wall sculptures that are symbolic of particular groupings of memories in my own life. Wire dendrites and axons radiate out and hold tags upon which are written individual memories – my own, ones I have gathered from family and friends and, with the exhibition, those added by visitors. This project will continue to grow, with larger installations and more somas and more memory cards, in future venues.
A place to decant my brain, to capture inspiration and share fresh insights. [Posts from 2015 onward]