One of the most powerful and important functions of art is to act as a catalyst for conversation. Below are examples of conversations we have produced inspired by topical exhibitions.
"How with this Rage shall Beauty hold a Plea?" (Shakespeare)
During the juried exhibition @ KLG titled after the above quote from Shakespeare, we produced a panel discussion around the central question of the show.
Moderated by Lucy Gellman, Editor of The Arts Paper, panelists included: Kwadwo Adae, artist, muralist and founder/owner of Adae Fine Art Academy; Luciana McClure, artist and founder of Nasty Women CT; and Ted Efremoff, artist and associate professor at Central CT State University.
About the Exhibition
“What is the point of making beautiful things, or of cherishing the beauty of the past, when ugliness runs rampant?” asks Alex Ross in the 2017 New Yorker magazine article “Making Art in a Time of Rage.” Ross later references a London gallery that, in the midst of World War II, prefaced the exhibition catalogue for Jacob Epstein’s flower paintings with a quote from Shakespeare: “How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea?"
It’s an age-old question. Are we as artists responsible for creating challenging works and addressing critical issues of our time head on? Are other expressions trite or selfish acts of escapism? Or can beauty be powerful? Can the act of creating beauty during a time of ugliness be a form of resistance in itself, offering a vision of all that humans can aspire to? Fifty-four artists offer responses to this question, ranging from abstract meditations to more realistic representations, in a wide variety of media.
About our Moderator
Lucy Gellman, Editor of The Arts Paper (www.artspaper.org): Lucy is a lapsed art historian who loves wordplay almost as much as community building. Prior to her time at The Arts Paper she was a reporter at the New Haven Independent and station manager at WNHH Community Radio, where she still produces and hosts Kitchen Sync, a show about food and New Haven.
About our Panelists
Kwadwo Adae, Artist/Muralist & Owner of Adae Fine Art Academy: Kwadwo Adae is a visual artist, muralist, and founder the Adae Fine Art Academy, an independent art school located in the Ninth Square of Downtown New Haven that provides drawing and painting instruction for children, young adults, and adults. He also runs a Mobile Art Studio service that provides on site art lessons to elderly artists in the Alzheimer's & dementia ward of Brookdale Senior Living in Woodbridge; for children in after school programs at the Foote School, for adults at the Parents' Foundation a transitional living facility for people living with schizophrenia, and he runs the young adult art group at the West Haven Mental Health Clinic. Adae partners with Arte, Inc. a Fair Haven based nonprofit Latino services organization that allows the Mobile Art Studio to provide art lessons to children after school programs and senior artists at Casa Otoñal free of charge. When he is not teaching, Adae is fully committed to contributing to the discourse of public art in our community by installing murals. To date he has installed 9 murals in the Greater New Haven area, 2 in Guatemala, and one in India. He was the recipient of an FY18 project grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts and is currently fundraising for the installation of 18 x 106 foot mural on the Farmington Canal Greenway with the theme of Women's Empowerment beginning this summer.
Luciana McClure, Artist & Founder of Nasty Women CT: Luciana McClure is a multi visual artist, photographer and educator. She is the founding organizer of the Nasty Women movement in New Haven and leads Nasty Women Connecticut. Using art as a vehicle for communication, Lucy and the Nasty Women created a platform for organization and resistance to the current administration and its policies. Nasty Women Connecticut seeks to unite and mobilize our communities through the arts, collaborate with other local organizations that share a philosophy of equality to all, and create a platform of inclusion through the arts and its accessibility to all people.
Ted Efrenoff, Artist & Associate Professor at Central CT State University: Ted Efremoff, born in Moscow, Russia, is a cross-disciplinary artist engaged with performance, video, installation and social practice. Spurred by his personal interest in social justice, he envisions creative collaborative activity as an instrument that builds critical relationships between people. His art explores the personal and cultural constraints ingrained within prevailing political, economic, and social power structures. In the U.S. Efremoff has presented his work at Winkleman and Sideshow galleries in New York City, The Museum of American Art in Philadelphia, Free Speech TV and many other venues. Internationally his work has been seen at the Gongju National Museum in South Korea, The National Center of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Russia, The National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria and The Center for Social Innovation in Vienna, Austria. His work is in the collections of the Sound Museum of Rome, The Los Angeles Center for Digital Arts and the Culture House of Bad Sobernheim, Germany. He is also currently an Associate Professor of Photo, Video and New Media at Central Connecticut State University, and teaches a course called "Social Practice in Art."
The discussion was made possible with support from the City of New Haven Mayor's Community Arts Grants Program, The NewAlliance Foundation, and the Department of Economic and Community Development, CT Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
"What Can I Do To Fight Climate Change?"
During the exhibition, One Planet. One Home, a juried exhibition confronting the environmental crisis @ Kehler Liddell Gallery, we produced a community discussion around climate change featuring a panel of experts, including:
- Chris Schweitzer, Program Director, New Haven Leon Sister City Project
- Diane Buxbaum, former EPA scientist & community activist
- Sven Pihl, founder and administrator at the CT Permaculture Guild
- Aaron Goode, Treasurer of the Greater New Haven Green Fund
- Clara Tolbert, food activist & member of the Green Team at Edgewood Park
The conversation was moderated by Semi Semi-Dikoko, and made possible in part with a Mayor's Community Arts Grant.
About Our Panelists:
Chris Schweitzer is the Director of New Haven Leon Sister City Project, an organization that promotes education and sustainable development in Nicaragua and New Haven. His previous work included community organizing, human rights, youth leadership development, public health, and homeless support.
Diane Buxbaum was an Environmental Scientist with the EPA from 1982–2014. During her tenure, she was particularly involved in risk assessment, enforcement, and compliance assistance, and was an EPA Gold and Silver Medal recipient. Formerly the Sierra Club's NYC Conservation Chair, she is currently a member of their Global Climate Change Task Force. Ms. Buxbaum is also a member of the Gowanus Canal Superfund Community Advisory Committee; Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus; and 350Blkyn.org. She holds a BA in Zoology from UCLA, a Masters in Environmental Health Science from Hunter College, Masters in Public Health from Columbia University and has completed doctoral studies in field ecology at Fordham University.
Clara Tolbert was born in 1944 on a small, family-owned dairy farm in Camp Hill, Alabama. She has lived in the Westville neighborhood of New Haven for the past two and a half years. She is a community gardener, a green team volunteer at Edgewood Park, and an avid hiker. Ms. Tolbert attended the City College of New York, and is a retired case worker from the City of New York. She presently works part-time as a personal chef, and enjoys preparing and sharing real food with friends and family and caring for our good earth.
Aaron Goode is the Treasurer of the Greater New Haven Green Fund, an environmental foundation serving the New Haven area, whose mission is to promote environmental quality and equity in the most environmentally distressed communities within Greater New Haven by providing grants and other incentives to support initiatives contributing to reduced exposure to air, water, and land pollution and a more sustainable future. More information can be found here: Www.gnhgreenfund.org
Sven Pihl is the owner of CT Edible Ecosystems and Founder/Administrator of the CT Permaculture Guild. He is a Permaculture Designer/Teacher and got his start Urban Farming in New Britain. There he discovered Permaculture Design. Sven recently developed an Urban Farming Incubator Program in Hartford based on best practices collected from Incubator Farming entities and managers from around the Northeast. He served on the Board of CT NOFA, worked with the New Haven Food Policy Council, the Connecticut Food System Alliance, the Permaculture Institute of the Northeast (PINE), and was a representative for Connecticut at the 2015 New England Food Summit in Boston, MA which focused on Food Justice. Since 2008, Sven has accumulated over 15,000 hours of self directed learning through specific workshops, Landscape Design and Horticulture courses at local community colleges, training under world renowned Regenerative Agricultureand Permaculture Design Professionals and courses at the University of Missouri and Yale University, both in Agroforestry. His interests focus on empowerment projects that connect communities ecologically to their landscapes and food production systems. He has a special interest in working with specialty crops for ethnic communities, and working with/supporting Veterans like himself.
About Our Moderator:
Semi Semi-Dikoko is a Conceptual Artist and Principal at SSD International, (a Systems Architecture & Social Sculpture practice), who made Westville New Haven Connecticut, his base after living on four continents. His practice and artistic expression explore concepts, processes, and applications that benefit and heal his community, the disenfranchised, here and abroad, and self. An activist and social entrepreneur, he serves in various capacity, striving towards an equitable and sustainable outlook for the most vulnerable.