Talking About a Revolution: Art, Design & the Institution is a two-day symposium that will explore the role(s) of art, design and the art institution in effecting social and political change.
At a time when basic human civil rights and civil liberties are being egregiously renegotiated and unjustly overturned in both the public and political spheres how does, should or can the artist, designer, curator, institution, and art community respond? How have they responded in the past and how are they responding now? Does art, design, and the institution have a voice or place in this struggle? Should it? What is its responsibility? How can art and design help shape a more just and equitable future?
Join us as we invite artists, designers, writers, educators, activists, curators, art institution leaders, and the public to discuss art actions, art futures and the art institution as a catalyst for social and political change. The symposium will include panel discussions, talks, public conversations, and a special performance.
Participants: Stephanie Dinkins, Daniel Byers, Brendan Fernandes, Carole Harris, Maren Hassinger, Holly Hughes, Maria Hupfield (Native Art Department International), Ingrid LaFleur, Josh MacPhee, Jen Delos Reyes, Tylonn J. Sawyer, Gregory Sholette, Lumi Tan, and Marc-Olivier Wahler.
Day 1 — Friday, November 9 — Times: 9:30am-4pm, 8 – 10pm
9:30 – 11:30am — Morning Session
Location: Stamps Gallery, 201 S. Division Street, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109
Welcome & Individual Presentations
Presenters: Daniel Byers, Stephanie Dinkins, Carole Harris, Maria Hupfield, Amanda Krugliak, Tylonn J. Sawyer, and Gregory Sholette
12 – 1:30pm — Lunch Break
1:30 – 2pm — Exhibition Tour with curator Srimoyee Mitra
Location: Stamps Gallery, 201 S. Division Street, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109
2 – 4pm — Afternoon Session: Panel Discussion + Q&A
Location: Ann Arbor District Library (Downtown), 343 S 5th Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Panel Discussion no. 1: Art Futures: New Modes of Organizing
Panelists: Carole Harris, Josh MacPhee, Jen Delos Reyes, and Gregory Sholette. Moderated by Ingrid LaFleur.
This panel discussion will explore how artists, designers and organizers create social change through their practice; how and where activism and art intersects and where do/can/should politics, social justice and art overlap.
4 – 8pm — Afternoon & Dinner Break
8 – 10pm — Special Performance: Emergency Rave
Location: Neutral Zone, 310 E Washington St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Day 2 — Saturday November 10 — Time: 9:30am-5pm
9:30 – 11:30am — Morning Session
Location: Space 2435, North Quad, 105 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Welcome & Individual Presentations
Presenters: Brendan Fernandes, Maren Hassinger, Josh MacPhee, and Jen Delos Reyes, Lumi Tan and Marc-Olivier Wahler
11:30 — 1pm — Lunch Break
1:00 — 5pm — Afternoon Session: 2 Panel Discussions + Q&A
Location: Space 2435, North Quad, 105 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Panel Discussion no. 2: Art Actions: Performance, Dance and Social Movement
Panelists: Stephanie Dinkins, Brendan Fernandes, Maren Hassinger, and Maria Hupfield. Moderated by Holly Hughes.
This conversation will examine the intertwined histories of performance, dance and social movements; how artists and dancers have and do involve politics in their work, how dance and performance have been inspired by social and political movements and vice versa; and how the physical act of dance and performance lend itself to exploring these themes.
Panel Discussion no. 3: Art Spaces: The Institution as Catalyst for Social Change
Panelists: Daniel Byers, Tylonn Sawyer, Lumi Tan, and Marc-Olivier Wahler. Moderated by Srimoyee Mitra.
This conversation will explore how and if the art institution can be a vehicle for social change, what the role of the art institution is within its community, what makes an art institution accessible and inclusive, and how the art institution can promote social equity.
Dan Byers is the John R. and Barbara Robinson Family Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University, a position he has held since June 2017. Previously, he was Mannion Family Senior Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, where he organized solo shows featuring Diane Simpson, Geoffrey Farmer, and Steve McQueen. His group exhibitions there included The Artist’s Museum and the 2017 Foster Prize Exhibition. Before moving to Boston, Byers was Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Carnegie Museum of Art, and co-curator, with Daniel Baumann and Tina Kukielski, of the 2013 Carnegie International. In addition to overseeing the Carnegie’s acquisitions of modern and contemporary art, his projects included solo exhibitions of James Lee Byars, Cathy Wilkes, and Ragnar Kjartansson, and the group shows Reanimation, Ordinary Madness, and Natural History. Before joining the staff at the Carnegie, he was Curatorial Fellow at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and Assistant to the Directors at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. He has taught in the MFA programs at Carnegie Mellon University and Lesley University, and holds an M.A. from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and a B.S. in Studio Art from Skidmore College.
Jen Delos Reyes
Jen Delos Reyes is a creative laborer, educator, writer, and radical community arts organizer. Her practice is as much about working with institutions as it is about creating and supporting sustainable artist-led culture. Delos Reyes worked within Portland State University from 2008 – 2014 to create the first flexible residency Art and Social Practice MFA program in the United States and devised the curriculum that focused on place, engagement, and dialogue. The flexible residency program allows for artists embedded in their communities to remain on site throughout their course of study. She is the director and founder of Open Engagement, an international annual conference on socially engaged art that has been active since 2007 and hosted conferences in two countries at locations including the Queens Museum in New York.
Delos Reyes currently lives and works in Chicago, IL where she is the Associate Director of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Stephanie Dinkins is a transdisciplinary artist interested in creating platforms for ongoing dialog about artificial intelligence as it intersects race, gender, aging and our future histories. Her art employs lens-based practices, the manipulation of space, and technology to grapple with notions of consciousness, agency, perception, and social equity. Her work has been exhibited at a broad spectrum of public, private, and institutional venues by design. These include Institute of Contemporary Art Dunaujvaros, Herning Kunstmuseum, Spellman College Museum of Fine Art, Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Wave Hill, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Spedition Bremen, and the corner of Putnam and Malcolm X Boulevard in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She is the recipient of financial support from Joan Mitchell Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Lef Foundation, and Residency Unlimited. Artist residencies include NEW INC, Blue Mountain Center; Aim Program, Bronx Museum; The Laundromat Project; Santa Fe Art Institute, Art/Omi and Center for Contemporary Art, Czech Republic. Her work has been written about in media outlets such as Art In America, The New York Times, Washington Post, and Baltimore Sun and SLEEK Magazine. She is a 2017 A Blade of Grass Fellow and a 2018 Truth Resident at Eyebeam, NY.
Brendan Fernandes (b. 1979, Nairobi, Kenya) is a internationally recognized Canadian artist working at the intersection of dance and visual arts. Currently based out of Chicago, Brendan’s projects address issues of race, queer cultural, migration, protest and other forms of collective movement. Always looking to create new spaces and new forms of agency, Brendan’s projects take on hybrid forms: part Ballet, part queer dance hall, part political protest… always rooted in collaboration and fostering solidarity. Brendan is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program (2007) and a recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Fellowship (2014). In 2010, he was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award, and is currently the recipient of a 2017 Canada Council New Chapter grant. His projects have shown at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York); the Museum of Modern Art (New York); The Getty Museum (Los Angeles); the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa); MAC (Montréal); among a great many others. He is currently artist-in-residency and faculty at Northwestern University and represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.
Carole Harris is a fiber artist who has redefined and subverted the concepts of quilting to suit her own purposes. She extends the boundaries of the tradition beyond utilitarian usage through explorations that include other forms of stitchery, irregular shapes, textures, materials and objects. Her work has received numerous awards and has been exhibited and published extensively. Highlights include a 2014 solo exhibition at the Paint Creek Center for the Arts (Rochester, MI) and inclusion in the exhibition “The Sum of Many Parts: 25 Quiltmakers in 21st Century America” which toured China, where she was a guest lecturer.
Born Maren Louise Jenkins, Hassinger grew up in Los Angeles. She enrolled at Bennington College, Vermont, in 1965 for dance, which she had studied since the age of five. She graduated four years later, however, with a bachelor’s degree in sculpture, though her interest in dance would remain strong and she often integrates it into her sculptural forms. After a brief stay in New York, she returned to Los Angeles to pursue an MFA in fiber from the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating in 1973. Hassinger’s study of fibers proved beneficial to her work in sculpture, and she learned techniques that would inform her later work. Since 1997 she has been director of the Rinehart School of Sculpture at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, bringing her spirit of experimentation to teaching as well. Wire rope, usually frayed, unraveled, bent, or twisted, appears frequently in Hassinger’s sculptures and installations. The material’s characteristics make it similar to fiber, allowing the artist to work and shape it to approximate natural forms and plant life.
Hassinger also creates performance and video pieces that explore the relationship between the body and its surroundings. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s she sought out alternative spaces in which to show her works, such as abandoned buildings, construction sites, and vacant lots. Her experimentation extends beyond materials and venues to encompass collaboration with other artists, notably Senga Nengudi. Much like her sculptures and installations, Hassinger’s performances and videos generate a desire for discovery. Usually focused on movement, these works, though seemingly about the mundane, bring life to simple gestures and actions.
Holly Hughes is an internationally acclaimed performance artist whose work maps the troubled fault lines of identity. Her combination of poetic imagery and political satire has earned her wide attention and placed her work at the center of America’s culture wars.
Hughes was among the first students to attend The New York Feminist Art Institute, an experiment in progressive pedagogy launched by members of the Heresies Collective. While there, she worked with feminist artists such as Miriam Schapiro and Mary Beth Edelson and participated in performance work at A.I.R. gallery.
In the early ’80s, Hughes became part of the Women’s One World Café, also known as the WOW Café, an arts cooperative in the East Village established by an international group of women artists. As the Village gradually became a magnet for the avant-garde art world, WOW served as an incubator for a generation of artists.
Hughes has performed at venues across North America, Great Britain and Australia including the Walker Art Center, the Wexner Center, the Guggenheim Museum, the Yale Repertory, the Drill Hall in London, and numerous universities. She has published two books: Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler and O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance, co-edited with Dr. David Roman. In addition, her work has been widely anthologized and has served as foundational material for performance studies, queer studies and feminist performance studies.
Hughes has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council, the Ford Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. She is the recipient of two Village Voice Obie awards, a Lambda Book Award, a GLAAD media award, and a Distinguished Alumni Award.
In addition to teaching at the University of Michigan, Hughes is co-editing Memories of the Revolution: The First Ten Years of the WOW Café, with Alina Troyano for the University of Michigan Press, and is creating a new solo piece entitled The Dog and Pony Show (Bring Your Own Pony). She has also been commissioned by the U‑M Institute for Research on Women and Gender to create a new performance piece in celebration of the organization’s tenth anniversary.
Maria Hupfield of Native Art Department International
Native Art Department International is a collaborative long-term project created and administered by Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan. It focuses on communications platforms and art-world systems of support while at the same time functioning as emancipation from essentialism and identity based artwork. It seeks to circumvent easy categorization by comprising a diverse range such as curated exhibitions, video screenings, panel talks, collective art making, and an online presence, however all activities contain an undercurrent of positive progress through cooperation and non-competition.
Based in Brooklyn New York, Maria Hupfield is an interdisciplinary artist and a member of the Anishinaabek Nation from Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario. Her recent traveling solo exhibition The One Who Keeps on Giving opened the thirtieth anniversary season of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto in partnership with Galerie de l’UQAM, Montréal; Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, Halifax; and Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris. She is currently the first Indigenous Artist in Resident at ISCP in Brooklyn, with an upcoming solo at The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
Jason Lujan is originally from Marfa, Texas. His multidisciplinary work sidesteps labels of Native American identity to focus on transnational experiences and aesthetics. Lujan has recently exhibited at Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ; National Museum of the American Indian, New York, NY; Curitiba Biennial, Brazil; and I Bienal Continental de Artes Indígenas Contemporáneas at the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares, Mexico City, Mexico. He curates and co-organizes exhibitions, and is a board chair at the New York City arts nonprofit ABC No Rio.
Ingrid LaFleur is an artist, activist, and Afrofuturist. Her mission is to ensure equal distribution of the future, exploring the frontiers of social justice through new technologies, economies and modes of government.
As a recent Detroit Mayoral candidate and founder and director of AFROTOPIA, LaFleur implements Afrofuturist strategies to empower Black bodies and oppressed communities through frameworks such as blockchain, cryptocurrency, and universal basic income. Ingrid LaFleur is currently the co-founder and Chief Community Officer of EOS Detroit.
As a thought leader, social justice technologist, public speaker, teacher and cultural advisor she has led conversations and workshops at Centre Pompidou (Paris), TEDxBrooklyn, TEDxDetroit, Ideas City, New Museum (New York), AfroTech Conference, Harvard University and Oxford University, among others.
LaFleur is based in Detroit, Michigan.
Josh MacPhee is an artist, curator and activist living in Brooklyn, New York. MacPhee graduated from Oberlin College in 1996 and spent eight years as an artist and activist in Chicago, Illinois where he established a distribution system called justseeds in order get more radical art projects out to the public. At its inception Justseeds primarily offered art by Josh MacPhee; now the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative is a cooperative of 25 like-minded artists.
He is a founding member of both the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative and Interference Archive, a public collection of cultural materials produced by social movements based in Brooklyn, NY. MacPhee is the author and editor of numerous publications, including Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now and Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics and Culture. He has organized the Celebrate People’s History poster series since 1998 and has been designing book covers for many publishers for the past decade.
Srimoyee Mitra is a curator and writer whose work is invested in building empathy and mutual respect by bringing together meaningful and diverse works of art and design. She develops ambitious and socially relevant projects that mobilize the agency within creative practices and public audiences. Her research interests lie at the intersection of exhibition-making and participation, migration, globalization and decolonial aesthetics.
Mitra has worked as an Arts Writer for publications in India such as Time Out Mumbai and Art India Magazine. She was the Programming Co-ordinator of the South Asian Visual Arts Centre (2008−2010) in Toronto, where her curatorial projects included Crossing Lines: An Intercultural Dialogue at the Glenhyrst Art Gallery, Brantford. In 2011, she was appointed the Curator of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Windsor, where she developed an award-winning curatorial and publications program. Her exhibitions Border Cultures (2013−2015), We Won’t Compete (2014), Wafaa Bilal: 168:01 (2016) were awarded “Exhibition of the Year” by the Ontario Association of Art Galleries for three consecutive years. In 2015, she edited a multi-authored book, Border Cultures, co-published by the Art Gallery of Windsor and Black Dog Publishing and her writing can be found in journals such as Scapegoat Journal, Fuse and C Magazines.
Recent conferences and lectures include Creating a Future, O’Kinadas Residency, Complicated Reconciliations, Faculty of Critical and Creative studies, University of British Columbia, August 2016; Unsettling Urban Spaces on Borderlands, Agnes Etherington Centre and Department of Film and Media, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, March 2016; Sensing Borders, Daniels Faculty University of Toronto, Proseminar Speakers Series, December, 2015 and Home on Border Lands, The University of Arizona School of Art, Visiting Artists and Scholars Lecture Series, November 12, 2014.
Born and raised in Mumbai, Mitra lived in Canada and India before moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she is currently the Director of Stamps Gallery, Stamps School of Art and Design.
Tylonn J. Sawyer
Tylonn J. Sawyer (b. 1976) is an American figurative artist, educator, & curator living and working in Detroit, Michigan. His work centers around themes of identity, both individual & collective, politics, race, history and pop culture.
His drawings and paintings have been included in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad including 55th International Venice Biennale, Italy; Texas A & M University, Texas; The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History & The Detroit Institute of Art, Michigan; Heron Arts, San Francisco; Kravets/Wehby Gallery, Rush Arts & The New York Academy of Art, New York, amongst others
In 2013, Sawyer expanded his studio practice to include large public murals and collaborative projects throughout Detroit, Michigan. Sawyer has completed public works for the Wholefoods corporation, Redbull USA, Murals in the Market International Mural Festival, Quicken Loans Corporation, Under Armor, The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and The Detroit Institute of Arts.
Tylonn is a professor of art at Oakland Community College and teaches drawing at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Over the past decade he has taught various courses in drawing, life drawing, anatomy, 2‑D design, all levels of painting, and figure painting at various institutions including Marygrove College and Eastern Michigan University.
Sawyer’s passion for arts education lead to his community work with youth. He has worked with various community arts programs throughout New York, serving as art director, teacher, curriculum specialist, and more. From 2011 to 2013 he was the program manager for an arts infused education organization in southwest Detroit, servicing Detroit public schools. Most recently, in early 2014, Sawyer started the first teen arts council in Michigan for the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
Tylonn received a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from the New York Academy of Art: Graduate School of Figurative Art and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (drawing & painting) from Eastern Michigan University. He is also the recipient of the Peter T. Rippon Travel Award, independent study at the Royal Academy of Art, London England.
In his wide-ranging art, activist, and writing practice, Gregory Sholette (American, b. 1956; lives in New York) has developed a self-described “viable, democratic, counter-narrative that, bit-by-bit, gains descriptive power within the larger public discourse.” Sholette is a founding member of Political Art Documentation/Distribution, which issued publications on politically engaged art in the 1980s; of REPOhistory, which repossessed suppressed histories in New York in the 1990s; and more recently, of Gulf Labor, a group of artists advocating for migrant workers constructing museums in Abu Dhabi. In dozens of essays, three edited volumes, and his own Dark Matter: Art and Politics in an Age of Enterprise Culture (Pluto Press, 2011), Sholette has documented four decades of activist art that, for its ephemerality, politics, and market resistance, might otherwise remain invisible. He has contributed to such journals as Eflux, Critical Inquiry, Texte zur Kunst, October, CAA Art Journal and Manifesta Journal among other publications. His recent art installations include Imaginary Archive at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania and the White Box at Zeppelin University, Germany. His collaborative performance Precarious Workers Pageant premiered in Venice on August 7, 2015. Sholette is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program in Critical Theory and is an Associate of the Art, Design and the Public Domain program at the Graduate School of Design Harvard University, served as a Curriculum Committee member of Home WorkSpace Beirut education program, and is an Associate Professor in the Queens College Art Department, City University of New York where he helped establish the new MFA Concentration SPQ (Social Practice Queens).
Lumi Tan is Curator at The Kitchen in New York, where she has organized exhibitions and produced performances with artists across disciplines and generations since 2010. Most recently, Tan has worked with Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Meriem Bennani, Marianna Ellenberg, Sibyl Kempson, Sahra Motalebi, and The Racial Imaginary Institute. Previously she has curated projects with artists including Ed Atkins, Gretchen Bender, Glasser, Liz Magic Laser, George Lewis, Sara Magenheimer, Sondra Perry, Anicka Yi, and Danh Vo and Xiu Xiu. Prior to The Kitchen, Tan was Guest Curator at the Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain Nord Pas-de-Calais in France, director at Zach Feuer Gallery, and curatorial assistant at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Artforum, Frieze, The Exhibitionist, and numerous exhibition catalogues.
Marc-Olivier Wahler (b. 1964 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland) is an international curator, contemporary art critic, art historian and the director of the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU. He is the founder and current director of CHALET SOCIETY, Paris, the former director of PALAIS DE TOKYO, Paris (2006−2012), the former director of SWISS INSTITUTE, New York (2000−2006), the founding director of CAN, Neuchâtel (1995−2000), and the founding editor of PALAIS / Magazine.
As an art critic, Marc-Olivier Wahler regularly writes on contemporary art and its theoretical problematic in international magazines, academic books and exhibition catalogues. His most renowned publication is the art encyclopedia From Yodeling to Quantum Physics in 5 volumes. His conferences in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North and South America primarily focus on the forms of the exhibitions, the ontology of the works and the effect of the language used in the art world.
During the last twenty years, Marc-Olivier Wahler has organized over 400 exhibitions – principally as museum director/chief curator, but also as a freelance curator – in Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Zurich, Lausanne, Biel, Geneva, Paris, Dijon, Marrakech, Madrid, Turin, Lisbon, Coimbra, and Los Angeles.
In 2011, he was decorated as a Chevalier in the French Republic’s Order of Arts and Letters. In 2013, Wahler was awarded the Meret Oppenheim Prize, Switzerland’s highest cultural award in the contemporary arts.