As the fall 2009 residency approaches — Aug. 7-14 — so do a charm of fascinating workshops. Here’s a sampling of what will be offered at the residency, and what kinds of workshops in general are offered (including everything from moss to birth to dancing with the devil).
Moss, with faculty member Ralph Lutts: We walk through (and on) a world of wonder at our feet, but pay little attention to it. This is the world of mosses. There are more different species of mosses than any other group of plants other than flowering plants. You can dry them, store them for years, add water, and they will continue to grow. They are extraordinarily beautiful. Have you looked closely at them? In this non-technical workshop we will take a close look at mosses. We will discover their distinctive ways of living and their places in the environment. We will also take a close look at their beauty and learn how to tell the difference between species. Join us as we explore this amazing new world at our feet.
Cognitive Significance of Birth, with faculty member Ellie Epp: We’re mammals. We come into being cell by cell inside an already existing human body. As we grow from two cells to many, the means by which we perceive and feel construct themselves in reference to a small, tight, wet, and instantly provident bedroom. Then comes an extraordinary passage, violent and outrageous, in which immensely strong waves of force bear down upon us to eject us into what must seem a cataclysmically foreign world. How does this central fact of human embodiment inscribe itself in our physical and thus our psychological being? Can we detect its traces in our intuitions, our metaphors, our habits of feeling? Our religions and philosophies? As a root both of brutality and of hope, structural traces of birth and prenatal life are visible in poetry, philosophy, science, spirituality. This workshop is an introduction to a form of self-investigation which thus also becomes cultural investigation.
Marketing Your Business, Project, Art or Organization Without Losing Your Mind, Blowing Big Bucks, Or Selling Your Soul, with faculty member Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and special guest appearance by faculty member, Katt Lissard: So you have an idea for a business, project, performance, or organization, and you know it’s the right thing to do, but how do you build excitement, interest, and support around your vision? In addition to working collaboratively with others in your community, addressing real needs, and following your calling, you need to market what you’re doing in a way that is true to your work, and ethically in concert with your values and community. Effective, ethical and creative marketing can help you reach new audiences, members, clients or customers; find and keep funders; and make vital connections with others doing similar or complementary work. Come learn how to create your own website, business cards, postcards, find funding and fiscal sponsorship opportunities and do ethical, far-reaching, low-cost or free outreach.
Ethics – Whose Story Is it? With IMA student Kathleen Connolly and faculty member Jim Sparrell: In this workshop, we will consider ethical questions related to telling your story or doing research that involves other people’s stories. Our aim is to facilitate a discussion as a group about what it means that someone could be “hurt” by the telling of a story, and what it means to “speak your truth,” by developing questions that we might consider to help in making difficult decisions and break out of dichotomous thinking. In addition to sharing anyone’s experiences of telling stories and hearing responses (bring your story!) we may consider recent controversies involving writers such as Honor Moore, Kevin Rouse, Linda Grey Sexton, James Frey, and Lauren Slater. Technology permitting, we will try to listen to or watch some relevant interview segments from these people.
Ah, Raza! The Making of an American Artist, with IMA faculty member, Gaelyn Aguilar, and special guest Gustavo Aguilar: In 1996, percussionist and composer, Gustavo Aguilar, experienced a moment of psychic disequilibrium that prompted him to examine what it meant to identify himself as an American artist. Set against the backdrop of Aguilar’s border town hometown of Brownsville, Texas, Ah, Raza! The Making of an American Artist traces a line of continuity to the spaces that have mapped themselves out onto him, and to the people whose dispositions are also his own. Intertwining various sonic environments (sound ethnography and an original score) with an intersection of a multiplicity of gazes (video ethnography and still photography), Ah, Raza! is a confederacy of components that broadens one’s vision of how to be what one is.
Images of Islam, Reflections in Contemporary Western Culture, with Francis Charet: Islam is perceived as a radical, violent, fundamentalist and authoritarian religion, one that subjugates women. Or, alternatively, as a tolerant, sophisticated religious tradition that created the basis for a flourishing culture and civilization. These images are taken up, mirrored in the media and advocated by specific groups, resulting in a confused mix, often without clarity. The intention of this presentation is to explore some of these images, unpack them, and see what credible or otherwise foundations there are for them, in order to generate a conversation and open up the subject with a view to deepening our understanding.
Dancing with the Devil: Finding a critical voice in writing and scholarship, with faculty member James Sparrell: In this workshop we will examine the value of contradictory or challenging perspectives in grounding work, making it persuasive and interesting, and on working for positive social change. Nothing stands out with uniformity. What is the resistance to this kind of work? Some sources of resistance include reluctance to engage in the arguments or ideas coming from dominant cultural perspectives that have perpetuated and perpetrated abuse, oppression, and violence in the process of domination; difficulty in developing a mindfulness that dichotomies can be transcended; incomplete scholarship; confusing values with logical arguments; and working within a supportive, progressive, (continued) democratic educational environment.