Lecture Addresses Art Works as Agents of Social Change

by FAU College of Arts and Letters | Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014

The University Galleries in Florida Atlantic University's Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters presents a public lecture by Doris Sommer, Ph.D., Harvard University.  Sommer will present "Art Works: Cultural Agents Tackle Urgent Social Challenges." A panel of experts will discuss the topic "Advocacy and Activism: Catalyst for Social Change" following the lecture. The program is on Monday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m., in the University Theatre, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus, and is free and open to the public. 

The lecture and panel are presented in conjunction with the "Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age 2001-2012," on exhibit in the Ritter Art Gallery through Saturday, Oct. 25.  The exhibition presents a compilation of 122 selected posters that serve to both consider the designer's role and this medium's ability to present social and political statements that are visually able to cross language barriers. The Ritter Art Gallery will be open to the public one hour prior to the Oct. 6 event.

Sommer's lecture will highlight the ideas in her new book "The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities." Sommer investigates and promotes the significance and importance of public art as a means for activism.  She encourages the idea that as individuals and as a collective group we possess the creative capacity, through the arts, to bring positive societal change.  Her academic and outreach work promotes development through arts and humanities, specifically through "Pre-Texts" in Boston Public Schools, throughout Latin America and beyond. Among her books is "Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America" (1991) about novels that helped to consolidate new republics; "Proceed with Caution when Engaged by Minority Literature" (1999) on a rhetoric of particularism; "Bilingual Aesthetics: A New Sentimental Education" (2004); and "The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities" (2014).  

Sommers will participate as a panelist at the event. The other panelists are Fred Fejes, Ph.D., Jane Caputi, Ph.D., Kate MacMillin and Jay Critchley.  Fejes, Ph.D., is professor of media studies at FAU. His research and publications include international communication, mass communication theory, new communication technologies, media effects, and sexuality and the media. Currently he is working on an oral history project of the South Florida LGBQ community that focuses on the process of generational change. 

Caputi is a professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Communication and Multimedia Studies at FAU.  She has written several books as well as an educational documentary, "The Pornography of Everyday Life."  Currently, she is working on a new documentary, "Voices of Green Feminism," as well as an article "The Anthropocene and the Obscene: A Deliberately Dirty-Minded Manifesto." 

MacMillin is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Broadcasting at Florida International University. MacMillin is a 30-year TV veteran, having produced for PBS, cable and network television. In 2014, she was the producer of "South Florida's Rising Seas," which aired on WPBT2.

Multimedia artist and activist Jay Critchley's visual, conceptual and performance work has traversed the globe, from his patriotic "Old Glory Condoms" to "Miss Tampon Liberty," and the "Nuclear Recycling Consultants."  Critchley has taught at the Museum School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and has had recent residencies at Harvard University, AS220 in Rhode Island, and Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center in New York City.  

The panel will be moderated by Michael Horswell, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish and Latin American literature, associate dean of graduate studies and research, and director of the PhD in Comparative Studies program at FAU.

Sommer's lecture is sponsored by the generous support of Walter and Lalita Janke and the Peace, Justice and Human Rights Initiative at FAU.  The panel is made possible by the University Galleries, FAU in collaboration with the Dean's office of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters.

The University Galleries at FAU are open to the public Tuesdays through Fridays, from 1 to 4 p.m., and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Group and class tours are welcome during public hours as well as at other times scheduled by appointment. Gallery exhibitions are sponsored by the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. For more information, call 561-297-2661, email galleries@fau.edu or visit www.fau.edu/galleries.  

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