What Is It Good For? Defining Art’s Purpose Now
The opening weekend of the series acknowledges art’s potential for addressing complicated questions of cultural meaning and value. Art makers navigate a fine line between addressing their own interests and making their work accessible to a public who will find these economically valuable. How can we use our creative labor to catalyze collective action? Is that art’s purpose?
Collaborating Artists: Cristal Sabbagh & Roger Noel; J’Sun Howard & Jennifer Karmin with insight by Coya Paz; C.C. Carter, Sage Morgan Hubbard & Keli Stewart.
Cristal Sabbagh is an art educator at Adlai E. Stevenson High School, a fine artist and an interdisciplinary performance artist. She received her B.F.A. In Art Education from the University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign, and her M.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College, Chicago. Her work is motivated by a multitude of areas such as: film, culture, history, death/rebirth, music, hip-hop and butoh. Her current butoh inspired performances investigate the volatility of toddler emotions, the activation of the body through improvised voice, and the spirit. During these and other performances she organically transforms her body, inhabiting a range of emotional states: the grotesque savage, the primitive toddler, the spiritually awakened, among others. Her work has often been described as gut wrenching, vulnerable, and provocative. Sound and music is an essential component in Cristal’s movement pieces. She’s been collaborating with her husband, Elias Sabbagh, for the last five years to create compelling and evocative soundscapes. Her work has most recently been seen at the Betty Rhymer Gallery, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, the Chicago Cultural Center, and NOCCA/Riverfront, New Orleans. She has been studying butoh with Katsura Kan, Daisuke Yoshimoto, Diego Pinon, Kayo Mikami, Natsu Nakajima, Koh Morobushi, Akadama, Joan Laage and others.
Roger Noel aka DjMacumba is a writer, gardner, musician, dj and cultural worker.He has been dancing, drumming, singing and playing the songs of the African diaspora before he even knew what that meant.
Coya Paz is a poet, director, and lip gloss connoisseur who was raised in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil before moving permanently to the United States in 1987. Coya is a proud co-founder of Proyecto Latina and the director in residence for the Poetry Performance Incubator at the Guild Complex. She cofounded Teatro Luna in 2000, and served as co-Artistic Director until 2009. Recent projects include: Nation of Cowards, a multi-sited performance piece about interracial dialogue; Tour Guides; and Machos, which won the 2008 Non-Equity Jeff Awards for Best New Work and Outstanding Ensemble. She is at work on a new play called The Americans, based on interviews with people in 10 states across the USA. Coya teaches in The Theater Department at Columbia College, and holds a PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University. She is a regular commentator on race, media and pop culture for Vocalo.org (89.5) and has published several articles on Latina performance, Latina/o identities, and public violence. Coya’s artistic work has been profiled in The New York Times, American Theater Magazine, Theater Journal, and the Chicago Tribune, among others. She was named one of UR Magazine’s 30 Under 30 (when she was under 30!), a GO-NYC Magazine 100 Women We Love, and received a Trailblazer Award for her service to LGBTQ communities. Most recently, she has been awarded 3Arts Residency at Ragdale. Above all, she believes in the power of performance and poetry to build community towards social change.
For a full manifesto, visit Coya’s website at www.coyapaz.com.
J’Sun Howard is a 2010 Julius Margolin “Youth In Labor” Scholarship Award recipient and dance artist/writer originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. His choreography has appeared in multiple venues around Chicago including the Dance Center of Columbia College (during his undergrad), Links Hall, Insight Arts/Center for New Possibilities, Northwestern University, Sonotheque, Lincoln Square Theatre, and was commissioned for Chicago Academy School for the Arts students. In 2009, J’Sun was selected to be a LinkUp Residency artist at Links Hall. J’Sun has performed for the following choreographers: Selene Carter, Asimina Chremos, Margi Cole, Michael Cole, Darrell Jones, Julia Mayer, Margaret Morris, Valerie Tucker, Karen Wall, Amy Wlikerson, and Sara Wookey. JSun’s poetry has been published in the following literary web journals: Farmhouse, Lines and Stars, Pike, and Void. His first short story “Mouth Fulla Words” can be read at Storyglossia.com.
Follow J’Sun’s blog at isawalkinghaiku.blogspot.com!!!
Jennifer Karmin has published, performed, exhibited, taught, and experimented with language across the U.S., Japan, and Kenya. She curates the Red Rover Series and is co-founder of the public art group Anti Gravity Surprise. Her multidisciplinary projects have been presented at festivals, artist-run spaces, community centers, and on city streets including Betalevel (CA), the Chicago Cultural Center (IL), the French Broad Institute of Time & the River (NC), the Poetry Project (NY), the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (MI), and Woodland Pattern Book Center (WI). Aaaaaaaaaaalice, a text-sound epic, was published by Flim Forum Press in 2010. A proud member of the international Dusie Kollektiv, she is also the author of the Dusie chapbook Evacuated: Disembodying Katrina. Her collaborative street project Walking Poem is featured online at How2. In Chicago, Karmin teaches creative writing to immigrants at Truman College and works as a Poet in Residence for the public schools.
Visit Jennifer’s website at www.aaaaaaaaaaalice.blogspot.com.
Keli Stewart is a Chicago native whose stories, plays and poems have appeared in Meridians, Warpland: A Journal of Black Literature and Ideas, Letters to Fathers from Daughters, Torch Poetry, Hip Mama, Muzzle Magazine, Calyx and Reverie: Midwest African American Literature. She is a double recipient of the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Foundation Scholarship from the Fine Arts Work Center and also an alum of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation and Callaloo Summer Writing Workshops. Keli has received artist fellowships from the Augusta Savage Gallery’s Arts International Residency Program and Hedgebrook, where she was awarded the 2010 Adrienne Reiner Hochstadt Award. Keli is the first prize recipient of the 2010 Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award from the Illinois Center for the Book, Emerging Writers Prize. She received her BA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College and is currently an MFA Poetry student at Chicago State University. She is the mother of two sons and is currently at work on her debut poetry collection.
Sage Morgan Hubbard earned her MA in Performance Studies at Northwestern University. She is a graduate of Brown University where she double majored in “Performance Studies: Socially Conscious Art of the Everyday” and Ethnic Studies. She is a poet, activist and teacher from Washington, D.C. She is the founder of WORD! spoken word artists and activists, a former DC poetry slam coach and one of the original members of Spoken Resistance and the performance group Sol y Soul, arts for social change.
C.C. Carter is a Chicagoan with national prominence on the performance poetry scene. Her first book, Body Language, a collection of poetry, was nominated for a 2003 Lambda Literary Award. She is the winner of a host of poetry slams including winning the Fifth Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Competition and the First Annual Behind Our Masks Poetry Slam. She has created and maintained several traditions in the poetry community, including national and local poetry slams for people of color, and the women of color night at Mountain Moving Coffeehouse. She has participated in hundreds of women’s music festivals, including the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, and has sold out performances on both coasts. Recently she was a guest performer with Nedra Johnson and Mimi Gonzalez on an Olivia Cruise, receiving standing ovations for all three appearances. Her performances have been earned her opening credits for Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Cheryl Clarke and Dorothy Allison and headlining credits on bills with Staceyann Chin, Alix Olson, and Andrea Gibson.
Find out more about C.C.’s work at www.CCCarter.com.