Art & Activism: We Will Not Be Silent
SVACE faculty, students come together to launch inaugural newsletter
September 13, 2017
by Michael Bilsborough
SVA Continuing Education launched its inaugural newsletter, SVA ContinuEd, with “Art & Activism,” a live event at SVA Theatre. The event featured panelists at the top of their fields, a lively audience of students and faculty members, sushi and beverages, and a swag bag that any artist would seek out.
The event began with introductory remarks from Valerie Smaldone, SVACE faculty member, and Joseph Cipri, Executive Director of SVACE. Panelists Steve Brodner, Ed Woodham, and Nancy Giles addressed the questions that many of us ask when engaged in politically-minded creativity. They spoke out on the importance of initiating projects, the value of public space, the virtue of reflection in an age of opinions, and the obligation against remaining silent.
Steve Brodner discussed his early history of working with Steven Heller and courageously taking on figures all across the political spectrum. He also demonstrated how he has succeeded in making space for self-assigned cartoons and artwork, rather than waiting for commissions. This strategy has kept him at the front line of political cartoonists taking on the current administration and beyond. He also shared a useful acronym for maintaining a creative career: “OREO,” standing for “Observation, Relationships, Experience + Energy, Order.”
Ed Woodham focused on the resource of public space, demonstrated by brief history of his own projects, performances completed through his Art in Odd Places, and public engagement fostered through SVA’s own Summer Residency Programs. He noted that most of these projects were produced and performed without permits, and wove themselves so tightly into the fabric of New York City that they eluded discernment about “where the art ends and where the City begins.”
Nancy Giles reflected on the early days of her performing arts career, when she studied news articles as material for her improv performances. Confronting these stories - and the identity stereotypes imposed on her - helped Nancy develop an astute political outlook that she has shared on television. And while her opinions and commentary have attracted a national audience, she also speculated about the decline of reflection in this age of opinion saturation.
The panel closed with a call to arms from Steve Brodner: artists can not remain silent in the face of oppression, whether it be on the national stage or in a personal conversation.
After the presentations and panel, guests continued the discussion in the SVA Theatre lobby, enjoying sushi, bites, and drinks catered by Henry Yang of Amami, Brooklyn. Numerous faculty members chatted with students, including Thorsten Roth, Elise Engler, Jess Mackta, and Felipe Galindo, and more, along with Gail Anderson, Director, Visual Arts Press.