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Arts Circle hosts public ‘Arts on Equality’ celebration April 14

Artists interpret One Book, One Northwestern selection ‘Our Declaration’

EVANSTON - Northwestern Arts Circle presents “Arts on Equality,” a full day of multidisciplinary art programming exploring themes of equality, on Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All events take place on the Evanston campus and are free and open to the public. Registration and more information is available on the Arts Circle website.

Northwestern scholars and guest artists working in a variety of disciplines were invited to reflect on the One Book, One Northwestern selection, “Our Declaration” by Danielle Allen. The resulting program, “Arts on Equality,” features a full day of dance, visual art, creative writing, theater and music exploring the book’s central theme.

The programs curated expressly for “Arts on Equality” will complement the opening celebration of the Block Museum’s exhibition “Hank Willis Thomas: Unbranded.” Thomas uses images from advertising campaigns to draw attention to the ways mass media images create and reinforce ideas about gender roles, race and class.

“Danielle Allen’s remarkable book on American democracy serves as a springboard for the artists on the program, each exploring different lived experiences of equality,” said Rosie Roche, program manager for Northwestern Arts Circle.

“We are looking forward to the community conversations these artistic programs will surely provoke in that uniquely immediate and visceral way only the arts can provide.

“Northwestern Arts Circle’s ‘Arts on Equality’ celebration also provides the opportunity and means for community members to experience an art form they are less familiar with -- free of charge. We encourage visual arts patrons to take in a choral or dance performance, performing arts audiences to partake in an author reading and vice versa.”

The “Arts on Equality” schedule:

Authors on Equality

Rachel Jamison Webster, Jacqueline Battalora and YZ Chin in conversation with Michelle Huang

Noon to 1 p.m.
Block Auditorium
40 Arts Circle Drive

“The achievement of human equality requires, among other things, the empowerment of human beings as language-using creatures,” writes Danielle Allen in “Our Declaration.”

Three authors read from their work on legal and personal repercussions about race from the founding of America to today. 

Jacqueline Battalora's book, “Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today,” offers a thorough examination of the reasons and ways whites are treated differently by American law. This new book on race in America begins with the moment when “white people” were invented through legislation and the enforcement of laws. It explains how the creation of this distinction divided laborers and ultimately served the interests of the elite. It also examines how foundational law and policy were used to institutionalize the practice of white people holding positions of power. 

Rachel Jamison Webster is working on a personal history of confronting racism, “American Girl: Notes from a Divided Country.”  She will read an excerpt, “Denial in the Bloodline,” which explores her ancestors' mixed race marriages, undertaken in the very years when the idea of "whiteness" was being legally constructed to support the slave trade. She will ask how her own family's denial and construction of whiteness mirrors that of the country.  

Author YZ Chin and Michelle Huang, college fellow in Northwestern’s English department and Asian American Studies Program discuss Chin’s first book, “Though I Get Home,” winner of the Louise Meriwether First Book Prize, an initiative begun by the Feminist Press and TAYO Literary Magazine to lift up women writers of color. Called “complex and intimate” by prize judge Ana Castillo, this debut examines the tension between individual motivation and globalizing circumstance.  

Seating is limited and online reservations are requested.

Theater on Equality

“Keeping Faith: Sister Stories”
Noon to 1:15 p.m.
Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts, Struble Theater
1949 Campus Drive

What if we all told stories from our faiths with the goal of bringing people together and showing peace, curiosity and similarities amongst the faiths?

Since the 2016 election, there has been an uptick of hateful and vitriolic language in the U.S. Rohina Malik, a Muslim woman and storyteller, sought a creative project that would demonstrate peace and commonalities between people. She approached Susan Stone, a Jewish woman and storyteller, and Kim Schultz, a Christian woman and storyteller, with this idea. The resulting play, “Keeping Faith: Sisters of Story,” includes stories inspired by the personal faith journey of each woman. Cultural musical storyteller Lucia Thomas accompanies on violin, oud and guitar.

Malik is the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and School of Communication radio/television/film artist in residence.  

Seating is limited and online reservations are requested.

Visual Art on Equality

Unbranded: Hank Willis Thomas in Conversation with Huey Copeland
2 to 3:30 p.m.
Norris University Center, McCormick Auditorium
1999 Campus Drive

Join conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas for a conversation on his Block Museum of Art exhibition “Unbranded” and the ways in which advertising shapes and reflects American narratives of race, gender and class. The artist’s talk will be followed by a conversation with Huey Copeland, professor of art history.

This program is supported by a Block Museum Board of Advisors gift in the name of Patrick Graziose and by the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.

Seating is limited and online reservations are requested.   

“Hank Willis Thomas: Unbranded” exhibition
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive

How do images in advertising campaigns perpetuate ideas about race, gender and class?

This exhibition brings together selections from two bodies of work by renowned American artist Hank Willis Thomas (b.1976): “Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America 1968-2008” and “Unbranded: A Century of White Women 1915-2015.”  Thomas removes slogans and product names from historical and contemporary advertisements, asking us to confront the impact of images on the popular imagination.

Funding for this exhibition is provided by the David C. and Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation and the Robert Mapplethrope Foundation.  It is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Program.

Museum admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Block Museum website.

Music on Equality

Bienen Contemporary/Early Ensemble
Donald Nally, conductor
4 to 5:15 p.m.
Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, Ryan Opera Theater
70 Arts Circle Drive

How do we view the suffering of others?

This choral music program explores equality and the lack of equality in three works written within the last two years, inspired by the 17th-century cantatas of Buxtehude.

Caroline Shaw’s “To the Hands” considers immigration and charity through her own words as well as those of Emma Lazarus’s iconic “The New Colossus.”

Anna Thorvaldsdottir considers suffering through supplication in “Ad genua,” a work for strings and choir.

Finally, Alex Berko’s “Lincoln” sets to music the timely dedicatory description of Lincoln’s statue at Washington’s National Cathedral: “remembered by a people, their conflict healed by the truth that marches on.”  

The program is directed by Grammy Award-winning conductor Donald Nally, and features Bienen Contemporary Ensemble accompanied by musicians from Callipygian Players and Dal Niente Ensemble. 

Online reservations are recommended. 

Dance on Equality

Hedwig Dances
“Parting Shadows” choreographed by Victor Alexander
4 to 5 p.m.
Wirtz Center for the Arts, Black Box Theater, Room 201
1949 Campus Drive

Parting Shadows by Victor Alexander is a quartet about perception and illusion. 

It is inspired by Plato’s cave allegory describing enchained, deluded people for whom shadows are the only reality.

Originally performed by Hubbard Street 2, Parting Shadows is in Hedwig Dances' repertoire.

“Parting Shadows" will be performed by Jessie Gutierrez, Jesse Hoisington, Taimy Ramos and Alejandro Ransoli.

Seating is limited, and online reservations are recommended.

Closing Reception

5:15 to 6 p.m.
Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, Ryan Opera Theater
70 Arts Circle Drive

Northwestern Arts Circle will host an “Arts on Equality” closing reception for the artists and program attendees from 5 to 6 p.m. in the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, 70 Arts Circle Drive.

Northwestern Arts Circle brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts. Search for events across all artistic disciplines at Northwestern Arts Circle.