Day Celebrated Local Talent and More Than 25 Community Partners
UMass Boston’s School for Global Inclusion and Social Development cohosted the Second Annual Symposium on Art for Cultural Inclusion during Thanksgiving week, bringing dozens of artists from UMass Boston and the community together to showcase how they use their work to create lasting connections. Arts Connect International, a nonprofit that funds artists in residence and connects them to a network of leaders and training opportunities, was the cosponsor.
Marian Taylor Brown, the executive director and founder of Arts Connect International, is a new student in the university’s Global Inclusion and Social Development PhD program. She brought SGISD on board as a symposium partner this year because of its emphasis on people excluded due to gender, ethnicity, age, economic status, and other conditions, which complements ACI’s mission of connecting leaders in the arts field committed to cultural inclusion and social equity.
“Literally everything I am learning and researching is being directly applied to what we are building at ACI,” Brown said.
The symposium included a showcase of visual art, panel discussions, and community yoga. At one of the panel discussions, two current UMass Boston students and an alumna told stories of their Cambodian heritage through song and spoken word. Her artwork displayed on a screen, Ammany Ty, a junior English major in the Honors College, walked around the Campus Center Ballroom, initiating a “conversation” with the audience.
“When you're 3, you don't understand everyone's attachment to the yellow house. When you don't know the word ‘evicted,’ you still understand it means we don't belong,” Ty said. She performed her piece as a conversation because “If it can connect to you, it means that we're not alone.”
The symposium also featured breakout sessions, where students from the Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School, a Boston public school, shared how they used art in their classes to communicate ideas as diverse as worker pay and the Holocaust. Each of the groups also talked about the idea of universal design – designing coursework and projects with all abilities in mind.
Teaching artist Maureen “Moe” Finnerty described how when she works with students, projects change depending on whether the student is a visual or oral learner. For art projects that require texture, she uses brown sugar instead of sand and paints with Kool-Aid.
“My takeaway is think about who’s going to show up before they show up and if they’re older, ask them, how does this best work for you? Even kids as young as 10 can do this. Give them control of something – their own bodies – even if it’s just, ‘How do you want to draw this picture? What do you want to use?’” Finnerty said.
About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit www.umb.edu.