UNCG Campus Weekly

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‘Art of Public Memory’ Conference

032311Feature_ArtConference“The Art of Public Memory,” an international conference that will explore interactions between the arts, memory and history, will be held at UNCG Thursday through Sunday, April 7-10.

“The conference will focus on the ways that the arts participate in the creation and rethinking of public, or collective, memory,” said Dr. Ann Dils, director of the UNCG Women and Gender Studies Program. “Dance, theatre, music, film, and the visual arts all contribute to our understanding of people, events, places, institutions and histories.

“It is also part of a year-long series of events marking the opening of the new School of Music, Theatre and Dance, a celebration of interdisciplinary scholarship at UNCG, and a way to bring UNCG faculty, students and the public together with scholars, artists, educators and activists from around the world.”

An opening reception at the Greensboro Historical Museum from 7-9 p.m. Thursday will feature an opening address by Randy Martin, professor of art and public policy at New York University and director of the graduate program in arts politics. Martin is the author of “Performance as Political Act: The Embodied Self,” and “Critical Moves: Dance Studies in Theory and Politics,” and he is co-editor of “Artistic Citizenship: A Public Voice for the Arts.”

The conference will feature a variety of topics to be covered by more than 100 speakers in 50-plus programs and performance sessions running through Sunday. Events will be held across the facilities of the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Major presentations include:

  • “Serenade/ The Proposition,” performance by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (http://www.billtjones.org/ ), at 8 p.m. Friday, April 8, in Aycock Auditorium. A work about Abraham Lincoln and the nature of history, it was one of three works that Jones created for the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. Among Jones’s other award-winning productions are “Chapel/Chapter,” “The Table Project,” “Still/ Here,” “D-Man in the Waters” and “Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land.” Company co-founder Bill T Jones received the Kennedy Center Honor in December 2010.
  • Eileen M. Hayes, music historian and ethnomusicologist at the University of North Texas, 3-4:15 p.m., Friday, April 8, Collins Lecture Hall, Music Building. She is the author of “Songs in Black and Lavender: Race, Sexual Politics, and Women’s Music” and is the co-editor of “Black Women and Music: More than the Blues.” Her essays have been published in “African American Music: An Introduction,” “Ethnomusicology” and “Women and Music: the Journal of Gender and Culture.”
  • Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and MacArthur Foundation “genius award” winner, 2-4 p.m. Saturday, April 9, Taylor Building. She is the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in drama for the Broadway hit “Topdog/Underdog.” Her work, “The America Play,” will be presented locally by Triad Stage in May. Her musical, “Unchain My Heart, the Ray Charles Musical” is scheduled to premiere on Broadway this spring.

Conference attendees can also see the premiere of a documentary, “Honest, Abe,” by Mary Lopez, a UNCG media studies graduate student, which includes interviews with people living in Rutherford County, where local tradition suggests that Lincoln was born. NC A&T State University faculty member Donna Bradby will present sections of Suzan-Lori Parks’ “The America Play” performed by A&T students. UNCG theatre professor Janet Allard will lead a writing workshop titled “Whose/Who’s Lincoln?”

Other presenters will discuss how the arts shape our response to wars and natural disasters; the importance of popular media and television series such as “Mad Men” and “Big Love,” to shaping opinion of particular groups of people; and how music, literature, and visual art participate in the histories of Mexico and Myanmar. Conference sessions range across music, theatre and dance performances, film showings, workshops and panels of academic papers.

Registration will cost $150 for general attendance; $30 for student registration, $60 for UNCG faculty and $15 for UNCG students. A one-day registration will run $60 general, $25 public educator or UNCG faculty member, and $7 UNCG students.

Visit the web site to register and for more information, including the complete program.

By Steve Gilliam
Visual: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks