In this lecture, Judith Sloan looks at ethics and politics in performance and expressive documentary projects that use oral history as source material. Questions of who owns a story, responsibility of the author/artist to the subject, and ethical decisions involved in using “real” people’s stories. She looks at oral history projects in theatre, film, books and radio and how those projects impact the lives of the subjects as well as the artists. She discusses the national dialogue taking place between artists, journalists, and human rights advocates about the training necessary and ethical decisions involved in revealing stories of people who are vulnerable or have experienced significant trauma. Sloan presents excerpts from EarSay projects that explore police brutality, whistleblowers, eccentrics, immigrants and refugees. This presentation is geared primarily for universities, theatre programs, audiences of documentary artists, writers, actors, educators. A lecture presentation can also be combined with a Crossing the BLVD or Yo Miss performance. All of Sloan’s lectures and workshops include multiple perspectives—revealing a prismatic, paradoxical and ever-shifting America, bringing to life the voices of village and planet, and fostering a complex discussion on immigration, community, geopolitics, and democracy.
Sloan is a frequent lecturer, presenter, and guest artist for theatre, documentary art, and global studies programs at universities, conferences, human rights organizations and eduational programs in the United States and abroad, including: University of Florida (Gainesville), SUNY Albany, New York State Writers Institute, University of Tennessee (Knoxville), CUNY Honors College, Maryland Institute College of Art, New York University, Oral History Association, National Women’s Studies conferences, SUNY New Paltz, Bennington College, Riverside Community College, The Pargod Theatre (Jerusalem), AVODA Arts, The Six-Point Fellowship, The Phoenix Theatre, Columbia University, Facing History and Ourselves, The Market Theatre Laboratory (Johannesberg), Toronto Jewish Feminist Conference, Queens College, Amherst College, Dartmouth, M.I.T. Duke University Documentary Studies, New York Institute of Technology, etc.
Lecture by Warren Lehrer on his work as a writer, designer, and pioneering practitioner of visual literature. Lehrer talks about his obsessions with capturing the shape of thought, reuniting the pictorial and oral roots of storytelling with the printed word, and bridging documentary and expressive forms. He discusses his pilgrimage with language through art, typography, music and theater into literature, and deconstructs and performs excerpts of his books and multi-media projects including i mean you know, FRENCH FRIES, The Portrait Series. Crossing the BLVD, and his new illuminated novel, A LIFE IN BOOKS: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley, which contains 101 books within it. One part artist lecture, one part author reading, and one part performance, Lehrer’s “lectures” are always entertaining, thought provoking, and informative.
Another lecture by Lehrer places his own work in the context of Visual Literature—that field of writing in which the visual composition of the text is co-joined with the meaning. He deconstructs and performs examples of Vis Lit from cave paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and pattern poetry, to Mallarmé, Apollinaire, Stein, cummings, Patchen, and concrete poetry, to artists’ books, environmental textworks, the new wave of typo-pictorial novels, and e-books. In his entertaining way, Lehrer brings to life semiotic and deconstructionist theories as well as manifestoes and other seminal texts pertinent to Vis Lit. He ponders the origins of storytelling and the future of reading and writing in the age of ipads and short attention spans. This talk works well in conjunction with Warren’s presentation on his own work and can also be part of a multi-day visit accompanying a performance and/or exhibition to your college, art or writing center.
Lehrer is an “inspiring” and frequent lecturer and presenter (sometimes keynote speaker) at universities, art and literary centers, museums, conferences and symposia around the United States and abroad, including:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Maryland Institute College of Art, The Radcliffe Institute at Radcliffe College, Rhode Island School of Design, The University of the Arts (Philadelphia), The Visual Studies Workshop (Rochester), Yale University, Mills College (Oakland), North Carolina State University, The Art Institute of Boston, University of Florida (Gainesville), California College of the Arts, Art Center College of Design (Pasadena), University of Arizona (Tucson), New York Institute of Technology, Oregon State University (Corvallis), Webster State University (Ogden, Utah), School of The Art Institute of Chicago, University of Tennessee (Knoxville), CUNY Honors College: University Scholars Program, Fordham University, St. Johns University, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Albany, New York State Writers Institute, Pratt Institute, Clark University, The School of Visual Arts (NY), Rutgers University, NYU Tish, University of Maine, AIGA national conferences and local chapters, College Art Association national conferences, National Association of Oral History conferences, Book Arts and Artist Book conferences, Queens Museum of Art, Godwin-Ternback Museum, The Neuberger Museum of Art, The Cooper Hewitt Museum, The Puffin Forum (Teaneck, NJ), Center for Cultural Exchange (Portland, Maine), International Humanities & Arts Conference (Honolulu), Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico City), Pietre Brattinga Gallery (Amsterdam), The Market Theatre Laboratory (Johannesberg), etc.
Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan
Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan present their work jointly as partners and collaborators. Individual and joint lecture presentations and workshops can supplement a performance and/or the mounting, opening, closing of an exhibition. Lehrer and Sloan can also discuss working together as a married couple, and the pros, cons, and ways of dealing with having little separation between work, life, and love. Get two for the price of. . . well, one-and-a-half.
Transforming Trauma Into Art is a new initiative of EarSay’s, directed by Judith Sloan, born out of our partnership with the International High School at LaGuardia Community College where many students come from war-zones and conflict. The premise of this workshop is based on healing through artistic expression using a combination of music, movement, theatre and storytelling. This process helps release the stories and stressors that prevent people—who have been traumatized by war, economic or natural disasters—from moving forward. This program is specifically designed for teenagers who recently migrated to the United States. It brings an understanding of confronting obstacles through artistic expression to communities that are poor, displaced, or don’t have access to artistic training, serving approximately 450 students. The project grows out of our commitment to creating artistic works that evolve out of individual experience and community. In this case, the community is immigrant and refugee teenagers attending school in New York City. At a time of war, global tension, and polarization, it encourages a depth of scholarship and storytelling that shapes the experience of the participants. It gives them the tools to make connections between cultures, shed light on the complexity and humanity of each individual, and deepen what it means or could mean to be part of a global community. Students come from places as diverse as Afghanistan, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Haiti, and Bulgaria. The program’s oral history focus allows students to explore their own cultural identity and stories of migration and displacement through performance. Many of the students have been traumatized by displacement, war, coups and military dictatorships. Working with groups of 9-13 students in weekly workshops, we create a safe, inclusive environment in which the young people can process their experiences, memories, feelings, and observations, and find expression for them. Our pedagogy is based on a basic premise: placing a student alongside a more experienced player enhances the student’s ability. We achieve this by bringing professional artists in dance, theatre and music, to the program to teach as well as perform. Teaching artists who participate in this program are committed to both their own artistic integrity and careers and to sharing skills with the next generation. Teenagers have an opportunity to perform in a yearly festival increasing their confidence, performance skills, attention levels and focus in ways that more traditional/hierarchical environments don’t foster.
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Cross-Cultural Dialogue Through the Arts
Cross-Cultural Dialogue Through the Arts develops and creates collaborations between disparate communities. Conceived and directed by Judith Sloan, Cross-Cultural Dialogue Through the Arts (CCDTA) is a training and mentorship program for high school students to work under the direction of professional artists. The program offers a unique hands-on opportunity for graduate and undergraduate college students to work in teams as mentors and performance collaborators with new immigrant teenagers through a multi-media arts and theatre project in partnership with the International High School at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. Students from 50 different countries, speaking almost as many languages and dialects, populate the international high school. A sister project to Crossing the BLVD, CCDTA is currently available to all New York City area college students to participate as interns. The dialogue and writing classes culminate in EarSay’s public performances in the spring. College student interns receive training in theatre, writing, oral history, community organizing, interviewing techniques, performance and documentary art. High School students benefit from the mentorship process, developing their language and writing skills, co-creating and participating in live performances. This unique collaboration across cultures also gives immigrant teenagers exposure to the world of higher education which is often closed to them. Theatre exercises in improvisation, characterization, humor, storytelling, and conflict resolution are used to develop monologues and scenes. All participants form creative teams to produce and document the final performances and public dialogues. Participating artists have included hip hop artists and educators Chenits Pettigrew (CHEN LO), Kahlil Almustafa, and Ken White (drummer/percussionist), radio and documentary producer Laura Doggett, filmmaker Robert Winn and students from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.