Creativity and Social Change

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 22, 2019 - August 02, 20197/22 - 8/02M-F 9A-3POpenKali Quinn

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Course Description

Are you an artist, musician, dancer, actor, or film-maker? Are you interested in becoming more engaged in social justice work? Are you eager to cultivate your creativity and explore how to combine art with activism? This course will provide an opportunity for students to delve into their own creative practice; to investigate the potential for art and creativity to be a catalyst for social change; and to build a
powerful toolbox of resources and experiences to strengthen their individual and collaborative art making.

Through a contemporary and historical lens, students will explore fundamental questions regarding the role of the artist and art in society, and more specifically in social change. In this course, we will read theoretical and creative writings, watch films, analyze images, and listen to music to explore the work of socially engaged artists such as Augusto Boal (Aesthetics of the Oppressed), Kehinde Wiley (The Economy of Grace), LaToya Ruby Frazier (A Haunted Capital), Alfredo Jaar (The Gramsci Trilogy), Kerry James Marshall (Rythm Mastr), Ai Wei Wei (Sunflower Seeds), José Antonio Abreu (El Sistema), Jamila Woods (Heavn), Fatimah Ashgar (Brown Girls), Andrea Gibson (Orlando), Jose Triana (Night of the Assassins), and Luis Valdez (El Teatreo Campesino). Through examination of these works, students will discover the ways in which artists lead crucial discussions about the state of our world, playing a critical role in challenging and reinterpreting social and political realities.

Students taking this course can expect to participate in daily creative workshops, reading and writing assignments, and in-class discussion to develop and strengthen their voice as activists and artists/creative practitioners. As part of this course, every student will create an Action Plan to apply the concepts from this course to engage in social change in their community and/or artistic practice.

This course is open to experienced artists as well as those with little experience in the arts. Students will have space to focus on their existing work/interests as artists-activists and/or to expand their practice by exploring a broad range of creative and social justice practices. While experience in the arts is not required, a willingness to take risks and engage with the group is expected. Because creative and innovative thinking has become increasingly valued in today’s economy and workforce, this course has relevance to students contemplating any academic discipline or career path.

This course is part of the Leadership Institute, a two-week academic program that helps students cultivate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes associated with effective and socially responsible leadership. This unique program consists of three integrated elements: academic content, leadership development, and the Action Plan. Our students are thoughtful and compassionate youth who are interested in social issues and creating positive change. Enrollment in this program requires several hours of online engagement prior to campus arrival. This online participation can be completed at any time where internet access is available. Once on campus, participants can look forward to full days in a community of engaged and curious learners.

Prerequisites: None required.

Instructor Bios

Kāli Quinn is a facilitator of Compassionate Creativity through teaching, performing, writing, creating installations and community dialogue, and mentoring devised/solo work and emerging artists. Kali currently teaches theater at MIT and has previously taught within the Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA Program, Brown University, and acted as Stateside Faculty for Accademia dell’Arte (Arezzo, Italy). Her two solo shows and intergenerational workshops have been seen withing Narrative Medicine contexts at Wake Forest Medical Center, Duke University, Lehigh University, the Full Circle Festival (VT), The Gathering of Kindness (PA), Johnson and Wales Physician Assistant Program, and the Brown University Creative Medicine Series, along with off-off Broadway and festivals throughout the US. Kali was the founder/co-artistic director of GUTWorks, a theater and multimedia company (NYC) and she has recently created performances with students at Mississippi University for Women, Bucknell University, and at The McDonogh School. She has also worked with The Pearl Theater Company, Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble, Celebration Barn, MOTH Contemporary Circus Center, New England Center for Circus Arts, Southeastern Theater Conference, Coastal Carolina University, UCSB, Dickinson College, Boston University, Emory College, Bowdoin College, Connecticut College, and Vermont Academy, along with Clowns Without Borders in Guatemala/El Salvador and Grupo Galpão in Brazil. In addition to publishing chapters on physical dramaturgy and artistic innovation, Kali completed and toured her new teaching memoir, I Am Compassionate Creativity, throughout the US in 2016. Kali served on the Board for the Network of Ensemble Theaters from 2009-2014 and received training at the University of Rochester, with an MFA in Ensemble-Based Physical Theater from the Dell’Arte School of Physical Theatre.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CETA0921
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

Leadership Institute

Two-week non-credit residential program focused on socially responsible leadership and creating positive change. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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