Whose Art? Our Art!: How could art meaningfully contribute to social justice struggles?
Our University of the Streets Café public conversations are much like any you’d have with friends or family around a dinner table, except with more people, more points of view, and slightly more structure. Conversations are hosted by a volunteer moderator who is there to welcome everyone and keep things on track. To get things started, there’s a guest, or sometimes two, who get the ball rolling by sharing their ideas, experiences and questions. After that, it's all up to the participants.
Whose voices predominate in the arts? To what extent do these voices perpetuate a narrative of dominance or liberation? This public conversation looks at the emancipatory potential of art. What needs to be in place for art to truly be a site of resistance to violence, racism and economic oppression? In light of art as commodity and art as a purported contributor to gentrification, how can we envision art as the community building strategy it aims to be?
Johnny El Hage is a multidisciplinary artist and community organizer with academic background in Education Studies (MA), Human Resource Management (MHRM), Business Administration (BBA), and Communications Arts. He is the founder of ‘Entreprise Culturelle Abjad Howse’ (2018) that nurtures Arabic arts in Canada in its diverse forms and empower the people who create and celebrate it to be active contributors towards a socially just multicultural Canadian society. His research focuses on constructing alternative spaces of representations that emerge in contrast to the dominant hegemonic culture in heterogeneous societies.
Salima Punjani is a multisensory social artist and graduate social work student based in Montreal, Quebec. Her recent projects include Progression, a multisensory installation exploring narratives of people living with multiple sclerosis, Konbit Anba Soley, an interactive documentary about a social movement in Cité Soleil, Haiti as well as Moms of Montreal, a photographic storytelling project that provides an intimate glimpse into the lives, recipes, and stories of different families in Montreal.
Jane Reväe McWhirter is a visual artist from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, currently completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts at Concordia University in Montreal. Exploring ideas of trauma, healing, femininity, nature and the occult. Jane creates as an outlet, channeling emotion into her work, creating a wide variety of fictionalized autobiographical work in many different mediums. Jane has spent several years using art to promote personal growth, build community and help improve the lives of others. She’s worked with people from all backgrounds and of all ages but specializes in working with at-risk youth.
Emma Haraké is a visual artist and educator who also collaborates on curatorial projects and events. She is currently pursuing her graduate studies in Concordia University's Art Education Department. Her research interests include autobiographical and arts-based inquiries, memory work, storytelling and oral history. Emma has worked extensively in the non-profit sector and locates her teaching within community-based practices.
Accessibility: The facility has accessible washrooms and the floor is accessible by elevator.