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Vanderbilt University launches series on justice, healing with renowned artists and scholars

Vanderbilt University is partnering with Fisk University, the Frist Art Museum and Millions of Conversations to host “Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice,” a trans-institutional series of virtual conversations and artistic collaborations focused on healing at a time of significant social unrest.

“Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice advances Vanderbilt’s mission and builds on our One Vanderbilt approach by bridging the arts and humanities to politics, policy and the social sciences,” said Vanderbilt University Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente, who holds the Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair. “As Vanderbilt continues specific actions to advance racial justice and promote equity and inclusion, the initiative will be an excellent forum for bringing together diverse voices about the pressing issues of our times.”

Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice was conceived by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair and professor of art at Vanderbilt, and its first webinar theme will be “Redefining Monuments” Sept. 23 and 30.

“Throughout history, art has always served as an agent for social change,” said Campos-Pons, a renowned artist whose work often draws upon themes from her native Cuba. “With the Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice, we hope to promote positive values of inclusivity that honor the suffering and struggle of our forebears while sparking dialogue and understanding.”

The initiative will bring Carrie Mae Weems’ RESIST COVID TAKE 6! public art campaign to Nashville in September, with banners being unveiled at Vanderbilt’s Fine Arts Gallery, Fisk University’s Carl Van Vechten Gallery and the Frist Art Museum. Weems’ series draws attention to the racial inequities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Art brings us together, comforts, empowers, heals, inspires, instructs and demystifies misconceptions about diverse aesthetics, cultures, religions and social norms,” said Susan H. Edwards, executive director and CEO of the Frist Art Museum. “Artists can also inspire us to action, for what we do in response to discovering a new way of seeing the world is how we move society toward understanding, tolerance, equity, reciprocity and justice.”

Marina Fokidis is serving as program curator for the fall program “Living in Common in the Precarious South(s).” Each virtual gathering is free and open to the public, and all sessions begin at 10 a.m. central time. Advance registration is required.

More information here