Newsletter, 15 December 2014

Cultural Agents Initiative: Arts and Humanities in Civic Engagement
In a Pre-Texts workshop at the Bok Center last week, Carlos displayed his group’s design in a fashion show while other group members explained the relationship between this headdress and Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.

15 December 2014
Dear Friends,

We hope you enjoy this weekly update, which highlights some of our recent activities and the work of other cultural agents. Please see our websites for more information, news, and a list of our upcoming events: and

As we hope to support your work as a cultural agent too, please send your news to us at

To all of our supporters, “connectionists” (tejedores, tecelões), and collaborators throughout the world, thank you!

With many thanks,
The Cultural Agents Team

Doris Sommer’s book The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities is listed in Critical Inquiry’s “Books of Critical Interest” (Spring 2014). In addition, Robin Becker, Liberal Arts Research Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State University, offered a glowing review of Sommer’s book in “Art for a Change,” published in Academe (November – December 2014). For Becker’s review, see:

Grant Kester, Professor of Art History, and Director of the University Art Gallery at the University of California, San Diego, spoke at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston on Wednesday, December 10 in conjunction with the exhibition Conversation Piece. Professor Doris Sommer and James Voorhies, Director of the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, both of Harvard University, joined Kester in this conversation about “dialogical” art and related practices.
Kester is a leading figure in the development of critical frameworks to address “relational” or “dialogical” art practices. During his visit, Kester also led a seminar at Harvard University and offered critical feedback on students’ final projects for the Cultural Agents course.

With the support of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Professor Doris Sommer facilitated a Pre-Texts workshop last week at Harvard University. Twenty-six participants, including Harvard teaching fellows from the Romance Languages and Literatures Department, graduate students from the Harvard School of Education, Professor Vialla Hartfield-Méndez of Emory Universityand educators from Puerto Rico and Colombia, facilitated and participated in art-making activities that worked with an excerpt of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude 

Wanwan Weng, a Master of Education Candidate in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Language & Literacy Program, was among the participants in the Pre-Texts workshop held at the Bok Center last week. A native of Shenzhen, China (a Pre-Texts site!), Wanwan will begin an internship with the Cultural Agents Initiative in January 2015. Her work will principally support Pre-Texts.

Other Active Cultural Agents 

Poesía en la escuela (Poetry in the School)
Since 2010, thousands of children in Argentina have participated in a deep poetic experience at the annual Poetry in the School Festival. Using collective readings and different techniques like collage, puppetry and music, children explore the possibilities of “words as creators of new worlds and of reading as a key to other realities.” The festival is a self-managed project initiated by the artist Marisa Negri that has grown to involve almost 8,000 kids from all over the country. To read more about the festival, see: (in Spanish).

Oropéndola, arte y conflicto (Oropéndola, Art and Conflict)
Taking its name from the Oropéndola bird, this project is an initiative managed by three Colombian organizations (Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica, and Fundación Ideas para la Paz) that joined forces to consolidate and archive the many artistic projects that have been developed in Colombia to address the violence that has devastated the country since the 1950s. The Oropéndola archive collects works from 1990 to the present, and exhibits them in a virtual gallery open to the general public. To read more about the project and to visit the gallery, see:

The Cultural Agents Initiative recognizes the arts and humanities as vital resources for positive social change. Working from a long humanistic tradition dedicated to civic development, we focus on identifying artists, educators, and leaders who have developed creative practices and respond to the role of art in building civil society and confronting its challenges.
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Copyright © 2013 Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, All rights reserved.

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December 15, 2014
by Rodriguez