Newsletter, 7 March 2014

“Aesthetics is not a discipline dealing with art and artworks, but a kind of, what I call, distribution of the sensible… Aesthetics means precisely the break with that traditional way of embodying inequality in the very constitution of the sensible world.”-Jacques Rancière

7 March 2014

Dear Friends,

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today we feature women cultural agents who continually inspire us with their exceptional artistic practices dedicated to service.

art is a force that drives innovation

Noche de las mujeres
Bogotá,Colombia 2001
On March 9, 2001, former mayor of Bogotá Antanas Mockus surprised his city by honoring women with a ladies night. Men were asked to stay home. Noche de las mujeres was designed exclusively for women to enjoy the city’s public spaces. Not only did women enjoy their time off, a study performed that evening show a 40% decrease in the city’s violence.

Mexican Fashion Designer,
Carla Fernández

Taller Flora
Traveling throughout Mexico to work with the country’s most talented artisan communities, Carla Fernández’s Taller Flora praises the handmade textile work of women. The women are the teachers of Taller Flora. After months of collaboration, the designs produced are beautiful and unique.
Congratulations to Carla for not only revitalizing Mexican artisan traditions, but also honoring the work of these women.
//Watch the video of Carla’s work here.

Martha Nussbaum
Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life

The Civic Humanities course, taught by Professor Doris Sommer and Professor Francesco Erspamer, links aesthetics to practices in positive developments. One of the theorists covered in the class is Martha Nussbaum. Her book, Poetic Justice, is one of our favorite resources on cultural agency. (We recommend reading the Preface and Chapter 4). 

//For more resources, check out our website.

Doris Sommer and Juliana Porto journeyed to Chile from January 27-31st to facilitate a round of Pre-Texts workshops with teachers from Un Buen Comienzo, a project run out of Fundacion Oportunidad that seeks to improve early education and language skills for disadvantaged young children.
The Pre-Texts work accomplished in Chile has been featured in El Mercurio and El Tipógrafo. 

At the same time, in Nicaragua, Victoria Mena from the Universidad Tadeo Lozano facilitated a Pre-Texts workshop at the Instituto de Historia de Nicarangua y Centroamérica (IHNCA). A heartfelt thank you to Margarita Vannini, Director of IHNCA, who made the entire workshop possible. The Pre-Texts work accomplished in Nicaragua has been given a space on the IHNCA website and has appeared in La Prensa. 

Thank you all who made this set of workshops successful!

Why do we use works of great fiction for Pre-Texts?

Because reading literary fiction develops empathy!

Researchers at the New School in NYC have found that literary fiction improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling.

“Literary fiction focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships. ‘Often those characters’ minds are depicted vaguely, without many details, and we’re forced to fill in the gaps to understand their intentions and motivations.’” 

//Full article here.

Marla, high school junior in the Open Minds Philosophy Program, showing off her Cartonera book cover.
Text: Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” 

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The Cultural Agents Initiative recognizes
the arts and humanities as resources for positive social change.
We work within a long humanistic tradition dedicated to
civic development and focus on identifying
artists, educators, and leaders
who have developed creative practices that reflect
on the role of art in building civil society and
responding to its challenges.

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Cases for Culture Cultural Agents Department of Architecture Doris Sommer Italia Launch Videos Mental Health Opportunities Partners Pre-Texts Rennaisance Now Social Equity
March 7, 2014
by Rodriguez