Institute of Arts and Humanities Receives California Humanities Grant for Community Conversations
First grant-funded public forum discussing race, gentrification set for Feb. 7, in conjunction with poster exhibition on affordable housing and resistance
The University of California San Diego Institute of Arts and Humanities received a two year, $10,000 Humanities for All Project Grant to support eight public forums that explore how the arts and humanities can inform discussion about important challenges facing citizens today.
The institute’s “Bridging Arts and Humanities: Communities in Dialogue” submission was selected from a competitive grant program of California Humanities, an independent nonprofit and partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities that supports locally developed projects responding to the needs, interests and concerns of Californians, provides accessible learning experiences for the public, and promotes understanding among the state’s diverse population.
“We are incredibly grateful for this support from California Humanities, as it will further expand UC San Diego’s ongoing and thriving dialogue about how the arts and humanities can together generate fresh discussion of challenges facing us all,” said Luis Alvarez, Institute of Arts and Humanities inaugural director and professor in the Department of History.
“Our expectation is that ‘Bridging Arts and Humanities’ will bring an innovative edge to the institute’s public forums, allowing us to more fully coordinate with community partners to both bring UC San Diego students to outside venues, and the general public to campus. By bringing these smart and talented people together, we prioritize engagement with diverse communities seeking positive social change in our region and world,” he said.
Participants at each of the forums will represent top scholars and experts in their fields, and local community members who are personally invested or affected by the topics being discussed, along with artists who will contribute and potentially display their work on campus and in the greater community.
As such, the grant support will enhance and continue the institute’s two key speaker series: “Challenging Conversations” and “Community, Arts and Resistance.” Past events include “Beyond the Wall: The Aftermath of Deportation in Mexico,” “From Japanese Internment to the Muslim Ban” and “Migrating Imagi… Nations” with United States poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera.
“At their core, our public forums are intended to serve as building blocks for how participants — including speakers and audiences — might begin to collectively imagine, let alone build and put into practice, a more diverse and socially just world. Our belief is a better world-vision is more possible when we interact, engage, and learn from one another, and the arts and humanities working together can accomplish this in ways that are unique to how each might on their own,” Alvarez said.
The first California Humanities-supported event addressing the subject of race and gentrification will take place Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Guest speakers include City of San Diego Council President Georgette Gomez; Eric Avila, the UCLA Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies chair; Carolina Martinez, the Environmental Health Coalition associate director of policy; and distinguished San Diego artist and educator Rizzhel Javier, who encourages participatory art making and leads social-practice workshops throughout the region.
“Affordable housing and sustainability are two of the most pressing issues we face in San Diego today,” said Nancy Kwak, associate director of the Institute of Arts and Humanities and associate professor in the Department of History. “Artists and historians offer unique insights into how we got here while also inspiring us to find creative solutions.”
Affiliated with the UC San Diego Urban Studies and Planning Program, Kwak researches the evolution of urban areas in the 20th century with particular focus on the role of planners, architects and policy makers in reshaping neighborhoods and communities.
In conjunction with the public forum, participants will be of the first to see the “Reclaim! Remain! Rebuild! Posters on Affordable Housing, Gentrification & Resistance” exhibition, a selection of political posters on race, hosing and gentrification on display from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. The intention is to draw on the poster subject matter to enhance the conversation.
Held at the University Art Gallery, a reception for the exhibition will take place at 7 p.m., immediately following the public talk. Additionally, the exhibition will be open to the public Feb. 4 – March 15; Mondays and Wednesdays 12 – 4 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays 2 – 6 p.m.
“Reclaim! Remain! Rebuild!” received staffing support from the newly launched Arts and Community Engagement, an initiative of the Division of Arts and Humanities that seeks to use art as a means to spark dialogue on contemporary issues. Arts and Community Engagement is housed within the Institute of Arts and Humanities.
The Institute of Arts and Humanities encourages interdisciplinary research, teaching and public dialogue in the arts and humanities by generating and supporting projects that help equip students, faculty and the greater San Diego region with the creativity, empathy and analysis for imagining and practicing a collaborative and more equitable human experience.
In addition to the California Humanities grant, support for the Feb. 7 event and exhibition comes from a Mellon Foundation Sawyer Grant and the University of California Office of the President.
California Humanities promotes the humanities — focused on ideas, conversation and learning — as relevant, meaningful ways to understand the human condition and connect us to each other in order to help strengthen California. California Humanities has provided grants and programs across the state since 1975.