Good afternoon, and welcome to Creative Counterpoints: Women, Difference, and the Arts. My name is Marika Preziuso, I am Assistant Professor in the Department of Liberal Arts at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and I am the organizer of today’s symposium.
I’d like to start with a quote by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma: “Performance is hospitality.” That is how I envisioned this day we are spending together: making space for a range of intersecting presentations and conversations that are hospitable toward each other, and toward you all; a space carved out of creative—and generous—counterpoints.
A process of both widening the scope and deepening questions and ideas takes place when differences intersect, when borders are experienced as porous, and when we are hospitable to contradictions.
The intersecting differences I have in mind for this symposium are not only between disciplines and media, but also between critical and creative thinking, between that which is deemed the purview of rationality and logic and that which is capriciously emotional—between ethical responsibilities and personal desires.
In Creative Counterpoints, by exploring what is supposedly “feminine” in various fields of arts and culture, we want to consider its implication for women’s creative processes. By providing context to a range of feelings, we wish to validate them as the object of scholarly enquiry.
By exploring beauty in its transnational trajectories of production and consumption, we wish to deepen our experiences of it as never “neutral,” but instead shaped by many factors and social and cultural forces: we in our studios, our workspace, and our lives.
Above all, by weaving our living experiences and creative practices into our conversations, we hope to draw attention to the interweaving elements that make up the fabric out of which our thinking, feeling, scholarship, and politics arise.
The secret ingredient for the conversations we are offering this afternoon, I believe, is vulnerability. Most of our guest speakers have never met each other, and some, probably until today, were unfamiliar with each other’s work and certainly each other’s lives. I thank them for the trust they have demonstrated by readily accepting this “call” and for embracing the vulnerability needed to weave counterpoints of deeply felt ideas, experiences and practices in a public setting.
I, for one, have not prepared any concluding remarks, because, as students realize early in my classes, I care more deeply about the questions being asked than about any answers that rush to fill the space for us whenever we see a huge question mark hovering above us.
In the spirit of hospitality, let me share with you that Creative Counterpoints has been possible thanks to a full cohort of in-house resources—what I call MassArt creative human capital. I must give credit to all of the supporters of this event:
• the MassArt Foundation, which in 2014 awarded me a fellowship toward the realization of my proposal for a symposium on women and creativity in a cross-cultural context;
• the Department of Liberal Arts, especially its chair, Lin Haire-Sargeant;
• the Department of Academic Affairs;
• the Department of Graphic Design;
• the Office of Civil Rights Compliance and Diversity;
• Elena White and Ceci Mendez in the Center for Art and Community Partnership (CACP);
• the Graduate Programs Office;
• and, last but not least, Student Development.
At the heart of Creative Counterpoints are two integrated events: today’s symposium, and the student exhibition on display this week. The realization of both of these events has been possible thanks to the talent, professionality and generosity of the following MassArt students:
• Jeremy DuPoint, in graphic design, who is responsible for all of the visuals and design components of Creative Counterpoints: the logo, the flyers, the program cover, and the wonderful bookmarks that are available today.
• The student artists in the Women’s Literature/Global Perspective class of Spring and Fall 2015, whose artworks are displayed in the exhibition;
• Liz Carre, first-year graduate student in the Dynamic Media Institute, who curated the exhibition;
• MassArt alumna Carly Blais, Manager of the Arnheim Gallery;
• Julian and Maddie and the Community Exhibition Team, who did an amazing job installing the exhibition last Sunday;
• Yukiko Nishino, MFA in Film and Video, who is filming the symposium;
• Marissa Iamartino, MassArt alumna in Photography, Creative Counterpoints resident photographer; and
• Esther Moon, event technician and MassArt alumna.
Finally, two of the guest speakers today are also MassArt graduate students:
• Christina Wang, second-year Photography Department; and
• Anne Sisto, third year Dynamic Media Institute.
I will introduce each speaker in detail just before her presentation. In your programs—which I hope all of you have a copy of—you have the speakers’ bios in the order they will present.
We would kindly appreciate it if you silenced your phones and i-Things while in the Lecture Hall.
Welcome again, and I hope you enjoy our Creative Counterpoints!
The point of this gathering was not to provide predictable or comfortable answers, but to provoke new questions and suggest new perspectives to old questions, coming from the combinatorial forces of our experiences, practices and ideas. I hope you have been moved by anything discussed up here—moved, in the Latin sense of the verb movere: to transform, to change.
Please join us at the Arnheim Gallery for the reception of the exhibition of works by the undergraduate and graduate students in the Women’s Literature/Global Perspective class. Most of these pieces have been inspired by literature from the Caribbean and its diaspora, West Africa, Iran, and the US that we read in class. The artists have drawn on a concept, a metaphor, or an experience articulated in the readings, which was then filtered through the artist’s vision. We value these processes of “translations” of concepts, metaphors and media as the artists’ forms of generative counterpoints.