Microgrant Recipient: Student Advocates for the Arts and their contribution to the exhibition: “Where We’re From.”

 

Student Advocates for the Arts, in collaboration with the ARAD program, Gottesman Libraries, the Office of Diversity and Community Affairs, the Chinese Calligraphy Club, Nayion Design, and Dorsey Photos, hosted the opening reception of the Offit Gallery exhibition: “Where We’re From.”

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One of the first programs SAA decided to produce for the Fall 2019 semester was a student exhibition. As arts advocates, we were interested in creating space for student artists in the Columbia Community to present their work. Consistent with our mission of educating, empowering, and mobilizing the student body, we wanted to offer a platform to spark conversation through and around the arts, as a crucial means for learning from each other’s perspectives in our collective efforts of arts advocacy.

When we came to know about Tia Dorsey’s (ARAD 2020) work and her first solo exhibition last August, we were excited for the opportunity to partner with her on her second show. Tia is a photographer who focuses on the importance of the specific, culturally rich infrastructures that are being torn down and replaced in urban cities.

Tia’s proposal for an exhibition with SAA targeted one specific infrastructure that is of severe importance to black/brown bodies living within the communities of Washington D.C. and Brooklyn, New York: Chinese carry-out restaurants. image.pngFor decades, Chinese carry-outs have been a staple in these two cities as hubs for young, Black youth to gather and hang out. With the support of videographer Nayion Perkins, Tia wanted to share the experience of two specific storytellers and their specific favorite local carry-outs.

Photo taken by Carlie Zhang from the EdLab at Teachers College

As we explored the possibilities of this exhibition, our planning committee proposed an idea in which we could further explore the possibilities for evidencing displacement: co-curating Tia’s work with calligraphy scrolls created by Columbia University’s Chinese Calligraphy Club. The calligraphers presented poems and characters that referenced homesickness and identity. We hoped to show these two very different media in conversation with each other to present the issues of gentrification and displacement through a cross-cultural lens and spark critical conversation through art.

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Photo taken by Carlie Zhang from the EdLab at Teachers College

The Gottesman Libraries provided the gallery space, the EdLab team supported installation, and the Arts Administration Program (ARAD) at Teachers College and the Office of Diversity of Community Affairs (ODCA) supported the opening reception.

image.pngThis exhibition proved to be an incredible challenge for our organization. Coordinating the logistics of an event of this scale, and working with partners of diverse nationalities and backgrounds taught us the importance of effective communication for the project’s success.

Photo taken by Carlie Zhang from the EdLab at Teachers College

Thanks to the support from the artists, the library staff, the ODCA and a microgrant from the Arts Administraton program (ARAD), the reception was a success. With everyone’s collaboration, we offered Chinese carry-out food to the approximately 40 attendees at the reception in order to accentuate the core themes of the exhibition, offering them an experience that went beyond the artwork. image.pngWe will further continue with two reactivations during the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester, one curated by Tia; and one in which the Chinese Calligraphy Club will offer a workshop on this ancient art form. Sign up for news and updates from SAA here.

 

Photo taken by Carlie Zhang from the EdLab at Teachers College

We are grateful for ARAD’s support on this ambitious endeavor, and we look forward to the future programming surrounding the event.

Student Advocates for the Arts is currently led by ARAD 2020 Master’s students: Ulrike Figueroa, Programming Co-Chair; Carolina Ide, Administration Co-Chair; and Sarah Lamade, Communications Co-Chair.

“Where We’re From” is presented by Student Advocates for the Arts in partnership with the Chinese Calligraphy Club, Nayion Design, The Gottesman Libraries EdLab, the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs, the Office of Student Affairs, and the Arts Administration Program. It will be on display from December 5, 2019 to February 16, 2020, in the Gottesman Libraries at Teachers College (Offit Gallery, 3rd Floor).

Student Advocated for the Arts will further continue with two reactivations during the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester, one curated by Tia; this is titled “In conversation: Where We’re From and the Effects of Displacement. The other in which the Chinese Calligraphy Club will offer a workshop on this ancient art form.
First photo taken by Carlie Zhang from the EdLab at Teachers College

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