BY JOHN SANFORD
The 2000 Census shows in the starkest way -- with numbers -- the racial diversity of California.
But with all due respect to demographers, it may take a different kind of soul -- the poet, the painter, the musician, the dramatist -- to extract a deeper meaning from the reality of this wildly diverse state. This is where the newly created Stanford Irvine Institute for Diversity in the Arts comes in.
The institute, funded by the James Irvine Foundation, was founded to examine questions of diversity, race and identity through a more creative lens. "Art can speak to the issues," said drama Professor Harry Elam, director of the institute.
"Cartographies of Race: Mapping Race and Space in California" is the theme of the institute's first program, which began this quarter. It sets out to examine the intersections of race and space -- geographical and cultural -- in local communities.
The program includes a course for students and a series of Thursday noontime lectures featuring scholars and artists. Their talks will explore how art affects people's views and attitudes toward the interplay of race and geography in California. The events are free and open to the public. A free lunch will be provided at some of the events, said Georgina Hernandez, associate director of the institute. Check the web at www.stanford.edu/dept/ida/GetIn.html for updated information. Those interested in attending should contact Hernandez by calling (650) 724-3657 or e-mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org by the Tuesday before the lecture. Following is a list of upcoming speakers and dates:
The student work, in the spirit of the program's title, will deal with issues of race and space, but do so in very different ways. "Art can probe those questions and think about how spaces are defined, and then it can create alternative spaces," Elam said.
For example, Howard plans to have her students interview several different members of the community and use the stories they get in producing their art, Elam said. The artists-in-residence also will work with various community groups. DeLeón, for example, will conduct a spoken-word workshop with East Palo Alto High School students.
The institute originally was the brainchild of Charles Lyons, the late Margery Bailey Professor of English and Dramatic Literature, who died in 1999. Elam agreed to head the project after his death. Georgina Hernandez, a Stanford alumna who earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California-Los Angeles School of Theater, Film and Television, was hired as the institute's associate director. She said she is fascinated to find out what kinds of productions result from the workshops.
postulate that the arts are a vehicle for dialogue about issues the
university and community are dealing with," Hernandez said.
"Through art, that dialogue can go further, getting to the heart of
the matter where words simply cannot."
Brenda Wong Aoki
Photos courtesy of: Stanford Institute for Diversity in the Arts
Stanford Report, January 23, 2002