On January 20th, the College of Visual Arts, Theatre, and Dance presented the 2014 Art and Design for Social Justice Symposium, hosted by the Departments of Interior Design and Art Education. The event focused on how the tools and inherent abilities within the areas of art and design can be utilized in addressing issues confronting less advantaged groups within our local communities, states, regions, or world. It was designed to generate synergy, spawn collaborative projects among participants, create new scholarly initiatives, and allow examination of the role that art and design play in the telling of a broader social narrative.
This was the 7th annual Symposium and was held on the campus of Florida State University within the Nancy Smith Fichter Dance Theater and William Johnston Building. The event included a dance performance, keynote movie and moderated discussion, a variety of presentations and posters on social justice issues, all concluded with a performance by musical theater students.
The Symposium kicked off with warm welcomes and introductions by Lisa Waxman, FSU Chair of Interior Design, Dave Gussak, FSU Chair of Art Education, and caroline Henne, Associate Dean and Chair of the College of Visual Arts, Theatre, and Dance. Following their introductions was a performance entitled “Latent Connections”, by two students from the School of Dance, Joe Casanova and Sharyn Richards. The opening event, which then took place after the dance performance, was a very interesting film about crime, restoration and healing; “Concrete, Steel and Paint”, created by Cindy Burstein and Tony Heriza. Following the film was a facilitated discussion by Symposium Co-Chair, Dave Gussak.
The rest of the day was organized into blocks of presentations, each with concurrent sessions occurring within the time slots. Every presentation was extremely informative, with a variety of themes such as mental health and art therapy, museum experiences, design for community change, and much more. Social interest issues were discussed at length, gathering excited and entertaining banter from both participants and presenters.
Attendee and Masters Art Therapy student Jamie Nelson recalls a particular session entitled “Art Alleys and Doodle Cart” to be of great personal interest to her. She explains the concept of Paul Rutkovsky’s “Doodle Cart” as one at the forefront of local Tallahassee social issues, specifically along Gaines Street. The traveling Doodle Cart encourages people to draw a doodle, and in exchange they receive a fresh fruit or vegetable.
In addition to the presentations there was a poster session in the Johnston Building Atrium taking place in the afternoon after lunch. Some of the posters and presenters had also spoken during a presentation session, while some had not. This was a great chance to visit with sessions that people may not have necessarily attended, chat with presenters, or to learn about new and exciting concepts that weren’t featured in the session time slots.
The Symposium concluded with closing performances by the FSU Music Theatre students under the direction of Dr. Gayle Seaton of the FSU College of Music. Dave Gussak, Art Education Chair and Co-Chair of the Symposium, remarked that the 2014 Symposium was “Invigorating, motivating, multidisciplinary, and attracted all walks of life from national and international locations. It was a huge success, not to mention a great deal of fun being able to discuss ideas with other professionals.”
We look forward to the 2016 Symposium, hope to see you there!