Field Trips – Met & Staceyann Chin!

Although I plumb forgot to take photos of our intimate group at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this past Sunday, I wanted to share some resources from the field trip in case you weren’t able to make it! Whether you’re a Kaleidoscope student or a New Yorker interested in art and writing, you can take advantage of these scavenger hunts.

Last year’s activity focused on underrepresented art in the Met; students hunted down relevant artworks based on the attached clues and then contemplated the influence art could have on their own writing and poetry.

This year’s itinerary was more specifically focused on creative writing exercises. Four writing prompts jumpstarted different kinds of ekphrastic writing for participants. “Ekphrasis” comes from the Greek word for making an inanimate object, like a painting, “speak.” Our activities helped us figure out how to create personae, settings, historical fictions, and stories based on images, abstractions, and aesthetic choices in art.

One side note if you’re going to the Met in the next two months: their permanent photo galleries have been overtaken by special exhibitions on mobile phone photography and American Civil War photography. A good alternative for the prompt on “place-based poetry” would be the period rooms throughout the museum.

Lastly, don’t forget that the historic Nuyorican Poets Cafe, in collaboration with City Parks, will be hosting an epic poetry slam with Staceyann Chin (author of the poem “All Oppression is Connected” from our syllabus), Ntozake Shange (award-winning author of the play for colored girls who have considered suicide, when the rainbow is enuf), and Jewish-Japanese poet Sarah Kay this Wednesday evening. This free event starts at 7pm at the East River Park Amphitheater’s SummerStage (299 South St, New York, NY 10002) in the Lower East Side; get there early if you want to snag space, and bring a snack!

Recap of “Gender, Justice & the Arts: A Night to Celebrate South Asian Creativity”

For those of you who weren’t able to attend last night’s field trip to the special art, literature, and performance collaboration, “Gender, Justice & the Arts: A Night to Celebrate South Asian Creativity” at Bowery Poetry, I thought I would share a few links to work from the writers and artists we saw.

Benaifer Bhadha started the evening by telling an unscripted story about growing up and coming of age as an overweight child in a traditional family obsessed with marriage, desirability, and appearances. Her struggles with self harm and a self-destructive body image were disturbingly familiar for girls, regardless of cultural background.

Mashuq Deen, who identified himself as transgender at the start of his performance, shared two moving letters from his recently published memoir, Draw the Circle, about coming out to his parents. He also performed a multi-voice piece from his one-person show.

The spoken word portion of the evening finished with Alok Vaid-Menon, who identifies with the pronoun “they” as a trans-feminine person. Transphobia recurs in their poetry as an everyday occurrence– one that reminds us that, in their words, “trauma is a structure, not a feeling.”

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An example from Soni Satpathy-Singh’s Sketchy Desi comic series.

A roundtable with three South Asian women artists– Ayqa Khan, Soni Satpathy-Singh (the creator of the hit comic series Sketchy Desi), and Amina Ahmed— finished the evening. These artists discussed the politics of representation in their very different media. They especially focused on the politics of representing female bodies in their authentic biological selves– with too much hair, while menstruating, with feisty attitudes, as Muslim and/or Hindu, etc.

The event benefited a nonprofit called Sakhi for South Asian Women, which supports survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault who are of South Asian descent. Click on all these links to learn more about their work, and see you for our last class this Wednesday!