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The Cultural Arts Coalition presents another "Community Arts" exhibition ~ HUMAN RIGHTS MEET CIVIL RIGHTS @ ASU West Campus, Fletcher Library, January 22 - March 18, 2011.

These kinds of Community Arts Projects that promote and support "Community Building" could not occur without the partnership of like-minded people: Margaret Rodriguez, Dennis Isbell (Fletcher Library administration), Malissa Geer and Jessica Shea (ASU DT Phoenix Campus Community Outreach, Office of the Dean)

For a second year, the 3rd floor space showcases artworks by youth from South Mountain High School (SMHS) who came to tour the exhibition on Friday, Feb. 4th, 2011.

During the fall semester the seven visual art teachers at SMHS focused on the theme of "Acts of Peace Building". This message complemented the other artworks on the second floor that address Human and Civil Rights. The Cultural Arts Coalition is a nonprofit, comprised of participants who support & promote creative arts programming that includes critical inquiry & problem solving. In this context, the arts are not solely aesthetic forms, but are intended to invite each of us to the center of our own experiences of discovery and interpretation, engaging public dialogue around issues of shared community concerns.

One hundred SMHS students and their visual arts teachers came to the Fletcher Library to not only be honored for their own creative endeavors...

...but also to hear about other artists in the community and community organizations that examine and explore the visual arts as a means of conversation about "Shared Human Concerns".

Maria Rodriguez-Pope was introduced and spoke to the participants about her paintings above ~ images of women who have struggled and survived in spite of immense life challenges in a world of BOTH Human and Civil injustices and brutality.

We are very grateful for the respect and honor that Dennis Isbell, Director of Fletcher Library, has extended to the students and these community arts exhibitions.

The reception is not only a time to acknowledge the expertise and commitment of the students, but the incredible visual arts faculty who provide the thoughtful programming which stimulates critical inquiry on a specific subject and personal reflection to bring oneself to the center of the art making activity and determine why this process is relevant to one’s life.

There is a sense of pride and mutual respect expressed between the students and teachers when they meet in a space of honoring all the participants as significant contributors to our greater community.

Also at the reception was Deb Salac, professional artist, whose local museum exhibitions have included the Phoenix Art Museum and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Deb works youth in detention with Melanie Ohm, CAC Co-director, at Lower Buckeye Jail. Through community arts programming, they assist in identifying these young men’s strengths then artistically reinforces their capacities to make more positive choices when they are released from the system.

These community partnerships from many walks of life are built upon shared relationships that have evolved over many years. Here judy butzine, CAC exhibit curator, stands alongside students and SMHS teacher Sonny Sholola, whom judy has worked with in multiple community/academic settings for 20 years. Sonny’s artwork, "The Family", is owned by butzine and recently was showcased in a classroom of 100 seventh graders at Orangewood School —Ms. Anna Davis’ English classes — to provide the art history lesson of researching one’s ancestors taught through a lesson unit on the Yoruba culture.

During the time of installation Ms. Davis came with her family to mount this component of the community arts exhibition currently on display.

Carlos’ sculpture (above, left) is representational of his views on the "Dream Act". My sculpture, The Dream, allows me to tell my story to others and educate people about the DREAM Act. I made The Dream since I realized I needed to relate to others information about the struggle many have faced by being undocumented students just like me. The Dream doesn't just tell my story it reflects the story of many and also the story of the people who have built this country because they believed in Dreams, America is built by people with dreams!

It is important to note the arts are a means to convey a message and can be artfully created as representational of values, ideas and beliefs shared in community settings. This Honoring Box (above) is an important metaphor, a physical form giving respect and consideration to those who suffered and died from an act of senseless violence; in this case, against people gathered to express their democratic right to speak with their congress woman.

Additional artworks reveal through pictorial imagery the story of responsibility that each of shares, a responsibility to be vigilant and thoughtful when considering messages from the media. Stories and images may present destructive rather than constructive ideas and perceptions.

Through the efforts of Nissa Kubly, SMHS Arts Chairperson, and Dennis Isbell opportunities are not only provided in the academic world to enrich community through creative expression, but they are encouraged, respected and made available to a broader public.

Dennis requested Dr. Tom Keil, ASU West Associate Dean of the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, to address the students and for them to consider attending classes at ASU West as they all gathered in a conference room for the final half hour of the morning’s reception.

One hundred SMHS students, teachers and guests were then invited to listen to the guest speaker Joseph "Sentrock" Perez introduced by Malissa Geer, Community Engagement Liaison, with whom he is now working at ASU DT Phoenix campus through the Office of the University Vice President and Dean of the College of Public Programs.

Joseph spoke to the youth about the options they have in their lives to take various paths. Sometimes the end of those paths can be destructive to self and the community where one lives. The choices may be difficult — it may demand that a person break the unproductive cycle set by one’s parents. The arts are a way to think creatively, leading to problem solving and new discoveries. Joseph spoke about an artwork created at an inner city YMCA, then exhibited at ASU DT Phoenix campus a year ago, called "SHINE". He revealed the reference for its inspiration:

"Let Your Light Shine" by Nelson Mandela, 1994 Inaugural Speech: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of GOD. Your playing small does not serve the World. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of GOD that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Photo narrative and review by judy butzine on January 6th, 2011