FES speaker series explores environmental scholarship, activism and the arts

Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) Professor Honor Ford Smith will lead an interactive workshop titled, Song for the Beloved, on Jan. 30, from 12:30 to 2:30pm n Room 140, Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies (HNES) Building, Keele Campus. The workshop is part of the Environmental Scholarship Activisms & the Arts FES Speaker Series launched last fall.

Honor Ford-Smith

Song for the Beloved is an interactive performance that focuses on revealing underrepresented histories. The performance and workshop remember the uncounted human losses caused by state violence and the violence of armed strongmen in the Caribbean and its sister communities across time and in the present. In this workshop, Ford Smith honours those who fight the threat of racialized human disposability with their caring labour and justice-seeking love. As part of the workshop, she will reflect on the process of creating a performance cycle, the ideas that inspired it and the contradictions it reveals.

Following Song for the Beloved, FES Professor Lisa Myers and Faculty member Chris Cavanagh will give a workshop titled, Blueberries: Materials, Art & Words, on Feb. 6, from 12:30 to 2:30pm, in 140 HNES Building. Myers and Cavanagh will consider narrative through objects and materials. They refer to blueberries as a means to connect to a shared colonial history and presence of place and story.

On Tuesday, March 6, from 12:30 to 2:30pm, 140 HNES Building, FES PhD student and internationally recognized artist Camille Turner will offer a digital performance titled, Mapping African Diasporic Memory: Digital Media and Performance, a project that maps sites of Black history around Grange Park in downtown Toronto.

The Environmental Scholarship Activisms & the Arts FES Speaker Series will culminate with the 24th Eco-Arts & Media Festival, March 5 to 9. Artists and events featured in this year’s festival include an art exhibition in Crossroads the unGallery by Ayesha Khan, an artist’s talk by Camille Turner, a workshop and musical performance by Guadalupe Urbina (faculty in the Las Nubes Campus in Costa Rica) that will involve students and FES faculty, and will take place at the annual Eco-Arts Cabaret happening at the Lula Lounge in Toronto. On Friday, March 9, the festival will finish with a day focused on exploring the intersection of food and art. The closing event includes a student-organized panel on food access, workshops and a feast. Stay tuned for a calendar and schedule updates. All details will be posted at http://wildgardenmedia.com/ecoart/.

Founded in 1994, this week-long festival celebrates and shares diverse forms of creative expression. Each year has a specific theme and the goal of the festival is to inspire engagement and dialogue around the theme. Some of the modes of expression showcased in previous years include: visual art, music and performance, film, video and new media, spoken word and storytelling, workshops, and more. Each year, the performances and artworks are presented by FES students and faculty at a variety of artistic venues including, the Zig Zag Gallery, the Wild Garden Media Centre, and Crossroads the unGallery.

More about the Environmental Scholarship Activisms & the Arts FES Speaker Series

The series began in the fall term with a series of speakers who considered how our bodies – whether they are labouring bodies or bodies absorbing toxicity – reflect various environmental injustices:

  • FES alumna Farrah Miranda and her participatory project Speaking Fruit focused on migrant worker rights.
  • FES Professor Cate Sandilands and alumnus Peter Hobbs conducted a workshop focused on ‘writing self’ as a way to understand a bodily/physical and psycho-social entanglement with toxicity.
  • Creating activist messages through collage of recycled flyers, FES PhD student Julia Fursova led a craftivism workshop opening a space for building conversation about sustainability.
  • The fall speaker series ended with a talk by two Spirit Elder, filmmaker, cultural worker and community-based video activist, Marjorie Beaucage, who gave a talk and a screening of her documentary Giving Back (2016), which offers a look back at the work of the Aboriginal Film and Video Alliance.

Researcher and Postdoctoral Fellow, Katie MacEntee launched the winter speaker series with an interactive workshop on the origins and process of cellphilming as a tool for research and expression.

The aim of the 2017-18 Environmental Scholarship Activisms & the Arts FES Speaker Series is to share and learn about innovative approaches for creatively engaging in environmental arts, art practices and modes of inquiry. The series highlights work by alumni and faculty considering the arts as sites of knowledge and in many cases, as forms of activism. Some of the speakers who have presented as part of the series engage communities and challenge injustice, others have conducted participatory research, developed new insights into complex problems and, or, created art practices that engage with and respond to the complexity of social, political and environmental concerns.