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Writer Aruna D’Souza in conversation with Nico Wheadon (Director, Public Programs & Community Engagement, Studio Museum in Harlem) and Sable Elyse Smith (artist)
Aruna D’Souza writes about modern and contemporary art, intersectional feminisms and other forms of politics, her most recent book “Whitewalling: Art, Race and Protest in 3 Acts” was named one of the best art books of 2018 by the New York Times.
Nico Wheadon is director of public programs and community engagement at the Studio Museum in Harlem, where she designs and delivers adult programs that engage audiences, activate partnerships, and deepen the impact of the Museum’s mission. She is a contributor to The Brooklyn Rail, C& and Artnet, and is currently working on her first manuscript with Rowman & Littlefield. Wheadon is an adjunct professor at Barnard College and Hartford Art School, teaching Freestyle and Displacement in Contemporary Art Practices and Public Art Professional Practices respectively. She has guest-lectured at Pratt Institute, the New School, the Center for Curatorial Leadership, Howard University, and Brown University, where she serves on the advisory board for the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. Recent speaking engagements include presentations on Rethinking Museum Citizenship at annual conferences for the Museums Association of the Caribbean, MuseumNextNYC, and the Association of African American Museums, with an upcoming presentation slated for 2019 at the American Alliance of Museums Conference. Through her varied practice, Wheadon works alongside artists, cultural partners, and policymakers to deliver an arts- and artist-led collective impact model for social justice. Committed to galvanizing active participation in civic life, her pursuits reflect a deep respect for artists as risk takers that drive culture, democracy, and our collective imagination forward. Wheadon holds an MA in Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship from Goldsmith's College, University of London, a BA in Art-Semiotics from Brown University, and conducts ongoing fieldwork in human geography and participatory design.
Sable Elyse Smith is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator based in New York & Richmond Virginia. Using video, sculpture, photography, and text, she points to the carceral, the personal, the political, and the quotidian to speak about a violence that is largely unseen, and potentially imperceptible. Her work has been featured at MoMA Ps1, New Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, JTT, Rachel Uffner Gallery, and Recess Assembly, New York; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Artist Television Access, San Francisco, CA; Birkbeck Cinema in collaboration with the Serpentine Galleries, London. Her writing has been published in Radical Teacher, Studio Magazine and Affidavit and she is currently working on her first book, in addition to publishing numerous artist books. Smith has received awards from Creative Capital, Fine Arts Work Center, the Queens Museum, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Rema Hort Mann Foundation, the Franklin Furnace Fund, and Art Matters. She is currently Assistant Professor of Sculpture & Extended Media at the University of Richmond.