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Joii Byrd
African American Arts Institute

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, February 5, 2008

AAAI presents: "Worlds Collide: Spirit, Soul & Body"

Feb. 5, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's African American Arts Institute will present "Worlds Collide: Spirit, Soul & Body," an evening of spoken word and visual art, on Monday, Feb. 25, in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

The event will feature a gallery opening of paintings, photography and sculptures by some of Indiana's finest visual artists, including Bloomington's own Wayne Manns and Joel Washington and IU graduate students Yara Cluver and Katie Dieter.

The gallery opening will be followed by refreshments and spoken word performances by the Philadelphia-based Asian American duo Yellow Rage, Tomás Riley and IU Professor Emeritus James E. Mumford.

The gallery opening begins at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Ruth N. Halls Theatre. Spoken-word performances begin at 7 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Center. The event is free and open to the public.

"All humans that walk the sands of earth exist within the realms of spirit, soul and body simultaneously. Daily, these worlds collide. It is not always a collision of catastrophic proportions. It is, however, usually a gentle passing that can cultivate life, love and peace," Joii Byrd of the African American Arts Institute said in explaining the event's theme. "Worlds Collide explores the gentle collision of cultural diversity -- diversity of age, gender, ethnicity and art form -- through spoken word and visual art."

Here is more about the spoken word artists:

Yellow Rage

Yellow Rage's Michelle Myers and Catzie Vilayphonh made their first appearance together as "Black Hair, Brown Eyes, Yellow Rage" in December 2000 at the Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Slam in Philadelphia, where they made the semi-finals. Since then, they have performed on Simmons' Def Poetry Jam show on HBO, as well as at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, the APIA Spoken Word Summit and the New York International Fringe Festival.

In 2002, the Leeway Foundation awarded Yellow Rage a Windows of Opportunity Grant, which enabled them to travel to Hawaii, where they performed for the local poetry organization/collective Wordstew and attended the Globalization Research Center's Trafficking of Asian Women and Children Conference. Their first CD, Black Hair, Brown Eyes, Yellow Rage, Vol. 1, is now available.

Tomás Riley

Riley is a poet, writer, educator and a veteran of the influential Chicano spoken-word collective The Taco Shop Poets (TSP). With TSP, he has appeared in the HBO documentary, "Americanos: Latino Life in the United States" and the PBS dramatic series "American Family." He was profiled in Hector Galán's ITVS documentary series on Latina/o arts, "Visiones." His spoken-word CD Message From the New Forreal debuted in 2003. He also performed on "Chorizo Tonguefire" and a jazz/word collaboration with Chicano artist-activist icons Jose Montoya and Raul R. Salinas titled "Intersections."

As both a soloist and a member of TSP, Riley has performed his unique blend of Chicano bilingualism, cultural politics and lyricism at more than 200 venues across the country including the Guild Complex, Beyond Baroque, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and countless indie bookstores, cultural centers, universities, taco shops and bus stops in barrios everywhere.

His written work has been anthologized in Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Three Rivers Press, 2001), The Taco Shop Poets Anthology: Chorizo Tonguefire (Chorizo Tonguefire Press, 2000), Pacific Review and various journals and literary publications. Most recently his first solo collection of poetry, Mahcic, was published by Calaca Press in 2005.

Riley holds a master of arts degree in American literature with an emphasis in contemporary ethnic-American discourse. He taught for five years as a bilingual K-12 school teacher and lectured in the disciplines of Chicana/Chicano studies, English and comparative literature, education, and rhetoric and writing at the collegiate level. He is a founding member of the San Diego visual and performing arts space The Voz Alta Project. Currently, he works as the director of residency programs at Youth Speaks, a literary arts organization for teen writers in San Francisco.

James E. Mumford

Mumford is the former director of IU's African American Choral Ensemble. Although his career has included vocal performances with with Doris Dore's Opera Theater, the Baltimore Civic Opera and on Broadway as "Jim" in Porgy and Bess and "Audrey" (the plant) in Little Shop of Horrors, this will be his public debut as a spoken-word artist.

He directed the choral ensemble for more than 20 years and has premiered several original compositions, including "Sojourner Truth: Choral Portraits," "Black Nativity" and "Ebon-One." A documentary illustrating Mumford's teaching methodologies, "What's a Teacher For? The Nurturing No-Nonsense Classroom," is distributed through Films Media Group: Films for the Humanities & Sciences. He is an inductee of IU's Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching.