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Last modified: Monday, February 2, 2009

IU, city of Bloomington to celebrate 25th annual ArtsWeek

Feb. 2, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Starting Feb. 19 and continuing through March 1, Indiana University will present the 25th annual ArtsWeek, a winter festival showcasing an array of arts, entertainment and discussion surrounding the theme "Politics and the Arts."

Sponsored in part by the IU President's Office and the IU Office of the Vice Provost for Research, ArtsWeek offers dozens of exhibitions, performances and family-friendly events featuring modes of artistic expression that include photography, sculpture, dance and drama. ArtsWeek now spans 10 days, with complementary events taking place in near proximity.

"ArtsWeek is a model partnership between Indiana University and the city of Bloomington that enhances the entire community's vibrant arts culture," said IU President Michael McRobbie. "Drawing upon the expertise of IU's outstanding faculty and the broader arts community, this year's celebration will deepen our understanding of the relationship between artistic expression and political engagement, and extend and enrich the discussions that have been taking place over the course of past election year."

This year's "Politics and the Arts" theme is a continuation of last year's theme, when an election-year ArtsWeek challenged audiences to consider how artistic and political expression intertwine.

One of this year's ArtsWeek highlights will be a sneak preview of The People Speak, a documentary film directed by Howard Zinn (author of A People's History of the United States and Voices of a People's History), Anthony Arnove (co-author of Voices of a People's History) and Chris Moore (producer of Good Will Hunting and Project Greenlight).

The People Speak features performers including Michael Ealy, Matt Damon, Allison Moorer, Josh Brolin, Marisa Tomei and John Legend, among many others, sharing stories of resistance to social injustice throughout U.S. history and the power of ordinary people to enact momentous change. The voices of lesser-known activists are heard alongside those of icons such as Martin Luther King Jr. to create a stirring record of civil disobedience as a defining characteristic of American political life.

Ice Sculpture

Ice sculpture from last year's ArtsWeek

Print-Quality Photo

The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at the Buskirk-Chumley (114 E. Kirkwood Ave.), followed by a conversation with Anthony Arnove, Michael Ealy and Chris Moore.

Starting Feb. 19, the public will be able to view "Politics on Ice," ice sculptures with political themes carved by the Indiana Ice Studio, at People's Park (corner of Dunn Street and Kirkwood Avenue). Other ArtsWeek events include:

  • Jacobs School of Music will present a host of performances throughout February and March
  • Ballot Box Blizzard 2009, a collection of 30 original, three-minute plays from the Bloomington Playwright's Project, all on the topic of politics (Thursday to Saturday, Feb. 19-21 and 26-28 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 22 at 2 p.m.)
  • "The Exonerated," a play that tells the true story of six Americans who were sentenced to death for crimes they didn't commit (Feb. 26-27, 7:30 p.m., John Waldron Arts Center)
  • "Fire in the Garden," a Ken Weitzman play about a man who lit himself on fire to protest U.S. policy in Vietnam in 1965 (Feb. 26, 8-9:15 p.m., John Waldron Arts Center)
  • "Women in Jazz," a concert and talk with Bloomington and regional jazz artists (see below for details)

"We're delighted to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of ArtsWeek, and given the recent election and inauguration, I think this year's events exploring 'politics and the arts' are particularly exciting," said Sherry Knighton-Schwandt, coordinator of ArtsWeek and director of communications in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. "There is literally something for everyone, from ice sculpting, exhibits, readings, plays and music, to a conversation with Hollywood film actors and directors. I think ArtsWeek audiences will be truly inspired by the creative events offered during this year's winter festival of the arts."

A few highlights of this year's events are:

"Islam is . . .," Feb. 6, 5-8 p.m., exhibition and reception (John Waldron Arts Center, Rose Firebay Theatre, 122 S. Walnut St.) -- This exhibit of international, community and regional art that addresses the question, "What is Islam?" continues later in the month with "Expressions of Islam," a public discussion of the arts, rights and Muslim lives with a reception following on Feb. 21, 2-5 p.m. A Feb. 23-26, noon-8 p.m., film and video festival will also address the question "What is Islam?"

"Darwin, the Arts, and the Aesthetics of the Ordinary," Feb. 19 (Stone Age Institute, Gosport, Ind., 1392 W. Dittemore Road. Phone for specific time.) -- Marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species, this workshop/conversation directly links Darwin, biological and evolutionary sciences, and the visual, poetic and performing arts. Printmaker Rudy Pozzatti, poet Philip Appleman, artist Betsy Stirrat, scientists Rudy Raff, John Colbourne, Michael Muehlenbein, surgeon/photographer Mark Pescovitz, biologist Roger Hangarter and choreographer Liz Lerman will examine the question of what we consider beautiful in nature and ordinary human life versus our ability to create "perfection" through technology and genomic science.

"Arts, Diplomacy, and the U.S.A.," Feb. 22, 1 p.m. (Sweeney Hall, IU Jacobs School of Music, 1201 E. Third St.) Including Karim Wasfi, the political cultural advisor and director of the Iraq National Symphony Orchestra, IU Jacobs School of Music Dean Emeritus Charles H. Webb, Cliff Colnot of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and others, the panel will discuss recommendations by the 2005 U.S. State Department Advisory Committee on Cultural Diplomacy on how to more effectively use the arts in diplomatic activities around the world.

Photography exhibition "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," Feb. 24, 6 p.m. (SoFA Gallery, Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts, 1201 E. Seventh St., Room 123) -- Award-winning photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson, a photographer for the New York Times, Newsweek and Time, among others, will discuss his exhibition and book, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: A Photographer's Chronicle of the Iraq War. Following the lecture will be a book signing and reception.

Political Hip-Hop duo Dead Prez, Feb. 25, 8 p.m. (Buskirk-Chumley, 114 E. Kirkwood Ave.) -- The Florida-based political rap duo Dead Prez has forged its own political and social style of hip-hop. Their lyrics, business choices and advocacy for change within the music industry -- particularly in the way hip-hop artists are represented and marketed -- is the epitome of "art in action."

"Women in Jazz" concert and lecture, March 1, 6:30 p.m. (John Waldron Arts Center, 122 S. Walnut St.) -- The 2009 Arts Week celebrations will close with a tribute to Women's History Month on Sunday, March 1. Bloomington jazz artists Janiece Jaffe and Monika Herzig team up with regional women artists Vickie Daniel, Jennifer Kirk, Shawn Plonski and up-and-coming young women jazz artists to celebrate three generations of women in jazz. The evening will start with a panel discussion at 6:30 p.m., where each participant will present her career path as a musician, mother, wife and more. The 90-minute concert, starting at 7:30 p.m., will feature a mix of standards and originals featuring each musician.

About ArtsWeek

Since its inception in 1984, ArtsWeek has grown into a significant annual showcase for the wealth of creative work at IU and in the city of Bloomington, with prestigious performers, artists and journalists from across the country taking part in ArtsWeek activites. The celebration, which now spans a week and a half, was originally conceived by the late choreographer and dancer Fran Snygg, a professor of kinesiology and modern dance in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, in conjunction with IU's Office of the Dean of Faculties. In 1983, then-Dean of Faculties Anya Peterson Royce formed the IU Bloomington Arts Coordinating Council, whose mission was to enhance the potential for collaborative artistic activity in and around the IU Bloomington community. Snygg, who also served as an associate dean in the Office of the Dean of Faculties, chaired the Arts Coordinating Council and shepherded ArtsWeek from its beginning through 1994. She was a prime force in expanding recognition of artists in the area until her death in 1996 at age 53.

Over its 25-year history, ArtsWeek has extended artistic expression in startling new directions, from graffiti to 3-D computer modeling, ballet to computer-enhanced dance performance, ice carvings to sound gardens, poetry to a pie-laden table sculpture in the middle of the street.

Among the main features of last year's ArtsWeek festival was the "Writing on the Wall" exhibition created by Bloomington artist Joe LaMantia as a space for public expression. The wall returned -- with the name "Yes We Can" -- and was installed at the Herman B Wells Library Jan. 20, 2009, for 10 days to coincide with the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The public was invited to write on free-standing panels in response to the question, "What are your hopes and dreams for American democracy?" The exhibition will move to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., from Oct. 27 to Nov. 5.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, see the ArtsWeek 2009 Web site at