The Institute of Prophetic Activist Art
will be offering the following two courses for the spring semester:
Great Books: An exploration of mystical core of all religions
The great Sufi saint Abu Hamid al-Ghazali said: "You only truly possess that which can't be lost in a shipwreck." This course concerns the things which cannot be lost in a shipwreck.
With all reading materials provided as pdf documents
Prophetic Activist Art: A seminar exploring how to build specific activist art projects along the "Prophetic Activist Art" model, as outlined in my manifesto/handbook: Prophetic Activist Art: Handbook for a Spiritual Revolution (Centre for Human Ecology, Glasgow, Scotland 2014)
Includes a copy of the manifesto/handbook: Prophetic Activist Art: Handbook for a Spiritual Revolution
For further information about one or both courses, please email Tom Block at firstname.lastname@example.org
Artists and activists have a very strong sense of spirituality, yet often do not consider themselves “religious.” So from where is the spiritual wellspring from which they draw? This course will help expand and develop an understanding of spirituality outside of religion’s social, political and legal grasp. For a full semester, we will explore many thinkers who have plumbed the depths of the human spirit, yet were not always in accord with religious precepts. They range in time period, religion and ethnicity to include the full breadth of humanity – from ancient China through Greece and Rome, into medieval Europe and then the modern world. Taken together, they can provide an important foundational intellectual and spiritual structure upon which to build a prophetic activist career.
This course will involve moderate reading, in the area of 30-50 pages every week. All texts will be provided free, emailed in pdf format. Class conversations will revolve around what we read the previous week. There will be no writing assignments. The price of the course is $150, which includes all digital texts.
Prophetic Activist Art
Strategies for a Spiritual Revolution
The Institute offers an intensive workshop to build individual art-activist projects over the semester-long seminar. Classes include an introduction to the specific aspects of the Prophetic Activist Art model (developed by Tom Block out of his own work), and then an exploration about how these ideas can be applied to each artist and their endeavor.
The Institute will consist of 12 activist artists who would like to build their projects during the semester-long seminar, basing their work on Tom Block’s manifesto/handbook of art activism: Prophetic Activist Art: Handbook for a Spiritual Revolution (Centre for Human Ecology, Scotland, 2014). Mr. Block (www.tomblock.com) will be running the seminar.
The eight session seminar will explore the motivations and strategies for each particular activist art project. It will then introduce artists to the specific ideas of the model, including co-opting political, business and social energy; partnering with non-profit groups; making liaisons with other artists; utilizing unusual exhibition and outreach methods; “Machiavellian” activism; how to build a project from inception through completion; how to imagine and successfully attain quantifiable activist goals and other specific aspects of a Prophetic Activist Art intervention.
Past participants in the Institute of Prophetic Activist Art include:
Rosary Solimanto (http://rosarysolimanto.com): is best known for her mixed media conceptual based work which explores the objectification she has faced battling multiple sclerosis.
James Leonard (www.jamesleonard.org): Part children’s blanket fort, part post-apocalyptic wigwam, The Tent of Casually Observed Phenologies serves as a portable ritual space intended for one day, pop-up installations. Inside, using Tarot, I give free climate change divination readings to the public.
Molly Gallentine (https://www.facebook.com/molly.gallentine): is a performance artist and a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at The New School. She is working with James on his Tent of Casually Observed Phenologies
Ari Gold (http://www.arigold.com/): is developing a project which explores how we keep our “queerness,” our dance music as the soundtrack for our freedom, and the rituals of club life a valid part of our cultural identity while addressing issues like addiction, mental health, stigma, shame, self esteem, generational coalitions, and making sure our stories and histories are being heard during this important progression in our fight for equality.
Julia Levine (www.juliaslevine.com): her art-activist project GAIA: an ecotheatre project, resonates from her layered concern for the world’s changing climate systems, and the impact on communities that struggle for local or global resources.
Catherine Mueller (www.mywonderchamber.com): Intimate Commissions: What if going to an art event were more like a holy mass, a potlatch, a potluck family reunion, a Secret Santa exchange, or an 8- year-old’s birthday party in 1965?
J.P. Makowski: Through the use of camp and pop imagery, I hope to rekindle the fire of activism in art that was so prevalent during the 1980s and early 1990s, but seems to be lost as the LGBT community accepts domination under the faux guise of rights from the majority, mainly heteronormative society.
Sarah Keyes (www.sarahkeyes.com): her activist theatre concept will be grounded in a near future where the world is without seasons, when cities are submerged by oceans, scientists are rushing to put man on Mars, and Antarctica is the playground of the elite. The play will include music, dance, and prolonged moments of pure, ecstatic joy. It will utilize grassroots techniques to connect to the audience.
Mashuq Deen, a playwright and activist who is creating a project to gently confront immigrant communities in Jackson Heights, Chinatown and Crown Heights Brooklyn) with other sexually-oriented members of their community, by inserting these "others" into their day-to-day lives at bus stops, subway stations, markets and throughout the communtiy
Erin Cherry, an actress, who is creating a project called “Stay Woke: A Call to Action” which will provide a safe-space for community stakeholders in Harlem to discuss issues of concern to African Americans such as police brutality, media bias, staying positive in the face of a hostile world and other aspects of being African American in the United States today.
Nate Speare, an actor and writer, who is creating in the new field of “Astro-Dramas,” which make explicit the astrological forces which surround us. His works unpack the individual, positive forces that may lay latent in our actions and beings.
Eva Peskin and Justine Williams, who are creating a community space for LGBTQ members, modeled on the Boy Scouts, but subverting that model by reconsidering “correct action”. This work is also being developed at the Queer Mentorship Program.
Pamela Enz, a performance artist, who is working an a prison-based project, and planning on taking her work into youth prisons.
Olivia Corbett, a fashion designer, rapper and dancer who is creating a clothing line with sayings on them which will exhort, question and subvert the status quo, as well as highlight positive aspects of the human character. Her website is already online at: http://getconjoint.com
Loren Halman (Lolo Haha), a performance artist, who is devising a project to engage non-profit groups to use creative means to fight for housing justice.
Mirjam Linschooten: an international researcher and artist who is exploring how the manner in which museums exhibit their works denatures them of their original meanings, and creating novel manners of exhibiting ethnographic and artistic works which will allow them to be experienced, instead of just "seen" behind vitrines and pasted onto walls.
Charlie Munn: an actor and playwright, is working on a theatrical piece which explores the language used by white men on the wrong side of history. The piece uses sourced documents from slaveholders, segregationists, and senators to confront its audience with words we want to pretend never existed.