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WORKING GROUPS: Conversation

Saturday, February 23 at 2 PM

Please join the Working Groups artists, Carolyn Sortor and Michael A Morris, together with Janeil Engelstad and Vicki Meek for a conversation about the exhibition, libraries, art, and activism.

The MAC is pleased to present, as part of itscurrent exhibition, Working Groups by Carolyn Sortor and Michael A. Morris, a conversation on Saturday, February 23 at 2 PM, at its new home in the Cedars located at 1503 S. Ervay St (parking in back off of Sullivan St).

Janeil Engelstad and Vicki Meek have demonstrated expertise in art and relational practices. Collaboratively and independently, Engelstad produces exhibitions and multiform projects throughout the world. Her creative practice and community advocacy work often dovetail into projects that address political, social and environmental concerns through writing, photography, and art. She is the Founding Director of Make Art with Purpose (MAP). Meek is a nationally recognized artist, independent curator and cultural critic, and community leader. As a writer, she addresses issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As an artist, Meek’s practice often relates to the African diaspora. Although each has their own unique practice, both Engelstad and Meek often address similar concerns in their work, including considerable thought to issues related to libraries.

The MAC’s current exhibition, Working Groups, celebrates the permanent installation of books and other materials assembled as part of the OccuLibrary project. Working Groups contextualizes these materials and reviews some of the accomplishments of the Occupy movement and its offshoots, seeking “empowering info” and inspiration for next steps in both art and “reality.”

The OccuLibrary project was initiated in 2011 following the eviction of Occupy camps across the U.S. and the destruction of the libraries that had spontaneously sprung up within them (more than 3,000 books were lost in New York City alone). The project was conceived as a rolling collaboration in which various artists were invited to create reincarnations of the destroyed libraries, “using aesthetically-informed strategies to lure awareness toward empowering info.”

Reincarnations of the OccuLibrary have taken the forms of, among other things, mobile and “secret” libraries, an exhibition of works by internationally-known artists, a reading group that met for two years, and a series of children’s programs. Collaborating artists have included Karen Weiner, Lizzy Wetzel, Greg Metz, Danette Dufilho, Anne Lawrence, Regina Yunker Rudnicki, Oil and Cotton, Frank & Celia Eberle, Sally Glass, Cassandra Emswiler Burd, Andrea Tosten, Michael A. Morris, Carolyn Sortor, and more.

Various Occupy “working groups” and others including Akshat Tewary have contributed to the new exhibition, which includes a display highlighting changes made to strengthen bank regulations under Dodd-Frank in accordance with a 325-page comment letter sent by the “Occupy the SEC” group.

The physical library assembled through donations by the artists and many others for use in various OccuLibrary reincarnations comprises books on art, politics, economics, philosophy and other subjects as well as fiction, zines, drawings, and other materials. These now find their permanent home at the MAC and will be available for use by the public.

Carolyn Sortor explores dimensionality, systems, and socio-political relations using video, relational strategies, and other media. Her work has been shown in New York, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Albuquerque, and elsewhere at venues including the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston. Her videos have won juror and audience awards, most recently including first prize at the Aurora Picture Show Extremely Shorts Festival, and in 2013 she received a Dallas Observer Mastermind award.

Michael A. Morris is an artist and educator based in Dallas, Texas. His work responds to the rapid changes in how moving images are created and experienced in the 21st century, affirming the traditional space of experiencing cinema while also exploring the implications of new media. He has performed and screened his films and videos at museums, galleries, microcinemas, and film festivals internationally, including events at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, The International Symposium of Electronic Art in Vancouver, Oak Cliff Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque, and the Texas Biennial.

Janeil Engelstad is an affiliate artist at the Social Practice Art Research Center at the University of California Santa Cruz and the Founding Director of Make Art with Purpose (MAP), an organization that produces interdisciplinary projects addressing social and environmental concerns around the globe. These projects often create a place for individuals and groups who do not have social agency or access to creative opportunities to express their identity, experiences, and points of view. Her process for this work, which can be as valuable as the outcome, involves embedding herself in communities, extensive research, collaboration, and building coalitions between universities, government agencies, NGOs and others. Engelstad’s projects and artwork have been exhibited and produced in partnership with ArtMargins, California Museum of Photography, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Dallas Museum of Art, Hyde Park Art Center, Massachuttesses Institute of Technology, New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program, New York City Public Library, Museum of Arts and Design, International Center of Photography, Stanica Žilina-Záriečie, Threewalls, U.S. Deparmtent of State, Whitebox, and others. She has contributed essays to numerous publications including, Exploring New Horizons (Vernon Press, 2019), Wilmington, Deleware, 2019; Urban Public Art: Community Involvement and Civic Engagment (Rowan & Littlefield, 2016); Dallas Morning News; On the Issues; In These Times; and EUTOPIA. Her podcast, The MAP Radio Hour, conversations at the intersection of art, design, and science is hosted by Creative Disturbance and ARTECA / MIT. A Fulbright Scholar, Engelstad has taught at universities throughout North America and Europe.

Vicki Meek, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a nationally recognized artist who has exhibited widely. Meek is in the permanent collections of the African American Museum in Dallas, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and Norwalk Community College in Norwalk, Connecticut. She was awarded three public art commissions with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Art Program and was co-artist on the largest public art project in Dallas, the Dallas Convention Center Public Art Project. Meek was selected as one of ten national artists to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Nasher Sculpture Center with the commissioning of a site-specific installation. In addition, Vicki Meek is an independent curator and writes cultural criticism for her blog Art & Racenotes. With over 40 years of arts administrative experience that includes working as a senior program administrator for a state arts agency, a local arts agency and running a non-profit visual arts center, Vicki Meek retired in March, 2016 as the Manager of the South Dallas Cultural Center, a full-service African-centered center that is a division of the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs. She served on the board of National Performance Network 2008-15 and was Chair from 2012-2014. Meek is currently a full-time artist who splits her time between Dallas and Costa Rica where she is COO of USEKRA: Center for Creative Investigation, a 501C3 creatives retreat.

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