Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(Dis)orderly Women

An article I wrote up for the Office of Campus Life:

“We wanted to bring disorderly voices to campus,” says Katie Cullum, 2011. Professor Beck Krefting asked her students to organize a weekend of events based on raising awareness about the “necessity of recognizing all subsets of our community,” adds Cullum.

To do so, students in the class organized 4 events for the weekend: a Late Night performance by Screaming Females, Youth Understanding Difference arts project, (Dis)orderly Voices film screening, and spoken word artist Andrea Gibson's performance. The weekend of events for all ages was an extension of the materials and philosophy of the class.

In class students “spent the semester interrogating the definition of disorderly for specific women in their historical and cultural contexts. These can be leaders in activist movements like Mother Jones or Ida B. Wells who denied socially imposed definitions and instead self-defined themselves,” explains Cullum with enthusiasm. To fully understand this, Professor Krefting applied her philosophy of hands-on work to her students. She asked them to raise awareness about the differences and power of minority views through these events.

After the screening of the (Dis)orderly Voices film, the students held a discussion on how to build a more productive and open community. They came up with a list of ideas and discussed many issues of community and how to engage it at a more personal level. Among the many in the long list was to “challenge yourself,” and “take action, make your ideas realities.”
For lighter fare, the students in the class also organized a performance by Screaming Females, a punk rock band with driving riffs and discordant harmonies. This socially and environmentally aware band brought a loud twist to the festival’s name. “They were great, my ears were ringing for hours,” says Cullum hoarsely.

To tone things down a little, there was a different form of the use of the female voice. “After the first sentence I started crying and did not stop,” Cullum says about Andrea Gibson’s performance. Andrea Gibson, noted slam poet, stopped by the campus as well to add in a powerful and expressive exhibition.

The class also put together a day of activities and events for children in the Saratoga mentoring program. They performed several skits about diversity and acceptance and held art projects for making a mural, sculptures, self-portraits, and other crafts projects. The idea was to promote self-awareness for the children, a project that Brenda Schin, Director of Saratoga Mentoring, characterized as, “fun and successful.”

Cullum described the event’s overall importance, “As a class, we had full ownership of this project from the beginning. We started with no money and no outside resources and ended up with a very successful festival.”