March 22, 2004

Artists from 'Journeys' to bring work to campus

By Eric Rangus

A Native American mixed-media artist from Montana; a woman from Kentucky who promotes racial reconciliation by blending traditional Appalachian music and hip hop; a mix of musicians who perform protest songs steeped in Southern traditions; and an Emory professor moderating a talk on the meeting of music and social movements.

"The Arts and Social Change" will present the above collection of diverse artists, March 25-27, for a series of talks and musical performances aimed not only at entertaining and educating attendees, but also at deepening relationships born out of last summer's Journeys of Reconciliation.

"Part of what we do is try and create lasting relationships with the communities we visit," said Tom Simpson, coordinator of Journeys of Reconciliation, the symposium's lead sponsor. The dean of the Chapel and Religious Life and the David Goldwasser Lectureship in Religion and the Arts are on board as co-sponsors.

"Since we did all domestic trips in 2003, we had a special opportunity to bring some of the people we met to campus so they can share their work with all of Emory," Simpson said.

Journeys of Reconciliation is an annual project that immerses Emory volunteers in communities around the world with histories of violence and exploitation. Many journeys are international, but 2003's trips kept travelers in North America, sending them to Montana, the Mississippi Delta, rural Appalachia and the Texas/Mexico border. Regional artists are among the many people the sojourners met, and several of those artists were invited to Emory for this debut symposium.

The event will kick off Thursday, March 25, at 3:30 p.m. in the Cannon Chapel formal lounge, with a discussion and video presentation by Bently Spang, a mixed-media visual artist from Billings, Mont. Spang, whose work is tinged with humor and introspection, is a Native American of Northern Cheyenne ancestry, and he has spoken to several Journeys groups who have visited Indian reservations in Montana.

At noon on Friday, March 26, in 106 Bishops Hall, Amelia Kirby will discuss Appalshop, a Kentucky-based project that oversees film, radio, music and other artistic endeavors that document the realities of Appalachian life. One of Appalshop's current efforts is "Holler to the Hood," a musical style that fuses traditional Appalachian folk music with hip-hop. Appalshop, through a partnership with WMMT-FM in Whitesburg, Ky., also is involved in a project that broadcasts a wide array of bluegrass, jazz, blues and urban music geared toward prison inmates in Appalachia, with the intent of promoting racial reconciliation.

"Songs from the Struggle" is the symposium's centerpiece. The Friday night concert will feature an eclectic mix of Appalachian and Mississippi Delta musicians performing songs of freedom and protest.

The show, scheduled for 8 p.m. in the Cannon Chapel sanctuary, will include performances from Donavan Cain and Randy Wilson, both Appalachian folk musicians from eastern Kentucky; the Appalachian folk duo of Guy and Candie Carrawan; and Hollis Watkins, a Mississippi musician with a long history of civil rights activism.

"The artists' creativity and generosity impressed all of us deeply, and we wanted to share something of that experience with the rest of Emory," Simpson said.

The symposium will wrap up at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 27, when the Carrawans sit down with Don Saliers, William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship, for "Conversations on Music and Justice" in Cannon Chapel. Saliers will discuss the Carrawans long work in music and social movements, which dates to the 1960s.

This is not their first meeting. Saliers interviewed the Carrawans last year for a book he is writing with his daughter, Emily.

Except for the Friday night concert, all events are free and open to the public. Tickets for "Songs from the Struggle" are $9 for the public, $7 for faculty/staff and $5 for students. Tickets will be available at the door or in advance from Simpson.

For more information about tickets or any other aspect of the symposium, contact Simpson at 404-712-9102 or