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Sites of Conflict: Art in a Culture of Violence - The 2001 Arts Now National Conference

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Sites of Conflict: Art in a Culture of Violence

September 20-22, 2001

School of Fine & Performing Arts
State University of New York at New Paltz

The School of Fine & Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz will present the 2001 Arts Now Conference "Sites of Conflict: Art in a Culture of Violence" on September 20-22, 2001. This biennial event explores issues surrounding violent imagery in the visual and performing arts, as well as other forms of cultural production such as film, literature, and music. Panels, performances, workshops, and exhibitions consider the content, context, causes, and pervasiveness of violent imagery historically and in contemporary culture.

This important conference seeks to establish a cross-disciplinary dialogue on the relationship between art, culture, education, and violence. Lecturers, performers, artists, and educators from throughout the United States whose creative work, scholarship, research, and pedagogy explores violence will offer compelling and challenging perspectives on the subject.

Keynote presentations will be delivered by:

Anna Deavere Smith - Thursday, September 20, 7:30 p.m. Julien J. Studley Theatre (followed by a book signing and reception) - Actor and Playwright who achieved national acclaim for her plays Twilight: Los Angeles and Fires in the Mirror

Michael A. Bellesiles - Friday, September 21, 9:00 a.m. Lecture Center 112 - Professor of History and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Violence, Emory University; Author of Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture

James E. Young - Friday, September 21, 12 p.m., Lecture Center 102 - Professor and author of Writing and Rewriting the Holocaust, The Texture of Memory and At Memory's Edge: After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture

Bradley McCallum, Carl Pope - Saturday, September 22, 10:00 a.m., Lecture Center 112 - Artists whose recent projects include Witness: Police Violence and The Manhole Cover Project

Carolyn Forché - Saturday, September 22, 4:00 p.m., Lecture Center 112 - Poet, Activist, and Editor of the landmark anthology Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness

A special presentation of Marisol, a play by José Rivera, is performed in McKenna Theatre September 19, 21, 22 at 8pm and September 23 at 2:00pm. Presented by the Department of Theatre Arts and directed by Beverly Brumm, Rivera's play is characterized by its fantastical flavor, which is inspired by the body of writing often called Magical Realism. Dr. Brumm emphasizes this socially conscious vein, citing the intrinsic and necessary social aspect of all Magical Realism. Marisol Tickets are available at the door at the following prices: $12 general admission, $10 seniors.

In addition to the keynote presentations listed above, the three-day conference will include over 20 panels and presentations, 5 art exhibitions, and 2 theatre productions. Issues that will emerge include the importance of individual and community responsibility, emotional and intellectual responses to violence, the necessity of witnessing and testimony, the impact of shocking imagery, the role of spectacle, the function of catharsis, and the consequences of desensitization.

Arts Now Biennial Conference Series - Between 1997 and 2005, the School of Fine & Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz will produce five biennial Arts Now conferences. These conferences are reflective occasions to look at timely issues in the arts and contemporary culture through an interdisciplinary lens. Past conferences include "Subject to Desire: Refiguring the Body" (1997), and "Ooh...aah...oh! Art Audience Response" (1999).

Each conference includes featured presentations and conversations, papers and other contributions selected from a national call for proposals, as well as exhibitions and performances. Arts Now seeks a generous range of perspectives presented in different pedagogical and aesthetic formats.

"Sites of Conflict: Art in a Culture of Violence" will offer information, ideas, and insights on a vexing and complex subject. Planned as an open and inquiring forum, there is a single principle that has guided the conference organization. Rather than ignoring, overlooking, or suppressing disturbing ideas, causes, and possible effects of violent imagery, the conference planning committee has been guided by the belief that a School of Fine & Performing Arts at a public university is an appropriate educational and critical setting to look closely at even those ideas and images that are most disquieting and provocative.

A complete schedule of events for the conference is available on the SUNY New Paltz Web site, For additional information, contact the Dean's Office, School of Fine & Performing Arts, SUNY New Paltz, 845-257-3860.

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Editors: Slides or prints are to accompany feature articles are available. Contact David Cavallaro, 845-257-3872 or via email

SUNY New Paltz is a university of nearly 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students located in the Mid-Hudson Valley halfway between New York City and Albany. SUNY New Paltz is committed to providing high quality, affordable education to students from all social and economic backgrounds. For more information about the university, visit its web site at