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Arts at St. Johns media release

"Art/Culture Transforming Our Communities"

A new series of panels on "How Art/Culture Can Transform Our Communities" opens May 30, Tuesday, 4-6 pm, at Miami Light Project, 3000 Biscayne Blvd. The first panel includes well-known local artists Xavier Cortada, Leslie Neal, and Teo Castellanos, plus community activists Daniella Levine, Mike Rosenfeld and Carol Hoffman-Guzman.

These panel discussions will present topics on how Art and Culture can be instrumental in changing, building and unifying communities -- in ways that can be deeper and less polarizing than other approaches. The primary partners in this series are the Arts at St. Johns, Miami Beach Arts Trust, and Imagine Miami (with support of the Human Services Coalition).

Other co-sponsors of specific seminars include the Arts and Business Council, Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the host sites of the seminars (Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, Youth Expressions, St. John's Church, Miami Dade College, Miami Light Project, Diaspora Vibe Gallery, and Karen Peterson & Dancers).

The panels are free, open to the public, and funded through a grant from Dade Community Foundation, with additional support from the Florida Humanities Council (the state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities) and the Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council.

Panelists are still being sought for this series. For more information on the series, see the website go online to www.artsatstjohns.com,or contact Dr. Hoffman-Guzman at 305-613-2325 or artsatstjohns@bellsouth.net.

The first seminar at Miami Light Project opens with a clip from Teo’ Castellanos’ one-man show NE 2nd Avenue, based on Miami characters. The panel discussion follows, with an interactive Q&A with the audience. The program concludes with a session of “Speed Netweaving,” in which the audience and panel will network to determine possible future collaborations that will help grow and nurture our local communities.

The panel discussion will be introduced by Daniella Levine, Director of the Human Services Coalition and Imagine Miami. Daniella will speak about how Imagine Miami is a response to the recent rating of Miami as #1 in poverty in the United States. Imagine Miami seeks to change that rating by growing the middle-class and increasing access to affordable housing, adequate healthy care, jobs, and education. Daniella will speak about how art and culture are important ingredients in growing a healthy community.

Panelist Teo Castellanos, performance artist and Director of D-Projects, was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami. His show, NE 2nd Avenue, was commissioned and produced by Miami Light Project as part of their 2001-2002 Contemporary Performance Series. Teo is also author of War, Revolution, and the Projects, a one-man trilogy, which he has toured on the East coast.

Dr. Carol Hoffman-Guzman, the creator and coordinator of this Art/Culture series, acts as panel moderator. Carol, Exec. Director of Arts at St. Johns, has a 30-year history of working in the arts, social service, and faith-based community development. Carol, an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, has lived and worked for 20 years within the diverse Miami community and completed her doctoral dissertation on the contribution and identity of immigrants in South Florida.

Panelist Xavier Cortada is a Cuban-American visual artist, who was born in Albany, New York and was raised and now lives in Miami. Xavier holds three degrees from the University of Miami and his work has been shown across four continents and is in the permanent collection of The World Bank. Cortada has been commissioned to create art for government agencies (the White House, Miami City Hall), cultural institutions (Miami Art Museum, Museum of Florida History) and corporations (Nike, Heineken). Major collaborative art projects include International AIDS murals in Switzerland and South Africa, peace murals in Northern Ireland and Cyprus and child welfare murals in Bolivia and Panama.

Panelist Leslie Neal is the Artistic Director of ArtSpring, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) arts organization based in South Florida, whose mission is to support self-growth and effective life skills, through dance and art-making, for institutionalized women and girls. Leslie, Associate Professor at FIU, received a B.S.Ed. in Dance from the University of Georgia and a M.F.A. in Dance from Florida State University. She has been an active member of the Miami dance community since 1981. In 1997 Leslie was chosen to serve as an artist-in-residence for the National Endowment of the Arts at the Federal Correctional Institution for women in Tallahassee, Florida.

Panelist Michael Rosenfeld is the Executive Director of Youth Expressions, a Miami-Dade organization that uses hip-hop culture as therapy and mentoring for at-risk teens from Little Haiti. Some of the teens come from broken homes or have spent time in jail. They learn to channel their frustrations through writing rap poetry, and producing, performing, and marketing their music. They perform at schools, neighborhood parties, local jam sessions and before events such as The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards. Some songs are about HIV or domestic abuse. Youth are also taught how to be social activists for youth and for their communities.

Future panels include:

Art as Activism in the Gay Community
Tuesday, June 20, 7-9 pm
St. Johns Church, 4760 Pinetree Dr.

Steve Rothaus, Miami Herald

Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Steve Atkins

Gary Keating, Miami Gay Men’s Chorus
Cindy Brown, Miami Light Project
Robert Rosenberg, Film Maker
Bishop S.F. Ma-hee, Activist/Artist


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