The Art Of Urban Engagement

At a symposium hosted by Meadows School of the Arts this spring, participants across the creative spectrum were challenged to rewrite the relationship between artists and activists in the city.

This fall, first-year Meadows Scholars put their talents to work on the Dallas Mexican American Historical League’s ongoing oral history and photo archive project as part of the course “Artspace: Mapping Sites of Social Change.” Janis Bergman-Carton, art history chair, led the team of art, art history, dance and theatre faculty teaching the class. The course is the first curricular piece produced by Creative Time, a New York-based public arts organization and a winner of the inaugural Meadows Prize arts residency in 2009.

The scholars assisted the DMAHL with its mission of documenting the history and contributions of Mexican Americans in Dallas. Students also delved into the impact of the Trinity River Corridor Project, specifically the construction of the Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge, and the Mexican-American community of West Dallas. Group projects allowed the Meadows Scholars to express their findings in artistic ways.

The culmination was “Las huellas: footsteps in West Dallas,” a student art installation and mapping (dance) performance at the Bataan Center in West Dallas November 28 and at the Meadows School’s Doolin Gallery December 1.

“Students became stakeholders and participants in the next phase of the Meadows initiative to define its own model of urban engagement and creativity in 21st-century Dallas,” says Bergman-Carton.

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