Roundtable Discussion: Handle as Bridge: Creativity, Learning and Purpose

One of the highlights of Material World, NCECA’s upcoming conference in Milwaukee, will be a thought provoking roundtable discussion produced in cooperation with the Chipstone Foundation. It takes place early in the morning following the opening ceremonies and Keynote presentation of Theaster Gates, so be sure to set your alarm. You won’t want to miss being in Ballroom C of the Wisconsin Center from 8-9:30 am, Thursday, March 20. Moderated by Chris Staley, the title of this presentation, Handle as Bridge: Creativity, Learning and Purpose, was inspired by the German sociologist, philosopher and critic Georg Simmel. In his remarkable essay, simply titled “The Handle” the author speculates on how the handle of a vessel mediates a relationship with the world, and forms a bridge between (what he considers) the purely aesthetic pursuit of form and the social engagement that comes from use.

In the spirit of interdisciplinary inquiry exemplified in the recent work of the Chipstone Foundation, NCECA’s partners in this roundtable, we have assembled a group of distinguished figures whose diverse work and research takes familiar forms to previously unforeseen dimensions.  These range from digital gaming, to a movie house and library, to a community center and pottery with arts and job training, and publicly sited curatorial projects.   In each instance there is an element of familiarity built into the structure of the projects that encourages us to reconsider the potential of the very things we easily overlook.

This round table will provide a platform for our guests to talk about the critical decisions, motivations, opportunities and challenges they face in bridging gaps between creative and the social spheres and encourage you to attend this special event.

Handle as Bridge: Creativity, Learning and Purpose  

Thursday March 20, 8-9:30am in Ballroom C

 Chris Staley (Moderator) is an Artist and Distinguished Professor of Ceramics at Penn State University.  Last year he was selected to be the Penn State Laureate as an ambassador for the arts. The first time he applied to graduate schools he was rejected to all the schools he applied to. He has traveled extensively as a visiting artist from Bezalel Academy in Israel to the National Institute of Design in India. His work is in many collections, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London as well as friends’ cupboards.

Brooke Davis Anderson (Panelist)  is the Executive Director for Prospect New Orleans/U.S. Biennial. Prospect.3 will be on view throughout the Crescent City from October 25, 2014 – January 25, 2015. From 2010 to 2012 Anderson was Deputy Director of Curatorial Planning at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In this role, Anderson oversaw several major projects, including the Watts Towers Conservation and Community Initiative, and the “Curatorial Diversity Initiative” a Mellon funded pilot program aiming to change the demographics of museum professionals in American museums across the nation.

Theaster Gates (Panelist) , a Chicago-based Artist and Director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago has developed an expanded practice that includes space development, object making, performance and critical engagement with many publics. Gates also founded the non-profit Rebuild Foundation.  In addition to being a panelist on this roundtable, Gates will be our Keynote Speaker.  Click here to read more about him.

Erica Rosenfeld Halverson (Panelist) is Professor of Digital Media and Literacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Hers may well be a new name to many of our members.  She studies the use of new technologies and media in the service of learning with a specific focus on arts education, social media and participatory instructional environments.  A few years ago she was a featured speaker for a TEDX conference. Click here to view the entire talk.  We are looking forward to her participation in this panel discussion.

Bill Strickland (Panelist)  As president-CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, Bill Strickland builds partnerships to help the disadvantaged build a better future. He’s also the author of Make the Impossible Possible, which includes his story of how a kid from Pittsburgh’s ghetto would go on to lecture at Harvard and serve on the National Endowment of the Arts board. The MacArthur Fellowship “genius” award winner is also founder of the Grammy-winning MCG Jazz, the most successful jazz subscription series in America.