Open for Discussion: With Liberty and Justice for All (A Work in Progress)
How can art work toward fulfilling the American promise of “liberty and justice for all”? With the 2021 presidential inauguration upon us, now is an opportune time to talk about the power of art, agency, the multiplicity of American voices, nation building, and politics.
The Contemporary Austin’s new executive director, sharon maidenberg, will moderate a virtual conversation about civic engagement with Constance Hockaday, a socially engaged maritime artist, PJ Raval, a documentary filmmaker and LGBTQ activist, Andrea Valdez, editor in chief of The 19th*, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting on gender, politics, and policy, and Dr. Laura Gutierrez, professor of Mexican American and Latina/o cultural studies, visual art, and performance at U.T. Austin.
About the Speakers
Laura G. Gutiérrez was born in Nuevo Ideal, Durango, Mexico and, in 1977, migrated to Chicago via the Tijuana/San Diego/LA corridor. Austin, TX is where she currently resides, but she’s also made homes in Tucson, AZ and Mexico City. But her real home is with her extended network of queer kin, wherever they are. Gutiérrez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at The University of Texas at Austin and, when not teaching on all things related to culture, researches and writes about Latinx and Mexican performance and visual art. Because of her deep commitment to contemporary art and culture-makers, Gutiérrez is on the board of and part of the curating team of OUTsider Fest, an Austin-based queer transmedia nonprofit, and, occasionally, collaborates with artists.
Constance Hockaday is a queer Chilean American artist who grew up 5 miles from the US/Mexico border at the very tip of Texas. She has created outsider maritime projects since 2001. At age 19, she joined the Floating Neutrinos, a family of wanderers who sailed around the world in handmade vessels. Traveling with the Neutrinos she came to learn how to use the water as a public platform and then began creating solo work on the water in 2011: from a floating boat hotel off the shores of New York City to a floating peepshow in the San Francisco Bay, her work explores issues of public space, political voice, and belonging. Her most recent project, Artist In Presidents, brought together 50 artists to address the nation in the style of Depression Era Fireside Chats. Hockaday holds both an MFA in Socially Engaged Art and a Masters in Conflict Resolution. She is a TED Fellow and an artist in residence at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. She has received support from the Rauschenberg foundation, Map Fund, SF MOMA, Rainin Foundation, and Headlands Center for the Arts.
PJ Raval is a queer, first generation Filipino American filmmaker whose work explores the overlooked subcultures and identities within the already marginalized LGBTQ+ community. PJ recently completed Call Her Ganda (awarded “Excellence in Documentary” by the 2020 NLGJA Association of LGBTQ Journalists) and is a Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. PJ is the director of the documentary team for In Plain Sight, an artists’ coalition creating a nationwide artwork to raise awareness about and abolish immigrant detention in the U.S.
Andrea Valdez is editor in chief of The 19th*, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting on gender, politics, and policy. A Houstonian, Valdez received a BA in English from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005 and received her MSJ from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2006. Previously she served as editor in chief of the Texas Observer, editor of WIRED.com and editor of Texas Monthly’s website. She wrote the book How to Be a Texan: The Manual.