MSUToday
Published: Aug. 26, 2019

Critical race studies residency program begins third year

Contact(s): Kim Popiolek College of Arts and Letters office: (517) 432-1561 popiolek@msu.edu, Kristen Parker University Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709 klparker@msu.edu

Michigan State University’s College of Arts and Letters’ Critical Race Studies Residency program is bringing two new artists to campus for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

The goal of the program, now in its third year, is to use the medium of art and design to enrich the life of the greater Lansing community by creating opportunities for shared experiences that cultivate diversity and facilitate practices of inclusion.

This year's artists are Luis Sahagun, a multidisciplinary artist with socially engaged practices, and Jackie Sumell, a collaborative social practice artist. 

“The Critical Race Studies Residency program supports artists who help us drive cultural transformation through socially engaged practices," said Christopher Long, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. "Both Luis and Jackie's creative endeavors are catalysts for conversations and interventions around culture change. Their work opens opportunities for students, faculty and the greater Lansing community to reflect and take action on the pressing challenges we face as we enact our core values of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

The Department of Art, Art History and Design will host Sahagun and Sumell for the 2019-2020 school year, giving them the opportunity to produce substantial public projects that engage in critical approaches to diversity and inclusion through creative practice. 

They will each mount solo presentations of their work, teach courses in the Department of Art, Art History and Design and participate in outreach to the community throughout the year.

“What Jackie and Luis share is a sense in their work of grappling with the immediate effects of racialized hierarchies and experiences of oppression," said Karin Zitzewitz, interim chairperson of the Department of Art, Art History and Design. "Their work is so vital in both senses of the word – as crucially important and as alive."

Sahagun’s project, “Walls Turned Sideways are Bridges,” will aspire to use his imagination curiosity and dreams as devices for art and civic education. 

He will continue his creative research at MSU by dissecting the historic and current conceptualizations of mixed cultures, fighting against the cultural erasure of his Indian ancestry, having his practice serve as a conduit for imagining brown futures and using art as an instrument for forging a pre-Columbian spiritual connection in order to heal wounds of conquest and colonization.

During Sumell’s time at MSU, she will forward the work she is doing in collaboration with incarcerated populations. This work includes, “The Solitary Gardens,” “The Prisoners Apothecary,” “The Garden of Alien Invasive” and new work exploring the intersection of radical self-care and feminism.