The discussion moderated by Leah Andelsmith of the Arts Paper. Leah writes: “Anchored by the artwork on view, the conversation will focus on how we can bridge divergent perspectives and what we can all gain by trying on another’s eyes. What are our challenges, what are our points of connection, and how can we sight our path to the future?”
Salwa Abdussabur, Youth Program Developer, Artist, Activist, Lover, Fighter
Nathan Flis, Participating Artist and Head of Exhibitions and Publications/Assistant Curator of Seventeenth Century Paintings for the Yale Center for British Art
Toto Kisaku, Director, Actor, Playwright, Producer, and Artist in Residence at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas
Laurie Sweet, Art Historian, Activist, Doula and Founder of New Haven Resistance Choir
About Our Moderator:
Leah Andelsmith is a former teacher who works for the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, providing community-minded arts coverage for the Arts Paper and coordinating Make Music New Haven. Leah lives in New Haven and writes short stories about the strength of spirit and that which is in between.
About Our Panelists:
Salwa Abdussabur is a New Haven-born artist and activist. They are a Teaching Artist and Youth Organizer for The Word Poetry, working and mentoring young people to be poets and culture creators. Salwa is a singer, songwriter, actress, and poet, who sung background for Childish Gambino during his historical host and performance on Saturday Night Live. Salwa is an up and coming artist with soul and consciousness that uses their voice and floetry to both uplift spirits and voices. When not “spitting bars,” leading workshops, or prancing around on stage, Salwa is speaking their truth at rallies and marching for social justice. They hope that by being a part of these transformative spaces, combining art and activism, collectives, and self-expression, they can help change the narrative of what it means to be young queer people of color.
Nathan Flis is an artist and curator, originally from Canada, now based in New Haven, CT. He is the Head of Exhibitions and Publications, and Assistant Curator of Seventeenth-Century Paintings at the Yale Center for British Art, where he co-curated The Paston Treasure: Microcosm of the Known World (2018), and William Hunter and the Anatomy of the Modern Museum (2019). Like his work as curator, historian, and writer, Nathan’s drawings and prints reflect his interest in the relationship between the natural world (or what we perceive to be the natural world) and ourselves.
Toto Kisaku is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning playwright, actor, director and producer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has organized theater communities across the DRC and established K-Mu Theater in 2003 in Kinshasa, the capital. He spent the next 15 years traveling the world, producing and participating in plays. His work focuses on examining how people living in difficult circumstances can use theater to recreate their environment and improve their lives. Toto is an Artist in Residence at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas (2019) in New Haven, CT.
Laurie Sweet holds a BA in Classical Studies from Bryn Mawr, an MA from NYU (Institute of Fine Arts) in History of Art, and a PhD in Ancient Greek and Roman Art from The Ohio State University. She taught Art History survey courses at Ithaca College for two years before moving to CT. For the last 7 years, Laurie has worked as a certified birth doula. Additionally, she has been involved in Nasty Women CT since 2017, and was the editor for the exhibition catalogue. In August of 2018, hearing about family separation, Laurie turned her attention to immigration activism and began volunteering for Immigrant Families Together. she is a sponsor for a young man from Cuba and an unofficial sponsor for a family of 3 from Honduras. Laurie was part of the coalition that shut down the tent city for immigrant children in Tornillo and is currently working to bring awareness to Homestead, Florida, another immigrant detention center. Laurie is also the founder of the New Haven Resistance Choir, and currently makes art that centers around protest: evil eye fingerless mittens for the March for our Lives participants or, most recently, "Enjoy Every Moment: images from the Texas border." Laurie’s next activist project will be a family-friendly mother's day rally to highlight family separation and child detention.
This discussion is presented by ArtEcon Initiative and made possible with support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, CT Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and the Pincus Family Foundation.