A FirstWorks Creative Conversation
Join FirstWorks, the creators of the multimedia performance CARTOGRAPHY, and esteemed members of our cultural community as we examine how the arts represent migration and immigrant narratives. We’ll consider how Rhode Islanders tell their own stories of migration, and how those stories evolve in a global crisis. How has COVID-19 affected the experiences of recent immigrants to the United States and our nation’s concept of immigration? How can the arts serve as a connector as we anticipate the fallout of COVID-19 on immigrant and refugee communities, locally and globally?
Kaneza Schaal & Christopher Myers, Co-Creators of CARTOGRAPHY
Baha Sadr, Quality Assurance Director, Dorcas International
Dr. Ehsun Mirza, Critical Care Physician and Co-Creator of “More than My Religion” traveling exhibition
Moderated by Avery Willis Hoffman, Artistic Director of the Brown Arts Initiative and Professor of the Practice of Arts and Classics at Brown University
KANEZA SCHAAL & CHRISTOPHER MYERS are acclaimed New York City-based visual and theater artists whose past works include GO FORTH, premiering to great acclaim as part of PS122’s COIL 2015. Kaneza Schaal’s creations follow an extraordinary history of work with Elevator Repair Service, The Wooster Group, Richard Maxwell/New York City Players, and New York City Opera bringing her to venues including Centre Pompidou, Royal Lyceum Theater Edinburgh, The Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and MoMA. Her work has been supported by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Performance Space 122, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Theater Communications Group, Princess Grace George C. Wolfe Award, Bogliasco Fellowship, and Kara Walker’s 6-8 Months Space.
Award-winning illustrator Christopher Myers is the son of acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers. In 1998, the two collaborated on Harlem, which was named a Caldecott Honor Book as well as a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Myers’ solo effort, Black Cat, was also a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. His most recent books include Firebird, written by Misty Copeland, Jake Makes a World written by Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, and My Pen written by himself. The Kennedy Center has adapted three of Myers’ books to the stage for young audiences. His sculptural work has been shown at PS1-MoMA, Contrasts Gallery in Shanghai and the Sundance Film Festival. Most recently Myers was included in the Prospect Biennial in New Orleans, where he and his collaborators, the Propeller Group, organized a funeral march that went from Saigon to the Lower Ninth Ward.
Baha Sadr has dedicated his life to humanitarian efforts, raising awareness about global issues and generating support for immigrants and refugees. Baha joined Dorcas International in 1997 and has served in various roles including Quality Assurance Director, Development and Outreach Director, Refugee Resettlement Director, Citizenship and English as Second Language instructor, community organizer, human rights activist and an artist, where he developed and administered wide range of programs benefiting vulnerable populations including refugees, immigrants and unaccompanied minors in RI. Baha has collaborated with hundreds of local, national and international agencies to raise awareness about newcomer population and helped establish safety-nets addressing their needs around education, healthcare access, legal services, employment and training.
Baha has collaborated with RI Dept of Health and local healthcare partners addressing disparities of health and promoting health equity; and ensuring access to quality healthcare services for refugees and clients at Dorcas International. Baha served as the board chair for the Area Health Education Centers in RI. For his commitment of serving refugees and immigrants, Baha has been recognized by RI Council for Humanities, Campaign for a Healthy RI, and the Institute for Development of Youth and Adults in Iran. Baha is a graduate of the Trinity Conservatory (Brown | Trinity MFA program). Originally from Iran, he has developed and facilitated a series of multicultural initiatives with international organizations, including empowerment workshop series for at risk youth in Iran, Afghani and Kurdish refugees in the Middle East; Cultural Competency trainings and workshops, and raising awareness on social justice and health disparities among Aboriginal Canadians (First Peoples) in Northern Ontario, Thunder Bay and Quebec in Canada.
EHSUN MIRZA BIO
I am a Critical Care physician with a heavy interest in teaching, divisions/teams integration, medical systems development and implementation, especially in predictive analysis, to reduce readmission by the use of smart technology and rapid response teams outside the ICU and even in Nursing homes. I like simple algorithms and solutions for solving issues. I am a passionate Photographer, Yogi, runner, painter, bread maker & traveler. I like to think I am a social, cultural and humanitarian ambassador. Healthy mind, body, and nutrition is the focus of my family. My wife is my Hero. My mantra is “Leave a Dent in the Universe”.
“More than my Religion” (MTMR) is an outreach effort on behalf of the New England Muslim community. Using art as a medium to communicate a message of inclusivity and peaceful coexistence, MTMR has hosted several exhibitions in the Boston and Providence areas since 2015. MTMR seeks to counter stereotypical opinions about a group of people portrayed through the media or through divides that people may form based on preconceived bias. We believe the power of art transcends the boundaries of language, culture, nationality and faith, and through the creative energy of visual art, we can overcome these differences. MTMR is an individual initiative of concerned citizens, and is not funded from any source.
AVERY WILLIS HOFFMAN BIO
A writer, director, producer and curator of public programs, Avery Willis Hoffman recently joined Brown University as the inaugural Artistic Director of the Brown Arts Initiative and Professor of the Practice of Arts and Classics.
In her recent role as inaugural Program Director at Park Avenue Armory in New York, Avery has curated and produced innovative and diverse public programming initiatives, including numerous large- and small-scale cultural events: Artist and Curatorial Talks, a Confrontational Comedy Series (2016-2019), the annual Culture in a Changing America Symposium (2017-2020), Carrie Mae Weems’s Shape of Things Salon (2017), the United Lenape Nations’s first Manhattan-based Pow Wow (2018), Theaster Gates’s Black Artist Retreat 2019, and the recent multi-partner digital initiative 100 Years | 100 Women, marking the centennial of the 19th Amendment (2020). Prior to the Armory, Avery was a senior Project Developer at Ralph Appelbaum Associates, a museum planning and design firm, where she conducted research and developed content for a number of special projects. Between 2010-2015, her primary project was the development of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C.
For more than a decade, her professional career has included multiple projects with acclaimed director Peter Sellars, including on his international productions of Shakespeare’s Othello, Mozart’s opera Zaide, New Crowned Hope Festival, and Toni Morrison’s Desdemona. She is currently international tour producer for FLEXN, Sellars’s collaboration with choreographer Reggie Gray and the Brooklyn flex community, which premiered at the Armory in March 2015 and has since been presented at the Marseille Festival, Napoli Teatro Festival, Holland Festival, New Zealand Festival, Sao Paolo Brasil Sesc, La Villette Paris, Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, residencies at Dartmouth College and Princeton University, and The Kennedy Center.
Avery earned her DPhil and MSt in Classical Languages and Literature from Balliol College, University of Oxford, where she was a Marshall Scholar, and earned her BA in Classics and English at Stanford University.