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May 1, 2007

The Vagina Monologues

For my artistic event I decided to attend The Vagina Monologues. Basically this is about the celebration of womens sexuality. This play is an account of over 200 womens experiances about their sexual experiances. Many people have been able to see this because it has been performed in many cities and college campuses acrosst the country. Eve Ensler shows a real portrayals of womens intimacy, sexual self discovery and their vulnerability. The Vagina Monologues is celebrated as the womans bible, just like Cosmopolitan Magazine. Basically the Vagina Monologues gives rise to womens deepest fantasies and desires. It also refers to their fears as well. This was something very unexpected to me! I didnt realize this is what the Vagina Monologues was about. After seeing this I would tell other people to see it as well, you really do learn more about yourself through this.

Will it ever end?

I attended the Aurora Center’s Sexual Assault booth at Coffman Union. There I was encouraged to discuss how I felt about the nature of assault, what I could personally do to change my actions to prevent the continuum of violence, and many facts about the behavior itself.
I learned many things about sexual assault and violence that I was unaware of before attending this event. First, one out of four women will experience rape or attempted rape while in college and of those almost 90% of women know their attacker. Secondly, only about 5% of college rape cases report their attack. It was also stated that “sexual assault remains the most drastically underreported crime in the United States.? Therefore, I wanted to know the statistics of our campus considering I view it as a pretty safe environment. I asked, “How often does rape happen around our campus?? I learned the answer.

At the University of Minnesota alone there are approximately “500 men and 1300 women who experience unwanted sexual contact each year.?

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The Revolting Queers’ “My Jazzy Crotch" Event

This past Saturday the Revolting Queers held there second event, a music show featuring five local bands. The slogan of the event was “getting a beer means getting involved.? The purpose of the event was to build solidarity and to spread our message to people across gender and sexuality lines.

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The Clothesline Project

For the artistic event I attended The Clothesline Project. This display was held in the Great Hall of Coffman Union on April 9th. The Clothesline Project is a grassroots network that was started by a small group of women to break the silence on the issue of violence against women. The women wanted to find a unique and powerful way to educate people on this issue and encourage change. One of the women in this group thought of the idea of shirts hanging on a clothesline. This idea stemmed from the tradition of women doing the laundry and sharing thoughts and experiences with other women in the neighborhood while hanging clothes up to dry in the yard. Also, this was a way to “air out society’s dirty laundry?. The group’s first display was held in 1990 in Massachusetts at “Take Back the Night?, an anti-rape and violence against women rally. Not long after the first display, the network’s popularity rapidly expanded and today there are over 250 known projects over the world, in 41 of our 50 states and 5 nations. The total number of shirts that have been designed since the beginning of The Clotheslin Project is between 25,000 and 30,000.

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April 30, 2007

Voices from the Gaps

Last Thursday my roommate and I went to a Voices from the Gaps 10th Anniversary reading. I didn’t really know what to expect from this reading, all I knew was that there would be two minority women reading excerpts from their work. The two readers were Latasha Natsha Nevada Diggs and Ana-Maurine Lara. Voices from the Gaps, or VG, is a web based organization who’s goal is to recognize the works of women artists and writers of color that might not otherwise get the recognition they deserve. The website was started here at the University of Minnesota by the American Studies and English departments in the College of Liberal Arts. However, tens years after its beginning the organization has stretched its reach far beyond the University. It reaches the public domain via the Women’s Prison Book Project and reaches out to high schools and the community through literacy and learning programs. The website (voices.cla.umn.edu) provides links to biographies about the different artists that have been featured, events that are up and coming, and a blog that discusses the different projects, authors and works on the site.

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April 22, 2007

The Vagina Monologues

For the artistic event, I too decided to attend the Vagina Monologues Play. Without knowing what it is really about, I had dragged my boyfriend into going. We went to the show on Feb 27 at the St. Paul Student. This program was sponsor by they Minnesota Public Interest Research Group and its main purpose is to raise awareness to end violence against women.

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April 17, 2007

Awareness=Prevention

On April 16, 2007 I attended an Aurora Center sponsored screening of the movie Speak at the Oak Street Theatre. The event was organized to raise awareness about sexual assault. Sexual assault is any sexual contact (including, but not limited to sexual intercourse) when such contact is achieved without consent; or with the use of force, coercion, deception, or threat. Rape is a form of sexual assault. Sexual assault is a huge issue that needs to be addressed more seriously at the high school and college level. According to the U.S. National Institute of Justice, 1 in 5 college women will be raped or the victim of an attempted rape in college. Contrary to popular belief, men aren't exempt from this form of abuse. Approximately 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted/abused before the age of 16.

I found the movie to be very intense. The main character, Melinda, was a high school freshman who was raped at a party the summer prior. The plot followed her first year of high school, having to look her rapist in the eye every single day and not being able to tell anyone about it. In addition to this, she had lost all of her friends and was basically an outcast at school. At the end of the film, she realized that she couldn't run away from what had happened, she stood up for herself against her rapist, and she was able to open up and talk to her mom about it.

Following the screening was a short discussion led by crisis counselors. They started out by asking for reactions to the film. The first man to speak up brought up how the film really "shook him up". The man had been raped 20 or so years earlier and the film brought him back to his own experience. A high school teacher stood up and addressed how angry it made her that the girl had no one to turn to at school except for a friendly art teacher that helped her to open up. The teacher talked about how sick it makes her to think about how some of the warning signs are blatantly obvious at her own school and very rarely is anything done about it. Another audience member to speak up was a young woman who talked about how she had experienced something very much like in the movie and how it had taken her two years until she could tell anyone about what had happened.

This event was incredibly enlightening. Other topics of discussion included how we could help raise awareness about rape and help our friends and family members that have experienced sexual assault. We discussed ways that we could help rape victims to open up and how incredibly important it is for rape victims to be able to tell their stories. After attending this event, I know that we, as a society, need to join together to fight rape because there is power in numbers, and any form of sexual assault is not okay.

March 11, 2007

Eva Hesse

On January 8, I visited the Walker Art Museum on one of its FREE Thursdays and toured Eva Hesse’s show room of paintings and sculptures. While admiring her art I was able to learn a little about her life through the ‘tour guide’s? lecture.
Eva Hesse was born in 1936, in Hamburg Germany. Because her family was Jewish her parents sent her to Amsterdam on the “kinder train? to flee Nazi control in 1938. By 1939, she was living in New York City with her parents who divorced in 1945, and in 1946, her mother committed suicide by jumping off of a roof.
It could have been the fact that I was analyzing her art work while hearing about her life, but her work really seemed to evolve through the years. This stage of her life seemed to come out in her early work through mostly black and white (pen/paint) imprecise brush strokes. The art had extremely distraught figures in uncomfortable positions, or at least that’s what they felt like to me.
After studying at Yale, Hesse married Tom Doyle, a fellow sculptor in 1961, a time where the field was very male dominated. This is a phase in her work where she began to use more color; this is what she was widely known for. I could see abstract landscapes with brides, rivers, and a feeling of cycles and flow. They were much more peaceful than her former work. Also around this same time, she began doing “child-like? art which included many arrows, squares, and lines. Each one seemed to tell a story, but as she often stressed herself, they could be a completely different story for every different person. In this art I saw a depiction of the mess of child-rearing, diaper changing, nursing, the chaos, but it was not negative, just scrambled. Another looked like a city from a birds eye view so that one could only see the roofs of life.
In 1964, Hesse and her husband Doyle moved back to Germany for a year, working in a textile mill. She refers to her work at this time and slightly after as “nothings?. They were very repetitive patterns of squares and lines. They made me recall monotonous work that I have been unfortunate to have experienced. There were slight changes in color which brought the work to life, but it did not make it any less dull.
In 1966, Hesse and Doyle divorced, and her father died. There was another transition in her work. My personal favorite piece was at this time period. It is a sculpture of what looks like an extremely long, jet black, blown-up balloon hung on a string that has a slightly detached head at the bottom which looked extremely phallic like especially when in front of the dangling punching bag below it. The depiction of the penis being so long didn’t seem sexual, it seemed to symbolize a cold emotional distance one could portray, experience, or witness in a sexual way. Next to this piece was another sculpture. Once again, I can only describe what I saw which may not be what anyone else would have seen or felt. It was a black box with a hole in it and a coiled rope spilling out, which seemed awfully vagina-like to me. These sculptures felt tormenting, extremely emotional, and thought provoking.
In 1970, Eva Hesse died of a brain tumor that she was aware of for at least a year before her actual death. Her last pieces of work almost combined her first few stages of art. Apparently, she was such a well known artist at this time that she had multiple aids to assist in her art, doing the actual labor end of it, as she was the master mind. Her work reminded me of windows. Her blues were a combination of sadness and acceptance and tranquility at the same time.

Hmong Women

FRIDAY, MARCH 9, 7:30 PM
Ka Vang & Noukou Thao
Un-Named Series: Hmong and Lao Writers

This event was hosted by The Loft in downtown Minneapolis and cosponsored by COMPAS (Community Programs in the Arts). Ka Vang and Noukou Thao are both active Hmong women artists in their own community. Both have made many efforts to help, inspire, and motivate other fellow Hmong community members to embrace and support their culture. Many of their artistic works and biographical information can be found online at www.loft.org.

This event was very deep and powerful filled with countless readings revealing the many histories, assimilation problems, role of women, and beautiful culture the Hmong have. Noukou Thao’s readings were first to be performed and her style seemed much more somber and concentrated mostly on the history of Hmong women in their own culture. One of her readings (couldn’t remember the title because I had walked in the middle of it) discussed the pain of Hmong women in their own culture including bearing these strong domesticated roles and hardly having a voice to speak out with. This specific piece really spoke out to me individually because it reminded me so much of the movie clips we saw of “Iron Jaw Angels? with Hillary Swank and the whole movement of women’s rights.

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March 6, 2007

The Race Exhibit!

I attended the race exhibit at the Science Museum in St. Paul on Saturday, February 10th. I went to the science museum with the Anthropology club of the University of Minnesota. The race exhibit was created to examine the concept of race and its implications in society. It has had a long and popular run at the Science Museum in St. Paul. I attended with my friend Ben, and we found the exhibit insightful and articulate, though far from comprehensive. Although the exhibit was small, it was extremely concise considering the multitude of material surrounding the question of race. The function of the race exhibit was to deconstruct race and to blur the lines of racial difference.

One quote that stood out to me read:
“The things we identify as racial markers mean nothing unless they are given social meaning.? Melvin Oliver
Sociologist

The race exhibit was relevant to gender studies because both race and gender operate as social constructions. In her piece, “‘Night to His Day’: The Social Construction of Gender,? Judith Lorber writes:
“As a social institution, gender is one of the major ways that human beings organize their lives? (42).

All people perform their racial identity as well as their gendered identity on a daily basis in their routine activities. The race exhibit supported evidence that race itself is a social construction and a way of organizing and dividing society.

The race exhibit was also relevant to class because it addressed privilege systems and (unearned) white (male) privilege. A sign-post in the exhibit read: “Privilege Lane? and was filled with evidence of privilege based on skin-color in American history.

In her piece, “White Privilege and Male Privilege,? Peggy McIntosh wrote:
“A ‘white’ skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us? (15).

The race exhibit exposed the power structures that design and maintain racial difference and supported the deconstruction of racial borders.

One of my favorite aspects of the race exhibit was a wall of photos in which those pictured answered the question, “Who are you??. Each person’s racial identity was printed under their written response. Not all pictured defined themselves according to their race.

An interactive exhibit that negated the credibility of inherent racial difference was a board of people’s faces with bulbs next to them. There was a board that had statements listed such as, “These people are an A blood-type.? The exhibit was designed so the spectator would push a button on the board and the bulbs would light up to signal the person to whom that statement applied. This exhibit was designed to show commonalities between people of seemingly different “races.?
I found this exhibit both educational and artistic. I was very impressed that the science museum challenged such a controversial topic and took such a liberal stand in their presentation of race. The exhibit itself defied essentialism in regard to racial borders and thus rendered the study of eugenics null and void.

Vagina Monologues: VDAY

The artistic event that I attended for class was the “Vagina Monologues.? The event took place at UWEC in Eau Claire, WI. The Vagina Monologues is based on a book written by Eve Ensler. She interviewed hundreds of women and got them to talk about their vaginas.

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V-Day

For my artistic event I attended a performance of “The Vagina Monologues? on Saturday, February 24, 2007 at Luther College in Decorah Iowa. My sister just graduated from Luther College and was involved in the production of the show and she encouraged me to see it. I went with my mom, dad, and brother and I didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t think I was mentally prepared for what the show entailed because I can admit that even at 19 years old, the word “vagina? still makes me a little squeamish, especially hearing it over and over in front of my dad and brother. The show didn’t shy into words like vagina and “taboo? subjects. One of the first monologues was about hair and shaving, which definitely shocked me. I can also admit however, that by the end of the play, the word didn’t bother me quite as much.

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V-Day

For my artistic event I attended a performance of “The Vagina Monologues? on Saturday, February 24, 2007 at Luther College in Decorah Iowa. My sister just graduated from Luther College and was involved in the production of the show and she encouraged me to see it. I went with my mom, dad, and brother and I didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t think I was mentally prepared for what the show entailed because I can admit that even at 19 years old, the word “vagina? still makes me a little squeamish, especially hearing it over and over in front of my dad and brother. The show didn’t shy into words like vagina and “taboo? subjects. One of the first monologues was about hair and shaving, which definitely shocked me. I can also admit however, that by the end of the play, the word didn’t bother me quite as much.

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The most interesting play - Vagina Monologues

I actually went to the Vagina Monologues on Friday, Feb. 16 at Macalester's Weyerhaeuser Chapel, as entertainment and a learning experience with some friends. We had all heard of it but had no idea what it entailed or what to expect. I didn't even think of doing it as an event until yesterday, when I had a hard time coming up with an idea with a fellow classmate. And then I thought.. Oh yes, I attended the Vagina Monologues...so here I am. Stunned..

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angry vaginas, satisfied vaginas ;), battered and bruised vaginas and almost lost vaginas...all for raising public awareness and for an entertaining evening

The Vagina Monologues was an extremely entertaining way to spend a Thursday evening and to write about for my first event post (I wish I could remember exact lines and section titles because they were both hilarious and powerful). I honestly haven’t laughed so hard and been so serious all in same night. The Vagina Monologues as someone previously mentioned was February 27 at the St. Paul Student Center sponsored by the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG). It was put on by students to raise public awareness and funds for local organizations working to end violence against women and girls.

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The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues
February 15th 2007

Having no idea what the Vagina Monologues were, I went ahead and bought my ticket on the chance that I could learn something and have a good laugh while doing it. Of course I had some pre-conceived notions about the monologues (i.e. a bunch of women standing on stage and talking about their vagina’s), and although they turned out to be true, I realized there is a lot more to it than some vagina jokes.


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Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

Kara Walker was born in 1969 in Stockton, California; she received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and her Masters of Fine Art from Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. Since that time, she has created more than 30 room-size installations and hundreds of drawings and watercolors, and has been the subject of more than 40 solo exhibitions. She currently lives in New York, where she is associate professor of visual arts at Columbia University, New York.

Monday I chose to go the Walker Art Center to view Kara Walkers exhibit; My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love. I chose this activity for the assignment, because I heard that the art was very moving and she used different ways to portray her feelings. She is the first person I have seen to use cut outs, it really stood out and much easier for me to see the meaning. I am not much of a painting enthusiast, but the way she portrays her work in the cut outs really stood out and moved me.

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We must change our time, so that we can be the change we want to see in our world

“For you see, to be a man of your time in the 1700’s, you sold men into slavery. To be a man of your time in the 1800’s: You fought a war that you said was about rights, but it was only about your right to keep slaves. To be a man of your time in the 1930’s, you donned a brown shirt and knocked on the doors of Jewish people, sending them to their death. To be a man of your time in the 1950’s you passed ‘black laws,’ laws of segregation. And to be a man of your time in the beginning of time, you stood in the square asking to ‘Free Barabbas.’ No one should be a man of their time, and thank God Rosa wasn’t a woman of her time; she was a woman of the future.?


On Wednesday, February 28th 2007 I went to see Nikki Giovanni at the Ted Mann Concert Hall. I went with my mother Barbara, my father Jerry, and my good friend Melinda. I really didn't know what to expect from the lecture, I had read up on Giovanni and her beautiful poems and thought - well this will be a great experience. By the time I left and as I am reliving the evening I must say it was more than an once-in-a-lifetime experience; it was inspirational, it was painful, and it was full of reflection, heartfelt passion and amazing words. I sat in complete rapture with Giovanni while she talked of spending time with Rosa Parks and Corretta Scott King, two women who have I come to admire and respect tremendously over the years.

The highlight of my evening was when Giovanni spoke on the excuse a lot of people make as to being “a person of one’s time.? I have been given this same excuse with my father and other such figures in my life, “oh, give him a break – he is a product of his environment.? Or, “he is just a man of his time.? Not until tonight had I heard such a painful, but passionate rebuttal to this weak argument of social injustice. Giovanni said to be a man of your time in the 1700’s, you sold men into slavery. To be a man of your time in the 1800’s: You fought a war that you said was about rights, but it was only about your right to keep slaves. To be a man of your time in the 1930’s, you donned a brown shirt and knocked on the doors of Jewish people, sending them to their death. To be a man of your time in the 1950’s you passed ‘black laws,’ laws of segregation. And to be a man of your time in the beginning of time, you stood in the square asking to ‘Free Barabbas.’ No one should be a man of their time, and thank God Rosa wasn’t a woman of her time; she was a woman of the future.? I was stunned and tears ran down my face. I even get goose bumps reading this to myself. How true it is that this simple statement is that one was a product of that time period, has been used to excuse millions of deaths due to social injustice!

I absolutely loved the lecture and I thought Giovanni was so personable and warm. My mother even my father said that they enjoyed the night and I know it is one that I will never forget. Growing up, I wasn't introduced to strong Women of Color, especially writers and I have always been so anxious to search them out and try to use them as role models for my hectic schedule that is my life, and so I came away with the wish to be so passionate about my life and work like Giovanni is. I know that she didn’t start being an activist so that one day she could stand up before us and talk about her pain and experiences and that gives me hope. Seeing Giovanni talk about her experiences for what they are, gave me the inspiration to know that I can get through my days, even if I have to live them day-by-day. God will give me strength and I know that I am fighting for a cause that I believe wholeheartedly in – social justice.

March 5, 2007

An Inspirational Woman...

This past Wednesday (February 28) I attended the Nikki Giovanni presentation at Ted Mann Concert Hall. The event, presented by the Office for University Women, was absolutely fantastic. If I had to describe Nikki Giovanni’s performance, only one word comes to mind: inspirational. As an older African American woman who personally knew Rosa Parks, Nikki Giovanni inspired me to not only become more in touch with myself, but also to act on the things I truly care about.

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The Vagina Monologues

On February 15th, I attended the 8th Annual Production of “The Vagina Monologues? at the St. Paul Student Center. The production was sponsored by the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG). It is a “student run and directed non-profit, non-partisan organization … that focuses on Women’s Issues along with the environment, fair trade, homelessness, and affordable housing.? I went with a group of my girlfriends but I was pleasantly surprised to see how many men attended as well. There were also many ages which was also nice to see.

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March 4, 2007

12th Annual International Women's Day Celebration Visit

This weekend I visited the 12th Annual International Women’s Day Celebration, located here at the University of Minnesota in Coffman Memorial Union. The women’s fair was presented by Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and the Human Rights Program at the University of Minnesota. There were display and information tables from over 65 co-sponsoring organizations that I went around and visited. They all were very eager to answer any questions and were extremely happy to be there supporting their organization.

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Voices Merging Performance

As a part of the 12th International Women’s Day Celebration at the University, I attended a performance by the campus group “Voices Merging.? Voices Merging is a multi-racial group of students that write and perform their own poetry. The lyrics were original and genuine, and the spoken word performances were energetic and heartfelt. There were four women performing, and the audience was very receptive. Throughout the pieces, people would cheer their approval for certain messages in the lyrics, and at the end, the women received a standing ovation.

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Art Is Sexy

Last month I went and checked out the Body and Politics exhibit at the Walker. Here, one could see a ton of work created by artists ranging from Picasso to Darger to O’Keefe. There was an air of intimacy being that it was a fairly small gallery space. One could observe, and somewhat understand the cultural and social significance of the work because of the gallery’s size. The show was a bombarding array of sexuality, nudity, discomfort, and beauty…and it was sexy.

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Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love

kara-walker-mural.jpg

On Friday, I attended Kara Walker’s exhibit “My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love? over at the Walker art center. Her exhibit is the biggest highlighted exhibit at the moment; she’s had a small room of work as a part of the semi-rotating “quartet? of artists, but this showcase included an astounding amount of her work from 1992-present.
Walker is best known for her cut-paper-silhouette technique, which is a play on the classic 18th century art medium. Walker flips this traditional form upside down by portraying subtly striking images (as opposed to the romantic couple or the plantation). A quick glance at the cutouts may not warrant any thought- you might catch a glimpse of a southern belle or gentleman, perhaps of some slaves or black girls in a field near a tree. A closer look reveals a scene full of gendered, sexual and racial turmoil.

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February 27, 2007

Line Breaks with Marc Bamuthi Joseph

While I was in Madison over the weekend, I went to a poetry slam that was hosted by Marc Bamuthi Joseph. The Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) and UW Arts Institute in conjunction with the Wisconsin Union Directorate Theater Committee sponsored the Youth Speaks Wisconsin Teen Poetry Slam Finals. The finals consisted of teens ages 13-19; most were in high school with the exception of one 7th grader and one UW-Madison freshman. Of the 13 contestants, 4 were women. There were two rounds where the 13 were narrowed to the best 7. The two scores were averaged and then the top three were sent to Youth Speaks. This Hip-Hop Theater Presentation was absolutely fabulous! I loved the young poet’s work and their attitude. Many dug deep to personal lengths and pain and some spoke on politics. I had one favorite by the girl who took first place, I believe it was called honey sweet handsome. There was one poem that I took issue to based on my own opinions and beliefs, but I understand where he was coming from and what his point was supposed to be. DJ was in the second round when he performed “And You’re Supposed To Be A Man?? The reason I did not like this poem was because in it, he was preaching to women to hold on the themselves (a.k.a. their virginity) because the men who want to have sex aren’t looking for wives and they will just toss women aside – and you’re supposed to be a man? Moving past that, the second round was very amazing. The kids brought out the secret weapons and really reached out. One teen named Cory did a poem between his two personalities, a kind of devil/angel take on hip-hop. One boy stood up and did a take on America where he stated that third world countries are America’s broken condom. And that is just a taste of some of the hits thrown at America or society at large.

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February 23, 2007

Black Face(s) in Film

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For my artistic event, I attended the Black Face(s) in Film exhibit which is located in the University of Minnesota’s Elmer L. Andersen Library. This exhibit is showing from now up until February 28 so there is still time to go see it.

In going to this exhibit, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. I walked into the library from the entrance that is right off of the Washington Ave. Bridge, and the first thing I saw was the exhibit. Below is a picture of the entrance that I walked in.

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The door is covered with ads for different movies from the past. Once I was in the exhibit, there were five different cardboard film reels hanging from the ceiling that listed five different “stations? if you will. The stations were: directors, books made into films, other scripts of interest, Pulitzer Prize winners made into films, and biographies of film stars. Each of these stations had a glass case that was filled with different examples of the station topic.

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