DePaul Humanities Center: Transformations: Art, Identity, Ideology

“Transformations: Art, Identity, Ideology” is the topic guiding the next DePaul Humanities Center discussion, planned for Thursday, April 20, 2017. The conversation offers an exciting opportunity to learn more about some of the most complex interfaces between art and identity formation in the 21st century.  Four artists and thinkers from various disciplines and cultural backgrounds come together to enhance our awareness regarding the powerful role of art in exploring our sense of subjectivity: LaShonda Katrice Barnett, Maggie Brown, Jeff Carter, and Sonny Assu.

To take full advantage of the event, which is free to the public, you can learn about the speakers and the main concepts driving their discussion by visiting the DePaul University Library.

One place to start is to explore definitions of the key conceptual terms. For example, most of us think of “ideology” as a synonym for “a set of ideas or beliefs.” But let’s consult the OED (the Oxford English Dictionary, which you can access by going to the library’s homepage and clicking on “O” in the A-Z Databases). You’ll quickly find out how the word has evolved to gain rich nuances in the analyses of cultural, economic, and political systems that shape and define our sense of self—often without our conscious awareness of their influences. Many other resources are also available for you to consider if you wish to dig deeper. Again, turning to our A-Z databases, you can click on “S” to reach “Sage knowledge,” which offers a “cross-searchable collection of more than 100 encyclopedias and handbooks.” Enter the topic of your inquiry in the search box and discover a vast array of resources! Or, explore the many books we have on the topic of identity, art, and ideology. Among them is Native American Voices on Identity, Art, and Culture: Objects of Everlasting Esteem by Lucy F. Williams and others. Or, take a look at Artist and Identity in Twentieth-Century America by Matthew Baigell.

You can also find out more about the participants and their artistic contributions. LaShonda Katrice Barnett is the author of the 2015 Jam on the Vine, a novel hailed as “a new American classic.” The novel’s protagonist, Ivoe Williams, grows up in dire poverty in central-east Texas.  Despite multiple disadvantages, she manages to become the publisher of the first African-American newspaper run by a woman in the twentieth-century.

Jeff Carter is a DePaul Professor of Art, Media, and Design. Using IKEA modular pieces, Professor Carter creates whimsical, thought-provoking artwork that has gone on display at the DePaul Art Museum. To learn more about his series of structures called The Common Citizenship of Forms, see a review article of the exhibition at

Sonny Assu grew up in British Columbia. At the age of eight, he found out about his Kwakwaka’wakw heritage. The discovery was critical in shaping the artwork he created later in life. His stunning interdisciplinary artwork now appears in such museums as the National Gallery of Canada and the Seattle Art Museum. Among the books in our library that discuss Assu’s work is Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast by Ian M. Thom.

Maggie Brown is the famous Chicago vocalist, lauded for her many contributions as an artist and community activist. She will perform songs by Abbey Lincoln. For more information on Abbey, look no further than Notable Black American Women by Jessie C. Smith and Shirelle Phelps, also on the shelf in our library. Better yet, enjoy listening to “Abbey sings Abbey” available in our eMusic collection.

See you at the DePaul Student Center, Room 120, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave on Thursday, April 20, 2017, 7:00pm-9:00pm.

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