Welcome Back from Jody Kielbasa
We are thrilled to share this latest edition of the UVA Arts Magazine with you, and in the process, highlight some of the extraordinary work that is being done by artists across our Grounds.
At UVA, as they do around the world, the arts are uniquely powerful in their ability to make us think about some of the most important issues in a way that goes far beyond any stage, screen, canvas, object, or building. We are proud to highlight three examples of this power in this issue.
You’ll meet Federico Cuatlacuatl, an Assistant Professor in our Studio Art department, who is working across the border to bring a new understanding to issues of immigration, encouraging us to see beyond politics through his inspiring personal story. A DACA recipient who left his native Mexico at the age of 9, Federico has created an ongoing artistic residency at the home his parents left behind in the small village where he grew up. His efforts are bringing well-deserved attention to the rich artistic traditions of rural Mexico, and showing the issues of immigration in a far different light than the ones currently dominating our headlines.
You’ll find another highly topical and vital story about manifestA, an organization founded by two graduate students at the UVA School of Architecture to address longstanding financial disparity and inequity in the industry they are about to enter. Zazu Swistel and Katie Kelly, with the support of the Dean Berman, have started an activist organization that is built to last long beyond their upcoming departures from Grounds – one that addresses not only gender inequity, but also advocates for all groups who need and deserve support. Their passion and leadership have obviously inspired their fellow students, and I am glad we have a chance to tell their story here.
Another highlight of the spring semester was a visit from Broadway superstar Leslie Odom, Jr., who was our 2019 President’s Speaker for the Arts. Odom, Jr., whose unforgettable appearance as Aaron Burr in the smash-hit Hamilton, is a staunch advocate for arts education, and was joined on stage by UVA President Jim Ryan in a fascinating, fun, and meaningful conversation that covered topics ranging from his remarkable career to his response to the tragic events of August 11 and 12, 2017. He recounted his desire to see and feel Charlottesville by being a part of the Bicentennial Launch celebration, which drew over 20,000 people to the Lawn that October, and his admiration for the response to the tragedy that he witnessed at UVA and in the community, which he also commented on in the final chapter of his recently-released book, Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning.
Meanwhile, all across the Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds, spring is yet another season of creativity and inspiration, and we hope you enjoy all of the stories of our dynamic and talented students, faculty, and alumni in this issue!
Thanks for reading!