“Humanities As Activism” panel to feature noted poet and artists

On Thursday, November 12, the McGillicuddy Humanities Center will be sponsoring a panel on “The Humanities as Activism in Chicago.” This session of the Socialist and Marxist Studies Series will feature three remarkable panelists whose work at the intersection of the humanities and activism has garnered national attention: Tonika Johnson, Kevin Coval, and Nicole Marroquin. Free and open to the public. Join at 12:30p.m. EST at: https://maine.zoom.us/j/94485327393?pwd=ME4rWk84dUxkRGlHbm5WR05kR2U0dz09.

Karen Sieber, humanities specialist at the MHC, proposed the panel to series facilitators Professor Doug Allen and lecturer Michael Swacha, seeing the pivot to a virtual format this semester as the perfect opportunity to bring in voices from beyond Maine. Sieber, who will moderate the panel, is currently doing research on what she calls “tactical humanities,” or using the humanities in strategic outside-of-the-box ways to draw attention to urgent issues. The three humanists she selected for the panel are individuals she knows from her time working as a public historian in Chicago that she feels embody this activist spirit.  “There is an immediacy to their work. I wanted to highlight the way in which these artists use their craft to draw attention to issues that are at once local and universal. The outreach work that Tonika, Kevin and Nicole each do with youth in their community can serve as a model elsewhere about the power of the humanities to engage tomorrow’s leaders. ”

Kevin Coval is an Emmy-nominated, award-winning poet & author of Everything Must Go: The Life & Death of an American Neighborhood, A People’s History of Chicago & over ten other full-length collections, anthologies & chapbooks. He is a founding editor of The BreakBeat Poets imprint on Haymarket Books. Coval is Creative Director of the MacArthur Award-winning cultural organization, Young Chicago Authors,  and a founder of Louder Than a Bomb, the world’s largest youth poetry festival, now in more than 19 cities across North America. He’s shared the stage with The Migos & Nelson Mandela & his work has been feature on The Daily Show, Poetry Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, CNN.com, and four seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. Coval was the recipient of the 2018 Studs Terkel Award.

Tonika Johnson is a visual artist, photographer, and community activist from Chicago’s South side Englewood neighborhood. Her Folded Map project examines the long history of redlining and segregation in the city. Johnson works to address inaccurate negative perceptions about the South and West sides of Chicago, and open a dialogue about institutional racism and segregation. She is co-founder of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.) and lead co-founder of Englewood Arts Collective. In 2017, Johnson was named a Chicagoan of the Year, and in 2019, she was named one of Field Foundation’s Leaders for a New Chicago. She was recently appointed as a member of the Cultural Advisory Council of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events by the Chicago City Council. 

Nicole Marroquin is an interdisciplinary artist who’s practice includes art making, collaboration, research and cultural production with youth and in communities. She has exhibited locally and internationally, including the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares in Mexico City and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. She is a member of the feminist collective Multiuso, and a former Joan Mitchell Fellow at the Center for Racial Justice Innovation. Marroquin is the creator of Chicago Raza Research Consortium, a grassroots effort to map, gather, and present Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Latinx, and Raza history in Chicago. She is Associate Professor in the Department of Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

For more information on the Socialist and Marxist Studies Series click here.