(above) Image courtesy of Human Mandala Project

Socially Engaged Arts and Spirituality

Vision Lab in residence at Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School

Cambridge, MA, 2018

Mallory Nezam on making the Mirror Casket Project after the Ferguson Uprising; Lise Balk King on Social Impact Filmmaking at HBO; Jonathan (J.B.) Fields on #TwitterChurch; Kythe Heller on Ritual and Performance Art. Also: interactive group work with collective dreaming and Theater of the Oppressed exercises.

Kindly hosted by the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School, 42 Francis Ave. Cambridge.

Mallory Nezam: Artist and student at Harvard Design School.  Works across performance, installations, and social practice art. Presented her work at the Open Engagement Conference on Social Practice Art. Issues she is interested in addressing include Ferguson, race relations, police brutality, and other social justice concerns. She runs an improvisational theatre group in St. Louis and is interested in activist and artist-based collaborative groups. Concerned with the many conversations that seem to be missing each other in the larger social sphere. Interested in the Divinity School as a site for deeper connections with the underlying spirituality of artists and activists and a space where this could be discussed and practiced openly.

Lise Balk King: HBO Filmmaker and graduate of Harvard Kennedy School. Married a Lakota man and lived with him and their two kids on the reservation for several years. Started The Native Voice newspaper and was involved in Obama’s campaigns. Wants to bring positive spiritual practices into communities. Trying to figure out the nexus of media and human rights policy. “How do you map out a strategy for impact?” Currently making films for HBO including, most recently, Heroin, USA. “What is the role of spirituality of leaders in the 21st century and how do we call on spirituality for our collective good?” These kinds of discussions are not happening at Kennedy School. Parker Palmer and Dean Williams at Kennedy School as inspirations/visionaries.

Kythe Heller is a poet, artist, and doctoral student in Comparative Religion at Harvard University, with a secondary field in Critical Media Studies. She is author of the poetry collections Immolation and The Thunder Perfect Mind, and of critical studies published in White Light: Media, Culture, Politics (Cambridge UP) and Quo Anima: Innovation and Spirituality in Contemporary Poetry (U of Akron Press).

J.B. (Jonathan) Fields: Baptist Minister, poet, graduate of Harvard Divinity School. “What is church and what is the future of church? If we take church out of its traditional context what do we gain or lose?” Currently cultivating a Twitter Church, a weekly devotional session of prayer, sermon, scripture reading, hymn, counseling etc.  streaming everything in the present and responding to what is on his feed/speaking into other hashtags and connecting to Facebook and Instagram. “How does genuine community develop on social media?” Idea of retreat at beginning and end of school year & smaller weekly meetings. “My main medium is poetry/words, followed by images. My visionary practice is #TwitterChurch, a new form of spiritual practice on social media. Additionally, I am happy to offer my experience facilitating organizations and my ideas regarding working together in new ways.”