Westfield State University Community Conversations series with President Linda Thompson -- BIPOC Artists: A conversation on advocacy and equity in the arts and culture

Westfield State University Community Conversations series with President Linda Thompson -- BIPOC Artists: A conversation on advocacy and equity in the arts and culture

WESTFIELD, Mass.— In advance of the April 2022 Investiture of its 21st president, Dr. Linda Thompson, Westfield State University continues its Community Conversations series on topics of regional and national significance with noted national and community leaders. 

On Thursday, March 24, 4:30 – 6 p.m., the conversation will focus on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists with a discussion on equity and advocacy in arts and culture. The conversation will feature a panel of experts and moderated by Dr. Thompson. The event will be held in the University’s Television Studio on the 3rd floor of Ely Campus Center. 

The second of the series will focus on what it means to be an artist of color and offer challenges on how communities can create more space and opportunity for artists, actors, performers, teachers and students from diverse backgrounds. The panel will consist of distinguished Westfield State faculty members, Dr. Imo Nse Imeh and Dr. Felicia Barber (in the areas of art and music), playwright José Rivera and renowned regional arts advocate Rosemary Tracy Woods. Aaliyah Brown, a junior music education major from Westfield State University will provide opening remarks.

Registration is required. Visit https://forms.office.com/r/4EmRsPYDMW to sign up for limited available seating. The event will also be available via Zoom. Credentials will be shared upon registration. 

Dr. Imo Nse Imeh, associate professor of Art and Art History at Westfield State University, is a scholar of African Diaspora art and a practicing, exhibiting studio artist whose work considers historical and philosophical issues around the black body and cultural identity. He received his doctorate in Art History from Yale University in 2009 with a focus on the cultural aesthetics of the Ibibio people of southeast Nigeria.

Dr. Felicia Barber, associate professor of music at Westfield State University, is the Director of Choral Activities where she conducts the University Chorus, Chamber Chorale and teaches courses in conducting and choral methods.  Dr. Barber's research interests include choral teaching strategies, repertoire selection, diversity initiatives, as well as the performance practice of African American Spirituals. Her research has led to presentations across the United States and Canada.

José Rivera is a playwright and the first Puerto Rican screenwriter to be nominated for an Oscar. Rivera has won two Obie Awards for playwriting, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Grant, a Fulbright Arts Fellowship in playwriting, a Whiting Award, a McKnight Fellowship, the 2005 Norman Lear Writing Award, a 2005 Impact Award and a Berilla Kerr Playwrighting award.  Rivera’s screenplay for The Motorcycle Diaries was nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2005. Rivera is known for writing in the style of Magical Realism, which is a style of writing depicting the world with a realistic lens while also adding elements of magic.

Rosemary Tracy Woods is executive director, chief curator and owner of Art for the Soul Gallery. Woods is responsible for bringing renowned artists such as Frank Frazier, Larry “Poncho” Brown and Charles Bibbs to her Springfield Gallery. Woods specialized in contemporary African American art and the Harlem Renaissance and has worked extensively with both the Springfield and Massachusetts Cultural Councils. In 2010, Woods was awarded an Unsung Heroine Award from the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She also received a special recognition from former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick for her work with the arts.

Aaliyah Brown, a junior at Westfield State, is a music education major studying choral music. Brown sings classical, jazz and pop at voice recitals, choral concerts, and open mics. Inspired by both Felicia and Imo, Brown hopes to lead a career that further diversifies the arts education field by making space for marginalized groups and influencing change at a systemic level.