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"Vibrant Space: Environments of Cultural Production," A Series of Public Programs, to be Presented in the MAD Theater from January to May 2011

New York, NY (December 9, 2010)

In conjunction with the critically acclaimed exhibition The Global Africa Project, the Museum of Arts and Design presents “Vibrant Space: Environments of Cultural Production,” a series of public programs exploring how physical, digital, and psychic environments have formed—and informed—concepts of cultural identity. The series is inspired by the media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s observation that “the environments that shape any group are invisible to those within them. We don’t know who discovered water, but we know it wasn’t the fish.”

From a town hall meeting to discuss strategies for developing Harlem while nurturing its cultural legacy to an oral history of New York club culture to a discussion about the changing nature of such subcultures as Ganguro Girls and Burners, this cutting-edge series will utilize discussion as both forum and tool to make visible that which surrounds and shapes us.

The series of programs consists of:

Harlem’s Future: A Town Hall on the Role of the Arts and Development in Harlem
January 27, 2011 7:00 pm
$6 Members and Students with Valid ID, $8 General
Bringing together community leaders, historians, developers, and artists, this program will transform the MAD Theater into a town hall for a discussion of how the arts have shaped Harlem’s past and are informing its present, and what influence they will have on its future as the neighborhood is altered by both by developers and an influx of upwardly mobile urbanites of diverse ethnicities. Participants in the town hall will include Jonelle Procope, President and CEO, Apollo Theater; Patricia Cruz, President, Harlem Stage; Curtis L. Archer, President, Harlem Community Development Corporation; and Voza Rivers, Artist and Chairman, Harlem Arts Alliance.

A New Order: Case Studies in Re-appropriations of Space and Lifestyle
February 24, 2011 7:00 pm
$6 Members and Students with Valid ID, $8 General
From squatters reclaiming neglected buildings and architects devising alternative residential systems to “guerilla” public art projects, creative individuals have long been fascinated with finding new ways to improve their daily lives by altering their environments. However, of late there seems to be a groundswell of these projects. Is this the manifestation of a desire to build in a time of limited economic resources? Or have the needs of daily life simply evolved past our current configurations? Bringing together a team of artists, architects, and scientists, including Felix Burrichter, Editor and Chief of Pin-Up Magazine, Eva Franch, Director of The Storefront for Art and Architecture, and Improv Everywhere; this panel will present case studies for re-imagining our environments and in turn reimagining the very way in which we live.

Nightlife: An Oral History of New York’s Club Culture
March 17, 2011, 7:00 pm
$6 Members and Students with Valid ID, $8 General
Studio 54, The Palladium, Limelight. These defunct New York clubs are synonymous for wasted debauchery, expressive attire, and a damn good time. However, such infamy often overshadowed how instrumental this New York nightlife was on the evolution of performance, music, and cultural production. Without these centers for “event” creativity, such parings as Grace Jones and Keith Haring, Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder, Madonna and the House of Aviance, could not have taken place. Such legendary nightlife luminaries of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and today as Michael Alig, Joey Arias, Ladyfag, and Michael Musto will discuss how nightlife served as a nexus for vital artistic collaborations, specifically how such communities were formed, evolved, and the too-often underappreciated artistry found in the city after the sun has set.

The New Black: Fashion and Design on Branding Culture
April 7, 2011, 7:00 pm
$6 Members and Students with Valid ID, $8 General
From Vogue Black to BET, specialized media outlets have grown to express and reflect a lively and flourishing global African community. However, with commercial interests playing a major role in the production of such cultural venues, concern is growing over the role these media outlets have in the branding of this identity. Bringing together media makers, journalists, designers, and artists this panel will explore the complex web of fashion, magazines, blogs, and arts that work towards and against commercial interests in the branding of a global African

Ecstatic Skin: Subcultures, New Tribalism, and Evolving Identities
May 5, 2011, 7:00 pm
$6 Members and Students with Valid ID, $8 General
Deeply tanning their skin and braiding their hair into cornrows, Japan’s Ganguro Girls mix contemporary Japanese make-up and attire with that of American hiphop into a striking new form of personal expression. By incorporating previous subcultures and utilizing camera phones and online promotion, the Ganguro Girls emerged in the 1990s as a new subculture paradigm.

In the past, subcultures grew slowly over time and in relative seclusion. While some today shun digital expression for the raw, visceral experiences only found in personal interactions, other subcultures like the dandies of the African Bakongo and the Burner (as the attendees of Burning Man are called) increasingly engage with the media to broaden their profile and recruit new

Bringing together sociologists with real members of these communities, Ecstatic Skin will explore the impact of digital and social media on the evolution of these subcultures, an environment of cultural production that shapes personal identity as intensely as any physical space.

The Museum of Arts and Design explores how craftsmanship, art, and design intersect in the visual arts today. The Museum focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the handmade to cutting-edge technologies. The Museum’s exhibition program explores and illuminates issues and ideas, highlights creativity and craftsmanship, and celebrates the limitless potential of materials and techniques when used by creative and innovative artists. MAD’s permanent collection is global in scope and focuses on art, craft, and design from 1950 to the present day. At the center of the Museum’s mission is education. The Museum’s dynamic new facility features classrooms and studios for master classes, seminars, and workshops for students, families, and adults. Three open artist studios engage visitors in the creative processes of artists at work and enhance the exhibition programs. Lectures, films, performances, and symposia related to the Museum’s collection and topical subjects affecting the world of contemporary art, craft, and design are held in a renovated 144-seat auditorium.

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