While many may enjoy artistic expression simply for its own sake, others use art for the greater good. This spring Eckerd College is hosting a series of forums as part of its initiative called “The Plight and Promise of Africa.”
The college has set up a photography exhibit at the Poynter institute in St. Petersburg about the problems that women face in the Congo. Last night a group of teachers and community leaders accompanied the exhibit with a panel discussion called “The role of Art in Creating Social Change”
Africa is both the cradle of humankind and the poorest continent in the world. Through public lectures, panels, visual and performing arts, and open dialogue, Eckerd College seeks to deepen the understanding of the ongoing violence and suffering in many African nations, as well as the transitions to peace and stability. Some events are at the college, and others, like last night’s panel, will engage the local communities off campus. The curator of the Congo Women exhibit is Leslie Thomas, who is also the director of Art Works.
The photography exhibit was aimed at evoking sympathy from onlookers, and had facts about gender violence on the reverse side of 7 foot tall of images of women and children who suffer in the Congo. Patrick Henry was on the panel to discuss how art exhibits such as the photography exhibit can connect observers to a bigger picture of the community and the world.
Twig Metheny is studying photography and anthropology, and has been to Africa. She thought that the dark theme was important for raising awareness.
Brenda McKnight is with Community Action Stops Abuse, a group that raises awareness about domestic violence. She said display of strong women was enlightening for her.
Alizza Punzalan-Hall is the director of community and media relations for Eckerd college, and is also the co-chair for the Plight and Promise of Africa initiative at Eckerd College. She says that technology and art are not mutually exclusive, and must coexist to be the most effective for implementing social change.