Art Changes People and People Change the World

According to the quote meme on the internet, the musician John Butler once said, “Art changes people and people change the world.” It also seems evident that events in the world inspires the art that people create. This reciprocal nature of society and human expression has mesmerized artists, researchers, activists, historians, and ethnographers for a long time.

So, let’s talk about art and society. How are artists of all kinds describing the world right now? How are art-based strategies helping researchers better understand the experiences of individuals and groups? How does the present shape art, and how does art shape the future?

The Panel

Eugenia Canas (@EugeniaCanas) co-coordinates the Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion (CRHESI). She is a Health Information Science PhD Candidate, where she uses critical, participatory and art-based research approaches to understand issues of epistemic justice in the engagement of vulnerable populations. Eugenia holds clinical experience as an art therapist in child/adolescent oncology, working in hospital and community settings. She is a Doctoral Fellow with the ACCESS Open Minds Network at the Douglas Institute of Mental Health. She serves as mentor and facilitator in local and national research and knowledge translation initiatives, including the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s SPARK Program, the Wisdom to Action Network, and the Collaborative RESearch Team to study psychosocial issues in Bipolar Disorder (CREST.BD) .

Tom Cull (@waltercull) is the current Poet Laureate for the City of London. He grew up in Huron County alongside the Menesetung (Maitland) River. He teaches creative writing and American Studies at the University of Western Ontario, and runs Thames River Rally, a grassroots environmental group he cofounded with his partner Miriam Love. Tom has also served on the boards of the Urban League, Poetry London, and WordsFest. His chapbook, What the Badger Said, was published in 2013 by Baseline Press and his first full length collection of poems, entitled Bad Animals, is forthcoming from Insomniac Press (Spring, 2018). His writing has appeared in journals, anthologies, and he is the co-publisher of WordsFest Zine, an “instant” zine of occasional poetry celebrating London’s literary festival, Words.

Holly Painter (@HollyPoetry) is a spoken word artist, public speaker, and certified teacher. She is passionate about sharing her stories, inspiring audiences, and advocating for important causes through poetry. Holly has spoken to over fifty thousand youth in school and community settings and performed on stages across the country. She is the National Director of Spoken Word Canada, Director of London Poetry Slam, and a former Artist in Residence with Thames Valley District School Boad and London Arts Council.

A Critique of Multiculturalism – Heenal Rajani’s Poetic Harvest

If you listened to Monday’s Curious Public discussion, A Critique of Multiculturalism, in its entirety, you discovered a surprise at the end: a poetic harvest recited by Heenal Rajani. The 3-minute poem reconstructs the hightlights, architecture, and flow of the hour-long conversation. So, if you haven’t listened to the whole conversation yet, Heenal’s poem might just provide the intrigue and provocation to hear the entire dialogue that inspired it.

A moment of salient awareness

A moment of salient awareness
Of just what it means to be here
A bundle of molecules
Clinging to this relatively inconspicuous rock
Hurling through a universe
A universe with or without parameters and borders
A universe with or without parallels and corollaries
I can’t fathom even the simplest explanations for it all:
Rewind every theory and retell every origin story
Every account asks me to consent to the inconceivable
It all begins with something that was never started
Or a medium materializing from nothing
Which means, ultimately, I don’t know anything
Or why there is something instead of nothing
Every fact and precept I cherish
Is just an emergent property of the whole
The mystery of being pervades everything
Making everything inscrutable
How hilarious are my arguments?
Look how I perch my ego on my conclusions about the inconclusive!
Come, laugh at my confident pretensions to knowledge
When you hear me suggest
That there is only one legitimate way
Of being, or seeing, or knowing on this planet
Remind me that I’m just another fool in the universe
A fool who can only perceive the universe
Through one set of eyes
A view hued by history and heuristic
Even more unique than the configuration of my gnome
Oh, how tightly the whole of creation orbits my fragile ego
Happy in my self-assurance
Reveling in the idea that my analysis of existence
Corresponds to some kind of final actuality
Gleefully confident that my particular path in life
Has fortuitously granted me this uncanny chance
To understand the final, objective nature of things
Far more accurately than anyone
Who happens to disagree with me