Emerson College & La Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín have collaborated for a second time on a transnational pedagogy project called Proyecto Boston-Medellín (PBM). PBM 2011 culminated in an art exhibit in the Bill Bordy Theatre called, “MUJERES: Medellín / WOMEN: Medellín,” that debuted in a simultaneous live broadcast in Boston and Medellín.
The exhibition featured photographs, video, written word and an interactive multi-media living room installation made by and about women who are Medellín’s community leaders, mothers and daughters, actors in armed conflict and peace workers in a city that has suffered successive cycles of violence. In 1991, when the United States was bombing Baghdad—when these artists were babies— their home, Medellín, was the most violent city in the world. They were in elementary school when bombs were exploding throughout their city, during which time they went about their daily lives of school, friends, birthdays, and holidays.
Another kind of violence against the city and its inhabitants lingers in the media: if one types “Mujer” + “Medellín” into Google, most of the first 15 pages direct worldwide browsers to prostitution, mail-order brides and sex tours. Through this exhibition, the artists, now students at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín, sought to understand, re-frame, remember and reinvent themselves and their city. The exhibition complicated representations of women in Medellín by including diverse social, cultural, and physical contexts in which women build the city.
The four artists, Leidy Vanesa Vahos, Natalia Giraldo Giraldo, Maria Cecilia Cardona Gaviria, and Tatiana Carolina de Los Rios Gaviria, were in Boston to greet the public and discuss their art. The artists’ families, colleagues, teachers, community members, and protagonists in the documentaries and photographs, as well as other artists, scholars and city residents were at El AULA Internacional in Medellín. The audiences in both cities interacted with each other through videoconferencing.
Across PBM 2011 and the inaugural PBM 2010, more than 150 Emerson students in Dr. Tamera Marko‘s First Year Research Writing service learning classes, as well as dozens of other undergraduate and graduate students here, collaborated with the PBM artists through e-mail, Facebook and Skype to bring the art and the artists to Boston, and to produce the exhibit. Each year, the artists present their work to several service learning and other courses to engage in dialogue with Emersonian students about art, stereotypes and diversity.
Emerson groups co-sponsoring PBM 2011 included: the First Year Writing Program, the Office of Service Learning and Community Action, PRISM, the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, Multicultural Student Affairs, the Iwasaki Library, and Emerson Peace and Social Justice. Other sponsors included El AULA Internacional, El Departamento de Facultad de Arquitectura, Arte y Construcción, El Departamento de Extension y Investigación, and La Escuela del Habitat, all at La Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Medellín, and Duke University’s DukeEngage Colombia program.
Directors of the exhibit were Marko and Jota Samper. Marko has a Ph.D. in Latin American History and is currently Assistant Director of the First Year Writing Program at Emerson College. Dr. Marko is also the Director of Duke University’s DukeEngage Program in Medellin with Jota Samper. She has published articles on social mobility in the Americas and her work with PBM has garnered international recognition and has won various awards within the academic community. Samper has a Master’s Degree in the Department of Design and Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is now a Ph.D. candidate. He has worked as an architect and artist in the last 15 years in six countries, including Colombia, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, India, and France. He is a native of Medellín, Colombia.
For more information, visit the Proyecto Boston-Medellín website.