2006 - 2007 Cline Visting Professor
Cline Centennial Visiting Professor: Sekou Sundiata
The first Cline Centennial Visiting Professorship in the Humanities has been awarded to Sekou Sundiata, poet, performance artist, and educator. Harlem-born Sundiata has been on the New York poetry scene since the 1960s. Whether he is teaching literature at The New School in New York City; performing his one-man show about his long struggle with kidney failure and ultimate transplant; recording an album of poetry set to jazz, R&B, and hip-hop; or writing a multimedia, interactive play about America and its mythology, Sekou Sundiata has a commitment to use his art to move people, to inspire involvement, to question and to reveal.
In his most recent work, The America Project, Sundiata contemplates America, its place in the world, and the simultaneous and sometimes competing challenges of being an individual and a citizen. The project has two aspects: a multimedia stage performance entitled The 51st (dream) state, and a series of community activities called The America Project as an Arts, Humanities, and Civic Dialogue. The two components are meant to work in tandem to appeal to the imagination and the intellect, to cause reaction and reflection.
Sundiata and his company of actors, singers, dancers, and instrumentalists will present The 51st (dream) state at UT's Hogg Auditorium on Wednesday evening, February 28, 2007. The 51st (dream) state will feature a cycle of songs, poems and monologues, still and moving images projected on multiple surfaces, and filmed dance. The public engagement portion of the project will consist of creative forums and civic interaction, such as "envisioning the future" workshops at participating local educational, community, religious, and business organizations, community forums, poetry circles, citizenship dinners, and a symposium, "A Day of Art and Ideas," to bring together art and civic dialogue around the themes of The 51st (dream) state performance.
Many of these events will take place during Sundiata's weeks in residence as the holder of the Cline Centennial Visiting Professorship in the Humanities. The dates of the residency are November 27-31; February 8-18; and the two days following The 51st (dream) state performance—March 1 and 2. The Humanities Institute is currently seeking partner organizations—both on campus and throughout the greater Austin community—that are interested in hosting America Project events and in offering their members the opportunity to work with Sekou Sundiata in this extraordinary civic and creative initiative.
The America Project, Sundiata explains, is "an extension of my work as a Public Artist, and of my interest in defining what it means to be a university-based artist and a citizen." Examining what he calls "a longstanding estrangement between American civic ideals and American civil practice" is vital in today's America. For him, it is "a civic responsibility to think about these things out loud, in the ritualized forum of theater and public dialogue." The Humanities Institute is proud to host Sekou Sundiata, whose poetry, music, and performances have their origins, according to Bill Moyers, "at the headwaters of the soul."
Sundiata Program Flyers
For more information, please contact the Institute at (512) 471-2654 or firstname.lastname@example.org.