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SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts Hosts Free Public Symposium, "The Freedom of the City: Models of Urban Engagement and Creativity in the 21st Century," April 9

Follow-up to recently released Creative Time report brings recognized innovators in art and architecture to Dallas

On February 1, New York-based public arts organization and Meadows Prize recipient Creative Time and SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts released a series of recommendations for fostering the arts in Dallas. The group identified 13 key elements necessary for the Dallas art community to thrive, and developed several recommendations for each element to further strengthen programs and structures and to create new opportunities.

In a follow-up to the report, the Meadows School will host a public symposium on Saturday, April 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. titled “The Freedom of the City: Models of Urban Engagement and Creativity in the 21st Century.” Through individual presentations and panel discussions, the conference will explore the relationship between artists, architects, activists and social justice struggles, and examine new models of public art practice and architecture in the urban environment. The aim of the event is threefold: to disseminate information on exemplary public art/architecture projects that have taken place or are in progress in cities throughout the United States; to discuss the relevance of such approaches to the city of Dallas; and to generate public feedback on these and related issues deemed crucial to the well-being of the community.

Participants will include socially engaged artists, SMU and UT arts and architecture faculty, and prominent Dallas community builders. The symposium will be moderated by Nato Thompson, chief curator of Creative Time. Guest speakers include the following:

  • Dean Almy, Associate Professor of Architecture and Director of the Graduate Programs in Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, University of Texas-Austin
  • Brent Brown, Architect; Director of CityDesign Studio and buildingcommunity WORKSHOP, Dallas
  • Mel Chin, Artist; projects include Revival Field (use of plants to remove toxic metals from soil) and KNOWMAD (video game based on rug patterns of disappearing nomadic people); investigates how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility
  • Wanda Dye, Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of Texas-Arlington
  • Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director, Queens Museum of Art, and author of Dialogues in Public Art
  • Rick Lowe, Artist; Founder of Project Row Houses, Houston, the Watts House Project, Los Angeles, and other community building projects nationwide
  • Cheryl Mayo, Executive Director, West Dallas Community Centers
  • Laurie Jo Reynolds, Artist; Soros Justice Fellow; projects include Tamms Year Ten, which led to prison reform in Illinois; fuses art with political activism
  • Jason Roberts, Founder and President, Oak Cliff Transit Authority; co-founded Art Conspiracy and Bike Friendly Oak Cliff; “Better Blocks” project organizer
  • Zoka Zola, Architect; winner of Architecture magazine’s Home of the Year Award

The symposium will take place in the Bob Hope Theatre of the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. The schedule is below. Lunch and refreshments will be served. Admission is free, but registration is required. To register for the event, visit or contact Leila Grothe at

The symposium is an example of new initiatives at the Meadows School designed to help students discover myriad ways to use their artistic training after graduation, said Meadows School Dean José Bowen. “The Meadows School is pioneering a new model of art that connects social engagement and community relevance with employment,” he said. “As of fall 2010, all freshmen at Meadows are introduced to alternative models of artistic practice – which includes everything from our own programs in music therapy and our interdisciplinary ensemble, Point, to our community artist partnerships with Big Thought – AND to the basics of how the various arts businesses, both nonprofit and for-profit, work. We’ve also introduced the country’s first official minors in arts entrepreneurship and creative computing, as well as a new minor in arts management, and we will soon launch a new minor in cities and culture. All of this is designed to expose students to a broader array of art-making, which will prepare them both for community impact and jobs.”

About Creative Time and the Meadows Prize
In October 2009 Creative Time received one of the inaugural two Meadows Prize artist residency awards from the Meadows School. Creative Time’s residency took the form of a yearlong study of the Dallas art community to identify strengths and potential areas for growth. During the course of three weeklong visits to Dallas in 2010, Creative Time’s team met with a wide range of members of the art community, including artists, curators, collectors, gallery owners, visual and performing arts organization leaders, school administrators, philanthropists, writers, community organizers and city officials. The resulting report, released on February 1, presented some 60 recommendations for both individual and collective action to help the Dallas art community thrive. The full report and ongoing community comments are posted on D Magazine’s FrontRow site: The report is also available at

Since 1974, Creative Time has presented the most innovative art in the public realm. The New York-based nonprofit has worked with over 2,000 artists to produce more than 335 groundbreaking public art projects that have ignited the public’s imagination, explored ideas that shape society and engaged millions of people around the globe. Creative Time seeks to convert the power of artists’ ideas into works that inspire social change and stimulate public dialogue on timely issues, while initiating a dynamic conversation among artists, sites and audiences. For more information on Creative Time and its projects, visit


10:00 AM Opening remarks Jose Bowen, Dean, Meadows School of the Arts
10:05 AM Introduction Michael Corris, Chair, Division of Art, Meadows School of the Arts
10:10 AM Keynote Speaker Rick Lowe – “Art and Social Justice”

Theme A: Art
10:40 AM Speaker 1 Laurie Jo Reynolds – “The Worst of the Worst: Where Do They Come From? Who Are They? Where Are They Going?”
11:05 AM Speaker 2 Mel Chin – “April Update: Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project”
11:30 AM Panel discussion Nato Thompson, Chief Curator, Creative Time; Noah Simblist, Associate Professor of Art, Meadows School of the Arts; and speakers

12:00 PM Lunch Break

Theme B: Community
12:35 PM Speaker 3 Cheryl Mayo – “West Dallas and the Arts”
1:00 PM Speaker 4 Tom Finkelpearl – “Can Artists Actually Make a Difference in a City?”
1:25 PM Panel discussion Nato Thompson, Jason Roberts and speakers

1:45 PM Refreshment break

Theme C: Architecture
2:00 PM Speaker 5 Dean Almy – “Colonization”
2:25 PM Speaker 6 Zoka Zola – “Recent Works”
2:50 PM Speaker 7 Wanda Dye – “Engaging the Everyday City: Observations and Interventions”
3:15 PM Panel discussion Nato Thompson, Brent Brown and speakers
3:45 PM Closing remarks Jose Bowen

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