The UW–Madison Division of the Arts welcomed Ben Barson and Gizelxanath Rodriguez as the spring 2020 Interdisciplinary Artists-in-Residence.
Barson and Rodriguez guided and inspired students to participate in the construction of a new performance module of the recent jazz opera, Mirror Butterfly: The Migrant Liberation Movement Suite. Students experienced how dialogic art can be life-altering, in its communal generation and re-creation.
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About the Artists
Ben Barson is an award-winning composer, educator, baritone saxophonist, historian, and political activist. Barson cares deeply about the environment along with racial and social justice and inequities. Like his mentor Fred Ho, he composes music to impact change inspired by the jazz tradition.
Gizelxanath Rodriguez is a Mexican Indigenous (Yaqui) renowned vocalist, cellist, educator, and artivist (art and activism) at the intersection of Indigenous rights, ecosocialism, and migrant justice. She is fluent in five languages (Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, and Italian) and her vocal work spans a range of styles and cultures.
Together, Barson and Rodriguez co-founded the Afro Yaqui Music Collective, an ensemble that combines Afro-Asian musical and political affinities with inspiration from the struggles of the Yaqui of northern Mexico. Barson and Rodriguez work to incorporate voices of regional and Indigenous communities in the creation of their boundary-pushing interdisciplinary works.
The spring 2020 Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program was presented by the UW–Madison Division of the Arts and hosted by the Asian American Studies Program with Associate Professor Peggy Choy as lead faculty. Co-sponsors included the Dance Department, the Mead Witter School of Music, and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
The UW–Madison Division of the Arts has hosted world-class artists-in-residence since 1995 and formally launched the Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program (IARP) in 1999. The IARP is made possible by funding from the university’s Office of the Provost.
Charlotte Hill O’Neal aka Mama C, is a writer/poet, visual artist, musician, healer, inspirational speaker, longtime community activist, and Director of United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC) based in Arusha, Tanzania in East Africa.
Nejma Nefertiti is a powerful Hip Hop/theater artist, sound designer, songwriter, and creator of natural perfumes. Her revolutionary matriarchal legacy is to create awareness, inspiration, and social change throughout the entire world, for all oppressed peoples, through Hip Hop culture and art.
Resources + Media Mentions
- Members of the Afro Yaqui Music Collective participate in “Art Equals Politics: Vignettes of Culture, Decolonization, and Black and Brown Liberation,” on Monday, July 20.
- Read “A new multimedia work ties together themes of extraction, ancestry, and resistance,” courtesy of Tone Madison.
- Watch the highlights video from the spring 2020 Interdisciplinary Arts Residency with Ben Barson and Gizelxanath Rodriguez!
- Listen to “La Lucha Yaqui: A Conversation with Mario Luna Romero,” courtesy of Edge Effects.
- Read “(Away From) Home With: Ben Barson,” courtesy of Pittsburgh City Paper
- Read “Q&A: ‘Artists-in-residence’ takes on whole new meaning for quarantined couple” courtesy of The Cap Times
- Ben Barson, Gizelxanath Rodriguez, and Mario Luna Romero appeared again on the 8 O’Clock Buzz on WORT FM Thursday, March 5. Tune in around the 52 minute mark.
- Ben Barson and Nejma Nefertiti appeared on the 8 O’Clock Buzz on WORT FM Thursday, February 27. Tune in around the 47 minute mark.
- “Barson, Rodriguez welcomed as spring 2020 Interdisciplinary Artists-in-Residence,” courtesy of UW–Madison School of Education News
- “Mirror Butterfly: Afro Yaqui’s Call to Action for Migrant and Climate Justice,” courtesy of I Care If You Listen
- UW–Madison to host musicians and activists Ben Barson and Gizelxanath Rodriguez as the spring 2020 Division of the Arts Interdisciplinary Artists-in-Residence
- “Mirror Butterfly: Reflecting today’s turbulent times,” courtesy of AR Stash
- Fighting for Our Senses: Ears, Bodies and Hearts in the Struggle to Redefine Reality
- “Workers’ March” Stoneflower Requiem by Afro Yaqui Music Collective
- Afro Yaqui aims for worldly, revolutionary sound, courtesy of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Tree of Mama C, feat. Kelsey Robinson and the Afro Yaqui Music Collective
- Afro Yaqui Music Collective, “Sister Soul” Part 1
- Afro Yaqui Music Collective, “Sister Soul” Part 2
Artivism: Intercultural Solidarity & Decolonizing Performance
Course: Integrated Arts 310 & 610/Asian American Studies 240/Music 497
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday | 3:30-5:10 pm
Location: 249 Lathrop Hall
Credits: 3 | Prereq: None
Description: This course investigated the theory, practice, multidisciplinary and intercultural concepts connected with the recent jazz opera, Mirror Butterfly: The Migrant Liberation Movement Suite. The work is highly interdisciplinary, rooted in theories of history and social change, and above all, is modular in structure and scope. The intention is to grow from the intersection of local knowledge and local creativity where it is staged and re-interpreted. This course guided and inspired students to participate in the construction of a new performance module of Mirror Butterfly.
The course objective was that students leave with an expanded vision of how art can bring marginalized communities together to articulate a concrete and actionable plan for change in their communities and in the world at-large. Students experienced how dialogic art can be life-altering, in its communal generation and re-creation. The course counted towards the Chican@ and Latin@ Studies (CLS) certificate.
- Contested Homes: Migrant Liberation Movement Suite is now available to watch on YouTube!
- Read a Welcome Message for Contested Homes: Migrant Liberation Movement Suite by John Paul Patrick.
- Join us on Tuesday, June 30 at 7:30 p.m. (CST) on Facebook (@uwmadisonarts) for the online premiere of Contested Homes: Migrant Liberation Movement Suite.
- Watch the full performance from the February 2020 Tandem Press Jazz Series, featuring Contemporary Jazz Ensemble featuring special guests Ben Barson and Gizelxanath Rodriguez of the Afro Yaqui Music Collective (directed by Johannes Wallmann).
- The Division of the Arts has canceled upcoming spring Interdisciplinary Arts Residency events. Read more.
- Indigenous leader and Afro Yaqui Music Collective collaborator Mario Luna Romero will present a lecture as part of the LACIS Spring Lunchtime Lecture Series on Tuesday, March 3.
- Soil to Soul: Standing in Solidarity with Yaqui Water Defenders will feature performances by Barson, Rodriguez, Nejma Nefertiti, the Contemporary Jazz Ensemble, students in the ARTIVISM course, and more on Wednesday, March 4.
- Barson, Rodriguez, and members of the ARTIVISM course will perform from 10:30 – 11:00 am on Sunday, March 8 as part of the Environmental Justice in Multispecies Worlds: Land, Water, Food Conference.
- Barson and Rodriguez will participate in Live Multimedia Presentation: Antropoloops: Open Musical Collages with Rubén Alonso on Tuesday, March 10 from 12:30 – 1:30 pm in Music Hall.
- Residency guest artist Nejma Nefertiti will take part in Word. Sound. Power. 2020 from April 23-25 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Learn more here.
- You can now listen to “Mirror Butterfly The Migrant Liberation Movement Suite” courtesy of Mills Music Library! Login with Net ID required.
Nejma Nefertiti shares her experience as an EmCee, an open mic session follows.
Performances by Blue Note Ensemble (directed by Chris Rottmayer) and the Contemporary Jazz Ensemble (directed by Johannes Wallmann). Spring 2020 interdisciplinary artists-in-residence Ben Barson (saxophonist) and Gizelxanath Rodriguez (vocalist), as well as Nejma Nefertiti and all of the Afro Yaqui Music Collective, will join this session as guests.
Guest artist Nejma Nefertiti will participate in this free monthly open mic session.
Just Bust! is Madison’s longest running all-ages open mic.
The final event of Interdisciplinary Artists-in-Residence Ben Barson and Gizelxanath Rodriguez’s spring 2020 residency will be virtual—the online premiere of a new multimedia work that combines jazz, hip hop, spoken word, dance, and visual art, created together with students from their Artivism: Intercultural Solidarity & Decolonizing Performance course.