Montana State University

MSU hosts symposium on cultural appropriation on Oct. 18

October 11, 2017 -- MSU News Service

The MSU School of Art and the local group I Am Interchange will co-sponsor "Is it cultural exchange or appropriation?," a symposium on cultural appropriation at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, in Reynolds Recital Hall. The community discussion and debate will feature a panel of local artists, entrepreneurs and academics discussing issues surrounding the adoption of the elements of one culture by members of another culture. Graphic courtesy of I Am Interchange.

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The Montana State University School of Art and the local group I Am Interchange will co-sponsor a symposium on cultural appropriation at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, in Reynolds Recital Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. to the event, which is free and open to the public.

“Is it cultural exchange or appropriation?” is a community discussion and debate featuring a panel of local artists, entrepreneurs and academics discussing issues surrounding the adoption of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.

The idea for the symposium came from a conversation with Vaughan Judge, an artist who is director of the MSU School of Art, and Tate Chamberlin, local businessman and founder of Chamberlin Productions in Bozeman as well as the I am Interchange annual symposium.

“We thought that this topic is really relevant for our times, and we wanted to explore it more,” Judge said. He said among the questions that will be explored is how cultural exchange is incorporated into the culture of a society at large, how and when cultural exchange becomes appropriation that crosses a line and whether there is an expiration date on cultural appropriation. Judge said examples of that concept are Roman and Greek architecture.

The members of the panel will include: artist Ben Pease of Bozeman, a member of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribes whose mixed media paintings have been shown and sold internationally; Melissa Ragain, a professor of art history at MSU; Quentin Robinson, dancer and educator from Missoula; artist Michael Lewis, a western representational painter from Bozeman; Eran Thompson, who calls himself a “troublemaker, rabble rouser, community radical” and who was the former chairman of Not in Our Town Billings; and Meg Singer of Missoula, the indigenous justice outreach coordinator for the Montana ACLU who is a member of the Navajo tribe. Chamberlin will moderate the panel.

The panel will be preceded by performances by Ben Morris, Dream Walk, Aerial Arts of Bozeman, Jupiter Aodhfin and Robinson.

A social gathering with refreshments will follow during which participants and members of the audience can meet and discuss the topic.

The event is sponsored by the MSU School of Art, which is in the College of Arts and ArchitectureHumanities Montana, Ten Directions and I Am Interchange.

Vaughan Judge, 406-994-4501, vaughan.judge@montana.edu