ATC Lecture — Brett Cook “Embodying Liberation: A Dialogue on Community and Healing”

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For those who missed out on Brett Cook’s beautiful Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium lecture on “Embodying Liberation: A Dialogue on Community and Healing,” the video is now live on the Internet Archive

Diverse social and political initiatives were rallying points for Berkeley’s free speech/civil rights movement fifty years ago. Today, pioneering methods for working in diverse communities continue by considering the history, culture, and expertise of the area to provide socially relevant, localized outcomes. Brett Cook shares extraordinary examples of socially engaged education including his current Reflections of Healing/Life is Living/Oakland Museum of California projects.!

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The third ATC lecture of the year showcased yet another version of Art, Technology, and Activism, with the exceptional community artist and muralist Brett Cook on Monday, October 6th, 2014 discussing “Embodying Liberation.” Brett began the lecture in an unconventional manner by asking the audience to define community and healing. From these definitions, Brett discussed how “community” art is often either ghettoized or artificially constructed. Brett introduced audience members to his own projects and explained how he hopes to produce works of both community and healing by spending months engaged with local groups before he devises an arts proposal. He thin finds methods, such as street fairs, to bring the whole community together to construct the art work, often through tracing lines, coloring in with crayons, constructing mazes, so as to emphasize reflection through action, and introduce greater mindfulness among participants. Brett finished his talk by handing out packets of materials to the audience to assist them in becoming involved with socially engaged art.

Don’t forget to join us for gallerist Cheryl Haines discussing Ai Weiwei’s @Large on Monday, November 3rd! In the meantime, enjoy the tweets and images from the evening below!

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Diverse social and political initiatives were rallying points for Berkeley’s free speech/civil rights movement fifty years ago. Today, pioneering methods for working in diverse communities continue by considering the history, culture, and expertise of the area to provide socially relevant, localized outcomes. Brett Cook will share extraordinary examples of socially engaged education including his current Reflections of Healing/Life is Living/Oakland Museum of California projects. Participants in this dialogue will model inherently revolutionary ideas about what the practice of art can be, its societal benefits, and how it can be a force for intellectual discovery and social change. Through the exploration of progressive educational philosophies, liberation pedagogy, and contemplative exercises participants will reflect upon their own identity within artworks and community celebrations that express a variety of social and aesthetic positions.


Brett Cook is an artist and educator, who uses his creative practice and to transform outer and inner worlds of being. His museum work features drawing, painting, photography, and elaborate installations that make intimately personal experiences universally accessible. His public projects typically involve community workshops featuring arts-integrated pedagogy, along with music, performance, and food to create a fluid boundary between art making, daily life, and healing. He has received numerous awards, including the Lehman Brady Visiting Professorship at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Richard C. Diebenkorn Fellowship at the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2009, he published Who Am I In This Picture: Amherst College Portraits with Wendy Ewald and Amherst College Press. Recognized for a history of socially relevant, community engaged projects, Brett was selected as cultural ambassador to Nigeria as part of the U.S. Department of State’s 2012 smARTpower Initiative. His work is in private and public collections including the Smithsonian/National Portrait Gallery, the Walker Art Center, and Harvard University. He is a 2014 A Blade of Grass Fellow for Socially Engaged Art.

Tickets are available online and at the door. Ticketed attendees will be admitted on a first come, first served basis.

Berkeley’s Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium is an internationally recognized forum for presenting new ideas that challenge conventional wisdom about art, technology, and culture. This series, free of charge and open to the public, presents artists, writers, curators, and scholars who consider contemporary issues at the intersection of aesthetic expression, emerging technologies, and cultural history, from a critical perspective.

For the first time ever, the 2014/15 lecture series will be co-presented by the Arts Research Center, the Berkeley Center for New Media, and The David Brower Center, and will focus on the legacy of the Free Speech Movement here on the Berkeley Campus. All lectures will take place at The David Brower Center from 7:30-9:00pm.