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May 14


Hosted by E. Patrick Johnson
Produced by Allie Stephens
Artists Tsehaye Geralyn Hebert, Lloyd Brodnax King, Zanariah Phillips, Allie Stephens, Dorothy Straughter + Udita Upadhyaya

We will explore ideas of representation. Who has voice? Who controls the narrative? How do we acknowledge our own responsibility / complicity? We will attempt to identify exploitation, embrace accountability, and examine what role and voice we each have, given the bodies and cultural position we were born with.

E. Patrick Johnson is the chair of African American Studies, Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University. A scholar/artist, Johnson performs nationally and internationally and has published widely in the areas of race, gender, sexuality and performance. He is the author of two award-winning books, Appropriating Blackness:  Performance and the Politics of Authenticity, and Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—An Oral History. He is the editor of Cultural Struggles: Performance, Ethnography, Praxis by Dwight Conquergood (Michigan UP, 2013) and co-editor (with Mae G. Henderson) of Black Queer Studies—A Critical Anthology and (with Ramon Rivera-Servera) of solo/black/woman: scripts, interviews, and essays and Blacktino Queer Performance (Duke UP, forthcoming). He is currently at work on the companion text to Sweet Tea, entitled, Honeypot: Southern Black Women Who Love Women and an edited collection of new writings in black queer studies tentatively titled, No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies.


Allie Stephens is a nationally recognized composer, music producer, singer and song writer who has composed music for over 500 national TV commercials and 100 feature length documentaries and independent films. They have composed & produced music for programming on A&E, PBS, The History Channel,, WTTW and NPR, and worked for clients such as American Airlines, Budweiser, State Farm & McDonalds. They also teach as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago within the Art & Tech and Humanities Departments. Their days are spent exploring the intersection of music & film, and they bring a nuanced understanding of the cultural role of music to the classes they teach. They have a deep love of American regional and popular musical styles, and a fascination for the cultural counterpoint of the American vernacular. Allie identifies as trans-feminine and ‘gender-mobile.’

Lloyd Brodnax King studied flute with Marcel Moyse, James Moody and James Newton. He's worked with Fareed Haque, Larry Gray, Paul Von Mertens, Mark Walker, Jim Gailloreto and Poi Dog Pondering. His awards include an NEA fellowship in jazz, an Illinois Arts Council fellowship for composition, and a Joseph Jefferson award for his score to Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Macbeth.  After gaining recognition for his broadcast project, The Obscure News, he was hired to help Chicago Public Radio start their broadcast initiative, Currently Lloyd's writing tunes, interviewing people and editing audio narratives for his podcast, Tunaweek. He performs regularly with Funkadesi, the Sun Ensemble, Michael Miles, and the Chicago Jazz Composers Collective.

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Tsehaye Geralyn Hebert: A bonafide gumbo girrrrl, the Louisiana native demonstrates a keen sense of place in her work.  Hebert grew up somewhere between her rural family seat and Mardi Gras, but calls Chicago home for now!  A nationally recognized playwright, she is a Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Awardee (The. C. A. Lyons Project).  She won the RhinoFest competition at School of the Art Institute for pygMALI, her reimagination of Shaw's Pygmalion. Elegy for Miss Lucy explores the life of radical Lucy Parsons, when a graduate student and daughter of a Chicago police detective is cast in the titular role.  It is the final in a quartet of Chicago themed work completed as part of her MFAW thesis project and a top twenty finalist in Cultural DC's 2017 Source Festival.

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ZiZi Phillips is a Belizian American transgender woman who was raised in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. She is a trained dancer who began ballet training at the age of ten and later discovered modern dance, which is her preferred style of dance. ZiZi dances with Y.E.P.P., the Youth Empowerment Performance Project, whose mission is: to seek a safe environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth experiencing homelessness to explore their history, investigate new ways to their struggles, and to celebrate their strengths through the process of developing a theatrical performance. ZiZi was a participant in the LGBTQ Host Home Program in her early 20’s. ZiZi is a vocal advocate for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness, most recently appearing as a panelist at the State of Out Youth Town Hall in New York City.

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Dorothy C. Straughter was introduced to quilting in November of 2015 by dear neighbor who showed her Underground Railroad quilt. She then embarked on a historical journey that is woven through her numerous works which includes the Underground Railroad, Great Migration and Negrobilia quilts. Her serendipitous jaunt into the quilt community can be traced in a foundation of her skill set as an occupational therapist. She completed research projects which included assessment of line, color and form as it relates to the learning process and developed strategies of instruction to support the specialized population. Classes she taught in neuroscience, disease processes and research at Chicago State University helped to establish her skill at human form and function. Mrs. Straughter’s continuous research at the Stony Island Arts Bank has equipped her with the historical perspective that is difficult to find in other venues. Mrs. Straughter’s quilts have been featured at the Quilters Trunk, Chicago Public Library during the Beverly art walk, a function conceived by the Beverly Arts Alliance, private home viewings of friends, at the Hyde Park Art Center and most recently at the Beverly Arts Center. Her quilts have been featured in the Beverly Review, DNA Info the Villager and on WVON radio AM1690. Dorothy’s multifaceted quilt architect evolution continues to sketch itself through the fabric of time.


Udita Upadhyaya is an interdisciplinary artist who uses her body as a primary material for making. Her work spans live art, devised theatre, performative photographs, sculpture, installation, video, writing, text, and fiber arts. Upadhyaya works with the principles of Vipassana meditation to uncover the trajectories of desire, craving, trauma, shame and their many intersections. Upadhyaya studied International Relations and Film Production at Boston University before obtaining an MFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She also has an MBA from S.P.Jain Institute for Management and Research, Mumbai, following which she investigated the rise of materialism, labor and urban migration in the rural community in western India. This experience informs her research and community based approach to creative practice. Upadhyaya teaches interdisciplinary studio and artistic research classes in the Department of Contemporary Practices and the Department of Continuing Studies of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She also teaches at Poetry Pals, a unique initiative committed to interfaith dialogue and community. Upadhyaya is the current recipient of a Teaching Artist Studio Residency at the Hyde Park Art Center, and is working on a collaborative residency in live art, Set Free, at Links Hall, Chicago IL.