Art in The Age Of Emergency

Sunday, May 10, 2020 // 2pm PST (5pm EST)
Digital Talk hosted by Yxta Murray and the Women’s Center For Creative Work
with artists Alex Espinoza, Kathleen Kim and Adee Roberson

$5 Suggest Donation (additional proceeds go to the participating artists)

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Everyone knows we are swept up in a pandemic unprecedented in living memory. This crisis has spurred racial and class inequalities and crimes ranging from violence committed against Asian-Americans, the closing of the borders, life-threatening hazards in prisons and detention centers, and federal mismanagement that has led to ventilator and other supply shortages.

One of art’s functions is to help us understand the challenges presented to us as a community. Since ancient times it has supported people in comprehending life’s tragedies and difficulties. And right now, it is difficult to keep faith. We must both clearly confront the extreme risk that we are facing, and also come together as a community to grapple with the nature of this emergency and to support each other through it. For this reason, the Women’s Center for Creative Work and host Yxta Maya Murray bring together three standout artists to present their art and talk about their responses to Covid-19 in their practice and in their lives.

First, visual artist and musician Adee Roberson will share with us a digital mixtape, images, as well as some new video performance work. Her work creates a visual language of the complexities of being black, queer, and working class, and will help create a language to process the viscerality of grief and celebration, and the balancing of trauma and healing.

Second, writer Alex Espinoza will read from his novel-in-progress, which explores the notion of loss—personal, familiar, mental, and spiritual. He will also discuss how his writing practice is changing and what art has to offer us right now.

Third, violinist and human rights lawyer Kathleen Kim will present work that addresses the COVID-19 pandemic’s exacerbation of troubling structural inequities that persist in the United States, a phenomenon that sustains the legacy of white supremacy. Kathleen will give a world premiere of a new piece, developed during stay-at-home orders, which contemplates the multiple meanings of “slur,” including music symbol, racial epithet and inebriated speech.  After facilitating a brief dialogue on xenophobia, migration and racism during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kathleen will perform her new piece.

Thereafter, the presenters will have a group discussion around questions of the role of art in crisis. Audre Lorde once wrote “your silences will not protect you…What are the words you do not yet have?” We will engage the problems of silence, fear, loneliness, racism, gender, class, and sexuality and disability oppression, considering how art helps us discover “words that we do not [yet] have” and so desperately need right now.


Adee Roberson was born in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1981. Her work weaves sonic and familial archives, with landscape, technicolor, rhythm, form, and spirit. She has exhibited and performed at numerous venues including, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Antenna Gallery, Project Row Houses, Palm Springs Art Museum, Human Resources, Charlie James Gallery, Contemporary Art Center New Orleans, MOCA Los Angeles, and Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario. She is based in Los Angeles, California.

Alex Espinoza is the author of Still Water Saints, The Five Acts of Diego León, and Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime. He’s written for the LA Times, the NY Times Magazine, VQR, LitHub, and NPR’s All Things Considered. The recipient of fellowships from the NEA and MacDowell as well as an American Book Award, he lives in Los Angeles and is the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at UC-Riverside.

Kathleen Kim is a violinist, composer, human rights lawyer, activist, and law professor at Loyola Law School. A musician with backgrounds in improv and avant jazz, Kim uses extended violin and voice to create musical abstractions that provoke shared emotions and experiences. Her collaborations include avant chamber ensemble LA Fog and duo SheKhan. She studied with Yusef Lateef and Jim Nadel, and performed at the 2017 Venice Biennale and 2012 Whitney Biennial. Kim’s work in the law has proved just as impressive. A nationally-recognized expert on immigration and human trafficking, her scholarship investigates the intersection of immigration law, workplace rights, civil rights and the 13th Amendment, and has addressed, among other things, the law’s response to coercion in the context of human trafficking and the exploitation of undocumented workers. She is co-author of the first casebook on human trafficking. She currently co-directs the Anti-Trafficking Litigation Assistance and Support Team and was a gubernatorial appointee to the California Alliance to Combat Trafficking and Slavery. In 2013, she was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Commission, and in 2018, she combined her talents to write the score for a play about the Christine Blasey Ford Hearings, Advice & Consent (LARB Books, 2018) (with Yxta Maya Murray).

Yxta Maya Murray is a novelist, art critic, playwright, and law professor. The author of nine books, her most recent are the forthcoming story collection, The World Doesn’t Work That Way, but It Could (University of Nevada Press, 2020), and the novel, Art Is Everything (TriQuarterly Press, 2021). She has won a Whiting Award, an Art Writers Grant, and has been named a fellow at the Huntington Library for her work on radionuclide contamination in Simi Valley, California.

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Please note this is an online event.