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Yale Norfolk School of Art Summer 2020 Lecture Series: The Shape of Empathy

May 16 – June 27, 2020

Norfolk, CT

This summer the Yale Norfolk School of Art will offer a thematic program, made possible by Norfolk Foundation, Inc., called “The Shape of Empathy” that will include a series of public lectures covering divergent topics such as the rich and varied history of mime, the exploration of how we speak and listen, the tension between entitlement and empathy and composing more protest songs. Yale Norfolk’s co-directors, Byron Kim and Lisa Sigal, will seek new ways to engage audiences with “The Shape of Empathy” presenters. The roster of speakers will influence the students’ summer dialogue in a structured way, culminating in an online video archive of these interactions. Yale Norfolk seeks to engage with the Norfolk public and also with a broader public to build a more diverse audience during the summer period. Receptions will follow each lecture to enhance this synergy.

Kim and Sigal chose the subject “The Shape of Empathy” because they couldn’t think of a more vital topic. Speakers will address diverse attitudes toward empathy and multiple perspectives in order to unpack the ways in which we might better understand each other. Empathy is defined as an imaginative and psychological assignment to an object, or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself. We anticipate conversations about ascribing meaning onto works of art along with questions like, is it ok for an artwork to lack empathy? And is it possible to discuss the shape of our empathy toward the planet on which we live? Steffani Jemison’s lecture, will question “How we can use our bodies to amplify and extend the reach of speech?”

Each summer Yale Norfolk School of Art seeks to bring together a diverse group of students who have demonstrated a passion in art making to participate in a rigorous environment of artistic practice, learning and growth. Participants come to Norfolk from all over the country and, increasingly, the globe. Yale Norfolk is a once in a lifetime experience for selected young artists. Open Studios will be scheduled at the end of June in order for the public to witness the vitality of Yale Norfolk.

The roster of speakers will include Morgan Bassichis, Steffani Jemison and three additional guest speakers to be confirmed. Morgan Bassichis’ comedic performances includes Nibbling the Hand That Feeds Me in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, Damned If You Duet, The Kitchen, NYC (2018), and  More Protest Songs! Danspace Project, (2018). Steffani Jemison has a unique relationship to language, movement and performance. Her performances, videos, lectures and images seek to place historical moments in conversation with contemporary ones. She will work with a mime at Norfolk to present On Similitude, performed as part of the 2019 Whitney Biennial, to present the work of Etienne Decroux, who popularized mime in the twentieth century and pitted physical movement against language. One of the subtle underlying questions of Jemison’s performance is, “Are all bodies equal?” All lectures held at 7pm at Yale Norfolk School of Art, Battell House, with receptions to follow. All are free and open to the public.

All lectures held at 7pm at Yale Norfolk School of Art, Battell House, with receptions to follow. All are free and open to the public