A group of students and professors at Yale are trying to redefine the panel discussion — and consider the intersection of art and athletics.
“Game Recognize Game,” a new event at the School of Art’s 32 Edgewood Gallery, will assemble athletes and artists of color to discuss issues surrounding the politics of representation. Addressing practices that span disciplines, such as “performative resistance” and political activism, the event focuses on the modes various practitioners employ in their engagement with dominant social or cultural norms. The event, organized by Tomashi Jackson ART ’16, will be hosted on Sunday, Feb. 28 in tandem with the “Black Pulp!” exhibition at the 32 Edgewood Gallery, and has received support from the School of Art as well as a host of other organizations on campus, including La Casa Cultural, the Afro-American Cultural Center, the Intercultural Affairs Council of Yale College and the Department of African American Studies. Speakers will include Emory Douglas, the Black Panther Party’s former minister of culture, and John Wesley Carlos, a bronze-medal Olympic track and field athlete who participated in the 1968 Olympics Black Power salute.
“‘Game Recognize Game’ brings together accomplished artists and athletes of color for generative interdisciplinary discussion around visual representation, politics, technique, strategy, (non) performance and mastery in professional sports and artistic practices,” Jackson said. “We are interested in artists and athletes of color whose work has evoked humanist interpretation while challenging established boundaries of their professional realms of sports and art.”
During the event, Douglas and Carlos will participate in a panel discussion on “Form and Strategy” mediated by Karleh Wilson ’16, a member of the track and field team, and William Cordova ART ’04, a practicing artist who splits his time between Lima, Peru, Miami and New York City. The project also includes a publication — designed by Martin Bek ART ’16 and Laura Foxgrover ART ’16, graduate students in the School of Art’s graphic design program — which will include written selections by Ashley James GRD ’17, Nicholas Forster GRD ’18, Beatrix Archer ’19, Eshe Sherley ’16 and Elizabeth Spenst ’18, and works by artists Harry Dodge, William Villalongo and Jackson herself.
The conversation will be live-streamed from 32 Edgewood to the auditorium of the Yale University Art Gallery. After the discussion, the panelists and mediators will join the audience at the YUAG for a question and answer session, which will prioritize the questions of New Haven youth engaged in either art or athletic activities who have been invited to the event.
“Game Recognize Game” was initially conceived as a response to the refusal of American football player Marshawn Lynch to engage with the sports media, a choice Jackson calls “performative resistance.” Jackson linked this “resistance” to the practices of performance artists like Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic, and saw a potential connection between the worlds of art and athletics. As her final project for the course “Black Atlantic Visual Arts since 1980,” Jackson outlined and further developed the concept which would eventually become “Game Recognize Game.”
Students and professors planning to attend the event were impressed by the amount of collaboration and planning that went into its successful realization.
Spenst said she was “amazed” by the creativity of the event organizers, and expressed excitement about the panel of guest speakers.
“I never thought I would have seen Emory Douglas and John Wesley Carlos in conversation, but Tomashi and other people made it happen,” Spenst noted.
Michael Queenland, a professor of sculpture at the School of Art, highlighted the collaboration between various professional schools, institutions and organizations at Yale to see the project to fruition.
“The collaboration came from a lot of different conversations about what was happening in the news around domestic injustice and recognizing the need to broaden the conversation around resistance and creativity,” Queenland explained. “Because there hasn’t been much written about this history, I think this collaborative effort is necessary and maybe opens up other opportunities to not only have a multi-generational conversation, but to new ways of sharing ideas and ways of thinking.”