Arts in Context

The arts create community. At Mason, artistic vision sparks global conversation.

Two new series, Kritikos and Global Arts Coffeehouse, bring Mason artists, scholars and neighbors into conversation about artistic work on the global scene as well as a thoughtful approach to the arts. 

Please see the calendar for a list of current events. Check back for updates throughout the year.

These events are free and open to the public.


Kritikos engages topics such as writing about the arts, critical studies, translation, the artist in society, and art as speech.


Kritikos engages topics such as writing about the arts, critical studies, translation, the artist in society, and art as speech.


Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.

James Baldwin

Fridays, 1-2:30 pm, from October 2-November 20, 2020 (no talk on Oct 9)

Dear Members of the CVPA Community:

Inspired by mass actions and worldwide protests demanding racial justice earlier this year, CVPA’s Arts in Context is continuing the Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group this Fall, moderated by Mason faculty members Jessica Kallista and Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, with help from co-organizers, Aishah-Nyeta Brown, Natalie Ledesma, Jordan McRae, Sang Nam, and Aries Wilson.

Members of the CVPA community will meet in Fall 2020 for 90-minute sessions once a week, but with a goal of long-term commitment to relationship building, awareness, reimagining, and action, around anti-racist practices, racial justice, and the creation of conversations as well as systems of compassion and healing. We will focus on anti-Black racism and its effects on society. 

Grounded in the knowledge that it is not a question of whether we are racist, but rather how racism is expressed and experienced in ourselves, our lives, our behaviors, and our institutions, we will explore books, music, art, essays, podcasts, and documentaries that allow us to critically question and consider our roles as artists, thinkers, citizens, and creatives in a society founded on racist values and practices.

All are welcome. If you are currently benefiting from the existing racist system, we ask only that you arrive

  1. ready to learn or expand your understanding of the role you play in sustaining the existing system, and
  2. willing to lean into the discomfort necessary to learn how to live in an ever-increasingly anti-racist way.

Every Friday, October 2-November 20, 2020 (no talk on Oct 9), 1-2:30 pm. 

We hope you can join us!
Jessica and Kristin

We invite your feedback on the Fall 2020 Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group. Please take our survey.

Please take our survey about the Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group series this Fall.

Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group Weekly Schedule (Subject to Change)

Week One
October 2, 2020: 

No talk October 9, 2020

Week Two:
October 16, 2020:

Week Three:
October 23, 2020:
Afrofuturism, Otherwise Worlds, and Freedom Dreaming

Week Four:
October 30, 2020:
Disability and Race (co-moderated by Aishah-Nyeta Brown)

Week Five:
November 6, 2020:
Education as Liberation: Anti-Racist Pedagogy

Week Six:
November 13, 2020:
Black Trans Lives Matter

Week Seven:
November 20, 2020:
Black Joy, Bliss, Self-Care, and Healing

Join us for Our Discussions on Zoom (same link each week)

You’re invited to join this recurring Zoom meeting for the Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group:

Fridays from October 2 to November 20, 1 to 2:30 pm. 

(Please note that we will not meet on October 9.)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 926 7149 1960

Passcode: 749553


Dial by your location

+1 267 831 0333 US (Philadelphia)

+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)

Meeting ID: 926 7149 1960

Passcode: 749553

Find your local number: 


Join by SIP


Join by H.323 (US West) (US East) (India Mumbai) (India Hyderabad) (Amsterdam Netherlands) (Germany) (Australia) (Singapore) (Brazil) (Canada) (Japan)

Meeting ID: 926 7149 1960

Passcode: 749553

Readings for Week Three Discussion - October 23, 2020

Week 3: October 23, 2020—Afrofuturism, Otherwise Worlds, and Freedom Dreaming 


Why should you read sci-fi superstar Octavia E. Butler? - Ayana Jamieson and Moya Bailey (video) 

Excerpt: "Emergent Strategies" - adrienne maree brown (video) 

Sci-Fi Digital Series “Afrofuturism” Sun Ra Part 1 | DUST (video) 

Afrofuturism mixes sci-fi and social justice. Here’s how it works. (video) 

Afrofuturism Explained: Not Just Black Sci-Fi | Inverse (video) 

Otherwise, Ferguson by Ashon Crawley (essay) 

Against the Normative World by Sofia Samatar (interview) 


Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, Chapter 6: KEEPIN’ IT (SUR)REALDREAMS OF THE MARVELOUS by Robin D. G. Kelley 

Freedom Dreaming: A Call to Imagine by Sarah Branch, Downtown Brooklyn Arts Management Fellow 

Freedom Dreaming - Digital Resource Guide 

Readings for Week Two Discussion - October 16, 2020

Alice Shepherd
Alice Sheppard is a disabled choreographer and dancer from Britain as well as a sought-out speaker engaging on topics related to disability, arts, race and dance. She first began her career as a professor and after watching disabled dancer Homer Avila, she was challenged to take a dancing class and immediately fell in love, and later made her debut with the Infinity Dance Theatre.
Freire and Johnson
Paulo Freire was a renowned Brazilian educator and philosopher who was a leading advocate on critical pedagogy. Pedagogy of the Oppressed is Freire's most influential work and leads us in this approach on how we can read the society around us. Marsha P. Johnson was a fearless and bold African American transgender woman who fought for LGBTQ rights and was an outspoken advocate for trans people of color. Despite her struggle with mental illness and often being homeless, she made her way as a drag queen and served as a "drag mother" for homeless and struggling LGBTQ youth.

Global Arts Coffeehouse 

Female Latin powerhouse group LADAMA (LA Weekly)

 The Global Arts Coffeehouse centers on the work of international artists, globalization in the arts, and cross-cultural artistic exchange. This series highlights artists with international impact and provides opportunity for Mason students and the community to learn about their work. Each of these events is free and open to the public. 

LADAMA holding a drumming workshop for percussion students at Manassas Park High School and Mason students enrolled in World Music Classes.
LADAMA holding a drumming workshop for percussion students at Manassas Park High School and Mason students enrolled in World Music Classes.