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.

books stacked on top of each other

Spring 2021 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, February 19 - April 9 (no talk on April 2), 1-2:30 pm. 

Dear Members of the CVPA Community:

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

Members of the CVPA community will meet in Spring 2021 for a 90-minute session once a week, but with a goal of long-term commitment to relationship building, awareness, reimagining, transformation, 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, February 19 - April 9 (no talk on April 2), 1-2:30 pm. 

We hope you can join us!

Jessica and Kristin

Spring 2021

Spring 2021 Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group Weekly Schedule (Subject to Change)

Topics Kritikos Anti-Racist Reading Group

Week One
February 19, 2021: Race & Medicine

Week Two
February 26, 2021: Dismantling the White Gaze 

Week Three
March 5, 2021: Cultural Appropriation 

Week Four

Week Five
March 19, 2021: The Black Horizon: Black Womxn, Sex & Power

Week Six
March 26, 2021: Race & Travel

Week Seven
April 9, 2021: Black Joy & Loving Blackness… 

Register each week to join us for our discussions on Zoom. (Different link each week.)

Please register below for the event and will will send you a Zoom link. The link will change each week so please don't forget to register before each event.

(Please note that we will not meet on April 2.)

Register for the event.

Kritikos authors

Image captions (above), from left to right:

An award winning and multi-platinum American hip hop artist, Cardi B is also a feminist, political activist, philanthropist, and actor. Born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx, she continues to break records through her work and make history through the accolades she receives.  

Ingrid Masondo is a South African photography artist who has worked independently on extensive personal projects, particularly focusing on the body, its habits and practices, and markings and performances. Masondo is an arts, music, and cultural worker, who currently works as the curator of Photography and New Media at the Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town.

La Tanya Autry is a cultural organizer in the visual arts who centers social justice and public memory in her work. In 2017, she co-founded the global advocacy initiative "MUSEUMS ARE NOT NEUTRAL" with Mike Murawski. The Crossroads of Commemoration: Lynching Landscapes in America is her dissertation that analyzes how individuals and communities memorialize white supremacy models, such as lynching violence in the built environment, concentrates on the interplay of race, representation, memory, and public space.

Originally from Houston, Texas, Megan Thee Stallion is a feminist and an award-winning American hip hop artist. Her work embraces female sensuality and confidence, centers female desire and pleasure, and defies stereotypes.  

image composite of black writers for Kritikos series

Image captions (above), from left to right:

Dr. Susan Moore was a Michigan-based family medicine physician who died December 20, 2020 of complications from COVID-19. Dr. Susan Moore died just weeks after posting a video online from her hospital bed accusing a white doctor of denying her requests for pain medication and proper treatment because she was Black.

Kadir Nelson is a Los Angeles-based painter, illustrator, and author whose work is centered on African American culture and history. His work is best known for being featured on the covers of The New Yorker magazine as well as the album covers of Drake and Michael Jackson.

Lorna Simpson is an African American photographer and multimedia artist who challenges conventional ideas about race, women, and culture. She was awarded the J. Paul Getty Medal in 2019. 

Doreen Garner is an American sculptor and performance artist whose work explores the frequent suppressed and traumatic medical histories of the Black body.

Jackie Sibblies Drury is an American playwright based in Brooklyn. Her critically acclaimed play, Fairview, examines race in a highly conceptual structure and won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Drama


Fall 2020 Reading Lists

October 2-November 20, 2020

Week 1: October 2, 2020—Misogynoir


Why you need to know what 'misogynoir' means right now (article) 

What "Misogynoir" Means . . . and Why It Has to End (video) 

End Adultification Bias (Full Version) (video) 

The Uses of Anger by Audre Lorde (essay) 

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House (pdf) by Audre Lorde (essay) 

How to Be an Anti-Racist: Chapter 14: Gender by Ibram X. Kendi

M4BL: End of the War on Black Women (website) 

Doreen Garner Sculpts Our Trauma | Art21 "New York Close Up" (video) 

‘Nobody's Free Until Everybody's Free’: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Legacy Is More Important Now Than Ever (article) 

The problem with celebrating the 19th Amendment: Opinion by Treva B. Lindsey (article) 

Ida B. Wells | The Vote | American Experience | PBS (video) 

The Revolutionary Practice of Black Feminisms

Week 2: October 16, 2020—Reparations


M4BL: Reparations 

The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Atlantic article) 

What is Owed by Nikole Hannah-Jones (NYT article) 

We May Be the First People to Receive Reparations for Slavery | NYT Opinion (NYT video) 

Slavery reparations bill debated in US House hearing (The Guardian video)  

‘Stain of slavery’: Congress debates reparations to atone for America's original sin (The Guardian article with video) 

Can reparations help right the wrongs of slavery? (PBS video) 

North Carolina City Will Give Reparations to Black Residents | NowThis (video) 

Reparations, H.R. 40 and the Path Forward (ACLU)

H. R. 40

How Reparations Could Fix The Racial Wealth Gap In America | NBC News NOW (video) 

Six questions about slavery reparations, answered (CNN article) 

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 

Week 4: October 30, 2020—Race and Disability


Alice Sheppard 

Alice Sheppard on Disability Dance and Access 

Racism and Ableism 

Children of color with autism face disparities of care and isolation 

Dis/ability critical race studies (DisCrit): theorizing at the intersections of race and dis/ability


Intersectionality & Disability, ft Keri Gray, the Keri Gray Group #DisabilityDemandsJustice (video)

#RaceAnd: Kay Ulanday Barrett (video) 

Week 5: November 6, 2020—Education as Liberation: Anti-Racist Pedagogy


Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Chapter 2—Paulo Friere (full text)

Teaching to Transgress, Chapter 1: Engaged Pedagogy by bell hooks (full text)

Teaching to Transgress, Chapter 4: Paulo Friere by bell hooks (full text)

bell hooks on interlocking systems of domination (4 min video) 

We Want to Do More Than Survive, Chapter 5: Abolitionist Teaching, Freedom Dreaming, and Black Joy by Bettina Love

Creating Inclusive Classrooms (Mason Website) 

“Education Liberates” featuring bell hooks and Bettina Love (1 hr, 30 min video) 

Week 6: November 13, 2020— Black Trans Lives Matter




Black Trans Women Seek More Space in the Movement They Helped Start

Marsha P. Johnson Was a Transgender Rights Pioneer Who Fought for LGBTQ Minorities

Black Trans* Lives Matter | D-L Stewart | TEDxCSU

Thousands Protest in Support of Black Trans Lives in NYC | NowThis (video)

Black Trans Lives Matter: Movement Pushes for Justice & Visibility Amid “Epidemic” of Violence Democracy Now (video)

Diamond Stylz on Why Black Trans Rights Are Civil Rights | The Root

Week 7: November 20, 2020— Black Joy, Self Care & Healing from Racial Trauma


Calm: Do Nothing for 2 Minutes


Talking about Race: Self-Care

Understanding Racial Trauma

How racism makes us sick | David R. Williams

Racism at My Job Literally Gave Me PTSD by Erika Stallings

Audre Lorde reads Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic As Power (FULL Updated)

Kleaver Cruz The Black Joy Project

Dignity and Power Now Healing Justice Toolkit

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.

author image block for Kritikos

Image captions (above), from left to right:

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.

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

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. 

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.