This year’s symposium is honored to host these guest speakers.
As a scholar, artist, and activist, Dr. Amber Johnson’s research and activism focus on narratives of identity, resistance, and social justice in digital media, popular media, and everyday lived experiences. Dr. Amber Johnson is Founding Director of the Justice Fleet, a mobile social justice museum that fosters healing through art dialogue and play, and co-founder of The Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, where they specialize in humanizing equity and exploring the relationship between healing justice and futurity. Dr. Johnson is also an award-winning Professor of Communication and Social Justice at Saint Louis University. Notable awards include the Golden Anniversary Monograph Award, the Norm White Award for Engaged Scholarship and Service, the Dr. Terry Leet Researcher Award from Generate Health for scholarship that centers social justice, the Faculty Excellence Award for Diversity and Social Justice, a Presidential citation for social justice work within and beyond the Communication discipline, and several article of the year and top paper awards.
Kelly Johnson ’12
Kelly Johnson ’12 (she/they) is an arts and cultural worker, curator, and writer from Houston, TX. Her projects expand on the interconnected concepts of embodiment, power dynamics, language, environment, and spirituality, taking varied forms including events, exhibitions, zines, and collages. Kelly is the Director of Public Programs at the Rothko Chapel, a sacred art space dedicated to community engagement through contemplation and action at the intersections of art, spirituality, and social justice. Their writings have been featured in exhibition catalogs including the Station Museum’s Cassils: Solutions , and reviews in ART PAPERSand Bmore Art , among others. She earned an MFA in Curatorial Practice from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD, and a BA in Art History from Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. Kelly is a board member for Houston’s Center for the Healing of Racism and collaborator with Houston queer art collective 3 of Cups, and they were a Fellow in the 2022 New Leaders Council (NLC) Houston cohort. kellymjohnson.net
Kirsten Leng is Associate Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A feminist historian, her research interests range from comedy to tragedy, spanning humor and comedy, sexual science, and pregnancy endings. Her first book, Sexual Politics and Feminist Science: Women Sexologists in Germany, 1900-1933 , was published by Cornell University Press in 2018. Her work has also appeared in journals including Gender and History , Feminist Formations , the Journal of the History of Sexuality , the Journal of Women’s History , Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society , and the History of Human Sciences . She is currently at work on two book projects. The first, “Pleasure, Play, and Politics: A History of Humor in U.S. Feminism,” explores feminists’ uses of humor in their activism and art. The second, “Beyond the Silence: Stillbirth in Twentieth Century America,” analyzes the changing meaning and experiences of late-term fetal death from the 1890s to the present.
Anthony Romero is a Boston-based artist, writer, and organizer committed to documenting and supporting artists and communities of color. His collaborative practice engages intercultural contact and historical narratives in order to generate reparative counter-images and social transformation.
Mika is a climate scientist, having completed her Ph.D in “Earth System Science” in 2012 at the University of California, Irvine, and her postdoctoral work at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. In 2017 she took a position at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and in addition to her ongoing work investigating the link between climate and wildfire, she imagines ways that artists and designers can collaborate with climate scientists in an effort to better communicate and conduct climate science research. She has written about the emerging synthesis of art and science and has been invited to speak on the intersection of science and art as we look to build build post-climate change worlds, including a role as Plenary speaker at the 2022 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. Mika works with young artists to push the boundaries of collaboration, and continues to be vocal about the urgency of addressing the climate crisis.
Alisha B. Wormsley (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) is an interdisciplinary artist and cultural producer. Her work contributes to the imagining of the future of arts, science, and technology through the black woman lens, challenging contemporary views of modern American life through whichever medium she feels is the best form of expression, creating an object, a sculpture, a billboard, performance, or film and thrives in collaboration. Recent exhibitions, projects and public art commissions in partnership with; the Oakland Museum, VCUArts Qatar, Speed Museum, Southbank Arts London, Times Square Arts and the Carnegie Museum of Art. Wormsley’s project, There Are Black People In the Future, which gives mini-grants to open up discourse around displacement and gentrification and was also awarded a fellowship with Monument Lab and the Goethe Institute. In 2020, Wormsley launched an art residency for Black creative mothers called Sibyls Shrine, which has received two years of support from the Heinz Endowments. She is a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow in Fine Arts, an Awardee of the Sundance Interdisciplinary grant, the Carol Brown Achievement award among others. Wormsley has an MFA in Film and Video from Bard College and currently is a Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University.