MOCA to hold conference

'Girl Summit' to empower young women

Miami Times staff report | 5/15/2014, 9 a.m.

The Museum of Contemporary Art’s acclaimed Women on the Rise! program, an award-winning program that addresses the needs of underserved teenage girls through the study of contemporary female artists as positive role models, will hold their annual Girls Summit, a two-day conference on innovative approaches to girls education and empowerment for young women. 

Designed for educators, artists, students, counselors, and therapists, the Girls Summit will be held at MOCA at 770 NE 125th St. in North Miami on Friday May 16 and Saturday May 17.  Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Women on the Rise! and spotlighting female contemporary artist Wangechi Mutu’s solo exhibition A Fantastic Journey, currently on view at MOCA, this year’s summit will focus on how to nurture girls’ creativity, and empower the potential of its expression.

Through an active program of exhibition tours, performances, panel discussions, art talks and film screenings, the Girl’s Summit will address how creative expression helps girls navigate challenging issues such as body image, economic hardship, gender non-conformity and the justice system. The highlight of this year’s summit will be the tenth anniversary celebration of ‘Women on the Rise!’, featuring a live performance by the R&B Hip-Hop duo THEESatisfaction, internationally known for their upbeat original music they describe as “psychedelic soul” and “playfully political.”   

This year’s summit will feature a special interactive program SOLHOT, or Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths. Led by its founder, Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown, assistant professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois, Champagne Urbana, SOLHOT aims to celebrate Black girls as producers of culture and knowledge.

The program, scheduled for Friday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m., features interactive exercises to explore diverse expressions of Black girlhood, critique issues important to them and create art based on their real life experiences.

Dr. Brown’s research interests include Black feminism and education, performance studies and social justice. She is the author of Black Girlhood Celebration: Towards a Feminist Pedagogy (2011) and  Hear Our Truths: The Creative Potential of Black Girlhood (Dissident Feminisms), (2013).

In addition to a tour of Wangechi Mutu’s A Fantastic Journey and Virginia Overton’s Flat Rock, the two special exhibitions by female contemporary artist currently on view at MOCA, the Girls Summit will feature an art talk tied to Kenyan-born and NY-based Mutu’s work.  Entitled Grotesquerie, Racial Pleasure and Pornography:

The Eroticism of Female Embodiment in Wangechi Mutu’s Work, Jillian Hernandez, PhD. Assistant Professor of Ethnic and Critical Gender Studies, University of California, San Diego, and the founder of Women on the Rise!, will discuss how the alluring, flamboyant, and otherworldly aesthetics of the female bodies in Wangechi Mutu’s work embody Black womanhood as beautiful.