DEANNA EMMONS

(SHE / THEY)

BFA CURATORIAL STUDIES

AIMCO AWARD FOR BEST IN CURATORIAL STUDIES

    Beginning in November, 2019 various demographics of individuals were invited to submit anonymous audio files sharing stories of listening and care in relation to the body. These stories illustrate experiences that address both receiving and providing care, and how those experiences have affected the relationship participants have with their bodies. Within our current care systems, many communities including transgender individuals, people of color, disabled individuals, fat individuals, incarcerated individuals, queer individuals, and other minority groups often are disregarded, invalidated, and ignored due to deeply rooted prejudice and inequities. These issues often cause those facing systemic injustice to confront additional processes of learning to adopt empowered agency and being within one’s physical body. This begs the question, what are the social influences and conditions that inform the way we learn, unlearn, and relearn how to inhabit our bodies? How does inequality within systems of care directly affect one’s agency, identity, and personhood? To what degree does listening within care providing and receiving allow individuals to maintain agency and autonomy over their bodies and identities? And lastly, what are the measures needed to ensure individuals and communities have opportunities for self advocacy, and how can the arts facilitate those opportunities? In an attempt to address some of these questions, The Keeping and Caring of You encourages us to think about care in a broader sense through storytelling and listening exchanges.

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    The Keeping and Caring of You is a project created to encourage active listening and storytelling exchanges. The accompanying website allows visitors to carefully listen to, respond, and create stories of their own reflecting upon the body and care. Participants are asked to consider "How has providing care or receiving care affected the relationship you have with your body?" and "How has listening provided you with agency to support your identity and sense of self?" Due to the current pandemic, this website was created to serve as "Phase one" of this project, allowing more participants to submit stories. When it is safe to do so, the project will navigate to it's next phase, in the form of a small installation to tour local community art spaces and wellness centers to allow the public to intimately sit, listen, and respond.

    ​Deanna Emmons (she/they) is a Philadelphia based interdisciplinary artist, curator, educator, performer, and organizer whose practice focuses on relational and civic engagement, community building, identity construction, the body, and storytelling. Within her work, she advocates for the arts to serve as a platform for creative problem solving, freedom of expression, and both individual and community empowerment. Emmons envisions the arts as a critical tool to proactively engage communities while facilitating self advocacy and education through the art making process. Emmons has curated several participatory performance and visual art events including Open Diaries: Coming of Age Stories of Love, Life, and the Body (Vox Populi Gallery, Spring Garden, Philadelphia 2019) and Cambridge Pop Up and Drag Show, (Cambridge Arts Hall, North Philadelphia 2018). Deanna is expected to graduate from Moore College of Art and Design in May 2020 with a major in Curatorial Studies and a double minor in Photography and Digital Arts and Creative Writing.

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