Japan House has always been committed to providing wellness in the form of quality and inspiring engagement for its supporters, students, and the community. While the closures that took place this past year due to the pandemic made engagement a little more challenging, Japan House staff rose to the occasion with various alternative and virtual offerings. Japan House Shares is a series of ongoing educational and entertaining videos released bi-monthly that premiered in August 2020.
Arts Impact, a research initiative within the College of Fine and Applied Arts (FAA), hosted a virtual panel discussion this fall to facilitate an important dialogue about the challenges and opportunities facing art, artists, and their communities as they look toward recovery from COVID-19 and systemic racism.
Sam Smith, Krannert Center’s director of civic engagement and social practice (MSW ’94), works to capture the increasing social impact of the Center’s engagement practice in local, national, and international contexts and along the thematic lines that reflect the Center’s commitment to social justice.
This past year the stress of isolation and uncertainty has taken its toll on all of us. As part of Japan House’s efforts to focus on care and wellness through traditional Japanese Arts, they established a unique collaboration with Zenshin Florence Caplow, a local community member.
KAM and other campus and community partners collaborated on a call for art in February for an exhibition titled Pandemics as a Portal to Change. We sought visual art, creative writing, original music, video, audio, and performance, focused on hopeful approaches that creatively imagine what the future can look like. It was open to creators on campus and throughout Champaign County.
“We all have histories in our neighborhoods, traditional practices of families and neighbors, and that’s important to bring to urban planning. Arts and culture and heritage studies connect people,” which should make them central to planning for community development.
As an interdisciplinary research initiative within FAA, Arts Impact seeks to foster understanding of the role of arts and artists in community development and promoting social well-being to guide arts practice and policy.
The roots of Japan House go back to 1964, when Shozo Sato, then artist-in-residence at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and now professor emeritus of the School of Art and Design, began a series of courses focusing on the art and culture of Japan. Eventually, he renovated an old Victorian house to teach classes.
Krannert Art Museum (KAM) recently brought on visual artist and educator Liza Sylvestre as the museum’s inaugural curator of academic programs. In this new role, Sylvestre is responsible for connecting the university’s faculty and students to the museum – developing KAM into a vital teaching resource across all disciplines at the University of Illinois.