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Creativity over Conflict Residency Set March 7

Workshops, community-based art promote discussion and conflict resolution

SUNY is putting its trust in superheroes to save the day.

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) is promoting a tour of conflict-resolution workshops using its most valuable resource: college students from the Art Force 5, a superhero-themed team of students from Alfred University, home of the New York State College of Ceramics. The team plans to use art to explore the role of civil rights protest - past, present, and future. Confirmed stops on the tour include SUNY Purchase March 6, ESF March7, SUNY Canton March 8, SUNY Potsdam March9 and SUNY Delhi March 10.

Established in 2006, the Art Force 5 program combines social justice with an art therapy approach. In addition to providing workshops to more than 100 audiences, the group specializes in creating community-built art. The group has previously partnered with the University of Notre Dame and the University of Oklahoma in designing and leading projects on those campuses. In 2016, the Art Force 5 won the Unite Rochester Challenge, a grant to help the city address critical issues such as racism and poverty. The team spent the summer of 2016 partnering with city police and local youth centers to create a series of projects to engage the community in critical conversations.

The goal of the inaugural SUNY tour is to have a similar impact by engaging SUNY students and staff in critical dialogue. Each visit will offer a staff training session, a student workshop and a hands-on collaborative art project that will grow from school to school before a complete project is displayed in New York City on the 100th anniversary of New York City's Silent Parade, which occurred July 28, 1917. It was a protest march organized by the NAACP's James Weldon Johnson and W.E.B. DuBois. This was the first massive African-American protest in U.S. history, responding directly to the horrific race riot of July 2, 1917, in East St. Louis, Illinois. The Fifth Avenue parade was led by children, followed by women, and finally men - all dressed in their Sunday best. It is estimated between 8,000 and 10,000 people participated.

"In the face of adversity, both today and 100 years ago, people seek a physical way to respond to conflict," said Dan Napolitano, director of Alfred University's Drawn to Diversity program, which has trained nearly 200 Art Force 5 members. "Our intent is to inspire productive outlets while building a generation of creative problem-solvers within the SUNY system."

Tour questions can be directed to Napolitano at D2D@alfred.edu or 607-871-2925.