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Armory Center for the Arts Launches New Reading Series Focusing on Racial Justice

In-person gallery to open next month

Published on Monday, June 28, 2021 | 10:59 am
Artists Mel Chin, left, and Sehba Sarwar, right, will be kicking off a new online reading series focusing on racial justice at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena on June 29, 2021. (Credit: Armory Center for the Arts)

The Armory Center for the Arts on Tuesday is kicking off a new online literary reading series focusing on racial justice, ahead of the planned opening next month of the first in-person gallery since the onset of the pandemic, representatives said.

Artists Mel Chin and Sehba Sarway will highlight a selection of works during Tuesday’s “Mel Chin and Sehba Sarwar: How would you like me now?” presentation, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. via Zoom, according to the Armory.

“This inaugural reading features multidisciplinary artists Mel Chin and Sehba Sarwar, who will read new work that tackles racism embedded in language and violence,” the Armory said in a written statement. “The reading and community conversation will be moderated by the Armory’s Executive Director Leslie Ito.”

Both are Houston natives, collaborators and longtime friends, Armory spokesman Jon LaPointe said.

“[Sarwar] is an author, an artist, and an activist dedicated to creating connections between communities around the globe,” he said. 

“Mel is an extraordinary artist who kind of defies classification, but he is known for a broad range of approaches to art, including work that requires a lot of collaborators and teamwork,” according to LaPointe. “Mel also puts art into very unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television shows. 

“The two of them will be doing readings from their original writings. So they both write as well,” he said. “The theme will be evolving around racism that is embedded in language and violence.”

The online event foreshadows the return of in-person visitation, scheduled to begin with reservations on July 16, according to LaPointe.

The gallery will be “Alison Saar: Of Aether and Earthe,” organizers said.

The collection represents “the largest museum survey of the artists to date,” LaPointe said. “It’s so big that it’s one exhibition at two venues. Part of the show is at the Armory and the other part of the exhibition is at the Benton Museum at Pomona College.”

Reservations for the exhibit will be available beginning at noon July 6, organizers said. RSVPs will be required at each location.

“This conversation series and the exhibition that is coming up, and a lot of the work we have been doing over the past several years, shows that the core of the Armory’s mission is a deep commitment to social justice through arts education,” LaPointe said. “We strive to be a model arts institution where all voices are heard and all stories can be upheld. We are using the notions of the idea of social justice and equity and inclusion as a guiding principle for developing programs and services for the community. 

“We’re looking very forward to seeing everybody again in person,” he added. “This has been an extraordinarily odd journey, but it’s helped the organization grow over the past year having to pivot and kind of really reevaluate how we serve the community when we can not be in the same room together. We’re going to take some of these learnings forward.”

More information on Tuesday’s literary reading and July’s exhibition, as well as the presenting artists, can be found on the Armory Center for the Arts website

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