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Martin School of the Arts’ season features activism, artistry, cross-continental cultural collaborations

Contributed • Aug 30, 2019 at 5:08 PM

As issues and presidential aspirations take the forefront in the U.S., fall season events from the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts at East Tennessee State University will feature social and political activism and activists in visual and performing arts and film, as well as a spectrum of music, a panacea in times of unrest.

“As always, we have a one-of-a-kind mixture of music, film, visual arts, and this fall, circus and aerial arts with a message,” says Anita DeAngelis, director of the Martin School of the Arts. “In fact, many of our events and artists have messages, because we love to get conversations started with issue-oriented programming.”

The fall opens with visual arts focusing on social and political activism and expression in academics and the arts. On Monday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m., the Martin School will screen its first film of this year’s South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers series.

• “Same God,” a 2018 documentary by filmmaker Linda Midgett, follows the journey of Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins, who posted a photo of herself in a hijab in support of Muslim women and was subsequently asked to leave the school.

A Q&A and reception with the filmmaker follows the free screening. All South Arts films this fall will be screened in the Ball Hall Auditorium, room 127.

• An annual opportunity for social expression, the “FL3TCH3R Exhibit: Social and Politically Engaged Art,” opens at ETSU’s Reece Museum on Sept. 30 and runs through Dec. 13.

Established in memory of Barbara and Wayne Dyer’s son, Fletcher, a B.F.A. senior at ETSU who died in 2009 as a result of a motorcycle accident, the international juried exhibit showcases visual art of almost any medium with strong social and/or political content. Entries for the 2018 “FL3TCH3R Exhibit” will be selected by renowned illustrator, author and activist Sue Coe.

Coe’s juror talk and the awards reception for “FL3TCH3R” will be later in the season, on Thursday, Nov. 7, with the talk starting at 5 p.m. at the Reece Museum and the reception and awards to follow.

• Soothing chords of collaboration across continents will reverberate Thursday, Oct. 17, as the Alash Ensemble, a trio of Tuvan throat singers and instrumentalists, mix musically with Baltimore beat-boxer Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero.

The combination of old and new, Eastern and Western traditions will take place at 7:30 p.m. in St. John’s Episcopal Church, Johnson City. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors and $5 for students.

• A personal look at a gamut of social issues, the 2019 documentary “Wrestle,” will be screened, free of charge, on Monday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. in Ball Hall 127, and followed by a Q&A and reception with filmmaker Suzannah Herbert.

The film follows four courageous wrestlers and their coach, who are wrestling not only for a championship, but also with factors of race, mental health, drugs, poverty and unstable home lives.

• Women’s issues blend with circus and aerial artistry in Webs Circus, Dragonfly Aerial Arts and Circus Studio on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in ETSU’s Bud Frank Theatre. This physical theater performance will employ stilts, duo trapeze, rope, fabric, cube and aerial spider web to tell stories, entertain and inspire as a response to sexualized violence. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors and $5 for students.

“Webs Circus is a new production about the experience of gender-based violence,” DeAngelis says. “While the topic is difficult, the performance allows women to tell their stories that include moments of humor, compassion and healing.”

• More voices, instruments and traditions will merge on Friday, Nov. 15, at First Baptist Church, Elizabethton, as the Becky Buller Band brings its award-winning bluegrass sound to an evening of gospel music with the legendary Fairfield Four.

TV show host Mike Huckabee called Buller – an ETSU alumna and Grammy-winning songwriter and fiddler – and The Fairfield Four – Grammy winners and keepers of the African American a cappella gospel style – “a unique combination of two great American art forms.”

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $25 for general admission, $20 for seniors and $5 for students.

• The competition is fierce between those who build and fly F1D model planes, delicate craft that weigh less than a $1 bill. The documentary film “Float,” directed by Phil Kibbe, spotlights the precise process and art of building these aircraft, the science of how they fly and two American competitors vying for the world’s top prize. “Float” screens on Monday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. with a Q&A with the filmmaker to follow.

“Quite a few of the film’s images come from ETSU’s Mini-Dome when the university played host to the competition, some years back,” DeAngelis says. “It’s pretty neat to see our athletic center featured so prominently and really exciting and beautiful to watch these incredible planes being meticulously built and flown.”

• The fall season will close on Monday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in First Presbyterian Church, Johnson City, with what 4barsrest website calls the “bold, articulated and elegant” music of Italian trombonist Peter Steiner and pianist-organist Constanze Hochwartner. Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors and $5 for students.

“We have put together a season of strong social consciousness, unique entertainment and a range of musical styles from countries the world wide,” DeAngelis says. “We hope these events, when looked at as a whole, will strike a harmonious balance.”

For more information about the Martin School of the Arts’ fall events or tickets, visit www.etsu.edu/martin or call 423-439-TKTS (8587).

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