Kalamazoo, MI
one-hundred-forty Years of Service to the Student

Social Justice

Queering the Cannon: How and Why

K students propose ideas for social change at the Queering the Cannon workshop (Sharmeen Chaudry / The Index). K students propose ideas for social change at the Queering the Cannon workshop (Sharmeen Chaudry / The Index).

Winter break ended and The Arcus Center sprung right in to hosting events dedicated to making the world a more just place. The Brunch Project Productions duo, Ian McGuffin and Cassandra Kaczor, held a special workshop for people interested in social justice leadership before their musical performance, The Dried Tobacco Plant, on Wednesday.

“Art speaks to a lot of different people in a lot of different ways,” said Kaczor to explain their work and show the importance of intersectionality between the arts and social change.

She explained her passion for women’s issues and sexual assault awareness is what led her to combining her abilities as a pianist to help promote a positive change.

“You can care about something as much as you want, but unless you can sell what you care about to somebody else, then unfortunately it just lives in your mind,” said Kaczor to drive home the point of materializing one’s ideas for social impact.

The workshop was informal while Kaczor and McGuffin made the atmosphere a safe place to share ideas. This complemented their purpose, which expected people to come up with ideas for social change, some based on very personal and painful experiences. The group of about 20 attendees all had ideas they could possibly implement ranging from climate change initiatives to sexual assault awareness to BDSM/polyamorous rights. Once everyone came up with an idea, they divided into groups, which included people with similar art forms or social goals to create a project that would be as eye catching as it was impactful in society. The results ranged from a documentary of how disabled people are treated in society and how that intersects with issues such as climate change or LGBTQ rights, to an art piece relating to sexual assault survivors, to a Q&A with World War II survivors and its effects on them. McGuffin then spoke to the motivated group about how they could materialize their projects by teaching them how to write a grant proposal.

The two also discussed their musical group, and its intentions, which are based in social justice roots. McGuffin sings as Kaczor plays pieces on the piano that she has composed herself. The show they performed on Wednesday draws from a book called You’re Uninvited by Will Brooks. Brooks has a personal relationship with McGuffin, as they grew up together. The book is a composition of poems about the effect bullying has on LGBTQ youth. The trio has created an emotional and powerful project that shows just how much bullying effects kids, and why it is necessary to end harassment of LGBTQ youth.

“We are adamant about creating art to make the world a better place because, why not,” said McGuffin, sharing a goal common among all the people in attendance.

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Queering the Cannon: How and Why