By Carly Wyman
Hello beautiful people! This is Carly Wyman here, Fundraising and Development Intern with Edge of Seven. Just wanted to update you on one of our most unique and inspiring summer happenings.
On July 18th, Edge of Seven, in partnership with Global Greengrants Fund, held an interdisciplinary event titled Expression as a Form of Empowerment. The event took place at RedLine Gallery in Denver as part of the international exhibition, Off the Beaten Path: Violence, Women and Art. This event was the first of its kind for Edge of Seven and, I know that for me, the discussions that began that evening will continue to pervade my consciousness for a long time to come.
Expression as a Form of Empowerment was a hybrid performance/panel/discussion/interactive theatrical event that featured three women panelists. Presenters included Seth Donovan of Theatre of the Oppressed, slam poet Dominique Ashaheed, and Bhutanese refugee Pingala Kamala. The purpose of the evening was to initiate a conversation about women and social change and to bring together and give back to our wonderful Denver community!
Seth Donovan of Theatre of the Oppressed opened the evening by getting the entire audience out of our seats to connect with one another. We were told to walk around and place ourselves in such a manner that we were evenly spaced, never stopping and never running into one another (tricky to picture, I know). Then she had us stop and physically connect with the people around us. The physical connection prompted participant awareness of the human body and of the bodies around us, which was quite exhilarating. Seth brought up the issue of disconnect in everyday life. For example, how many people do we pass on the street on any given day, pretending that we don’t even notice they are there? Seth helped to bring our audience together in a way that few audiences ever are.
Next, Dominique Ashaheed continued the conversation by performing some of her original poetry. The audience was in tears as the words of Dominique conveyed truths about rising above victimhood and allowing oneself to be whole. Her performance was truly inspiring and emotional and brought a discourse to the evening regarding personal struggle in the face of the injustices of our world.
Switching gears, Pingala Kamala gave a moving account of her transition from Bhutan to a refugee camp in Nepal, to eventually arriving in United States with her husband and children. Pingala’s story raised the issues of war and violence on a national scale, as well as the trials associated with coming to a new land. To hear a refugee’s story first hand was truly eye-opening. Her story illustrated some of the challenges relocated individuals and families must face. Pingala’s story is one of courage and hope in the face of national violence and cultural and physical displacement.
The event inspired conversations, among many others, on the subjects of disconnect from community, personal struggle against injustice, and violence on a national scale. I would urge all who were present for this enlightening panel to think critically about the implications of such subjects in their own lives. How are you disconnected from your own community? How can you change that? What is the relationship between personal struggle and political violence? How are women and other marginalized populations oppressed within our own society? What does it mean to rise above victimhood?
At Edge of Seven, we hope to continue the conversation that was started that evening. Thanks to all who were able to attend and I hope you continue the dialogue begun during Expression as a Form of Empowerment in your own lives!
And a special thank you to Anne Bannister for filming the evening (footage coming soon)!