Prompted by Emily Irvin and Kristie Soares
This conversation focuses on the creation and sustainability of the concept of “creative genius.” It asks how this concept might be shaped and bolstered by structures of power including museums, governments, art-sale platforms, social media, and neoliberal capitalism. We will examine the role these systems play in creating the racialized and gendered norms around who is considered a “genius” and what gets measured as talent. The conversation may consider the historically-gendered distinction between “genius” and madness, the blurred line between art and the artist, and the invisible labor required to support “genius” often performed by partners and employees. Key questions may include: What “creative geniuses” have been overlooked throughout history based on their gender, race, or class? When selecting artwork, to what extent should museums consider the abusive behavior of artists towards studio assistants? How should consumers engage with the work of so-called geniuses, like Michael Jackson, who may have behaved egregiously in their private lives?
Suggested Background Readings and Media
- “Madness, Black Womanhood, and the Radical Performance of Lauryn Hill“
About the Prompters
Emily Irvin maintains a hybrid art practice that merges her experience working within ceramics, performance art, sculpture, and printmaking. In 2015, she received her B.S. in health sciences, and in 2016 she received her B.F.A. with a concentration in ceramics from the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Irvin recently completed a year of post-baccalaureate study in St. Paul, Minnesota and a study abroad program in Mexico. Additionally her practice has been supported by several artist-in-residence programs including Baltimore Clayworks. She is currently pursuing an M.F.A. in ceramics at Colorado University in Boulder.
Kristie Soares is an Assistant Professor of Women & Gender Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder and an active performance artist. Both her research and her performance work explore queerness in Caribbean and Latinx communities. Soares’s research focuses on 19th-21st century Latinx literature and media, with a specialization in queer Caribbean cultural production. Her current book project, Salsa Epistemology, engages with salsa—a music and dance tradition—to show how embodied playfulness figures as an integral part of queer activism in the Spanish Caribbean diaspora. Her work has been published in Frontiers, Letras Femeninas, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, Remezcla and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Like her research, Soares’s teaching draws heavily on queer and performance methodologies. She encourages students to “try out” intellectual concepts using their bodies, through decolonial pedagogies such as Spoken Word Poetry and Theatre of the Oppressed. She also facilitates performance poetry workshops in schools and juvenile detention facilities. Her own performance work is invested in making political statements in and through the body.