A vibrant and colorful illustration showing multiple heads talking with letters and illustrations in thought bubbles above them

2022 Cleveland Humanities Festival: ‘DISCOURSE’

This spring, the seventh Cleveland Humanities Festival continues its annual exploration of some of society’s most pressing issues and concerns—through the lens of a single topic

This March and April, the 2022 Cleveland Humanities Festival (CHF) will probe the idea of “discourse” through art, literature, music and more at 40-plus public events throughout Northeast Ohio.

Marking its seventh year, the 2022 CHF will feature a diverse lineup of speakers and performers, including a lecture by the composer, journalist and founder of Radiolab and a presentation by a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant”-winning activist and photographer.

“What better way to encourage communication than to focus on the idea of discourse,” said Daniel Goldmark, interim director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University.

Led by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, the festival involves more than 30 diverse institutions and represents one of the most inclusive and wide-ranging cultural collaborations in a region known for its arts and humanities excellence.

“We’re thrilled to have had such a robust response by our many partner institutions,” said Goldmark, associate dean for interdisciplinary initiatives and international affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve. “The variety of offerings and the range of perspectives really exemplifies how and why an exploration of discourse is so needed, especially after two years of limited programming and even more limited contact with one another.”

Most of the CHF’s programs are free, although some require online registration. Key events include:

Woori Sori

Woori Sori (Our Voice) Responds to Who Was this Built to Protect

March 19, 1 p.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa)

Woori Sori (Our Voice) is a Chicago-based, all-women’s Korean group that uses four of the traditional Korean percussion instruments involved in the folk music tradition of pungmul to create space for people to share a powerful connection through dance, singing and drumming. This performance is in response to group member and artist Aram Han Sifuentes’s solo exhibition at moCa, Who Was This Built to Protect? 

“Island Hopping”

March 28, 5 p.m.
Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, CWRU

The keynote for this year’s festival, this talk discusses how to craft an emotional story while translating very technical and abstract information? Drawing from raw tape of interviews with scientists, Jad Abumrad, composer, journalist, creator and host of Radiolab, focuses on the inherent struggles in science communication (or interpreting any technical or difficult information)—what happens when you get it wrong, how to fix it and how it’s useful to embrace error in the process.  

LaToya Ruby Frazier

2022 Issa Lecture—“Art as Transformation: Using Photography for Social and Environmental Change”

March 30, 5 p.m.
Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, CWRU

Photographer and activist LaToya Ruby Frazier, associate professor of photography at the Scholl of the Art Institute of Chicago, argues that photography is a battleground of representation, and that to change society—to seed real change and cultural transformation, especially for the marginalized and the forgotten—we must change the picture we have of ourselves and our communities.  

“Addressing Historical Truth in a Divided 21st Century Society”

March 31, 5:30 p.m. (virtual)
Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS)

WRHS President and CEO Kelly Falcone-Hall, and Dennis Barrie, WRHS director of experience design, discuss how museums have a responsibility to provide accurate experiences that benefit society. Museums have a responsibility to provide accurate experiences that benefit society. They use collections to share stories about the American experience. Increasingly, many museum collections as seen through the lens of the 21st century are controversial, representing a shared history that is troubling, tragic and unresolved.

Artifact Spotlight: “It’s Been Said All Along”

March 31, 6 p.m.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In every generation, musicians have led the conversation to promote social justice and equality. What the world is seeing today, as injustices are called out and protesters are finding their voices, is not new. And neither are the musical responses—words, music, and passion converging to create something much bigger that cuts deep into the rage, gives hope and radiates empowerment.

In Conversation: Derrick Adams and Ellen Rudolph

April 9, 2 p.m.
Cleveland Museum of Art

In his vibrant paintings, collages, sculptures and installations, Derrick Adams probes the dynamic ways in which identity and personal narrative intersect with American popular culture, art history, consumerism and the Black experience. Hear Adams discuss his debut exhibition in Cleveland and his multidisciplinary practice with Ellen Rudolph, curator and senior director of Cleveland Clinic’s art program. 

Staged Reading: “How Do We Talk to Each Other”

April 9, 3 p.m.
Literary Cleveland and Cleveland Public Library

Literary Cleveland is organizing a free staged reading titled “How Do We Talk to Each Other?” Accepted submissions will be adapted, in collaboration with the authors, for the staged reading. The readings will be performed by experienced actors under the direction of Christine Howey, a writer, performer and theater critic.

About the Cleveland Humanities Festival

Over its first half-decade, through hundreds of events, the festival has grown into a widely-collaborative spate of events celebrating the great cultural institutions of the city of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

Last year’s festival explored identity; 2020: Truth; 2019: nature; 2018: health; 2017’s events tackled the topic of immigration; and the inaugural event, in 2016, examined the impacts of war.

Founded in 1996 at Case Western Reserve with a gift from Eric and Jane Nord, the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities supports research and creative endeavors and hosts humanities events around the region.

Browse all events in the 2022 Cleveland Humanities Festival: DISCOURSE.

The 2022 festival is co-sponsored by: Buddhist Churches of America; Center for Popular Music Studies, CWRU; Cleveland Buddhist Temple; Cleveland International Film Festival; Cleveland Institute of Art; Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque; Cleveland Museum of Art; Cleveland Orchestra; Cleveland Play House; Cleveland Public Library; Cleveland Review of Books; Cuyahoga County Public Library; Dittrick Medical History Center, CWRU; Global Ethical Leaders Society, CWRU; Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, CWRU; Literary Cleveland; Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage; Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center at Cuyahoga Community College; Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Rocky River Public Library; West 117 Foundation; and Western Reserve Historical Society.