Artists, Visionaries Join Symposium Panel On ‘Fine Arts in Politics’

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Two artists, an editorial cartoonist, and a college professor will share their varied backgrounds and experiences to explore The Role of Fine Arts in Political Discourse, during the second annual Ray and Mary Giles Symposium on Citizenship and Public Service Oct. 29 at the University of Science and Arts.

A panel discussion is scheduled from 4-6 p.m. in the Davis Hall Amphitheater at USAO. A public lecture is scheduled at 8 p.m. in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium on the campus featuring renowned photojournalist James Nachtwey. Both events are free and open to the public.

Nachtwey is considered by many to be the greatest war photographer of this era. For the past 30 years, he has devoted himself to documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues, working in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda, South Africa, Russia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Romania, Brazil and the United States.

"I want to record history through the destiny of individuals who often belong to the least wealthy classes. I do not want to show war in general, nor history with a capital H, but rather the tragedy of a single man, of a family," Nachtwey said.
Panelists for the 4 p.m. discussion include Cheyenne Arapaho artist Edgar Heap of Birds, UCO Professor Brett S. Sharp, editorial cartoonist Bruce Plante and artist Jeff Stokes. Katie Davis, assistant professor of drama at USAO, will moderate the discussion.

The work of Heap of Birds includes multi-disciplinary works in diverse media including monumental porcelain enamel on steel sculpture. His work has been exhibited at more than a dozen major galleries in New York, Sydney, Hong Kong, Venice and Cape Town. His work also is displayed at the Smithsonian.

He has served as a visiting lecturer in England, Thailand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Zimbabwe and Australia. He has taught in the Native American Studies program at the University of Oklahoma since 1988. Heap of Birds earned degrees at Temple University and the University of Kansas.

Dr. Brett S. Sharp teaches courses like Music in American Politics at the University of Central Oklahoma's new Academy of Contemporary Music.

Sharp's recent research includes All the World's a Stage: Influencing American Foreign Policy Through Popular Music and Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics Through Popular Culture.

Sharp has received numerous awards for teaching and scholarship including the Oklahoma Political Science Scholar of the Year and Oklahoma Political Science Teacher of the Year by the Oklahoma Political Science Association. He earned degrees from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.

Editorial cartoonist Bruce Plante is a national leader in his field. Besides taking major awards in editorial cartoon illustration, Plante serves as president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

In addition to working for The Tulsa World, his work can be seen in newspapers across the United States through his own syndicate. Besides 80 subscribing publications, his cartoons have been reprinted in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and other national media.

Plante was staff cartoonist at The Chattanooga Times for 22 years before joining The Tulsa World in 2007.

Artist Jeff Stokes grew up in Oklahoma and earned degrees from Oklahoma State University and Wichita State University. He has curated numerous contemporary art exhibits in Kansas and Oklahoma museums and galleries, as well as showing his own sculpture, drawings and paintings in Kansas, Oklahoma and New York.

Stokes taught art in secondary schools, as well as three colleges and universities. He serves as executive director for Individual Artists of Oklahoma (IAO), which encourages artists in all media who are intellectually and aesthetically provocative or experimental in subject matter or technique.

USAO's 2009 Second Annual Ray and Mary Giles Symposium on Citizenship and Public Service is made possible through endowment funds established by the family of Ray and Mary Giles and held at the USAO Foundation.

Considered by many to be the greatest war photographer of this era, James Nachtwey (left) will be the featured speaker during the Ray and Mary Giles Symposium on Citizenship and Public Service Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium on the USAO campus. In addition to the keynote address, the symposium will feature a panel discussion from 4-6 p.m. in the Davis Hall Amphitheater. Panelists include artists Hock E. Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds (middle, top), UCO Professor Brett S. Sharp (right, top), editorial cartoonist Bruce Plante (middle, bottom) and artist Jeff Stokes (bottom, right). Both the lecture and panel discussion are free and open to the public.

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