Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic
Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Texas Press
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In Austin, Texas, in 2002, a group of artists, activists, and academics formed the Austin Project (tAP), which provides a space for women of color and their allies to write and perform in a jazz aesthetic as a strategy for social change. This volume assembles the work of many of these individuals. In addition to the pleasure...
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I thank the joyous healing power of the river for sustaining me, for opening me to the idea of the Austin Project....
PART I: FRAMING THE WORK
Chapter One. Making Space: Producing the Austin Project
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When I first conceived the idea of the Austin Project in the fall of 2002, I didn’t know that I was trying to save my life. Perhaps each attempt at art or scholarship or activism is a way to ward off the annihilation of the self. Even as the idea began to acquire clear contours, I just thought it would be a good thing to do—bring together...
Chapter Two. Finding Voice: Anchoring the Austin Project's Artistic Process
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In this chapter, Sharon Bridgforth, the Austin Project’s inaugural Anchor Artist, describes the genesis and technique of her Finding Voice method of workshop facilitation. She offers a handbook for those who wish to use this approach in their own teaching...
PART II: WORKING THE WORK
Chapter Three. Polyphony: Writings by Ensemble Members
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At the heart of the Austin Project is the personal work—whether it be creative, political, or spiritual—of each participant. This chapter includes writing produced in the workshop by most of the women who participated in the first five years of the Austin Project (2002–2006). An anthology of poetry, prose, memoir, playwriting, and spiritual reflection, this chapter...
Chapter Four. Call and Response: Performance Pieces by Austin Project Guest Artists
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The Austin Project invited nationally recognized artists, all of them important in the jazz aesthetic tradition, to mentor participants and to workshop new work of their own. Here, for the first time, we publish the work that the five Guest Artists—Laurie Carlos (Marion’s Terrible Time of Joy), Daniel Alexander Jones (The Book of Daniel)...
Chapter Five. Affirming Connection: Pre-Show Artists' Performance Texts
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A central goal of the Austin Project is to connect national, regional, and emerging artistic voices in the jazz aesthetic tradition. In this chapter, Austin-area artists who presented work as “opening acts” for the Austin Project Showcase in 2002 and 2003 publish those pieces for the first time. Brief biographies of each are included. The artists are Martha Perez (dancer and choreographer), Darla Johnson (dancer and...
Chapter Six. Spoken-Word Orchestra: A Full Script from the Austin Project Jam Session, December 2005
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This full-length script is an attempt to do the impossible: to document the ephemeral, improvised, imperfectly remembered, in-the-moment experience of one evening of performance by the Austin Project. In 2005, Omi Osun Joni L. Jones changed the format of the performances at the end of a session of the Austin Project. Instead of a showcase of local guest artists and individual readings by participants, Jones asked Laurie...
PART III: THE WORK OF TRANSFORMATION
Chapter Seven. Transforming Practice: Artists, Activists, and Academics Working across Boundaries
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A key strategy of the Austin Project is to empower women through ensemble writing and performance in the jazz aesthetic, giving them methods and insights they can take back to their own creative, intellectual, political, and spiritual work. In this chapter, an artist...
Chapter Eight. Work of the Spirit: A Conversation with an Austin Project Elder
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This chapter emphasizes the spiritual aspect of the work of the Austin Project. A partial transcript of a group conversation with a spiritual elder, the chapter offers an opportunity, through raúlrsalinas’s insights, to consider the interactions of art, activism, and spiritual practice...
Chapter Nine. Narrating the Austin Project: The First Five Years
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In this final chapter, Omi Osun Joni L. Jones maps out the first five years of organizing the Austin Project in a personal narrative. Interweaving autobiography, advice, and documentation, this chapter is designed to be a springboard for organizing in your community...
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Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 1 b&w photo, 1 line drawing
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: Louann Atkins Temple Women & Culture Series