The NCECA conference was held recently. CFile had boots on the ground there in the form of our writer-at-large Justin Crowe. You can read his summary of the conference here. We found something within the last week that deserves its own piece, however, and that is this excellent presentation by NCECA emerging artist Roberto Lugo.
Lugo, a ceramic and graffiti artist from Philadelphia, walloped the crowd with a 15 minute speech; weaving his background, his body of work and poetry into one cohesive thread. His work is often views of race and poverty, filtered through the lens of his personal life. Lugo runs at the crowd right out of the gate with a harrowing story of child abuse and humiliation at the hands of a racist school teacher and a power tripping jail warden who wanted to make Lugo the subject of his own impromptu “Scared Straight” program. But even with the grim background that informs his work, Lugo resists the (more than understandable) urge to write society off. He excels in being hopeful, taking opportunities to educate and make connections with people. His thoughtfulness is at the heart of his work and they’re more than evident in the closing lines of his presentation.
“I want to take Roberto Lugo out of the equation for a moment, the individual. I am proud to be a part of a community of people that honors the things I just talked about, that finds those things valuable… We’re a culture that can change the world.”
Bill Rodgers is a contributing editor at CFile.
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