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Sarahfest Melds Arts, Education Communities to Promote Diversity

The University of Mississippi and the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies celebrate their 5th annual festival dedicated to blending art, education and entertainment beginning this month.

Sarahfest began on Sept. 4 at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center with the opening of the Sarahfest Art Show, which features the works of Lee Harper and Megan Wolfe’s creations of intricate dioramas using miniature skeleton figurines constructed from found bones in her yard to engage in both local and national history.

Wolfe returned to Mississippi after eleven years as a fine arts photographer in San Francisco. She will showcase a collection of photographs that challenge audience perceptions. A reception will be held on Sept. 24 from 6-8 p.m.

The Isom Center’s theme for the year is “Crossing Borders,” said Theresa Ann Starkey, associate director.

“It reminds us of how the first Sarahfest evolved out of the boundary-crossing done by gender studies minors and affiliates,” she said.

Later this month, Karen Tongson, an associate professor of Gender Studies, and Wynter Mitchell, a digital marketing and content strategist in Los Angeles, will visit the University to record a live show of their new podcast, “Waiting to X-Hale.”

Karen Tongson (left) and Wynter Mitchell (right), hosts of the podcast Waiting to X-Hale.

The women-of-color driven podcast examines the pop culture and social issues that defined Generation X. The live podcast recording will take place on Sept. 19 at 2:30 p.m. and feature conversations with award-winning author Kiese Laymon and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Alysia Steele.

Following the live recording, Isom director Jaime Harker will moderate a discussion on race, power, and digital media at 4 p.m.

“The spirit of collaboration among our campus and community partners is key to Sarahfest’s success,” Starkey said. “Our partners support the idea that music and the arts can create transformative spaces for learning in which we can envision a more equitable future.”

The festival continues into October, with the dynamic music of Chócala, the Charlotte-based Latin band. They describe their sound as “sonic amalgamation of Latin rhythms, rock, and jazz, with a touch of tropical psychedelia.”

Chócala will share their psychedelic Latin rhythms during their three-day stay in Oxford.

Their three-day residency from Oct. 10-12, includes a performance on Thacker Mountain Radio, a concert in conjunction with Living Music Resource, and an LMR™ LIVE session where they will discuss their music.

Sarahfest will also host Lisa Costello, who will speak at Comicana: “Comics and Graphic Novels Across the Humanities”, a week-long interdisciplinary conference. Her panel “Why Comics Matter…” is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11.

Samantha Allen, a GLAAD Award-winning journalist and author of “Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States,” will give this year’s Queer Studies Lecture on Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. Los Angeles Times called Allen’s travelogue “a book necessary for anyone in or allied with the queer community.”

All Sarahfest events are free and open to the public.

For more information about location and dates, or to learn more about the artists, performers, or speakers visit sarahfest.rocks or contact the Isom Center at (662) 915-5916 or isomctr@olemisss.edu

Courtesy of the Sarah Isom Center for Women & Gender Studies

HottyToddy.com intern Akim Powell contributed to this report

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