Craft / Material Studies

The Department of Craft/Material Studies presents:

 Shaping Bodies Symposium on February 24, 2017

The one-day symposium will host Cassils, Chelsey Johnson, Jenni Sorkin, and Kara Thompson – artists and scholars who are engaged in conversations around the body, gender identity, race, social justice, and material culture/histories. Our distinguished speakers will present their individual research, followed by an open-table guided discussion with the attendees. Funded through VCUarts Inclusion Infusion Initiative, The shaping Bodies Symposium will provide an open space to discuss diverse aspects of identity and overlapping patterns of social injustice. Locations: 9am-12pm Grace Street Theater (934 W. Grace St), 1pm-5pm The Depot (814 W. Broad St)

Panel Discussion 3:30pm at The Depot

Becoming an Image Performance Still No.1, (Edgy Woman Festival, Montreal), 2013. Photo: Cassils and Alejandro Santiago. Image Courtesy of the Artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts

Cassils, is a performance artist, a body builder and a personal trainer from Montreal, Canada now based in Los Angeles, United States. Their work uses the body in a sculptural fashion, integrating feminism, body art, and gay male aesthetics. Listed by the Huffington Post as “one of ten transgender artists who are changing the landscape of contemporary art,” they have achieved international recognition for a rigorous engagement with the body as a form of social sculpture. 10am @ Grace Street Theater


Chelsey Johnson is a writer and professor living in Richmond, VA. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford. Her novel Stray City is forthcoming from Custom House/ William Morrow in 2018, and her stories and essays have appearedin PloughsharesOne Story, Ninth Letter, The Rumpus, and NPR’s Selected Shorts, among others. She has received fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Signal Fire Arts. She is an assistant professor of English at the College of William & Mary. 9:30am @ Grace Street Theater


Jenni Sorkin is an art historian who writes on the intersection between gender, material culture, and contemporary art. Her new book, Live Form: Women, Ceramics and Community (University of Chicago Press) was published in July of 2016. This project examines the confluence of gender, artistic labor, and the history of post-war ceramics. She has published widely as an art critic, and her writing has appeared in the New Art Examiner, Art Journal, Art Monthly, East of Borneo, NU: The Nordic Art Review, Frieze, The Journal of Modern Craft, Modern Painters and Third Text. 1pm @ The Depot


Kara Thompson is an assistant professor of English and American studies at the College of William and Mary where she teaches courses in Native American/Indigenous literature, political theory, and queer studies. Her book Blanket is forthcoming from Bloomsbury Press. Her work has appeared in Tin HouseAvidlyThe Philosophical Salon, and The Atlantic.

2pm @ The Depot