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The Aesthetics of Interconnectedness

Los Angeles artist Pato Hebert has employed gourds, billboards, tail lights, typography, concrete rubble and lenticular photography in his work. His resume encompasses installations and photo exhibitions, as well as media campaigns—including one for the L.A. County Commission on Human Relations aimed at diffusing hate crimes. As associate director of education and prevention for AIDS Project Los Angeles, he helped create Corpus, a journal that explores sex and HIV/AIDS in the context of gay men’s lives. Though the forms his art takes are diverse, what ties it all together for Hebert is intention.

“Whether in a museum space, a publication, or on a bus shelter poster,” he says, “my art seeks to nourish the interpersonal, encourage the intellectual and honor the spiritual, while illuminating the macro forces that impact our lives. Always, my art aims to counter the schisms of alienation by suggesting possibilities for connection.”

Hebert will explore his “aesthetics of interconnectedness” on the Haverford College campus this month during a semester-long residency sponsored by the Hurford Humanities Center. The visit will kick off with a public talk on Thursday, September 18 at 8 p.m. at Sharpless Auditorium, titled “I Love to Feel Where the Words Come From.”

I’ll be talking about the use of language as an artistic project,” says Hebert. “Obviously, writers do that all the time. But what does it mean when an artist begins to consider words as art material?”

Over an initial 10 days on campus, and later via online commentary, Hebert will be working intensively with Assistant Professor of English Theresa Tensuan’s “Arts of the Possible” class, which focuses on the literature of social justice movements. Hebert’s role as collaborator and consultant will be to help students develop long-term projects inspired by some of the social justice themes explored in the class or that engage them in their own lives.

Hebert’s term for the projects: “creative interventions.” “It could be an artwork or it could be an activist work,” says Hebert. “A creative intervention is really a hybrid of both. It could be as simple as someone doing a performance in the dining hall to raise consciousness about food issues. Or, they could work with the grounds keepers to create new signage to help increase recycling.” Hebert, who will also be meeting with the “Quaker Social Witness” class taught by Kaye Edwards, Associate Professor of Independent College Programs, will return to Haverford in December, to help shepherd to completion the creative interventions devised by Tensuan’s class.

All the while Hebert will be collecting ideas and material for his own work. The artist will have a gallery exhibition at the Hurford Humanities Center in December and will create an installation to be installed in the spring. “I will be scouting the campus, getting to know different stakeholders,” says Hebert, whose 2006 residency at the University of Maine ended with a ceremony/art project in which he invited students and faculty to write their hopes and fears on construction tape and then tied the tape-texts to trees.

“For me as an artist, this is an ideal circumstance," he says. "I get to have real connections to various members of the Haverford community. I get to have time on campus to do some research and develop my ideas. It will force me in new directions and get me out of my comfort zone. And, hopefully, it will result in an exhibition that is a surprise for all of us.” --Eils Lotozo

Founders Green on a warm spring day.

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