Norah Zuniga-Shaw has been the director for dance and technology at Ohio State since 2004. With a background in dance and environmental science, Zuniga-Shaw decided to create a group that would make social justice issues more accessible through creative responses.
Livable Futures is a collective of artists, scholars and activists on campus and around Columbus, Ohio, who focus on creative responses to planetary crisis and change through field research, learning clusters on campus, exhibitions, workshops, performances, artist and scholar talks and creative residencies, Zuniga-Shaw said.
“One of the core activities of Livable Futures is to support field-leading artists working on social and environmental justice projects that contribute to more livable futures,” Zuniga-Shaw said.
Zuniga-Shaw created the collective with Mary Thomas and Jennifer Suchland, professors in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Thomas Davis, an English professor, to create opportunities for creative, interdisciplinary collaboration combined with activism.
Livable Futures is funded by the university’s Global Arts and Humanities Discovery Theme, an initiative started by Bruce McPheron, university vice president and provost, to encourage interdisciplinary research and collaboration, according to the discovery theme’s webpage.
Tom Dugdale, an assistant professor in theater and Livable Futures contributor, said he was first introduced to the group when it supported him in sending a student to Romania to devise new theater pieces this summer.
Dugdale said the group is all about cross-disciplinary collaboration, exploration and possibility.
“Different disciplines across a big university are meeting and working together,” Dugdale said. “It’s really exciting to see fields and specialties colliding that you might not ordinarily see.”
Zuniga-Shaw said the group recently funded a new field school, an academic program that allows students to learn by doing, in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and a teaching cluster in design and comparative studies.
This week, Livable Futures and the Ohio State Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design are hosting Complex Movements, a Detroit-based artist collective focused on exploring social justice issues through interactive performance, for a one-week creative residency that began Sunday.
“They’re doing really important, field-leading work at the connections between social justice and the disciplinary arts and technology,” Zuniga-Shaw said.
While in Columbus, Complex Movements will be working on a new piece focused on spatial justice issues, such as the prison system and city development, according to the Livable Futures website.
Zuniga-Shaw said students, staff and faculty of ACCAD will be supporting Complex Movements in its creation throughout the residency.
“The idea is that we’re genuinely talking with the people who show up about how to do this kind of work,” Zuniga-Shaw said. “People are interested in creative responses to what we’re all experiencing.”
A free, public discussion with Livable Futures and Complex Movements will take place at 3 p.m. Friday in Sullivant Hall.