In celebration of the program's 30th anniversary, MFA Photography, Video, and Related Media presents Activated, a panel discussion featuring distinguished department alumni who have achieved great notoriety though creative advocacy. With the conversation lead by Brian Palmer, discussions will touch on projects by Susannah Sayler (The Canary Project), Quinn Tivey (Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation) and Peter Svarzbein (El Paso Transnational Trolley Project), with topics ranging from the environment and community preservation to healthcare and civil rights. Panelists will elaborate on the role of artist as activist and how this work has affected their practice. RSVP here.
Susannah Sayler (MFA 1999 Photography, Video and Related Media): The Canary Project produces art and media about ecological issues such as climate change, extinction, food systems and water resources. We believe that cultural production is a crucial building block in social movements. Since 2006 Canary has produced more than 20 projects involving hundreds of artists, designers, scientists, writers and volunteers. Art opens a space for belief. And belief makes a space for change.
Quinn Tivey (MFA 2015 Photography, Video and Related Media): The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation was established by Elizabeth Taylor in 1991 to provide grants to existing organizations for domestic and international programs that offer direct care services to people living with HIV and AIDS. Since its inception, ETAF has concentrated on supporting marginalized communities and has expanded to also fund innovative HIV education and advocacy programs.
Grandson of Elizabeth Taylor, Quinn Tivey carries on her legacy and passion as a sought-after speaker and representative of The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, participating at high-profile events, including the International AIDS Conference, the annual PEPFAR meeting, the Global Fund’s Board Meetings, the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, The Social Good Summit, MCON, and more. Per his grandmother's wishes, Quinn has been serving as a co-trustee of the Elizabeth Taylor Trust since 2016.
Peter Svarzbein (MFA 2011 Photography, Video and Related Media): During graduate school at w88, Svarzbein created the El Paso Transnational Trolley Project, a self-created activist/artist project that resulted in a $97 million state grant for an intra-city trolley route using the original streetcars that ran between Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. He is currently the City Representative for District 1 in El Paso, Texas, and is working on legislation to reintroduce the Juarez-El Paso trolley line once again.
Brian Palmer is a visual journalist based in Richmond, Virginia. During his near 30-year career, he has photographed conflict, politics, activism, daily life around the world and in his own backyard. Currently, Palmer is working on Make the Ground Talk with his wife, Erin Hollaway Palmer, a documentary that evokes life in a historic black community that was uprooted during World War II to build a naval base, now a top-secret U.S. military installation. Another project, photography of Virginia's neglected African American cemeteries, grew out of this documentary.
Palmer's work has been featured in The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Narrative.ly, Pixel Press, and other media outlets.