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In|Dignity’s stories brought to life as exhibit closes

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In|Dignity,” an exhibit aimed at exploring and dismantling intolerance and encouraging people to see past stereotypes to know people individually, officially ended its nearly yearlong run with the presentation of an original theatrical work it inspired.

“In|Dignity: The Devised Performance,” based on the stories shared by those who participated in the exhibit at the Cal State San Bernardino Anthropology Museum, was presented Dec. 14 and 15 at the Ronald E. Barnes Theatre. Both shows were followed by a reception at the museum.

A multi-disciplinary collaboration with the anthropology, sociology, and theatre arts department at the university, the production focused on visualizing and performing the oral narrative and some of the individual stories in the exhibition. 

“Look me in the eyes. See beyond the stereotype. Embrace my humanity,” the cast collectively said at the start of the performance.

The production was performed by a cast consisting of CSUSB Theatre Arts Department majors, local actors, and community-based artists from the Inland Empire. Kathryn Ervin (professor, theatre arts) directed the piece, Jason Mann (assistant professor, theatre arts)  designed the scenic elements and Andre Harrington (professor, theatre arts) designed the props and costume elements.

The cast of “In|Dignity: The Devised Performance” takes a bow at the conclusion of its performance. Photo: Rodrigo Peña/CSUSB

In|Dignity, the exhibition, was co-curated by CSUSB assistant professors Arianna Huhn (anthropology, director of the Anthropology Museum) and Annika Anderson (sociology, director of Project Rebound). The exhibit centered on the life experiences of Inland Empire community members, told in their own words and arranged into seven thematic sections. The narratives were brought to life through audio, personal mementos, concept cards, and documentary photography by Thomas McGovern, CSUSB professor of art.

In|Dignity, a double entendre, simultaneously reading as a single word — indignity, and two separate words, in dignity — opened as an exhibition in January of this year.
“The two meanings of ‘In|Dignity’ capture what the exhibition explores by: bringing stories to the center that are often at the margins of our consideration; bringing dimensionality to portraits of diversity by laying bare the intersectionality of individual identities along with the diversity amongst members of groups often portrayed as monolithic; and evoking through these stories the common shared humanity of us all,” Huhn said.
The indignities considered in the exhibition are wide-ranging and include personal experiences with ableism, androcentrism, cisgenderism, Islamophobia, racism, heterosexism, educationalism, ageism, colorism, size-ism, pro-natalism, and other axes of life outside of the societal “norm.”
“In|Dignity: The Devised Performance” is a multi-disciplinary collaboration with the anthropology, sociology, and theatre arts department that focuses on visualizing and performing the oral narrative and some of the individual stories in the exhibition using theatrical performative techniques. 
A mobile version of the In|Dignity exhibition is planned, and may begin touring to local area high schools as early as fall 2019. A full color exhibition catalog is also available for sale in limited quantities from the Anthropology Museum.
In|Dignity was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional financial support for In|Dignity was provided by CSUSB students through their Instructionally Related Programs Fee, a CSUSB Office of Student Research Faculty/Student Grant, the CSUSB Office of Community Engagement Service Learning Fellowship and Community-Based Research Mini-Grant, and a Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute Research Grant. The space for production of “In|Dignity: The Devised Performance” and additional resources was provided by the theatre arts department.
The closing reception for “In|Dignity: The Devised Performance” was sponsored by the CSUSB University Diversity Committee.

About the Anthropology Museum
The CSUSB Anthropology Museum was founded in 2000. Located within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences building at Cal State San Bernardino, the breathtaking gallery space provides expansive views of the surrounding San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains.

The mission of the Anthropology Museum is to serve as a teaching laboratory for museum studies certificate students, who gain hands-on experience in collections management, exhibition planning, curation and museum administration. The museum additionally provides space for the presentation of exhibitions that illustrate and interrogate the cultural contexts and meanings of community histories, events, identities, and behaviors — locally, across the world, and over time —  and other anthropological perspectives on topics of interest.

Visit the Anthropology Museum website for more information.
Arianna Huhn, assistant professor of anthropology and director of the CSUSB Anthropology Museum exhibit, In|Dignity, co-curated the exhibit with Annika Anderson, assistant professor of sociology. Photo: Rodrigo Peña/CSUSB

About the CSUSB Department of Theatre Arts
The theatre arts major is both an exciting artistic adventure and a practical liberal arts degree. The broad range of subjects studied enable the theatre major to qualify for a wide variety of fields in California’s vast network that is the entertainment industry. Live theatre, design, film, television, corporate and media training, radio, public relations, advertising, business, law, and education are all avenues pursued by recent graduates. The diverse nature of theatre training develops skills for working as a theatre artist, as well as exploring human interaction and awareness of the human condition.

The CSUSB Department of Theatre Arts season includes three main stage plays on our Ronald E. Barnes stage, as well as several Black Box productions during the academic year. Black Box productions may be student directed/designed. In addition, the department provides opportunities for students to perform in tours to local schools, libraries and community centers.

On Feb. 7, the "Student New Play Showcase" opens in the Black Box Theatre, with new productions written by CSUSB students and alumni. Then on March 8, the CSUSB Department of Theatre Arts will feature the Pulitzer Prize-winning production “Picnic,” directed by department chair Terry Donovan Smith; followed on May 31 with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical extravaganza “In The Heights,” directed by professor Kathryn Ervin. 

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit inside.csusb.edu.


TAGS:In|Dignity, community, sociology, anthropology, Anthropology Museum, Arianna Huhn, Annika Anderson, Thomas McGovern, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Collge of Arts and Letters, grant, Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute, Cal State Dominguez Hills, theatre arts, Kathryn Ervin, andre harrington, jason mann, Top Stories

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