For Freedoms Town Hall: Love is a Political Act

May 11, 2019 / 1:00pm

FREE & Open to all

We are all children and most of us will serve in a parental role at some point in our lives. How do these experiences shape our ability to love and support strangers? How can we support parent/child relationships to improve community care in general?

On Saturday, May 11, we invite you to take part in our eighth For Freedoms Town Hall. Called Love is a Political Act, the community conversation will emphasize the role of compassion and empathy in our democracy. Held on Mother's Day weekend and in relation to our 50th anniversary exhibition Sunrise that honors our founders through works selected by their daughters, this Town Hall looks at the love and struggle between parents and children as key relationships that influence, for better or worse, how we understand, engage with, show compassion for, and love others.

A diverse group of speakers will share their stories and work in relation to this topic. Author of She’s My Father (2018), Brooklyn-based, evangelical pastor Jonathan Williams will reflect on his experience with the gender transition of his dad, evangelical pastor Paula Williams. Artist Zun Lee will discuss his project, Father Figure: Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood (2011-15), in which the artist built trusted relationships and immersed himself in the lives of several African American fathers to explore how they negotiate their roles as fathers and black men. CEO and founder of Cleveland’s Birthing Beautiful Communities, Christin Farmer will share her experience strengthening family units through education, health access, and pre- and post-natal support and resources. Poet and artist Julie Ezelle Patton will present her work and reflect on its connection and engagement with her mother, the late Cleveland-based painter Virgie Patton. The program will be moderated by M. Carmen Lane, artist, certified doula, and founder of ATNSC: Center for Healing & Creative Leadership. This event is presented in partnership with The City Club of Cleveland and For Freedoms; artist and For Freedoms co-founder Eric Gottesman will participate in the conversation as well.


As you, our community, enter into this experience and discussion, we invite you to consider the following reflections, graciously provided by moderator M. Carmen Lane:
Be Fully Present 
Reduce distractions and take time to be self-aware of your influence and how you are being influenced
Be Self-Responsible
This is your experience; take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually
Use "I" Language
Speak for Yourself
Take Risks
Share what's on your mind and in your heart
Be Open-Minded
Consider different perspectives
Take Care of Each Other
Pay attention to the well-being of others in our space
When you leave, talk about what you learned here, not other people's stories or personal sharing



M Carmen Lane


M. Carmen Lane - Moderator


M. Carmen Lane (b. Cleveland, 1975) is a two:spirit African-American and Haudenosaunee (Mohawk/Tuscarora) artist, cultural worker, poet, popular educator and consultant living in Kahyonhá:ke (Cleveland, Ohio).  Carmen attended Earlham College receiving their BA in Women’s Studies with a focus in feminist art history, theory & criticism and later earned their MS in Organization Development & Change from American University. Their work has been published in numerous journals and anthologies including the Lambda Literary Award nominated Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two Spirit Literatures. Carmen’s first collection of poetry is Calling Out After Slaughter (GTK Press, 2015).  They are the founder and director of ATNSC: Center for Healing & Creative Leadership, an urban retreat center and social practice experiment in holistic health, leadership development and Indigenous arts & culture located in the historic Buckeye neighborhood. Carmen is a member of NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science and Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. Carmen recently completed an artist residency with the Creative Fusion 2018 Cohort Data Arts Edition. In 2016, they became a birth/postpartum and end-of-life doula.


Jonathan Williams

Jonathan Williams - Panelist

Jonathan is the Lead Pastor at Forefront. He serves on the board of the W/ Launchpad, an organization dedicated to starting progressive Christian Churches. He also serves on the board of Left Hand Church in Longmont, CO. He holds an M.Ed from Eastern University in Urban and Multicultural Education. Jonathan is a writer who covers religion and spirituality, current trends, and LGBTQIA inclusion and justice. Jonathan has written for the Huffington Post, Faithfully Magazine, The Christian Standard, and many more. Jonathan has been featured in the New York Times, the Christian Post, and in Rebel Storytellers. He’s spoken at national events including TEDWomen18, Wild Goose Festival, W/ National Conference, Eastern Christian Conference, and Exponential National Conference. In 2016 Jonathan was named one of the “Top 40 Leaders Under 40” by Christian Standard Magazine. Jonathan currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, Jubi and two daughters. He enjoys a good beer, a better story, and despite years of disappointment, roots for his beloved NY Mets. He just released his first book, She’s My Dad: A Father’s Transition and a Son’s Redemption.


Julie Patton


Julie Patton - Panelist


Julie Ezelle Patton is a permaculturist, poet, performer, artist, and sculptor. Her poetics take the form of scrolls, extended texts, limited edition work, performances, and site-specific installations. Patton's performance work emphasizes improvisation, collaboration, and otherworldly chora-graphs, and bridges literary and musical composition. She has performed at many international venues and festivals including the Stone, Jazz Standard, Festival Internacional de Poesía in Medellín, Colombia; The Kitchen, La Bâtie-Festival de Genève. Patton is also a frequent collaborator with choreographers, poets, filmmakers, and composers including Uri Caine, Henry Hills, Don Byron, Henri Grimes, Sally Silvers, and Anne Waldman.With the support of her 2015 FCA grant, Patton participated in readings at the Page Poetry Salon, Poets House, and the New School. Her writing was also featured in the anthologies What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America (University of Alabama Press, 2015), Please Add to This List: A Teaching Guide to Bernadette Mayer Sonnets (Tender Buttons Press, 2015), and Best American Experimental Writing 2016 (Wesleyan University Press, 2015). She has taught at Teachers & Writers Collaborative, Learning Thru Art at the Guggenheim Museum, the Studio In a School Program at New York University, Case Western University, Naropa University, and Schule fur Dichtung in Vienna, Austria. Patton received her B.F.A. from Antioch College in 1979.


Zun Lee


Zun Lee - Panelist


Zun Lee is an award-winning Canadian photographer, physician and educator. He was born and raised in Germany and has also lived in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Chicago. He is a 2018 Knight Foundation Grantee, 2017 Art Gallery of Ontario Artist in Residence, and a 2015 Magnum Foundation Fellow. He currently resides in Toronto.

Lee has been globally recognized as one of the top emerging visual storytellers to watch. His focus on quotidian Black life has led to publications and mentions in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, The New Yorker, Huffington Post, MSNBC, Washington Post, Forbes, and Smithsonian Magazine. For his project Father Figure: Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood, photographer Zun Lee embedded himself in the lives of African-descended families across the US and Canada. By focusing on intimate moments of everyday family life, Lee interrogates Black father absence stereotypes and situates them in a broader context of pathologized black masculinity. The resulting monograph, produced by acclaimed publisher CeibaFoto, has won several major international awards.


Christin Farmer

Christin Farmer - Panelist

A trained doula, or birth-worker, Christin Farmer has launched ‘Birthing Beautiful Communities’ to help address the crisis of infant mortality in African American communities.  An African American woman is seven times more likely to have a preterm baby (preterm babies account for over 60% of infant deaths). Much of this is tied to stress, and from the lack of support and poverty. The March of Dimes has graded Cleveland an “F” for preterm births. Christin has joined with a network of other birth-workers to assist women of color, their partners and families in bringing births to full term successfully, and to raise healthy babies.


Eric Gottesman


Eric Gottesman - Panelist


Eric Gottesman photographs, writes, makes videos, teaches and uses art as a vehicle to explore aesthetic, social and political culture. His photographs have been shown at many galleries and institutions, including the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts; MoMA PS1, Queens; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College; the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts; and Addis Adaba City Hall, Ethiopia. In 2014, he published his celebrated first monograph, Sudden Flowers (Fishbar, London), and co-founded For Freedoms, an artist-run Super PAC, with artist Hank Willis Thomas. Gottesman is the recipient of a 2017 International Center of Photography Infinity Award, a 2015 Creative Capital Artist Grant, and a 2010 Fulbright Fellowship in art as well as an Artadia Award, an Aaron Siskind Foundation Artist Fellowship, a Massachusetts Individual Artist Fellowship and other grants and awards. In 2017, he was an artist-in-residence at MoMA/PS1 and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, Ohio. His work is in various collections, including in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is an Assistant Professor of Art at the State University of New York (Purchase College) and a Mentor in the Arab Documentary Photography Project in Beirut, Lebanon.



For Freedoms is a national artist initiative created by Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman that provides platforms for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action by artists. For Freedoms projects model through engagement how art and discourse can urge communities into greater civic action and participation. moCa is the For Freedoms laboratory to test Town Hall methodologies, and the City Club of Cleveland is our local partner. Our quarterly forums draw local residents for open, civil, question-based conversations about urgent Cleveland issues with artists and experts from outside our region. Each Town Hall includes artistic expressions that introduce new ways of looking at topics such as gun violence, food inequity, mass incarceration, and immigration. Town Halls provide an opportunity for sharing and reflection between local and non-local participants in ways that inspire empathy, encourage connections, and promote new ideas.