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Screenshot from Suzanne Lacy's University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design class (December 2020)

As 21st-century beings, we’ve become quite used to being glued to our screens, but for many of us the coronavirus pandemic has intensified the amount of time we spend scrolling and virtually connecting with people far away. This is something that Suzanne Lacy — a pioneer of socially engaged, feminist art — has been thinking about with her students at the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design. Rather than dwell on the internet’s more negative, voyeuristic qualities, Lacy’s class focused on how observing other people through a screen can help us become more empathetic and aware of “each other’s practices, and realities.”

On Thursday, January 14, this group of MFA students and artists will share a series of performances — cleverly titled Come a Little Closer — that offers generous windows into a wide range of cultures, religions, and communities. In “Rakta Mikvah (Blood – Mikvah),” for example, Vrinda Aggarwal and Gabrielle Shira Broome will perform each other’s respective religious rituals, one Hindu and the other Jewish. In “Karaoke X’mas,” Diane Williams will delve into a favorite Pilipinx “national pastime,” karaoke. Come a Little Closer will also feature special guests Nao Bustamante (the director of MFA Art at USC Roski) and Marcus Kuiland-Nazario, who will present “a glamorous and kitsch video” memorializing the TV icon and astrologer Walter Mercado. Check out the complete lineup for the event, organized by 18th Street Arts Center, here.

When: Thursday, January 14, 5–6:30pm (Pacific)
Where: Zoom

More info at 18th Street Arts Center

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Elisa Wouk Almino

Elisa Wouk Almino is a senior editor at Hyperallergic. She is based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.