Critical Acts is a faculty research group who connect artists, students, educators and audiences through innovative performance events at the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, University of Washington Bothell. Our common interest is to bridge socially engaged artistic practice and scholarship, extending from the UWB campus, through the wider Pacific Northwest region and internationally. Drawing on our combined artist networks, we host a range of arts-based projects: on-campus performance activations, in-class and multi-class artist workshops, public artist dialogues, and cross-campus and regional events. We use our research framework to further our individual scholarship and creative practices, to materialize collaborations across our existing projects, and enrich campus-wide cultural literacy through regular and diverse interactions with socially engaged art.
We host the annual Critical Acts Residency, which brings widely acclaimed artists to campus each spring to publicly present their work and create new work in collaboration with Global Media Lab, an award-winning student filmmaking class co-directed by Professors Anida Yoeu Ali and Masahiro Sugano. Artists perform in myriad locations, spanning classrooms, studios, public spaces and screening rooms. The spring quarter Alive Festival brings this culture of creativity to the wider campus community, culminating in two weeks of open studio showings and a bi-annual Imagine Showcase of outstanding student works. Faculty members also host guest artists in their courses through our Artists in the Classroom program, expanding these curricular engagements throughout the year to expose students to an array of acclaimed artists, spanning theater, dance, storytelling, visual art, music, spoken word poetry, queer and transgressive performance. Our programs work in concert to foster a creative culture in which students envision themselves as artists who can contribute critical social commentary and transformative artworks.
Read more about our work:
Coming Alive with Performance • IAS Faculty organize Alive 3.0 Spring Performance Festival
Photo: Ariel and Sam Soto-Sever
Anida Yoeu Ali
Anida Yoeu Ali is an artist whose works span performance, installation, new media, public encounters, and political agitation. As Senior Artist-in-Residence at UW Bothell, she teaches courses in creative writing, performance and collaborative media making. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to artmaking, her installation and performance works investigate the artistic, spiritual and political collisions of a hybrid transnational identity. No stranger to controversy, Ali’s artworks have agitated the White House (My Asian Americana, 2012), been attacked by anonymous vandals (1700% Project, 2010), and censored by Vietnam’s “culture” police (Pushing Thru Borders, 2003). From The Buddhist Bug (2009-2015) series to her anti-deportation work with Studio Revolt, her interest with otherness and displacement continue to inform her art and praxis. Ali has performed and exhibited at the Haus der Kunst, Palais de Tokyo, Musée d’art Contemporain Lyon, Jogja National Museum, Malay Heritage Centre, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, The Smithsonian, and Queensland Art Gallery. Her newest performance series The Red Chador embodies how the mere existence of a Muslim woman can be misinterpreted in an era of heightened Islamophobia. Her artistic works have been the recipient of grants from the Rockefeller, Ford Foundation, National Endowment of the Arts and the Art Matters Foundation. Ali’s pioneering poetry work with the critically acclaimed performance group I Was Born With Two Tongues (1998-2003) is archived with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. Ali holds an MFA from School of the Art Institute Chicago (2010) and a BFA from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1996). Ali spends much of her time traveling, teaching and exhibiting between the Asia-Pacific region and the US!
Naomi Macalalad Bragin
Naomi Macalalad Bragin is an artist whose work explores the language of performance as a critical mode of social engagement and cultural transformation. She is assistant professor at the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell, where she teaches classes in dance, performance art and cultural theory. She frequently collaborates with Milvia Pacheco Salvatierra, Director of Movimiento AfroLatino Seattle. Their current project Little Brown Language reinterprets colonial histories connecting Venezuela and the Philippines through cultural syncretisms, conversions and translations of ritual, movement and voice. Her book Black Power of Hip Hop Dance: On Kinethic Politics (forthcoming with the Dance Studies Association’s Studies in Dance series, University of Michigan Press) documents the cultural and aesthetic contributions of youth living in 1960s and ‘70s California, who have shaped global contemporary dance. The book tells a hidden history of black vernacular dances emerging in underground Funk and Disco cultures which rarely receive attention in academic scholarship. Her book is funded by Simpson Center for Humanities, UW Royalty Research Fund, UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship and National Endowment of Humanities, and her writing has won top awards from The Drama Review, Congress on Research in Dance and American Society for Theater Research. Before joining IAS, she was a New York City Hip Hop Theater Festival Future Aesthetics Artist and founder of DREAM, an Oakland-based hip hop/streetdance company which she toured nationally, funded by Creative Work Fund, Rennie Harris PureMovement, City of Oakland and Zellerbach Foundation. They collaborated with Cuban dancer-folklorist José Francisco Barroso on the piece Full Circle, nominated for the Bay Area Isadora Duncan Dance Award in Choreography.
Faculty Research Group
Anida Yoeu Ali, Co-Director
Naomi Macalalad Bragin, Co-Director
Jed Murr (Curator 2019)
Jade Power Sotomayor (Co-Director 2017, 2018)
Thea Quiray Tagle
Thank you to our funders:
IAS Dean’s Fund • iDISCO Research Interest Group Initiative • IAS Diversity Committee • UW Bothell Diversity Center • American Ethnic Studies Curricular Area • Working Group • UW Bothell • UW Tacoma • Cascadia College • Mobius Gallery • BEST Grant • Tacoma Art Museum • UW Tacoma Center for Equity and Inclusion • UW Tacoma Social and Historical Studies