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IOWA CITY — In our melting pot of cultures and languages, it can be sometimes difficult to communicate.
But not impossible, according to University of Iowa students Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu, a junior in film and art and Bryan Flavin, a senior in linguistics, French and Arabic.
The two have organized a multicultural art showcase, 'ARTiculate Yourself,' to be held from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday at Public Space One, 120 N. Dubuque St. in Iowa City.
Welzenbach-Marcu is an art and photography editor for Earthwords, UI's oldest undergraduate literary review that is the primary host of the event. Earthwords partnered with the Translate Iowa Project, a new student organization that translates a variety of material for the University. Flavin is a co-founder and current president of Translate Iowa.
UI students were invited to submit artwork of all mediums and languages to the showcase, which is intended to celebrate and promote UI's diversity while also helping traditionally underrepresented students express themselves through their artwork.
'There are people on campus who feel very shy about sharing their art, particularly if English is not their first language,' Welzenbach-Marcu said. 'The point of ARTiculate Yourself is that the work doesn't have to be in English. They can submit in any language they please.'
Works can be translated, however Welzenbach-Marcu emphasized art 'doesn't have to be translated to be appreciated.'
'We don't want people to feel like they can only express themselves in English,' she said. 'You don't have to change the artwork you create just because you think people might not understand the culture context or the language.'
In fact, she believes artwork in other languages may be easier for people to understand 'because it tends to speak to a deeper level,' she said.
'You may not speak the language of the art you're seeing, but arguably there is something there that you could understand because art is a universal language,' she explained.
'Art allows communication to take place in a universal setting,' Flavin agreed. 'Which is why it's an essential form of communication.'
Flavin emphasized the importance of cultural representation and providing spaces where 'we can understand each other, listen to each other and learn from each other.'
'Now more than ever that communication is necessary and important,' he added.
'If we expect people to come here and understand our culture, we should extend the same courtesy and try to understand and respect theirs,' Welzenbach-Marcu said.
'We want to show people there's a place for them to go, a place for their culture. We want to encourage people not to be afraid to show their culture in a form they're comfortable with,' Flavin said. 'There are opportunities and people out there willing to listen and who want to have their voices represented and understood, regardless of their cultural and linguistic background.'
IF YOU GO
What: ARTiculate Yourself, a multicultural art showcase
Where: Public Space One, 120 N. Dubuque St., Iowa City
When: Noon to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2
Cost: Free to the public
Details: ARTiculate Yourself is a multicultural art showcase that celebrates and promotes cultural and linguistic diversity at University of Iowa by showcasing artwork of traditionally underrepresented students. The event is hosted by Earthwords, UI's oldest undergraduate literary review.
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