Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Artists Take Back Public Space in Honduras

As Obermann Graduate Fellow in 2013, Kate Kedley learned to frame research as publicly engaged scholarship, and since then has continued to look for ways to remain in solidarity with the communities and people where she researches. Specifically, her dissertation is an ethnographic study about education and teaching in the Central American country of Honduras. With a background as a Language Arts teacher, studying education and teaching practices was of personal importance to Kedley.

While living in Honduras, Kedley became acquainted with a group of poets, writers, singers, and artists who work to “reclaim” public space with their performances. On evenings they go to the central park of their city and take over a space that is often filled with violence and oppression; for a few brief hours on those evenings, the community gathers and the space around the park is filled with the creative arts. It is an effort to inspire the youth of the area to use the arts and culture to re-build Honduras.

Youth Writing Partnership Evolves

Having gotten to know these activists, Kedley and one of the leaders of the artist collective, Hector Efren Flores (pictured here with Kedley), began trying to build an international creative writing partnership between a youth group in Honduras and one in Eastern Iowa. The groups will communicate initially online – through blogs, videos, and perhaps live-feeds. Kedley and Flores are in the midst of an Iowa exploration to uncover opportunities and outlets in which this project can flourish. Building ties between Iowa and Honduran youths would allow the Iowans to gain honest insight into the art, culture, and politics of Honduras, and also challenge their understandings of “public space,” “security,” and “art.” For the Honduran students, they would have an opportunity to share their stories, learn about Iowa, and build a network of solidarity in other countries.

Learn More about Graduate Institute Alumni and Their Work

Kedley and Efren Flores, who is currently visiting Iowa, will appear on the March 1, 2016 World Canvass radio program and will also participate in the March 3-4 symposium, Taking It to the Streets:  Celebrating 10 Years of the Obermann Graduate Institute. To read more stories about alumni of the Obermann Graduate Institute, visit: