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Columbus Makes Art Presents Dr. Nyama McCarthy-Brown on People, Relationships, Politics and Culture

Jane D’Angelo Jane D’Angelo Columbus Makes Art Presents Dr. Nyama McCarthy-Brown on People, Relationships, Politics and CultureNyama McCarthy-Brown talks inspiration in her art. Photo provided.
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Dr. Nyama McCarthy-Brown is an Assistant Professor at OSU, as well as a writer, performer, choreographer. She will lead a session titled “Tools for supporting an anti-racism classroom” on Saturday, May 1, 2021 during the 2021 OhioDance Virtual Festival (April 30 – May 2), an annual statewide celebration of dance through performances, film, demonstrations and discussions.

Jane: Can you give us some insight into your artistic process and what is most important to you?
Nyama: I create about the things that excite me: people, relationships, politics and culture. Each piece I create takes a different path of development; I do not know of “one way” to work. The work informs the process. Kind of like cooking. When you taste the food, you get a sense of what else is needed, and it is not the same with everything you cook.  Experimentation does not come naturally to me, so I work to try new things and color outside the lines.

Kasim Eri McCarthy-Brown and Nyama McCarthy-Brown in 1998. Photo by Amy Osajima.
Kasim Eri McCarthy-Brown and Nyama McCarthy-Brown in 1998. Photo by Amy Osajima.
Kasim Eri McCarthy-Brown and Nyama McCarthy-Brown in 1998. Photo by Amy Osajima.
Kasim Eri McCarthy-Brown and Nyama McCarthy-Brown in 1998. Photo by Amy Osajima.
Kasim Eri McCarthy-Brown and Nyama McCarthy-Brown in 1998. Photo by Amy Osajima.
Kasim Eri McCarthy-Brown and Nyama McCarthy-Brown in 1998. Photo by Amy Osajima.

Jane: What drives your creativity? Where do you go for inspiration?
Nyama: Words, images, music, my dancers. I love to start with one idea and watch five dancers stretch in in a different direction.

Jane: OhioDance has benefited from your consultation on Building an Anti-Racism Dance Community. Will you discuss your consultation work and some helpful strategies for the dance community?
Nyama: Dismantling the mammoth systems of hegemonic oppression are overwhelming to most people, myself included. The work cannot be done alone, so do not try. Find people to do the labor with you, or it will never go anywhere. Second, develop some shared agreements on how you will approach the work, shared language and shared goals – both short and long term. Third, keep moving and explore where the body sits in this work for you. The most important thing is to step into the work and plan to be in it indefinitely.

Jane: Has the pandemic influenced and/or affected your art?
Nyama: Yes, I really do not like taking dance class on Zoom after a long day on my computer. So, I am dancing less. But, I find my creativity is more active as I am navigating new limitations every day. I am finding the blessings in these creative moments and that has been quite pleasing.

Kasim Eri McCarthy-Brown and Nyama McCarthy-Brown in Pushfest 2019. Photo by Kyle Adler.
Kasim Eri McCarthy-Brown and Nyama McCarthy-Brown in Pushfest 2019. Photo by Kyle Adler.
Kasim Eri McCarthy-Brown and Nyama McCarthy-Brown in Pushfest 2019. Photo by Kyle Adler.
Kasim Eri McCarthy-Brown and Nyama McCarthy-Brown in Pushfest 2019. Photo by Kyle Adler.

Jane: What is the best thing about the Columbus art scene? Do you have a favorite spot?
Nyama: As a relatively new person to Columbus, I feel I have much to learn about the art scene. But, I do enjoy the arts walk in the Short North. In addition, I always feel lively when I am at the Lincoln Theater, there is always so much going on in that building (pre-Covid).

The 2021 Virtual OhioDance Festival, April 30-May 2, is an annual statewide celebration of dance through performances, film, demonstrations and discussions. Check out the schedule at ohiodance.org/festival/schedule/. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite here.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting and advancing the arts and cultural fabric of Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Learn more about local artists, organizations, public art and events at ColumbusMakesArt.com.

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