Héctor Aristizábal: Telling stories to change the world

The Arts — By Kirwan Institute on May 16, 2010 at 06:36

By Dr. Alcira Dueñas

This past weekend, I had the unique opportunity to attend a talk, a play, and part of a workshop by Héctor Aristizábal, a multiphacetic artist with a singular approach to life and a serious commitment to transform the vital experience of many around the planet. The way Héctor conceives social change as inextricably connected to individual growth through art, ludic practices, catharsis, and spiritual self-discovery struck me as a wise and effective strategy to bring about change here and now.

I was immediately touched by the ability of this artist/healer/leader to break through the hard shells of the participants, the shells many of us have grown accustomed to as we walk through life.  I was also amazed at his acute understanding of how geopolitics, social conflict, war, and injustice erode the lives of individuals. Rarely have I  seen an artist so urgently committed to social change, with the ability to use social conflict and individual trauma as opportunities for transformation.

Héctor Aristizábal argues not for the disappearance of conflict but the transcendence of it by all those involved. That is a huge lesson, among many others, that I learned with him. This event was, in a nutshell, a display of wisdom, intelligence, and creation at its peak. I want to express my gratitude to the organizers of this event and to the institutions that sponsored it. These kinds of programs, I believe, put OSU at the forefront of expanding the frontier of social, cultural, and individual transformations on a global scale.


Dr. Alcira Dueñas is an international scholar teaching at the OSU Newark campus, who joined the Department of History in 2003 as an Assistant Professor. A specialist in Latin American History, Colonial Latin American literature and Women’s history, Dr. Dueñas’s teaching and research interests include the history of colonialism and post-colonialism in Latin America and the cultural, intellectual, and social histories of marginalized groups in Latin America, particularly in the Andean region. She is finishing a book that reconstructs the history of indigenous and mestizo intellectuals in mid- and late-colonial Peru.

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Author: Kirwan Institute (12 Articles)

Kirwan Institute

The Kirwan Institute works under the leadership of Executive Director and Professor john a. powell, an internationally recognized authority in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, and issues relating to race, ethnicity, poverty and the law. The institute employs nearly 30 full-time staffers including research associates, GIS specialists, a post-doctoral fellow, and also offers internships during the summer. The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University partners with people, communities, and institutions worldwide to think about, talk about, and engage issues of race and ethnicity in ways that create and expand opportunity for all.


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