Best of... Awards for 2022-2023 AEPG Projects

Congratulations to the 2022-2023 AEPG Best of... Awardees! In this inaugural year, we recognize two Artistic Excellence Programming Grant projects that represent community engagement and interdisciplinarity. (Read more here about the initiative.)

Reiko Kataoka, "The Meaning of Linguistic Diversity"

Living in the Bay Area or attending SJSU, what one experiences uniformly is linguistic diversity. We hear many different languages being spoken, some identifiable and most others not, and we try to guess based on what people look like and how they dress. But really understanding the personal, cultural, and social dimensions of these spoken codes requires systematic study, reflection, and engagement of individuals from multiple angles. That’s exactly what Dr. Kataoka’s AEPG project did this past year.

Launched in August of 2022 and over this academic year, this project provided experiential learning opportunities for 3 research assistant students, who honed their research skills through exploratory interviews with community members, survey study and group discussions, in addition to deepening their mastery of theoretical concepts in communicating with the SJSU community during tabling events. 

But this project had an even greater impact in terms of student, faculty, and community engagement. Nearly 450 students engaged with the project through their participation in a survey, interviews, or curricular integration in participating classes; and over 250 students participated in a tabling event, a public discussion, and a final event at the Hammer.

The 60+ participants at the final event were first treated to a 20-minute video of interviews conducted by the student assistants with members of community cultural and artistic organizations - the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, the School of Visual Philosophy, and Mosaic America - where participants shared their reflections on the social and personal identity dimensions of linguistic diversity and its impact on the daily lives of multilingual speakers in the Bay Area. Following the video presentation, panel discussions brought forth perspectives from students, faculty and retired faculty from Linguistics, Psychology, Chicana & Chicano Studies, and from community organizations on how linguistic diversity influences identity, social meanings of varied language forms and ways to promote linguistic equality and linguistic diversity awareness in our society with the goal to bring about positive cultural change and to lift linguistic biases in our communities.

We’d like to recognize Dr. Kataoka with the Best of Community Engagement Award for setting up and implementing to perfection this meaningful and impactful year-long project and for highlighting the real effect of linguistic diversity, its value and difficulties, in our lives, and for promoting greater cultural understanding within the SJSU community and beyond. 

Watch students conduct interviews with community members (see video).

Congratulations, Dr. Kataoka!

J. Michael Martinez, "Poetic Alchemy"

Our second award for 2022-2023 is for the most effectively interdisciplinary AEPG event.  

This category recognizes the AEPG project that collaborates robustly and widely with students and faculty outside the projects' department, school, or similar discipline, and I am delighted to award this to J. Michael Martinez and the many others who participated in Alchemy: Poetry in Performance.  

Apprenticing itself to the arcane performance practices of the enigmatic Bread and Puppet Theater, Poetic Alchemy was an evening of surreal life-size puppetry and mask dazzled mysteries that interlaced interpretative performance with poetry. Embodying the alchemical, that medieval science in pursuit of immortality that chased the key to transmute lead into gold, the interdisciplinary performance of Poetic Alchemy featured collaborations with students and faculty from the Department of Film and Theatre, the Department of English and Comparative Literature, local dancers, modular ambience, South Bay electronic musicians, and area audiovisual artists. Situated where performance and spoken word filter contemporary 21st century social inequities with aesthetic intent, Poetic Alchemy made visceral the unique positionalities and cultural perspectives of San Jose State University’s poets and writers. 

The hour-long collaborative multi-media performance that utilized 20th century avant-garde theories in poetry and dance, was accompanied with live guitar, electronic music, projected digital art, and paper art, creating was a highly engaging and enriching event for both the performers and the audience. One attendee responded to our engagement survey that "poetry doesn’t have to be confined to a page or to an individual; it grows more powerful across mediums, voices, and audience."  The most profound element to this AEPG event is that the audience recognized that it embodied  interdisciplinarity at work.

Congratulations, Professor J. Michael Martinez!

-Author: Katherine D. Harris (Sept. 6, 2023)