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Civic Morality Theme of Rivera Conference Feb. 21

Civic Morality Theme of Rivera Conference Feb. 21

Rivera-Conf-2013Latino artists and scholars who model the kind of civic morality advocated by poet and former UC Riverside Chancellor Tomás Rivera will lead the 26th annual conference honoring his legacy on Feb. 21.

The all-day conference at UCR — “Civic Morality: Community Engagement Through Creative and Scholarly Excellence” — begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Highlander Union Building and includes afternoon workshops with prominent Latino artists, musicians and scholars of the arts. An evening production of the Tony Award-winning musical “In the Heights” by the UCR Department of Theatre concludes the program. A post-performance audience talk-back will feature Brian Herrera, assistant professor of theater at Princeton University, and Tiffany Ana López, conference director, professor of theater and Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair at UCR.

Daytime events are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is requested and strongly recommended for the workshops as the number participants for each is limited to 15. Parking permits may be purchased at the kiosk at the University Avenue entrance to the campus. The evening performance is free to UCR students who reserve tickets in advance. Tickets for the general public are $14, or $12 for non-UCR students.

Information about conference registration, parking and tickets for “In the Heights” is available at

The conference theme is taken from an essay Rivera wrote about the role academics must play in building community: “A civic morality gives clarity of action plus power and strength that become constant. It is only through this type of correct action that one can hope to build a better community. Ni más, ni menos.”

“Because of Rivera’s own evolution, growing up a child migrant farmworker and becoming chancellor of the University of California, Riverside, he understood in a very personal way how education has the power to transform individuals and that successful people are viewed as role models,” conference director López explained. “He felt academics had a ‘civic morality’ to be active and visible examples within the community. He also believed that the most important thing we can do to transform society is to cultivate excellence in the work we are called to do.”

Tiffany_Ana_LopezTiffany Ana López
This year’s conference brings together distinguished creative artists and scholars in the humanities who exemplify Rivera’s model of civic morality, she said. The conference is structured around Master Class workshops designed to engage participants in a meaningful experience that they can then hopefully share with others. A keynote plenary will feature Master Class presenters sharing about their work.

“In his graduation speeches, Rivera often said, ‘It is your responsibility to build and maintain a community wherever you are. Let that be your mark as an educated person,’” López noted. “This is the 26th year of the Tomás Rivera Conference at UCR and celebrates Rivera as a foundational writer, administrator, and teacher who so brilliantly modeled the philosophy of mutual mentorship: I teach you, you teach me, we teach someone else.”

The annual conference honors the legacy of Rivera, who was UCR’s chancellor from 1979 until his death after a heart attack in 1984. Rivera was the first Hispanic and first minority chancellor in the UC system. He also was an award-winning writer of poems, short stories and literary essays.

Workshops include:
• “Music and Social Justice” Martha Gonzalez and Quetzal Flores. Gonzalez is the recipient of a Fulbright Garcia-Robles fellowship for her research on transnational musical social movements across the Americas and Europe, and is a Ford Dissertation Fellow. Her academic interests in music have been fueled by her musicianship as a singer and percussionist for East L.A.’s Quetzal. Quetzal Flores is the founder of the band Quetzal, which won both a Grammy and a Latin Grammy for its 2012 album “Imaginaries.” The relevance of Quetzal’s work has been noted in a range of publications from dissertations to scholarly.

• “Murals and Mutual Mentoring” Barbara Carrasco and Sandy Rodriguez. Carrasco is an internationally recognized artist and muralist who has been involved in community arts and outreach programming for The Getty Museum, Self-Help Graphics, and the Center for Political Graphics. Her works have been exhibited throughout the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. Rodriguez is a Los Angelesbased painter and is one of three artists invited to participate in “Freeway Studies #1 This Side of the 405 Billboard Project” in 2013. She is the project specialist for school audiences at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

• “A Workshop for the 21st Century Actor/Artist”Alma Martinez. Her acting career spans 35 years of work in film, television and stage. She has appeared on Broadway, Off Broadway in regional theaters across the country and on Mexican and European stages. A longtime artistic associate of Luis Valdez and El Teatro Campesino, she has been the lead actress in some of his most significant work since the landmark production of “Zoot Suit” in 1978. She recently played Graciela Rivera on the F/X TV series “The Bridge.”

• “Hip-Hop Theatre of Social Change” — Patricia Herrera, José Joaquin Garcia, Jesse Myerson.  Herrera is an assistant professor of theater at the University of Richmond. She and Garcia are co-founders of the Rubí Theater Company in New York City, which was established in 2001. Garcia is a director, composer, actor, singer, writer, and teaching artist. Myerson is the artistic director of Full of Noises, a New York City theater company that mounts politically salient stagings of classic texts.

• “Writing with the Body: Dance and Arts Activism” — Erica Ocegueda. She is a Ph.D. student in theater and performance of the Americas at Arizona State University. Her research examines how Mejicano and Chicano identity intersect through Azteca, Flamenco and Mexican folklórico dance forms.

• “Community Organizing, Latinas and Health” — Laura Jiménez and Gabriela Valle. Jiménez is executive director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, a statewide policy and advocacy organization whose mission is to advance health within a social justice and human rights framework that reflects the needs of Latinas, their families, and their communities. Valle has worked with Public Allies-LA and was program director for REACH LA’s HIV/AIDS peer education programs.

• “Latino Producers Action Network & Homeboy Industries”— Sandra Islas and Fabian Debora. Islas is founder and president of Latino Producers Action Network (LPAN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the production, development, preservation and distribution of Chicano/Latino/Mexican theater art and film. Debora, a muralist and filmmaker, is a product of the art academy and art division LPAN founded for Homeboy Industries to serve the needs of their students and those from neighboring at-risk schools.

Jorge Huerta, Chancellor’s Associates Professor of Theatre Emeritus at UC San Diego, will lead the closing session. He is a leading authority on contemporary Chicana/o and U.S. Latina/o theater and a professional director. He has been awarded the Association for Theatre in Higher Education Lifetime Achievement in Educational Theater award, was recognized as the Distinguished Scholar by the American Society for Theatre Research, and was honored by the California State Assembly for outstanding achievement in theater arts.

Presenting the opening performance will be dancer johnavalos rios. He has taught folklorico dance throughout the UC system for 25 years and is director of the UC Riverside Studio for Mexican Music and Dance.  He has toured with such Chicano/Mexicano dance companies as Los Mejicas de UCSC (where he is the founding leader), Ballet Folklorico de Stanford, Los Lupenos de San Jose, Ballet Mexicapan de ELA, the National Chicano Dance Theater of Denver, Miguel Delgado’s Teatro de la Danza Mexicana, and Amaan International Folk Ensemble.

Conference director Tiffany Ana López  is the recipient of an NEH grant for work on medical narratives in the humanities and is completing her book manuscript, “The Alchemy of Blood: Violence, Trauma, and Critical Witnessing in U.S. Latina/o Cultural Production” (Duke University Press).  Her recent theater projects include a play adaptation of Tomás Rivera’s novel “And the Earth Did Not Devour Him,” and dramaturgy for the world premiere of Josefina Lopez’s “Hungry Woman.” She was co-editor of the journal Chicana/Latina Studies from 2005 to 2012.

Additional events related to the conference are:
• “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United States,” Feb. 5 at noon, UCR Interdisciplinary Building Room 1113. Dr. Seth M. Holmes, a physician, cultural anthropologist and director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Social Medicine, will discuss his book of the same title. The book is based on five years of research that included berry-picking and traveling with migrants back and forth from Oaxaca up the West Coast. Dr. Holmes will explain how market forces, anti-immigrant sentiment and racism undermine health and health care. This event is presented by the Center for Ideas and Society Medical Narratives Working Group through a grant by the Andrew W. Mellon Workshops in the Humanities and the Tomás Rivera Conference.

• “Slip of the Tongue: Revealing Stories of Latina Sexuality, Identity and Culture,” Feb. 12 at 1 p.m. in Humanities 411, located next to the University Theatre, and at 7 p.m. at the Culver Center of the Arts, 3834 Main St. Both events — comprised of three solo performances and two short films — will be followed by a talk-back facilitated by López. For more information go to This event is supported by the UCR Center for Ideas and Society through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Tomás Rivera Endowed Chair and the Tomás Rivera Conference; UCR; and a Culver Arts Residency Laboratory fellowship.

• “Remnants,” a workshop reading of a new hip-hop musical by Patricia Herrera and José Joaquín Garcia, with music by J.A. Myerson, on Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. at the Culver Center for the Arts. The performance will be followed by a talk-back facilitated by Rickerby Hinds, UCR professor of theater and creator/director of the Califest Hip Hop Theater Festival. For more information go to


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