Quick pick: ‘Claiming Face’ at Fresno State

Here’s a chance to spend part of a day with a noted illustrator, author, progressive educator, activist and publisher. Maya Christina Gonzalez is the second winner of the artist-in-residence fellowship prize given by the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Fresno State. As part of her week-long residency at the university, Gonzalez is offering a workshop using self-portraiture titled “Voice is a Revolution: Personal Healing to Change the Larger Narrative.” It is free and open to the public.


The workshop is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, in Room 140 of the Kremen Education Building. Lunch is provided. A description:

Participants are asked to bring a photo of themselves. This begins the journey. Using exercises from her “Claiming Face” curriculum, Gonzalez leads people through beautiful portraits to personal stories and finally toward larger healing narratives as the day’s workshop progresses. No creative experience or proclivity necessary, only the call to attend and claim your voice.

I like the the three rules of “Claiming Face”:

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Hip hop and Shakespeare at the park

Here’s a quick pick for a worthwhile mid-week event:

Fresno Pacific University and Woodward Shakespeare Festival present a Wednesday performance of the YES! (Youth Engage Shakespeare) project at the festival stage in Woodward Park.

project yes

Ten high school students will present scenes, dances and original material from and inspired by on Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night.” A highlight will be hip hop led by Fresno Pacific senior Joy Ndombeson. The project is in its fifth year. Participants meet on the FPU campus for three weeks before going to Woodward Park for dress rehearsals and the performance.

Says project director (and FPU professor) Julia Reimer: “This is something new from the Renaissance dances of the past.”

The performance is 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 26, on the Woodward Shakespeare Festival Stage, near the Fort Washington entrance. Admission to the show is free. Entrance to Woodward Park is $5 per car.

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A free screening of ‘Raising Zoey’

Zoey Luna was born a boy but began to identify as a girl even before she started school

In honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month 2017, here’s a weeknight event worth an extra plug:

The event: Fresno Building Healthy Communities sponsors a free Wednesday screening of the documentary film “Raising Zoey” at Roosevelt High School, with a chance to hear the subject of the film, her family and the director talk about the film.

The film: The producers describe it this way: “13 year-old Zoey wants nothing more than to simply go to school, learn, have fun with friends and be a kid. Unfortunately, ignorance and intolerance have not always made this easy. Zoey, with the help of her mother and the ACLU, fought school officials for her right to self-identify in school. Even in the face of bullying and endless teasing from both school officials and students, Zoey determinedly continues to live her life and tells her story in the hopes of helping others persevere in living their authentic lives.”

The background: Zoey Luna was born a boy but began to identify as a girl even before she started school. In a 2016 review for the Hollywood Reporter during the Outfest film festival, Stephen Farber writes:

The film convinces us that gender identity is an inherited trait, and it also convinces us that these transitions will always be easier with a supportive family. Zoey’s older sister and especially her mother, Ofelia, are interviewed at length and express unwavering support for Zoey’s transition. We are told that Zoey’s brother is also supportive, but he chose not to appear on camera. And her situation was clearly difficult for Zoey’s father.

Farber goes on to write that it’s impressive how much territory director Dante Alencastre is able to cover in just 54 minutes.

The details: 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, Roosevelt High School auditorium, 4250 E. Tulare St. Free tickets can be reserved at www.fresnobhc.org/raisingzoey/.

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