Joaquina Kalukango and Amanda Williams on Creative Freedom


AW: What impact does this have on your profession? Does it make you stumble over having to pay attention to words in a way that you might not have been before?

JK: We are all more careful. Everyone is fragile. We are still in the midst of a pandemic, and so many issues have arisen for so many people. We are all giving each other a lot of care and grace in this new era that we’re trying to build, this new era of theater that we’re trying to do. But it’s a bit of a fight, I’ll be honest. When you work this specifically relates to a very difficult time – and if you watch the January 6 riot [at the U.S. Capitol], it’s similar to the draft riots – you can’t water it down. You cannot run away from it. It’s always a balance between, how can we tell a story without traumatizing our community?

T: When did you first meet each other’s work?

JK: I first saw Amanda’s work on her TED Talk.

AW: Oh my God. I had asked myself, how did you find out about me? How do you know who i am

JK: I had such a visceral reaction to “Color Theory”. It was all so much a part of my life, of my childhood. In addition, I love the colors. How did you get this concept? What inspired you?

AW: I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and walked across town every day to go to school. Chicago segregation, coupled with the city grid, is perfect for systemic oppression because it sets limits and then we mentally reinforce them. I was hyperconscious of color all the time, like in breed, thinking, “This is a Mexican neighborhood. “” The Chinese are here. “White people do that.” Things like that. And i liked [chromatic] color from birth. Then I learned color in a university setting.

One summer, while [I was] While teaching color theory, a friend joked, “They pay you money to teach people what? Red and blue is green? I said, “No, color theory is a science in its own right.” She said, “You know colored theory. “We laughed and I left him alone. A week or two later, I was like,” I to do know the colorful theory. I spent a few more years making it meaningful. It looked so juicy. I started to think, “What things do you think about color first?” There is a story I told in TED Talk: I met a man who grew up near the Crown Royal Bag house. He thought the purple house meant Prince was coming. Even after I told him about my art, he said, “Wait and see. Prince could show up and play here. Suddenly he had hope for this vacant lot, in a way he might not have had before. For me it was success.

JK: It was brilliant.

AW: At first I didn’t know your work as well, but when I started to take an interest in it I thought to myself, ‘How could I have missed all of this? These are exactly the same things that I think and talk about. I’m excited about how we translate these thoughts through mediums – theater, performance, music, architecture, sculpture, writing.


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