Artist Exhibition

Body Maps made by UW-Madison students and curated by Dr. Kate Phelps.

The Resistance and Reimagination Virtual Artist Exhibition will share the work of local, national, and international artists, conference participants, and members of 4W Initiative network. Content will explore the intersections of art, feminism, activism, and scholarship through a variety of virtual paintings, poetry, performances, and more. The exhibition invites critical reflection and dialogue around how the arts can help us to: 1) deconstruct and reimagine life and society; and 2) make collaborative change around gender and wellbeing. The virtual exhibition will be available on-demand throughout the conference and will connect to larger conference themes and conversations.

Read about the featured artists below!

Fabu Carter | Finn Enke | Araceli Esparza | Erin Finley | Alison Gates | Global Artisans Initiative | Maggy Hiltner | Quanda Johnson | Helen Klebesadel | Rachel Litchman | Rosemary Meza-DesPlas | Laura Nash | Kate Phelps | Erika Rosales | Sylvie Rosenthal | Ellen Samuels | Heather Saunders | Chris Stark | Tar Sands Storytelling Project | Valaria Tatera | United ReSistersKatie Zaman

Fabu Carter

Fabu, as she is professionally known, is a poet, columnist, storyteller, and an educator who works and writes to encourage, inspire, and remind. As the Madison Poet Laureate (2008-2012), she continues to share experiences living in the South, the Midwest, and in Africa. As an outreach specialist for the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease and Research Center, she recruits African Americans into memory studies and facilitates free Get Movin’ Exercise Classes, a free computer class with DoIt and the Urban League of Greater Madison, and educational events for brain health. Fabu was selected as the 2019 recipient of the School of Medicine and Public Health Staff Award for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and the 2019 award-winner from the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce for making her love of poetry into a business. She received the 2016 UW Madison Women of Color Award for her work in poetry and community. Poet Fabu is also a recent graduate with a PhD from the African Women’s Center at the University of Nairobi. She is a scholar of African American literature, and published four books of poetry: Poems, Dreams and Roses; In Our Own Tongues; Journey to Wisconsin:  African American Life in Haiku; and Love Poems.

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Finn Enke

Professor of History, Gender and Women’s Studies, and LGBTQ+ Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Finn Enke is the author of Finding the Movement: Sexuality, Contested Space and Feminist Activism (2007), and editor of Transfeminist Perspectives Within and Beyond Transgender and Gender Studies (2012). Enke’s books in progress include a graphic memoir, With Finn and Wing: Growing Up Amphibious in a Nuclear Age, and an essay and comics collection, Trans on Campus: Pedagogies of the Impossible.

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Araceli Esparza

Araceli Esparza in a conference room with two others at a tableAraceli Esparza, Latinx Poeta, is an MFA graduate from Hamline University with strong migrant farmer roots. She recently co-edited a poetry anthology with Flying Ketchup Press, The Very Edge Poems, that can be bought at local bookstores and Amazon. She was named Wisconsin’s Most Influential Latina 2018 (Wisconsin State Journal/Madison 365). Esparza is the owner of Wisconsin Mujer, a successful social engagement companyand she hosts the podcast, Midwest Mujeres.  On being a writer, Esparza says, “To me, being a Latinx writer means to be able to catch fires, to bring forth something from labor and sweat, to have enough when there’s not a lot.”  Follow her on Instagram and social for Chingona Bruja talks, classes, and events! can support this artist here. 

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Erin Finley

Erin FinleyErin Finley is a Toronto-based artist who has exhibited internationally. Her work has been exhibited at École Polytechnique (Paris, FR); Paul Petro Gallery (Toronto, ON); Arc Gallery (Chicago, IL); Hallwalls (Buffalo, NY); Allegheny College (Pennsylvania); Eastern New Mexico University (NM); CBGB’s (NY); Miami University Gallery (Oxford, OH); Line Gallery (North Bay, ON); La Porte Peinte Centre Pour Les Arts (Burgundy, FR); Femina Potens Gallery (San Francisco, CA); Idaho State University (Pocatello, ID); Siena Art Institute (Siena, Italy); Queen’s University (Kingston, ON); Moonfruit (Amsterdam, The Netherlands); and Karat Artspace (Cologne, Germany). Erin Finley has received national support for the development of her work, including project grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. Other institutions that have supported her research include the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Université du Québec a Montréal, and the University of Calgary, where Finley obtained an MFA in drawing and painting.

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Alison Gates

Professor Alison A. Gates (she/her/hers) is head of Fibers/Textiles in the Art and Design program at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, where she also teaches in Women’s and Gender Studies. Her work in sculpture and textiles often focuses on the ambiguity of language and non-verbal means of communication.

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Global Artisans Initiative

Kiondo baskets, Tharaka-Nithi, Kenya
Tharu basket maker, Nepal

The Global Artisans Initiative is made up of nearly a dozen artisan groups located around the world including Ecuador, India, Nepal, Kenya, and Mexico. The Initiative was created to respond to artisans who have requested assistance with microenterprise development. Led by 4W Leaders Jennifer Angus, Carolyn Kallenborn, and Lesley Sager, students engage in a horizontal learning exchange with artisan partners utilizing Design Thinking in order to promote empathy, understanding, better design, and a road to wellbeing. This is achieved through the Global Artisans class, field courses, and international summer internships. In a video created by Jennifer Angus and Global Artisans students, viewers will learn about the The Kiondo Project in Kenya, lacemakers of Presa de Barajas in Mexico, Tharu basket makers in Nepal, and Sumak Muyu and Intag Sisal in Ecuador.

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Maggy Hiltner

Maggie HiltnerMaggy Rozycki Hiltner (she/her/hers) is a full-time studio artist and activist living in Red Lodge, Montana. She has a BFA from Syracuse University and was a Studio Assistant in Fibers at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. She serves as a Montana/Idaho Regional Representative for SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates). Hiltner’s stitched work has been in various group and solo shows across the country and internationally, and has been featured in publications such as FiberArtsFiber Art NowSurface Design Journal,  American CraftInterviewembroidery (UK), and The New York Times. In 2015, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts/Montana Arts Council Artist’s Innovation Award. More of her work can be seen at

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Quanda Johnson

Quanda JohnsonQuanda Johnson (she/her/hers), a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies at UW-Madison, examines the African diaspora/performance activism. As a Fulbright Scholar (2013-2014), she coalesced Nova Scotia Africadian communities to chronicle their history through her original theatrical concert, Beyond the Veil of the Sorrow Songs. Ms. Johnson’s creative endeavors, including Verisimilitudes: A Journey Through Art Song in Black, Brown, and Tan, champion marginalized voices and gender equity.

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Helen R. Klebesadel

Helen Klebesadel
Beth Skogen Photography

Helen Klebesadel (MFA 1989) is an artist, educator, and creativity coach from Madison, Wisconsin. Her visual concerns as an artist run the gamut from careful study to poetic, symbolic and sometimes political representations of nature and human nature. Helen exhibits her watercolors and mixed media collaborative artworks nationally and internationally. Her artwork is represented in numerous public and private collections. Klebesadel was a University professor and administrator in art and women and gender studies for over 25 years, including directing the University of Wisconsin System Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium for 18 years. She is a past national president of the Women’s Caucus for Art and served as director of the Wisconsin Regional Art Program from 2012-2015.  In addition to teaching private art and creativity workshops, Helen regularly uses watercolor, mixed media and collage as part of her arts-based creativity coaching and mentoring.  Helen Klebesadel believes all people are creative, and that the art making process is a form of thinking and problem solving that can be applied to enhance and expand the place of creativity our lives and to help create the world we seek to live in.

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Rachel Litchman

girl in glasses Rachel D.L. (she/her/hers) is a white, queer, disabled artist, writer, and community organizer with Disability Pride Madison. She writes about disability for the Rooted in Rights blog and has published poetry, nonfiction, and comics in Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, Nat.Brut, Redivider, and Entropy. Her current work centers trauma, disability, mathematics, and the relationships between interpersonal and institutionalized forms of violence. She is working on two books, a completed graphic memoir about chronic illness and an autoethnographic story in the form of a math textbook about youth homelessness. More of her work can be found on

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Rosemary Meza-DesPlas

woman with glasses and nature borderFarmington, NM-based Latina, Rosemary Meza-DesPlas is known for exploring gender, sexuality, identity, and socio-political topics in her visual artwork, writings, and spoken word performances. She received an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (Hoffberger School of Painting) and a BFA from The University of North Texas. In 2019, Rosemary Meza-DesPlas was featured in Santa Fe, NM’s the/magazine as “12 Artists in New Mexico to Know Now.” 

The cornerstone of her artwork is the female experience within a patriarchal society. As a woman, daily navigation of our world is a precarious tight-rope walk. The use of portraiture to discuss gender-based burdens personalizes the political. Intricate drawings are created by meticulous stitching of human hair. Through on-site drawing installations and watercolor paintings, Meza-DesPlas evokes intellectual and visceral responses to socio-cultural burdens endured by women. These burdens and their subsequent impact on contemporary culture are interpreted through a global lens.  

Her artwork has been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Her work has been written about in several publications including the Huffington Post, Wall Street Internationaland Interview Magazine.

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Laura Nash

woman with scarf in treesLaura Alison Nash is a neurodivergent artist, writer, and freelance creative based in Portland, Oregon. She believes strongly in the power of words and images to open and change minds. A graduate student at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Laura is currently researching and writing about representations of disability in science fiction, as well as dipping her toe into the world of game design. See Laura’s work here.

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Kate Phelps

woman with glasses smilingKatherine A. Phelps is a lecturer in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed a Ph.D. in Sociology in December 2019 from the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Her research interests include body politics, embodiment, digital feminisms, girlhood studies, fat studies, and feminist theory and pedagogies. She is currently leading “Mapping Embodiment,” a UW-Madison body mapping research study, funded by the 4W Initiative. She is honored to be able to share body maps created by UW-Madison students in this exhibition.

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Erika Rosales

woman in blazer smilingErika Rosales (she/her/hers) is an artist who believes that art is medicine that heals us. She considers herself a healer through her art. Art is a form of healing and resistance as often the voices and expressions of women of color are attempted to be silenced. Erika’s art is primarily abstract. She has also worked on a couple of local mural projects for social justice purposes as well as facilitated art workshops for youth. Additionally, Erika has been a cultural dancer for over 15 years and has danced professionally in several Mexican Folkloric dance groups as well as an Afro-Peruvian dance group.

Erika Rosales is an undocumented immigrant and a DACA recipient. She is also an immigration activist and has helped organize immigration events and rallies locally and nationally. Erika often speaks out about her experience and knowledge about DACA and immigration as a guest lecturer and through media interviews and published pieces. She currently works at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at WIDA as a Human Resources Coordinator and focuses on diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice and has done recent work at the Global Health Institute as a Human Rights Curriculum Coordinator focusing on migration, child health, and human rights. She recently received her graduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from the Cultural Foundations of Community Engagement and Education program.

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Sylvie Rosenthal

woman with crossed arms and glasses smilesSylvie Rosenthal started building at age six at an experimental design museum where she made circuses, catapults, rockets, and robots. She received her BFA from The Rochester Institute of Technology, Woodworking and Furniture Design Program in the School for American Crafts, built two houses from the ground up with her mentor Doug Sigler, and received her MFA in sculpture from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Sylvie has been routinely invited as a visiting artist, teacher, and researcher to many schools including San Diego State University (CA), University of Wisconsin Whitewater and Madison (WI), Penland School of Crafts (NC),  Haystack Mountain School (ME), Anderson Ranch Arts Center (CO), Australia National University (Canberra, Australia) and Tainan National University of the Arts (Tainan, Taiwan R.O.C.). She has shown nationally at galleries and museums such as The Fuller Craft Museum (MA), The Mint Museum (NC), and the Museum of Art and Design (NYC). Currently, Sylvie maintains a studio practice making furniture on commission, production work for sale online, and sculpture dealing with the intersecting flight patterns of the histories of trade, the intentional and unintentional transplantations that come with it, hybridity, materiality, queer theory, and the natural world. Sylvie teaches woodworking and design thinking in many settings, such as university and college programs, craftschool workshops, and to children. She recently finished her service on the board of trustees of CERF+, the Artists’ Safety Net which helps artists build strong and resilient careers.

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Ellen Samuels

Ellen SamuelsEllen Samuels is Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, specializing in disability studies. Her critical writing has appeared in many journals and anthologies including GLQ, Signs, Amerasia, and The Disability Studies Reader, and in her book Fantasies of Identification: Disablity, Gender, Race (2014). Her first poetry collection, Hypermobilities, will be published in fall 2021 by The Operating System Press. Her poetry and creative nonfiction has been published widely, including in Brevity, Disability Studies Quarterly, Rogue Agent, Nimrod, Mid-American Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, and the collection Disability Visibility. She has received two Lambda Literary Awards and two Pushcart nominations, and lives in Monona with her partner, son, and a dog named Krypto.

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Heather Saunders

woman with glasses smilingHeather Saunders’ texiles-based work focusing on gender independence and radical female role models has been exhibited in Canada, the US, and the Netherlands. She is the former Director of Ingalls Library at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Faculty Art Librarian at Purchase College. Her chapter, “Artist in Protest: An Apologia of Ten Years of Blogging” is forthcoming in the Litwin Books anthology, Art at the Intersection of Librarianship and Social Justice.

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Chris Stark

Christine Stark is a Native (Anishinaabe & Cherokee) award-winning writer, researcher, visual artist, and national and international speaker. Her first novel, Nickels: A Tale of Dissociation, was a Lambda Literary Finalist. Her essays, poems, academic writing, and creative non-fiction have appeared in numerous publications, including The Palgrave International Handbook on Trafficking, University of Pennsylvania Law Review; Dignity Journal; The WIP; Florida Review; The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prize-Winning Essays; When We Became Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwest ExperienceHawk and Handsaw: The Journal of Creative Sustainability; and many others. Her poem, “Momma’s Song,” was recorded by Fred Ho and the Afro Asian Music Ensemble as a double manga CD. She is also a co-editor of Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography; and a co-author of the ground-breaking research “Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota.” Primary research she conducted with Native women survivors of prostitution and trafficking on the ships in Duluth, Minnesota is included in her article “Strategies to Restore Justice for Sex Trafficked Native Women.” She is also co-author and co-researcher of “Evidence of Survivor, Agency, and Researcher Collaboration: An Example of an Emerging Model of Survivor Wellbeing.”

Her writing has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. In 2012 she was named a “Changemaker” by the Women’s Press and was a Loft Series Mentor Finalist. In 2019 she received the International Social Justice Citizen Award from the International Leadership Institute. She has appeared in numerous media, including NPR, MPR, PBS, Justice Talking, and Robin Morgan’s radio show. She has spoken at law schools, conferences, rallies, and at the United Nations (four times). She has taught writing and humanity courses at universities and community colleges for 18 years and worked as a Two-Spirit program director at Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center. Currently, she facilitates art and writing groups at Breaking Free in St. Paul, consults with a variety of local and national organizations, and teaches writing and literature at Anoka Ramsey Community College. She is a member of the Minnesota Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Taskforce. She has an MFA in Writing and an MSW. Her second novel, Carnival Lights, will be published in February, 2021. For more information, visit

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Tar Sands Storytelling Project

The Tar Sands Storytelling Project is a collaborative, grass-roots, and first of its kind visual arts exhibit. Over the course of six months, 10 Wisconsin artists researched, rendered, and reflected upon the cradle to grave story of tar sands oil in Wisconsin. The 10 panel exhibit of their work depicts different aspects of tar sands oil and pipeline infrastructure in the context of the global climate crisis.

Tar Sands Art Show (Artists from left to right: Daniel Torres, Helen Klebesadel, Rory Donovan, Joan Walker, Anne Jensen, Marjorie Steele Halverson, Christine Keller. Not Pictured: Lorenzo Lee Backhaus, Paul Hinsa, Donna Post).

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Marjorie Steele Halverson, Black River Falls, WI (she/her/hers). Whether it be a planned painting or intuitive, starting with a spot of paint, Marjorie paints from deep within her being. She enjoys many mediums and often her work becomes tactile. Her work is influenced by her deep faith, family, and the diversity of customs and environment of the places she has lived and traveled.

Anne Jensen, Alma Center, WI (she/her/hers). Anne is a graduate of UW-Eau Claire in Anne is a graduate of UW-Eau Claire in 2008 as a non-traditional student and Fine Arts Major with an emphasis in sculpture. Her primary mediums of expression include ceramic figures, natural wooden forms, multi-medium materials, figure drawing/pencil, use of color and composition exploration.

Rory Donovan, Milwaukee, WI (they/them/theirs). Laura has enjoyed making art for as long as they can remember. They studied industrial design for two years at UW-Stout before changing majors to applied social sciences, and is currently back in school at UW-Milwaukee to practice Community Art. They believe art plays a vital role in storytelling and building community.

Paul Hinsa, Madison, WI (he/him/his).  I’ve been asleep most of my life but am awake since Standing Rock. I am a Water Protector. I took poetic license and intentionally spelled Enbridge wrong-because they are in the wrong.

Donna Post, Cable, WI (she/her/hers). Donna Post is best known locally as a muralist, and is currently working on a 70-foot mural for the town of Cable, Wisconsin. Many of her murals and free-standing paintings can be found in Southern California and several locations in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Lorenzo Lee Backhaus, Milwaukee, WI  (he/him/his). Lorenzo holds a Masters of Sustainable Peace-building from UW-Milwaukee. He first learned about the tar sands pipelines in Wisconsin when he was a student at UW-Whitewater.

Joan Walker, Humbird, WI (she/her/hers). Joan gives into the time and emotion it takes to be truthful to expressing her interpretations of history, landforms and archaeology. Joan has won three WRAP State Awards and has had exhibits in Starbucks on the Capital Square and the Opening Artist Exhibit for the Clark County Art Center.

Daniel Torres, Milwaukee, WI (he/him/his). Daniel is a multidisciplinary designer and artist best known for his watercolor paintings.  Contact him to see more of his work at

Christine Keller, Neillsville, WI (she/her/hers). Christine Keller (BA, Fine Arts–Indiana University) is a local artist in the Neillsville area. Christine enjoyed a thirty-six year career in commercial art. She now provides graphic design support and serves on the Board of Directors for the Clark Cultural ART Center in Neillsville, Wisconsin.

Helen Klebesadel, Madison, WI (she/her/hers). Helen Klebesadel (MFA UW-Madison) is best known for her environmental and women centered artworks. Helen is a past Director of the Wisconsin Regional Art program, part-president of the national Women’s Caucus for Art, and she served on the Wisconsin Arts Board for seven years.

Abby Ross, Madison, WI (she/her/hers). Abby is an organizer, activist, and creative. She holds a degree in Political Science from the University of WIsconsin – Madison where she first started organizing within the youth climate justice movement, specifically around pipeline resistance. In 2019 Abby was the recipient of the Sierra Club Joseph Barbosa Award for her activism and leadership on the Tar Sands Storytelling Project. She has since been invited to speak at events such as the National Women’s Caucus for Art National Conference. She currently sits on the Executive, and Equity Committee for the Wisconsin Chapter of the Sierra Club and continues to lead collaborative, art and storytelling projects on climate justice issues.


Clark Cultural Arts Center (CART)

Wisconsin Youth Network (WiYN)

Sierra Club, Wisconsin Chapter

Valaria Tatera

woman in front of wall of artworkValaria Tatera (she/her/hers) is a Wisconsin based installation artist, activist, and lecturer whose work investigates the intersection of ethnicity, gender, commerce, and the environment. An enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Valaria explores self identity and contemporary Indigenous issues such as the impact of colonization on Indigenous Erasure, Visibility, and Resilience. Her intention is “for the work to hold visual and personal space for statistics that often erase the individual.” Valaria earned an MFA in 3-D from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and M.A. and B.F.A. in Ceramics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She recently was a finalist for the Mary Nohl Fellowship and the United States Artist Fellowship and is a co-curator for No More Stolen Sisters about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2 spirits. In spring, her public artwork on COVID will be featured at Kilbourne Park in Milwaukee, and future exhibitions are scheduled for James Watrous Gallery (spring-summer), Saint Kate (summer), the Wriston Gallery (fall), and the Walker’s Point Center for the Arts (winter). View her work here.

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United ReSisters

group of Somali refugee women posing for photoThe United ReSisters is a community organization that started in 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin focused on building a better community for female immigrants and refugees. The group was established by Diana Delbecchi as an answer to the need for a safe and creative space for these young women. In its early years the group served as a place for our members to build strong relationships with other women in the community, increase their knowledge and support for higher education goals and to create art as a pathway for personal growth and storytelling. The group’s intention is to shine a light on the growing presence of Somali youth in Green Bay and elevate their voices and stories to create change. In 2017, our group painted a beautiful mural that pays tribute to the member’s collective Somali identity while telling the story of their individual travels through various countries to arrive here in Wisconsin. Then in 2019, the group wrote and published a book titled The First Winter which is a collection of their trailblazing stories, reflections, conversations, letters, lists, and poems about their experiences as refugees and journeys to the United States. Ever since it was published our group has been asked to present their stories and share their voices in many spaces across the state of Wisconsin.

Katie Zaman

Katie Zaman (she/her/hers) earned her PhD in Sociology from UW-Madison in 2020 and used comics in her dissertation research on gendered risk in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is working as a health and wellness program coordinator in the Office of Health Equity and Community Engagement at Utah State University, where she draws comics and coordinates programing to reduce stigma around substance use disorder and harm reduction, particularly in rural and tribal communities. She is developing a methodology for participatory-arts-based research projects that uses participant-generated art, music, and poetry to facilitate conversations about community strengths, assets, and needs. She has three cats, which is totally a reasonable number of cats.

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