The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson will present a free community forum inspired by an exhibition of paintings and digitally designed posters by Duluth-based artist Moira Villiard.
The exhibition, titled “Doublethink: The Rights of the Child” www.artbymoira.com/rightsofthechild, will be presented in The Galleries of The Phipps from Jan. 21-Feb. 27. The forum is designed to encourage people from different faith and cultural backgrounds to come together, share perspectives, learn from one another and make connections across differences.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, 25.3% of the world’s population are children between the ages of 0 and 14. That number goes up to nearly 30% if using the legal definition for children in the U.S. as being under the age of 18.
Here in the St. Croix River Valley, children under the age of 18 make up nearly 24% of the total population of just over 500,000 people total.
Villiard’s exhibit sheds light on the contradictory beliefs and behaviors toward children’s rights while calling attention to the concept of “doublethink,” or the state in which a person holds two or more contradictory beliefs, behaviors or attitudes towards a topic or situation.
One example she highlights, and which may surprise many, is the fact that the U.S. is the only member of the United Nations yet to ratify the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child which created an international framework to ensure governments implement policies that invest in child development and protect them from violence and exploitation.
The forum will open with an artist talk by Villiard in which she will provide insights into the research she conducted while working on the exhibit, discuss how they are reflected in her work and address the impact she sees of “doublethink” on children’s rights issues. Her talk will be followed by a presentation by Moira Lynch, professor of Politics, Geography and International Studies at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, who will trace the origin and history of human rights and address how the status of children has changed over time.
Break-out sessions facilitated by community members from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds will follow the presentations. Focusing on specific themes Villiard addresses in her exhibit, facilitators will encourage participants to make connections to the experience of children here in the St. Croix River Valley.
Potential topics include the relationship of the child and the body, access to clean water and a healthy environment, family relationships and a safe home environment, hunger and poverty, and access to and autonomy over the content of education.
Paul Johnson will oversee this portion of the forum. Johnson is a graduate of Hudson High School and the founder of Proactivism, a social business offering coaching and training to eradicate racism.
The forum will conclude with participants reconvening to share highlights of the break-out discussions with one another. A reception will follow, during which participants, facilitators and presenters can talk.