THE WORK (2016-2017)

Following are highlights of both the work of The Iruke Project and the work of Butterfly Williams (aka Anthony Julius Williams, MFA and PhD candidate) as an independent artist from 2016 and 2017:

 

FORUM THEATER ON IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE ISSUES

Anthony taught a Theater of the Oppressed workshop to graduate students enrolled in Saybrook University's Department of Transformative Social Change at the school's residential conference in Monterey, CA on August 29, 2017. The department's non-traditional students comprise a nationwide network of community activists.

Utilizing Brazilian theater director Augusto Boal's Forum Theater technique of performance, dialogue and intervention, the students created four skits that dramatically illustrated the social dilemmas posed by immigration and refugee issues: discrimination against Spanish-speaking customers at an American fast-food restaurant; a raid on a Black family by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); a silent moving tableau on racial differentials in America's acceptance of new immigrants; and a border official who considers sexual identity, health status, country of origin, and professional achievements in his decisions about who gets permission to enter the country. Students discussed strategies for building power in communities during dialogues about interventions in these situations. (Click here.)

OLOKUN: AFRICAN SPIRITUALITY AS POP MUSIC INTERVENTION

Anthony is also known as Butterfly Williams, the vocalist and lyricist for the psychedelic power pop band OLOKUN, a collaboration with music producer Winston Berger. Anthony gave a talk about the band's work as a part of a series of graduate student presentations he organized for the Mbongi symposium described below. (Click to see the presentation here.)

His presentation focused on Crossing to Safety, the band's debut music video, which premiered at the Root Division art gallery in San Francisco in January 2017. Lead singer Butterfly Williams discussed how the band's video about an African deity emphasizes culture (not identity), storytelling (not worship), androgyny (not drag), and healing (not witchcraft). (Click to see the music video here.)

MBONGI: A VILLAGE GATHERING AT THE INTERSECTION OF AFRICAN-CENTERED PSYCHOLOGY & HUMANISTIC EXISTENTIAL PSYCHOLOGY

Anthony organized a symposium at Saybrook University on August 28, 2017 that featured several panel discussions with distinguished Black psychologists from the San Francisco Bay Area talking about their work to promote mental health in the Black community and advance African-centered psychology in academia. The event's focus on cultural appropriation was timely given the recent growth of the white supremacist movement in the United States. (Click here.)

IN THE SPIRIT OF THE GRIOTS: GATHERING THE VILLAGE TO CELEBRATE THE WISDOM OF THE ELDERS

On August 27, 2017, Muhammad Rahman, Kumari Fabio and Anthony organized a special African-themed reception to welcome distinguished scholar-practitioners of Black psychology to Saybrook University in anticipation of the symposium described above. The Daktari Dance Medicine Collective helped open the university community's mind and hearts to new ways of being and knowing through the uplifting spiritual power of West African dance, drumming, and spoken word. (Click here.)

ROOTCAMP: A TWO-DAY TEACH-IN TO INSPIRE DIALOGUE, ENGAGEMENT AND COMMUNITY ACTION

Anthony taught a Forum Theater workshop at RootCamp, a grassroots activist training program in Alameda, CA, on May 21, 2017. Forum Theater is an interactive performance technique invented by Brazilian activist Augusto Boal. Actors create skits that illustrate acts of oppression, and audiences are invited to intervene directly in the performance to change the outcome to an act of social justice. With the theatrical sets of the Tortona Big Top circus tent as a backdrop, RootCamp activists performed and intervened in skits about human trafficking and sexist employment discrimination. (Click here.)

A NIGHT WITH THE STARS 2017: DREAMING IN COLOR

Every year, the Community Housing Partnership hosts A Night With The Stars, a fundraising gala that centers on a talent show featuring clients that benefit from CHP's housing and employment services for the homeless. CHP invited local artists to mentor their clients for the show and asked the mentors to perform alongside the talent on the big night, April 13, 2017. The event was held at the gloriously restored Herbst Theater, located across the street from City Hall in the heart of San Francisco's Civic Center area. Anthony mentored actor Sky Weber over two months of rehearsals at the Senator Hotel in the Tenderloin and the Cornerstone Church in the Mission. Respectively dressed in discoball helmet and a tux, they sang a duet from the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical Starlight Express. The event raised $270,000 for CHP's programs. (Click here.)

THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT II: LEADING TOWARDS LIBERATION

Anthony and Monisha Rios organized a follow-up program to the first Butterfly Effect event at Saybrook University's Residential Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Monterrey, CA, on January 22. Whereas the first event centered on the links between creativity, chaos theory and social change, the second focused on leadership to promote liberation psychology. Smashing the silos that traditionally separate Saybrook's four academic divisions -- and bringing together students, faculty, staff and trustees to participate in the event -- graduate students from Humanistic & Clinical Psychology, Mind Body Medicine, Organizational Systems, and Transformative Social Change led action-oriented group discussions about the Saybrook Black Women's Group, Embodied Liberation, a Social Action Incubator and Podcasting. Shape-shifting for social change, Anthony facilitated the event while outfitted in monarch butterfly wings, a rainbow bodysuit, and red heart bobble antennae! (Click here.)

SIREN: CALL FROM THE BLACKEST PART OF THE OCEAN

The Iruke Project produced a music video art installation for the 3.9 Art Collective's group exhibition CALL FOR BEAUTY at the Root Division art gallery in San Francisco, CA. Anthony's psychedelic power pop band OLOKUN -- a collaboration with musician Winston Berger -- performed during a live video shoot to an enthusiastic wall-to-wall audience at the exhibition's opening reception on January 14, 2017. OLOKUN performed their song Crossing To Safety -- about the Atlantic slave trade and the sea goddess who received the ancestors who did not survive the journey -- inside an art installation that represented a deep-ocean environment. The performance video was incorporated into location footage shot by video director Abraham Chan at Justin Herman Plaza, Church & Duboce Streets, Sunset Boulevard and Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Anthony appears as a mermaid in the resulting music video, which was shown at Root Division until February 18, 2017. (Click here.)

FIRE HOUSE / WATERS EDGE

The Hatch Performance Collective produced Fire House / Waters Edge, two weekends of site-specific theater at the Fort Mason Firehouse, as part of the San Francisco International Art Festival on May 21-29, 2016. Director Rebecca Schultz invited Anthony and actor Aejay Mitchell to devise a performance that honored the military history of the site, especially the Double Victory campaign of Black World War II soldiers who battled both enemies abroad and discrimination at home. Anthony created a slow-moving ghost drill sergeant who encounters a confused queer youth on the piers of San Francisco. (Click here.)

CROSSING TO SAFETY

Anthony's psychedelic power pop band OLOKUN performed three songs live at the opening reception on March 12, 2016, for Crossing to Safety, a group exhibition about immigration to America, at the Abrams-Claghorn Gallery in Albany, CA. Anthony created a temporary floor installation of blue mylar, gold coins, a treasure chest and a skull -- and appeared in white body make-up and fabric from Ghana -- for the performance. Anthony also created a permanent listening station for OLOKUN's song demos, which could be heard and purchased at the gallery until March 31, 2016. (Click here.)