The SUNY New Paltz Student Art Alliance kicked off their fall 2018 season of visiting artist lectures last week with a visit from SUNY Purchase’s Christopher Robbins.
Robbins has received great acclaim within the art world for his non-profit and humanitarian works, and currently serves as the director of SUNY Purchase’s School of Art and Design.
The primary focus of Robbins’ lecture on campus focused on his work on the Ghana ThinkTank, which he co-founded in 2006 with John Ewing and Matey Odonkor. The Ghana ThinkTank is a public art project and international collective with humanitarian aims.
“The goal of the Ghana ThinkTank was and continues to be to flip the tradition narrative– to develop the so-called first world with help from the so-called developing world.” Robbins said.
Robbins addressed a crowd of perhaps 200 in the Lecture Center, a decent attendance pull for the Alliance’s series.
The Ghana ThinkTank was founded in Ghana, with teams also working in Cuba and El Salvador. The project has since expanded to Mexico, Iran, Serbia, Indonesia, Sudan and Morocco. The approach is simple; turning the tables and upending traditional colonialist narratives through humanitarian projects and practices.
For example, the group’s website cites a project developed in Tijuana to spark conversation about immigration concerns between Mexico and the United States.
“In a collaboration with Torolab, an award-winning Mexican art and design group, we have worked with a variety of think tanks in Tijuana to create a border cart designed to help people cross the US/Mexican border. Outfitted with interactive screens, the cart allows people to present problems and give solutions pertaining to immigration and the border, creating a public think tank about the border, at the border.” The Ghana ThinkTank wesbite explains.
For more information on the Art Alliance’s Visiting Artist Lecture Series, visit https://www.newpaltz.edu/art/visiting-artist-lecture-series/. For their next event, the group will host Letha Wilson on Oct. 17, at 11 a.m. in Lecture Center 102.
For more information regarding the work of Christopher Robbins and to keep up with the various projects of the Ghana ThinkTank, visit ghanathinktank.org.