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CMAP Student Spotlight: Sharon Amuguni, 2017–18 cohort

March 13, 2018

Sharon Amuguni is interested in the synthesis of art and media as a tool to revitalize communities, and initiate authentic dialogue and action around social issues. Sharon believes in the power of alternative creative production as a means of activism. Sharon is also a poet and is passionate about exploring conversations of emotional and mental health within communities of color. She thinks poetry can be a cathartic act of self care and resistance.

What was the path that brought you to CMAP? I saw Claudia Rankine speak at Cutler theater last year and felt really inspired by the event. That night when I got home I went to the Emerson website curious to see what else was happening and found the CMAP program. It seemed like a great fit for me. As luck has it about a month later I started a new job and one of the artists I worked with was also a professor at CMAP. She spoke highly of the program and that reinforced my interest.

*What does civic media mean to you? *To me civic media means utilizing technology and media for the purpose of uplifting communities.

*What is one change you would like to see in the world? *I’d like for there to be more scrutiny in the way some forms of philanthropy work and how they can often perpetuate the problem. I’d like for more agency and praise to be given to local organizations, both nationally and internationally, that are invested in their communities and are continuously putting in the hard work. I’d like for more people to give without expecting anything in return and for individuals to feel more responsibility towards one another.

Photo credit: Aakanksha Gupta

> > To me civic media means utilizing technology and media for the purpose of uplifting communities.

*What would you want the civic media community to know about you? *I consider myself a poet first and really believe in its ability to connect and empower. I’m always looking for interesting projects that mix poetry, writing and engagement.

*Are there any specific projects that you’ve done in the past that intersect with your studies now? *Last year I began working as the program assistant for Boston AIR, the City’s first residency program. It’s been such a privilege to see and support all of these amazing local artists working to create a positive impact in Boston communities. Much of what we’re discussing in our classes they’re doing in practice. It’s also shown me the potential there is in involving artists, media makers, and activists in the work being done in municipal departments.

Sharon and other CMAP students at HUB Week 2017. Photo credit: Aakanksha Gupta

How do you define engagement? What does being engaged mean to you? To me being engaged means choosing to actively step in to the communities around you, being empathetic, critical and attentive to their issues and needs. It means wanting to create stronger relationships and better lives for everyone within that community, even those unable to step in alongside you.

What are some of your favorite pieces of media? *I love poetry and podcasts. *Richard Siken’s book Crush is one of my favorite poetry books and I re-read it several times a year. Right now I’m reading Hoa Nguyen’s poetry book Violet Engery Ingots which I also recommend. I am a fan of the podcasts Keep It, Tiny Spark, and Stuff Mom Never Told You, to name a few. Recently I’ve been trying to listen to every This American Life podcast I haven’t heard from its inception in 1995 onward. Luckily there’s a lot to enjoy.

*What’s one fun fact most people don’t know about you? *I like singing but have so far been incapable of learning how to play an instrument. But, I have always wanted to learn how to play the drums, so if anyone has a drum set and wants to take on the challenge of teaching me please do reach out!

Learn more about Civic Media, Art & Practice.

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