Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of the acclaimed novel A Kind of Freedom, and Risa Puno, the sculpture and installation artist responsible for, among other works, an interactive public art project called “The Privilege of Escape,” share an interest in how inequalities of different kinds shape and limit life choices. They also produce very different kinds of work. This conversation will explore how and why this topic is generative for them, as well as their own aesthetic choices in an era of renewed attention to various forms of inequality and privilege.
Conversation moderated by Sophia Rosenfeld.
Risa Puno is an NYC-based sculpture and installation artist who uses interactivity and play to understand how we relate to one another. She has exhibited with national and international organizations, including: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Socrates Sculpture Park, El Museo del Barrio, NURTUREart, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, MA, SPACES in Cleveland, OH, Onassis USA, Galerie Stefan Röpke in Cologne, Germany, and MMX Open Art Venue in Berlin, Germany. Puno is the recipient of multiple awards and residencies, including the John Michael Kohler Arts Center Arts/Industry Residency and FIGMENT’s first ever Interactive Artist of the Year. In 2019, she was selected by Creative Time for their inaugural Open Call award. Puno’s work has been featured across radio and print, including The New York Times, NPR, The New Yorker, ProPublica, and The Boston Globe. She currently serves on the NYC DOT Art Advisory Committee. Puno grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and she studied art and medicine at Brown University and earned her MFA from New York University.
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, born and raised in New Orleans, studied creative writing at Dartmouth College and law at UC Berkeley. Her most recent novel, The Revisioners, won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work and was a national bestseller as well as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her debut novel, A Kind of Freedom, was long-listed for the National Book Award and the Northern California Book Award, won the Crook's Corner Book Prize, and was the recipient of the First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She lives in Oakland with her family.
Sophia Rosenfeld is Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Common Sense: A Political History and Democracy and Truth: A Short History, among other works. She is currently writing a book about how choice became a proxy for freedom in the modern world.