Democracy in Focus

Program Overview

Democracy is thought of as a vast, yet opaque concept. It feels out of reach, yet it is deeply personal. It impacts us all no matter your background, ideology, or zip code. However, in recent years we have seen instances of democracy as we know it at its tipping point. With Elections becoming more critical in our modern time locally and nationally, rollbacks of human rights due to Supreme Court decisions and local legislatures, and an attempted coup of the United States Capitol. Democracy is fragile, even on a global scale. How can we utilize our respective disciplines and passions to preserve democracy, through the lens of art?

Frederick Honors College Artist-in-Residence Morgan Overton will host a monthly workshop to strengthen critical thinking and consciousness on the intersections of art, activism, and civic engagement.

Inspired by Black Lives in Focus, (2021).
When: September 2023 - April 2024

Workshops & Final Event

Engage University of Pittsburgh Honors College students, University students, and greater Pittsburgh community in a once-a-month series of workshops that strengthens critical thinking and consciousness on the intersections of art, activism, and civic engagement for the duration of the 2023-2024 school-year. 

The foundations of racial, gender, economic, and accessibility justice transcend all concepts that will be highlighted in each workshop. Students will be grounded in the understanding that these factors intersect and interplay one another, and are not mutually exclusive.

Workshops will lead to a culminating event "Democracy In Focus" in April 2024, showcasing multidisciplinary art (visual art, photography, written works, etc.) of students and community members. A Call for Artists will take place in November 2023. The intended outcome is for anyone - whether they are an artist, someone who has never done art, a University student, or community member to channel their inner creative spirit, and become empowered to self-express as a contribution to greater good.

Artists should explore the simple question, “What Does Democracy Mean to You?” 

What does it mean to preserve Democracy - through the lens of artmaking? Morgan will also create and contribute a work of art for exhibit, and University to keep to display if it chooses. 

Large scale canvas prints of submitted works will be on exhibit at the April event, and in conjunction with Honors College graduation. In addition, a website will be created to showcase works online.

Workshop Dates, Themes & Locations

September 27—Democracy

Location: Center for Creativity
Ground students in how democracy is defined. Learn the elements of what makes a healthy democracy, includingbut not limited tocivic participation, voting, elections, social justice.

October 26—Advocacy in LGBTQ+ History Month

Location: B-50 Cathedral, Center for Creativity

Morgan Overton, the Frederick Honors College's Artist in Residence, is hosting her next workshop around the themes of advocacy and LGBTQ+ History Month. Throughout the month, we honor the changemakers who have contributed to gay rights and related civil rights movements, and through this lens, Morgan and guest speaker Taylor Waits will discuss how students and community members can become activated as advocates, regardless of their discipline or background.

Please join the Frederick Honors College, the Center on Race and Social Problems, and the Center for Creativity for an event that will uplift participants through dialogue and art and leave them with a feeling of agency and empowerment for social change.

Earn OCC credit and enjoy Halloween-themed snacks with us! Please register in advance.


November 8—Economic Justice

Location: Center for Creativity
Economic opportunity, income equality, the reality of what young people experience (student loans, housing, etc.).

December 7—Health & Environmental Equity

Location: Center for Creativity
Centered towards community.

January 18—A Beloved Community

Location: Center for Creativity
Centered around MLK day.

February 15—Solidarity & Unity

Location: Center for Creativity
Black History Month. Students should consider how they are a body of power and aren't siloed. They also will gain awareness of how injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. They will walk away feeling empowered to step up and in lockstep with one another. Explore the history of the civil rights movement.

March 21—Gender Equity & Intersectionality

Location: Center for Creativity
Women’s History Month. Students will gain consciousness of the concept of intersectionality.

April 2024—Democracy in Focus event

Location: TBD
A reprint of submitted works will be printed on life-sized canvases, to be displayed on varsity walk.