Research Seminar | Unlearn Fear + Hate: Community Engagement through the Arts

Monday, November 6, 2017 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm


We can’t pass the course on humanity

if we keep failing the lessons

on harmony

and until we unlearn fear and hate.

                       — Frank X Walker

Unlearn Fear + Hate is Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova's latest community-driven artwork. It aims to promote public dialog through temporary and permanent activations of the words “Unlearn Fear + Hate.” Inspired by a need to address growing national tensions, Unlearn Fear + Hate invites participants and passersby alike to recognize the fears we all live with and to begin to diminish them by acknowledging our shared humanity.

In this research seminar, Kurt and Kremena will demonstrate the different manifestations of Unlearn Fear + Hate as artwork, including the concept of community as artwork (how people become part of a community by becoming part of an artwork). In this context, artwork can be seen as a vehicle for people to connect and transcend self as much as a means of individual expression. They will also describe how Transylvania University adopted and integrated Unlearn Fear + Hate on a university-wide basis. By incorporating literature, art, and members of the community themselves, Unlearn Fear + Hate promotes discussion and listening in the hopes that we can overcome perceived differences and intolerances within our society.

Kurt and Kremena began teaching community engagement through the arts at Transylvania University in 2008 as a way to build and sustain meaningful connections between this historic university in downtown Lexington, KY and the university’s neighbors. In August 2016 they launched Unlearn Fear + Hate.

Unlearn Fear + Hate manifests itself in three ways: as halo-like sculptures that bear the words “Unlearn Fear + Hate” in English, Spanish, or Arabic; as stencils that spell the same words and that can be used to spray-paint them on sidewalks, cars, t-shirts, and fabric; and as cross-stitch designs (in many different languages) that can be made to keep or to gift to others. Shared on social media and in more traditional art venues, portraits of people standing in front of the sculptures and photographs of the stencils become starting points for civic dialog and engagement with others, the beginning of what Kurt and Kremena hope will be a more just society.

The initiative’s title comes from a poem Kurt and Kremena commissioned Frank X Walker to write for an artwork called “Love Letter To the World.” They have worked with hundreds of elementary- and high-school students, university students, members of a variety of faith communities, and citizens of different countries to create Unlearn Fear + Hate installations around the globe.

Unlearn Fear + Hate has received significant local and national recognition. In January 2017, Kurt and Kremena were awarded the Lexington Forum Spirit Award specifically for their work on Unlearn Fear + Hate. In May, they won a PitchNight grant to create an installation as part of ArtPrize Nine, an international public art festival in Grand Rapids, MI. Most recently, Unlearn Fear + Hate received national recognition with an Art Works Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Geddes Hall Coffee House

Brown Bag Lunch. Coffee will be provided. All are welcome.


Add to Calendar 11/06/2017 12:30:00 America/Indiana/Indianapolis Research Seminar | Unlearn Fear + Hate: Community Engagement through the Arts   We can’t pass the course on humanity if we keep failing the lessons on harmony and u
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