Jazz Studies PhD Candidate Ben Barson and his wife and creative partner Gizelxanath Rodriguez have been named Artists in Residence for University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program. Barson and Rodriguez are cofounders of the Afro-Yaqui Music Collective whose work has been recognized nationally by ASCAP, New Music USA, and I Care if You Listen, as well as by Pittsburgh arts organizations, foundations, and media. As Residents in UW-Madison’s program they join such renowned innovators as Philip Glass, Pauline Oliveros, and Fred Ho. While in residence Barson and Rodriguez will teach a course titled “Artivism: Intercultural Solidarity & Decolonizing Performance.”
Recently, Ben joined the Music at Pitt Podcast to discuss Afro Yaqui’s critically acclaimed multimedia production Mirror Butterfly: a Migrant Liberation Movement Suite (available from Innova Recordings, everywhere fine music is sold, and on all major streaming services). In the course of the conversation, he describes his path into jazz and political activism and how he weaves those influences in his creative and scholarly work.