UND Writers Conference Panel: “Class and Art”


Destiny Garcia, Opinion Writers

On Thursday, September 17,  UND held the 51st annual UND Writers Conference. The conference was hosted by Patrick T. Henry with speakers Jenny Zhang, Rich Tsong-Taatarii, Roy G. Guzman, and Matt Young. In the conference, the panel discussed their different types of art and what it meant to them. The conference also brought a lot of attention to things going on in society. 

What the panel had to say was riveting and informativeThey talked a lot about what their art means to them, Jenny Zhang said, “It’s really important for me to be able to offer an interiority for characters and stories that might be considered working class.” What she means by this is that she believes it is very important to properly represent people of this class because so many people use this class of people in an ideological way to help them make an argument which is not fair. 

Zhang goes on to say that, “To be able to have a space where I’m free to describe the nuances and specificities and interiority of working-class people is really important.” She says it is important because their misrepresented as villains or angels but that is not the case, they are just everyday people trying to make it through life and when they are faced with injustice it is important to push back against adversity and art is a chance to go beyond that and demonstrate it in a positive light. 

Another speaker on the panel was Roy Guzman. Roy lives in MinneapolisMinnesota where George Floyd was killed. He said, “Not only have I been moved by protesters, I’ve also been moved by the ways in which people continue to not only try to rebuild structures and new visions.”  

He later goes on to talk about the figure of the essential work and the exploitation of women and children, calling it silent material and how important it is to properly represent them in his work. 

Later in the conference the host, Patrick T. Henry talks about the inequality in the field of writing and invisible labor. The panelists also talk about the concept of emotional labor and how serious of a problem it is the reality of that exploitation. While talking about emotional labor Jenny Zhang gives the example of how women from the global north make women from the global south carry their children making them unavailable for their own child. 

Panelist Jenny Zhang also talks about how people’s art comes out not only in actual physical art but also in these types of conversations and how truly important awareness is. The panelists had invigorating conversations about inequality in society, misrepresentation, and so many other things and how they relate to their art. They also talk extensively on how important proper representation is to all groups of people. The panelists explained when you make art, no matter what kind, it has to properly represent people, and they found it important because many get the wrong idea if they do not have the proper representation. 

More of these conferences will be held on Thursdays at 7 p.m. until November 19. Throughout these dates there will be more panelists and new topics. For more information visit https://calendar.und.edu/event/und_writers_conference_panel_class_and_art_2934#.X2V8r2hKhPZ 


Destiny Garcia is a Dakota Student Opinion Writer. She can be reached at [email protected].