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What do art and feminism have to do with Wikipedia and Penn State?

The fourth annual wiki-edit-a-thon will be held by the Penn State Libraries and the School of Visual Arts on April 6, according to Penn State News.

The event, which is part of a larger national “Art+Feminism” movement, aims to expand Wikipedia by getting people of different backgrounds, genders and orientations to edit the database in order to create a larger, more diverse knowledge base.

“Art+Feminism is a campaign improving coverage of cis and transgender women, feminism and the arts on Wikipedia,” according its website. “From coffee shops and community centers to the largest museums and universities in the world, Art+Feminism is a do-it-yourself and do-it-with-others campaign teaching people of all gender identities and expressions to edit Wikipedia.”

According to Art+Feminism, less than 10 percent of people who edit Wikipedia are women. At Penn State, the event is trying to change that.

Informational events will take place during the edit-a-thon, beginning at 10 a.m. in the Mann Assembly Room in 103 Paterno Library. In addition to a pizza lunch and refreshments, there will also be reference guides available and an introduction to Wikipedia editing, according to Penn State News.

Julie Porterfield, an instruction and outreach archivist and a Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Library liaison at Penn State, is helping to organize the event.

Porterfield said she’s most looking forward to seeing the student engagement at Friday’s event.

“Seeing students engage with issues related to women's, gender, & sexuality studies and information literacy is my favorite part of any event that the libraries host,” Porterfield said via email.

Porterfield will be presenting on "Everything You Need to Know to (re)Shape Knowledge on Wikipedia" at 10:15 a.m. in the Mann Assembly Room. The talks, like the edit-a-thon, aim to expand knowledge and represent different topics and ideas, according to Penn State News.

Other Penn State faculty members will be presenting, as well.

Benjamin Andrew, an instructor of art in the Penn State School of Visual Arts, will address “Crowd Sourced Narratives and Participatory Art” at 11 a.m.

More specifically, Andrew said via email he’ll “be talking about the evolving relationship of artists and their audiences, from twentieth century artists who involved the public in the creation of their work, to the roles of consumers and fans in today's pop culture.”

Andrew said his topic ties into a more personal project he did called People’s Production, which created a crowd-sourced movie as a participatory exhibit.  

Leslie Sotomayor, presenting “Border Art: Where are the Border Artists?” at 4 p.m., said she’ll focus “on the idea of border art as conceptual artistic practice.” Sotomayor is a dual-title doctorate candidate in art education and women's, gender, & sexuality studies.

“Historically, border art emerged from the artists and voices from the Mexico/U.S. border who deal with conceptual ideas about borders,” Sotomayor said via email. “For example, geographical location on the border, political themes and theory versus the lived everyday experiences of those living on the border. However, this is a limited view, it actually expands to also include language, culture, citizenship and any number of imagined boundaries…”

Just as their cultures shift, border artists often use mixed mediums in their artwork, Sotomayor said.

“My talk will highlight some border artists that discuss border art in their work in relation to Mexico/U.S. and other borders, expanding the idea of 'the border.’ I will also include references for the Border Art Wiki site that will provide more depth to the conversation,” Sotomayor said.

Her hope is to add a “Border Artists” category to the Border Art Wikipedia page in order to deepen the definition.

Alexandra Staub, an associate professor of architecture and affiliate faculty, Rock Ethics Institute will present “Women in Architecture: Redefining their Roles” at 3 p.m. She’ll “be contributing material on the role of women in building iconic houses — Architecture being teamwork, and not, as is often suggested, the sole work of a ‘genius individual,’” she said via email.

In addition, Karen Keifer-Boyd, professor of art education and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, will present on "Feminist Remix: History, Themes, Artists” at 2 p.m., drawing on the research she’s done.

Christopher Reed, distinguished professor of English, visual culture, and women's, gender, and sexuality studies, said he’ll be writing about William Sturgis Bigelow, whose donations to the Museum of Fine Arts helped define Japanese art.

“The idea [of the event], I think, is to contribute to Wikipedia articles to illuminate for students and other researchers around the world aspects of the topics they are looking up that relate to feminism — and my case to other aspects of the history of sexuality and gender,” Reed said via email.

His goal, he said, is to expand people’s knowledge of Bigelow and what he contributed to art, helping “readers come to a more sophisticated understanding of how Bigelow actually helped create Western ideas of what Japanese art and culture were — and how these ideas of Japan reflected his own ideologies.”

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