Schedule at a Glance

Panels are 50 minutes and feature dynamic creators and activists in conversation, moderated by teen interns with audience Q&A at the end.

Workshops are 75 to 85 minutes. Our presenters will lead you in drawing, writing, movement, and other activities and games. Have your pencils, pen, paper, and sketch pads ready and be prepared to join in.

Friday, July 23rd

10:00 – 10:10 a.m.
Intro to ACTIVATE and session previews

10:10 – 11:00 a.m.
Panel: Art As Activism

11:00 – 12:30 p.m.
Workshop: YA Book Cover Design
Workshop: Worldbuilding 101

12:15 – 1:30 p.m.
Lunch Break

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Workshop: Merging Your Passions: How to Make Video Game Fan Art

3:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Panel: Fabulize Magazine and Sistah Sifi Present: Lessons on Afrofuturism From Our Favorite Superheroes
Panel: Self-Publishing Manga

4:00 – 4:50 p.m.
Panel: Memoir Comics: Tough Issues and Self-Reflection

4:50 – 5:00 p.m.
Closing remarks and sneak peeks of Saturday sessions

5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
After-Hours Gaming


Saturday, July 24th

10:00 – 10:10 a.m.
Welcome and session previews

10:10 – 11:00 a.m.
Panel: Taking It to the Streets: Murals, Grafitti, and Public Art

11:00 – 12:30 p.m.
Workshop: Discovering Stories of Self, Us, and Now
Workshop: Democracy and Dragons: an RPG Approach to Leveling Up your Activism

12:15 – 1:30 p.m.
Lunch Break

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Workshop: Quick Quills: Fanfiction Workshop

3:00 – 3:50 p.m.
Panel: Fans Take the Wheel: Moving Past Problematic Creators and Themes
Panel: The Madtwiinz: Changing the Industry from the Inside Out

4:00 – 4:50 p.m.
Panel: Getting Real About a Career in the Arts

Panel and Workshop Descriptions

FRIDAY, JULY 23RD

10:10 – 11:00 a.m.

ART AS ACTIVISM
Jennessa Burks, Amaryllis Lopez, and Steenz
Meet three awesome artist-changemakers who work at the intersection of art and social justice.  Our opening panel features painter, educator and BLM street artist, Jennessa Burks; youth and community arts activist, Amaryllis Lopez; and comic artist, Steenz. In their art and lives, they’re breaking barriers, disrupting the status quo, empowering young people, and helping us imagine a better world. Prepare to be inspired!

11:00 – 12:30 p.m.

YA BOOK COVER DESIGN 
Jui Talukder
Her warm and whimsical art is featured in animated films, commercials, and on the covers of YA books, including North Pole Inc and the Jack Courtney Adventure series. Join up and coming super-talent, Jui Talukder, for a workshop demo of YA book cover design. She’ll take you through her process: from pen and paper sketches, to digital coloration, to computer generated pen lines and brushstrokes. Are you always drawing? Do you just love YA book covers? This workshop is for you!

WORLDBUILDING 101
Milena Braga and Myranda Victoria Peterson
How do you build a fantasy world so convincing that your readers feel like they inhabit it alongside the characters? Our dynamic presenters––a graphic novelist and an author––have each self published their own YA fantasy series. Unleash your imagination and let them guide you in creating a world, and filling it with sights, sounds, flora, fauna, and diverse characters that drive your plot forward. For fantasy writers and graphic artists of all levels!

12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

LUNCH BREAK

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

MERGING YOUR PASSIONS: HOW TO MAKE VIDEO GAME FAN ART
Will Wiggins III (Black Oni)
The “one and Oni” Will Wiggins III, aka Black Oni, is a versatile graphic designer, gaming content creator, illustrator, comic artist, gamer, blogger, and podcaster. His art blends Japanese and modern Western styles. Start with your favorite video game characters—or customize your own diverse characters—and let Will guide you in creating unique video game fan art. For anyone with passions for both gaming and art!

 

3:00 – 3:50 pm.

FABULIZE MAGAZINE & SISTAH SCIFI PRESENT: LESSONS ON AFROFUTURISM FROM OUR FAVORITE SUPERHEROES
Isis Asare, Erika Hardison
From Nubia to Shuri, Luke Cage to Black Lightning, Far Sector’s Green Lantern to Black Star, join Erika Hardison of Fabulize Magazine and Isis Asare of Sistah Scifi on a journey spanning the multiverse to discover the brave, liberated world of Afrofuturism. Explore comics and graphic novels that feature Black and Native American people as makers and shapers of the future. Bring your ideas and questions for Erika and Isis!

SELF-PUBLISHING MANGA
Tyrone “ZeroSnake” Motley and Shauna J. Grant
Ultra-talented, up and coming artists, Tyrone Motley aka ZeroSnake and Shauna J. Grant, are rocking the world of Manga with their indie comics. They’re steeped in Japanese Manga tradition, but also breaking free of the form as they center BIPOC heroes and sheroes in their work. ZeroSnake’s work is inspired by African folklore and mixed martial arts. Grant’s magical power is creating kawaii cuteness! Our panelists share what it takes to publish and promote their own manga.

4:00 – 4:50 p.m.

MEMOIR COMICS: TOUGH ISSUES AND SELF-REFLECTION
Joel Christian Gill, Maria Photinakis, and Kiara Valdez 
What is it about graphic memoir that makes it so powerful for tackling the toughest topics: childhood trauma, abuse, alienation, and mental illness? In Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence, cartoonist and historian, Joel Christian Gill, makes us root for him as he struggles through a violent boyhood to find empathy and compassion; cartoonist, Maria Photinakis, takes us inside the mind and emotions of a nerdy Greek immigrant kid searching for her identity. They’re joined by Kiara Valdez, star associate editor at First Second Books, and champion of #OwnVoices. Our panelists share their work and ask what moves you most about graphic memoir.

5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

AFTER HOURS GAMING

Among Us (5-6pm): Among Us is a multiplayer game for four to fifteen players. Up to three players are randomly chosen to be the impostor(s) in each round. The imposter’s job is to kill all of the crewmates before they complete their tasks and to stay undetected as the imposter. The imposter can sabotage the crewmates by turning off the lights, disabling communications, etc. The crewmates’ job is to finish their task, stay alive, and figure out who is the imposter. If a player dies, they become a ghost. Ghosts can pass through walls, spectate other players, and chat with other ghosts. Among us is a free-to-play game on all different types of platforms! 

Gartic Phone (6-7pm): Gartic Phone is a popular and art telephone game for up to 14 players. Each player has to quickly write a sentence, then they’ll randomly receive someone else’s sentence and draw it. After that, everyone will receive another person’s drawing and be forced to write a sentence describing it, and so on and so forth until everyone has their turn. At the end of the round, the results are played back to often hilarious results. There are no points, no winners, just simple fun, and there’s no artistic experience required! Gartic Phone is free-to-play on both the web and mobile.

After Party (24th, 5-7pm): Relax and celebrate the end of ACTIVATE with the Animal Crossing: New Horizons After Party! Join Gideon on a guided tour of his five-star island, Valhalla! After the tour, we’ll play Hide and Seek and receive in-game prizes and mystery gifts! Can’t make it? Feel free to explore Valhalla on your own time with the Dream Code: DA-2446-0749-4232

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a casual life simulator for the Nintendo Switch in which you become the resident representative for a tropical island. Multiplayer is available for up to 8 players, though a Nintendo Switch Online membership is required.

SATURDAY, JULY 24TH

10:10 – 11:00 a.m.

TAKING IT TO THE STREETS: MURALS, GRAFFITI, AND PUBLIC ART
Cedric “Vise 1” Douglas, Rixy, and Sneha Shrestha (IMAGINE)
Their art is big and bold; their palette, vibrant; their sensibility, street. They paint on walls, storefronts, and vacant lots, and create works that are rooted in community and convey a strong social or political message. Our panelists–– Cedric “Vise 1” Douglas, Rixy Fernandez, and Sneha Shrestha aka IMAGINE–– explore street art, its origins in graffiti, its attention-grabbing power, and the freedom it brings. Ever wonder what it’s like to paint outdoors in public spaces? Join our street art convo to find out!

11:00 – 12:30 p.m.

DISCOVERING STORIES OF SELF, US, AND NOW
Daniel Elias Carrero
Looking to find and affirm your voice within social justice movements? Join writer, poet, and rapper Daniel Elias Carrero of Lawrence-based nonprofit Elevated Thought for a creative writing workshop focused on  personal narrative and storytelling. You’ll reflect on questions of individual purpose and communal responsibility. What are your values, goals, and passions? What is your relationship to your family, friends, community, and the time and place you’re living in?  What are you called to do now and how can your own story guide you? Designed for anyone motivated by creative resistance and social justice!

 

DEMOCRACY & DRAGONS: AN RPG APPROACH TO LEVELING UP YOUR ACTIVISM 
Matt Zambrano and Becky Baumwoll
Gather ye old band of adventurers and heroes! We’re going on a quest… to turn your passion for tabletop RPG into activism and social awareness! Learn about how to turn your Dungeons & Dragons campaigns into a woke wandering that the bards of the land will sing about for years to come. There’s no such thing as a crit failure here!

12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

LUNCH BREAK
Description coming soon!

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

 

QUICK QUILLS: FAN FICTION WORKSHOP
Bayana Davis and Delia Gallegos of Black Girls Create
Get in the creative writing groove with the word nerdy fangirls, wizards of words, and founders of the writing community, Black Girls Create. They’ll share tips, tricks, prompts, and writing sprints to guide you in your creative writing practice. With fanfic, you start with your favorite YA lit, Manga, and anime,  then write your own unique reality––or dreams––into the story. Invent a new character or setting, take revenge on a villain, give a sidekick a starring role, conjure up a romance, or add a twist to the ending. The only rules: fellow writers of all levels always gas each other up and make space for BIPOC and other voices rarely heard in mainstream media. For creative writers brand new to fan fiction and those already at home in a fanfic community.

3:00 – 3:50 p.m.

FANS TAKE THE WHEEL: MOVING PAST PROBLEMATIC CREATORS AND THEMES
Robyn Jordan of Black Girls Create, Janae Phillips of Fandom Forward,  and Christine Chapman of Uplift
Can a fandom survive––and even thrive––after its members grow disillusioned with the creator of the universe they love? Everywhere we turn these days, it seems there’s another YA creator exposed by the #MeToo Movement, posting toxic content to social media, or trying to walk back racist or anti-LGBTQ+ remarks. Can fans reject creators and still hold onto the magic of their stories? And what about when there’s noxious behavior within the fandom itself?  Or when plotlines and characters fans took for granted as kids seem troubling now that they’re older and more aware? Our presenters are from groups that use the power of fandom to drive their social justice work. How do they reconcile and move past problematic creators and stories to reclaim a fandom as their own? You won’t want to miss this lively– and timely–discussion!

 

THE MADTWIINZ: CHANGING THE INDUSTRY FROM THE INSIDE OUT
The Madtwiinz 
Meet Mark and Mike Davis, the madd talented animators, comic artists, toy designers, and live action filmmakers, known as The Madtwiinz. These identical twin brothers say they’ve been bouncing ideas off each other since practically in the womb! They’ve worked with most of  the major Hollywood studios and also made their mark outside of the studio system with their original animated series, BLOKHEDZ, the story of a young rapper whose superpower is to turn his lyrics into reality! What’s it like to break barriers within the studio system, while also forging your own creative path outside of it? The Madtwiinz share the secrets of their success.

4:00 – 4:50 p.m.

GETTING REAL ABOUT A CAREER IN THE ARTS
Lexie Blake, Rayya Chek, Clifmon Leroy, and M. Olson
You have a passion for creating art and you’re good at it, too. Now what? You’d like to go to an art college or major in art, but you’re wondering if it’s a solid idea. Your family wants you to pursue a “practical” degree and your friends all have other plans for their post-high school years. What do people even do with an art degree anyway?! Our four panelists are college students, majoring in graphic design, arts education, drawing, painting, and multimedia arts. In our closing panel, you’ll get candid answers to your questions about everything from assembling an art school portfolio to convincing your family that an arts career is legit!

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