Meet our 2018 Program Explorers!
Exploration: Sneaker Painting with Van Monroe
Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, by a family of non-traditional artists, Van Taylor Monroe creative spirit was nurtured at an early age, as he was encouraged to celebrate his self-expression through art. Later, he attended Miami University in Ohio as a graphic design major and quickly combined his business savvy with his creative talents. Since graduation, Monroe has become a well-known talent in painting traditional canvas, photography, digital art, film, murals, and customized sneakers. Van's artwork was nationally recognized and added to the Smithsonian Museum's collection and also featured in the Manifest Hope Gallery. Monroe has traveled to Africa to teach painting techniques to students at Academie des Beaux-Arts in Kinshasa, DRC. He has created artwork for President Barack Obama, Valerie Trierweiler, Spike Lee, Afeni Shakur, Will.I.Am, Hill Harper, Queen Latifah, Nicki Minaj, Ray Romano, DJ Tiesto, Jennifer Lopez, Carmelo and LaLa Anthony, Josh Hutcherson and countless other celebrities. Van has worked with 20th Century Fox in promoting their summer blockbuster movies Wolverine and Ice Age 4 with his sneaker designs. Monroe’s adept leadership ability was celebrated by his community through his induction into Cleveland's prestigious 40-40 club. In 2014, Van Monroe became the first African American male inducted into the Euclid High School Distinguished Achievement Hall of Fame. Through the richness of his life experiences and artistry, Van has devoted his existence to walking in his purpose and encouraging people throughout the world to pursue the dreams that are hidden within their hearts.
Exploration: Theatre of the Oppressed with Tiffany Trent
Tiffany Trent creates theatre with youth particularly in contexts of social justice and arts ministry. She taught in Theatre & Performance Studies at University of Chicago, and supervised drama ministries with two Chicago-area UCC congregations. Selected theatre credits include workshops with Alabama Shakespeare Festival and New Harmony Writers’ Project; shows with MPAACT and Pegasus Young Playwrights’ Festival; teaching with Goodman’s Youth Drama Workshop and Chicago Dramatists. Tiffany earned her B.A. at University of Chicago; MFA Directing, Carnegie Mellon; M.Div., Chicago Theological Seminary, and is currently a PhD candidate in Theatre for Youth at Arizona State. She researches in areas of liberation theology, child theology, performance studies, and critical race theory. Tiffany’s scholarly and aesthetic processes for unpacking what humanizes and dehumanizes are practices of story theology, practical theology, and theological anthropology. Tiffany is a 2016-2017 recipient of a Doctoral Fellowship with the Forum for Theological Exploration.
I look forward to sharing Theatre of the Oppressed techniques with the youth of STREAMYTI@VUU! Augusto Boal, the Brazilian theatre-maker who cultivated TO, felt that mainstream theatre and media story structures “coerced” people into prescribed social roles or class narratives. Sound familiar? For people to intervene and inject images of their own lives on stage, Boal created strategies such as Image Theater, Forum Theatre, Legislative Theater, Invisible Theatre, and Newspaper Theatre, as activism for the “spect-actor” to transform narratives of power. In faith settings, I practice the techniques as pastoral care to turn stories around, collectively listen for the prophetic move of God, embody transformation, try it on, see how it feels. With participants’ theological encounters as the source material, we will rehearse a new reality for a concern that youth bring to the table, and actionable ideas will emerge from creating story together.
Exploration: Getting to Know Me with Dr. Nathaniel West
Dr. Nathaniel West received the Bachelor of Science in Accounting degree from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. He earned the Master of Divinity degree at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. Rev. West continued his theological education at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education where he earned the Master of Arts in Christian Education degree. He also earned a Ph.D. in Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. West recently completed the Masters in Professional Counseling degree at Liberty University.
Previous ministry positions include the Senior Pastor of Real Life Ministries, Minister of Christian Education at Trinity Baptist Church and the Executive Minister at Trinity Baptist Church. He also served as a member of the Board of CARITAS and the Governance Board of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work Head Start Program. He currently serves as a board member on the Soul Ice Foundation.
Dr. West currently serves at the Director of the Master in Arts in Christian Education, the Director of Formation and Counseling and an Assistant Professor of Christian Education at the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University.