Photo: Cheri Gaulke facilitates a discussion during a Righteous Conversations Project workshop at Harvard-Westlake School, summer 2012.

This article by Danielle Berrin in the Jewish Journal has been a year in the making. Berrin first visited our Righteous Conversations Project workshop at Harvard-Westlake last summer. This year’s workshop starts next week with 32 teen participants, 8 Holocaust survivors, 6 master teachers, 6 teaching assistants and additional RCP support staff. My how we have grown! I anticipate another profound experience for all resulting in a new crop of social-change-making public service announcements.

Below I have excerpted part of the article that talks about my role as Artistic Director. But do check out the whole article. It is very well written and captures the context and motivation for what we do in The Righteous Conversations Project. 

From the article:

Cheri Gaulke, the head of Harvard-Westlake’s Upper School Visual Arts Department, is the project’s artistic director, and she helped secure the space for use. “The whole idea just clicked for me,” Gaulke said. “I’m really passionate about teens learning how to use media to affect the world, because that’s the world we live in. And teens need to be not just consumers of media, but makers of media. I liked the idea of giving them the tools of advertising to sell an idea, rather than a product.”

At every Righteous Conversations workshop, Gaulke teaches an intensive media literacy lesson that, in Hutman’s words, shows teens “how to flex their moral conscience and moral outrage through media.” In practical terms, it equips them with a media vocabulary to enable them not just to conceive ideas, but also to visualize them. 

Where Righteous Conversations departs from most other forms of Holocaust chronicling is in its call to action. It is a model for tikkun that comes directly from the Torah: just as with the recounting of the Exodus story, the act of digging deep into a formative ancestral pain is meant to awaken in future generations the pain of others. 

Gaulke, who is not Jewish, said her own daughter, Xochi, had participated in one of the workshops and discovered a profound connection with a survivor, John Gordon, now deceased. “Gordon, who passed away, was sharing how he was liberated and then came to America. He said that for a long time he was ‘living in the closet’ as a Jew — he was afraid to tell his co-workers that he was Jewish. And as a daughter of lesbians, my daughter really connected with that,” Gaulke said. “Individuals come to the universal from the personal, and it’s the personal that transforms society.”


Harvard-Westlake Film Festival tonight!

I invite you to come experience this wonderful event that I co-produce. The 10th annual Harvard-Westlake Film Festival takes place on Friday, March 15, 7 pm at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. See filmmakers walk the Red Carpet and be interviewed by Jacob Soboroff (AMC). Hear the Academy Award-nominated guest speaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel, Biuitiful). Watch 23 of the best high school films from all over California from 15 different schools/programs.

Here’s a teaser

Tickets are free and available at the door starting at 6 pm. The ArcLight Cinerama Dome is located at 6360 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028. Parking is located behind the theater.

Trust me, you’ll be glad you went!

Panel Discussion on Feminist Performance Art in the 1980s

Wed. March 13 at 7 pm I will be in conversation with feminist performance art colleagues Suzanne Lacy, Leslie Labowitz-Starus, and Martha Wilson, and moderated by Dr. Alexandra Juhasz. Sponsored by Pitzer Art Galleries it takes place at the 18th Street Arts Center – 1638 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA. The panel is in conjunction with the exhibition “Martha Wilson” at the Pitzer College Art Galleries. The title of our panel is “We’ll Think of a Title When We Meet AKA LA London Lab.” That was actually the title of a performance series that took place in the 1980s at Franklin Furnace in NY (which was founded by Martha Wilson). The series was a gathering of feminist performance artists from Los Angeles and London. I did a solo performance called “Broken Shoes” as well as a collaborative performance with Feminist Art Workers called “Heartbeats.” Wednesday’s discussion should be interesting. I hope to see you there. –Cheri Gaulke

This Wednesday, September 19 at 7:00 pm, I will be leading a short discussion following a screening of “!Women Art Revolution.” This award-winning documentary film by Lynn Hershman-Leeson provides a fascinating chronicle through intimate interviews, art, and rarely seen archival film and video footage. “!Women Art Revolution” reveals how the Feminist Art Movement fused free speech and politics to radically transform the art and culture of our times. The film highlights significant – and often outrageous – moments, many of which played out in Southern California. The film was recently named by MOMA NY as one of the three best documentaries of the year (along with Wim Wenders’ “Pina” and Werner Herzog’s “Into the Abyss”).

The film and discussion will take place Wednesday, September 19, 2012, at 7:00 pm in the Glendale Public Library Auditorium, 222 East Harvard Street, Glendale, CA 91205. Admission is free to the public. Attendees receive 3 hours FREE parking across Harvard Street at The Market Place parking structure with validation at the library’s loan desk.

The program is sponsored by The Associates of Brand Library & Art Center and the Glendale Public Library as part of their REEL ART series which features films with a strong voice and perspective on art, artists, and life. Says Teri Deaver, Director of Events, “by pairing screenings with stimulating talks by experts on film and the topics presented, we hope to provoke thought and conversation”. Arlene Vidor, president of the Brand Associates states that “this is a great opportunity to switch off the home video stream and DVD player and share a film viewing experience with a like-minded audience”. I say, “if you haven’t yet seen this film, now’s your chance!” I hope to see you there.

-Cheri Gaulke

Please join me tomorrow when the 3rd Annual ONE Queer Film Fest will screen two short films that I executive produced that also happen to be by my daughters Marka and Xochi Maberry-Gaulke. “This PSA is Gay” was written by Marka and turned into a Claymation by students in my Harvard-Westlake Summer Film Program. “Love Our Families” is a public service announcement created by Xochi and her friend Anjoum Agrama during The Righteous Conversations Project, which brings together Holocaust survivors and teens to make PSAs about contemporary injustices. In addition, Marka and Xochi are featured as subjects in a documentary by Lisa Udelson and Catherine Opie called “Same Difference.” There’s a link to the trailer below.

There are screenings all day long and we are part of the HERE & NOW: Youth & Family Shorts Series from 1 – 2:30 PM at the REDCAT (under Disney Hall). Tickets are available at and cost $13 in advance and $16 at the door.

The fest is a celebration of the rich cultures and diversity within our LGBT communities.  All proceeds benefit the great work of ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, the world’s largest LGBT history collection (based right here in LA)!

HERE & NOW: Youth & Family Shorts Series, 1 – 2:30 PM  

Screening followed by panel and Q&A with filmmakers including Cheri Gaulke, Marka and Xochi Maberry-Gaulke.  Panel moderated by James Gilliam, Deputy Director of ACLU Southern California.

Films include:

THIS PSA IS GAY (Miranda Kasher, George Khabbaz, Patric Verrone, Marka Maberry-Gaulke, Albert Zeng) – When a girl wears a rainbow button to school, she discovers that people’s words can sting!

THRESHOLDS (Yovani Flores) – An urban tale about pushing barriers in the moments lived between each breath.

TWO BOYS (Victor Bumbalo) – Two recently transplanted New Yorkers, a mother and her sixteen year-old-son, are lugging a Christmas tree through the streets of Los Angeles unaware of what Christmas has in store for them.

LOVE OUR FAMILIES (Anjoum Agrama, Xochi Maberry-Gaulke, Gabe Benjamin) – A Public Service Announcement that looks at the true meaning of family.

SPIRAL TRANSITION (Ewan Duarte) – A compelling, candid, and interwoven documentary exploring the filmmaker’s relationship with his mother as he transitions genders.

SAME DIFFERENCE (Lisa Udelson and Catherine Opie) – Among the cries of “What about the children?” during the debate over California’s Proposition 8, where were the voices of actual children?

-Cheri Gaulke

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Flickr Photos