Staff Spotlight: Carolyn Renée Pautz
Carolyn is a dancer, gardener, scholar, ethnographer, and Brooklynite! She is ABC’s Director of Research and Strategy. Carolyn’s work is purpose-driven, thoughtful, and community-oriented. She also holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Dance Studies from Temple University and a Master of Arts from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a focus in Caribbean anthropology and performance studies. Carolyn continues to be a frequent guest lecturer and dance teaching artist at Webster University.
NICOLE: What does your activism look like?
CAROLYN: Holding space. Based on years in dance and the health and wellness industry, a fundamental question continues to inform how and why I center holding space in activism. Specifically, which bodies belong where and according to whom? Often, the people that are positioned as needing a thing (movement, creative outlets, leadership) the most, are the very same people who are physically unwelcome in, or unable to access the spaces that would make that thing possible. Holding space so that one may physically occupy space for themselves and their communities is a key aspect to my activism.
This desire to hold space extends to my teaching philosophy. As a professor, I believe it is necessary to cultivate safe spaces for difference, disagreement and debate, which cultivates the art of deep listening, and shifts the landscape of who gets to speak (which circles back to physically being able to occupy a space).e physically unwelcome in, or unable to access the spaces that would make that thing possible.
Holding space so that one may physically occupy space for themselves and their communities is a key aspect to my activism.
NICOLE: What is your relationship with artistic practice? What kind of art do you create?
CAROLYN: I dance, garden, and do beadwork. All of these practices require you to develop your ability to be present and humble. You really have to set your ego aside in order to dance/learn a dance. When you garden your vision has to be affirmed by the plant’s needs. When you do beadwork, every stitch lets you know where your head is at during the process.
NICOLE: And are you working on anything right now that really excites you?
CAROLYN: I’m about to prep the garden for winter! Everything I do now in terms of trimming, mulching, transplanting, etc., will shape how well the garden does throughout next year.
NICOLE: How have you supported POC in the last year?
CAROLYN: I continue to mentor several POC grad students as they near their dissertation defense. Academia is both amazing and problematic. The unexamined centrality of whiteness, Americanness and Europeanness in the institution and the theories that are considered fundamental to demonstrating proficiency often uphold inequities that contribute to violence against POC. I offer strategy-based support on how to create spaces to make interventions into this centricity.
NICOLE: What is your favorite quote?
CAROLYN: If this was “what’s your favorite paraphrased quote” I would have an easier time answering, haha. For example, Bourdieu said something to the effect of “Why do we insist on calling art ineffable?” He wanted to know why we’ve decided that art can’t be criticized but everything else can.
Bourdieu said something to the effect of “Why do we insist on calling art ineffable?” He wanted to know why we’ve decided that art can’t be criticized but everything else can.
NICOLE: What about your favorite fall treat?
CAROLYN: I may not like fall or winter but I love pumpkin pie!
This interview has been edited for clarity or length.