Lori D. Barcliff Baptista
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Lori Barcliff Baptista is the Director of the African-American Cultural Center at UIC. An interdisciplinary scholar/artist, Dr. Baptista has researched, developed and participated in cultural programs and initiatives that convene artists, civic leaders, students, faculty and staff, cultural institutions and grass roots organizations to tackle pressing social concerns for more than 15 years. She is especially interested in creative practices that individuals engage in to honor, validate or convey their sense of connectedness to multiple places or traditions, and has published a number of articles, working papers and book reviews on these topics.
Dr. Baptista uses photography, video, story collecting, and live performance in her work, which is largely focused on how Diaspora communities maintain important social relationships through cultural traditions - most notably food. Prior to directing the AACC, she was an urban visual ethnographer for The Field Museum, where she used story collecting/telling, public art, performance, and visual methodologies to engage Chicagoans in the Chicago Climate Action Plan (CCAP), and the Climate Action Plan for Nature (CAPN).
She has taught film, literature and performance-based courses at the collegiate level and developed course materials for public school teachers and community educators. As a teaching artist, Dr. Baptista has facilitated writing and performance workshops for "Cluster of Roses/Matters of the Heart ", a Chicago-based theatre group comprised entirely of formerly incarcerated African-American women, and mask-making workshops for mentally ill children. She participated in "Outdoor Urban Theatre", a collaborative effort to reclaim the recreational uses of public parks in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey, where she also served as an advisory committee member of the "Newark Black Film Festival" and "Sounds of the City", a free outdoor music festival. Dr. Baptista has also worked closely with major film and music festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area. In one of her most recent theatrical collaborations, she adapted and co-directed a black-box production of South African writer Tsitsi Dangaremba’s novel Nervous Conditions at Northwestern University.
Dr. Baptista received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of California-Berkeley, a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Rutgers University, and her Ph.D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University.