Emily Hooper Lansana is a cultural worker, arts administrator, educator, performing artist and mother. For more than twenty-five years, she has performed as a storyteller, sharing her work with audiences throughout Chicago and across the country. She often performs with Performance Duo: In the Spirit. She enjoys passing on traditions to young people as a coach and mentor with the nationally recognized Rebirth Poetry Ensemble. Her work seeks to give voice to those whose stories are often untold especially those of the African diaspora. Currently she serves as Director of Community Arts for the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. She lives on the Southside of Chicago with her sons.
Shaila Small was born and raised in New York City. Being creative has always been what makes her happy. One of the few photos taken of her in early childhood, shows a smiling pre-schooler standing in front of an easel, paintbrush in hand. Educated in NYC public schools, her first job was as recorder/transcriber for meetings and conferences at the National Board of the YWCA in NYC. While she and her husband, Edward, raised two daughters in the city, she became active in her community library and began to explore theories of early childhood education. After the children were settled in school, she took a job with New York Magazine, writing promo copy for subscription solicitation. She then went on to devote many years working in the field of corporate communications. Retirement meant lots of travel and nearly a decade as a docent at the University of North Carolina’s Ackland Art Museum. Three years ago, the decision was made to relocate to Chicago, where her oldest daughter has made her home since graduate school. Shaila describes Chicago as a “truly beautiful city” with the added bonus of being near family and seeing her grandsons grow up.
This presentation was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In keeping with University of Chicago guidelines, COVID-19 protocols were followed carefully, and oversight was provided to promote the health and safety of all participants and crew throughout the filming process.