MA Arts Politics Class of 2014
MEd candidate, Portland State University
BA Studio Art, Beloit College
Lenka Becvar is from Tigard, Oregon. She has studied specific transformations in art and social change in the Czech Republic, New York, Appalachia, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua. Lenka has worked as a dance and photography instructor in southern Bohemia; a maternal and child health educator in Jinotega, Nicaragua; and filled a variety of professional roles in Oregon, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and New York.
Lenka served in the United States Peace Corps (2011-2013) in Nicaragua. While there she facilitated youth groups that used theater and dance to empower girls and educate communities about local chronic health issues. During her graduate studies in Arts Politics at NYU, she investigated how performance is used to address xenophobia, ethnocentricity, and the notion of freedom. She strives to collaborate on projects relevant to public health education and social justice.
Since earning her MA in Arts Politics, Lenka has worked on a contract or volunteer basis for the Native American Youth and Family Center, Cascade AIDS Project, p:ear, and Human Solutions. She recently served as the Outreach Director for PDXPopNow! and is currently the Community Liaison at an elementary school. Lenka is working towards earning her second MA, this time in Education, at Portland State University.
What drew you to the MA Arts Politics program?
I knew I wanted to study performance and social justice movements, so I sought out a program that would allow me to delve into performance art and political research. After reading the biographies of Randy Martin and Kathy Engel, I felt that I had found a good match because they both had done research and activism in Nicaragua, which was where I was living and working during the time I applied. That worldly-activist-artist combination was important to me.
How did your experience in the program shape your work?
It introduced me to theories and truths that I wish I had known earlier in my life. I now always consider participatory action methods when working with communities. The program encouraged me to consider derivatives, culture, identity, empathy, love, and the joy within my work. Since APP, I see everything as a complex and rich saga. My experience both validated me and blew my mind.
What are you doing now?
I am getting to know the social-activist and art scenes here in my hometown after being away for many years. Since finishing my degree, I have worked in the film industry, the public health industry, and social services. In my free time, I volunteer as a tax-preparer, a nature-teaching specialist, and a mentor to youth experiencing homelessness. I also go on many hikes.