The Beauty of Transformation: Becoming a Cultural Organizer


  • Paul J. Kuttner Harvard Graduate School of Education


Artistic and cultural practices have long been central to movements for social change. In this article, Paul Kuttner explores this intersection of arts and organizing through a biographical portrait of Mariama White-Hammond, Executive Director of the Boston-based youth organizing group Project HIP-HOP. Tracing Mariama’s development in the realms of artistic practice and social justice, the article focuses on both synergy and tension between the two trajectories. The resulting portrait highlights the important role of cultural context in shaping the relationship between organizing and the arts, and uncovers the multiple influences that lead an individual to engage in this kind of work.

Author Biography

Paul J. Kuttner, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Paul Kuttner is an educator, cultural worker, and researcher, currently finishing his doctoral studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research focuses on cultural organizing, a field of practice that combines community and movement organizing with arts and cultural work. He is a co-editor of the volume Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline (Harvard Educational Review, 2012), and a co-author of A Match on Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform (Oxford, 2011). Paul is a former editor of the Harvard Educational Review, and blogs at Prior to his doctoral studies, Paul worked as a teaching artist and co-founded the community-based arts education non-profit Communities Creating Change in Riverdale, IL.