Tucson will be styling in October. The summer heat will have started waning. Día de los Muertos will be on the horizon. And The University of Arizona College of Humanities will be rolling out the red carpet for its annual Tucson Humanities Festival.

The theme of this year’s festival is “style.” 

Style is “something that exists universally across human cultures, while being unique down to the individual level in how it’s expressed,” Alain-Philippe Durand, Dorrance Dean of the College of Humanities, said in an email to Arizona Luminaria.

The series of events, presentations and special guests, from Oct. 3 to Oct. 24, will celebrate National Arts & Humanities month. 

Music — from hip-hop to jazz to a visual “Desert Symphony” conducted by artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez — will be the focus of three events. Rodriguez’s on-campus art installation will explore the intersections of climate change and migration in Tucson and the greater borderlands.

Rodriguez told Arizona Luminaria how much Tucson — where she founded the organization, The Center for Cultural Power — has shaped her activism in migrant and climate justice.

“Culture moves faster than politics,” she said. “Culture shapes the collective imagination and builds the public will for social change. I’m looking forward to sharing how art and culture can inspire students and community members to express their authentic stories and catalyze social change.”

Hip Hop at 50, on Tuesday Oct. 17 at noon, will feature DJs spinning tracks from around the world. 

That evening, at 7 p.m., musician and author Nabil Ayers will explore the complex and overlapping topics of race, family and music. Ayers’ memoir “My Life in the Sunshine” describes his relationship with his father, the famous funk, soul and jazz musician Roy Ayers.

One of the highlights of the festival will be Project Runway’s Tim Gunn addressing style’s “creativity, purpose and the power of meaning,” according to the festival’s website. Gunn’s Oct. 11 talk to the greater Tucson community follows a poetry-inspired interactive fashion show staged by University of Arizona students.

Wong Kar-wai’s film “In the Mood for Love” will be screened at The Loft Cinema on Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. to kick off the festival. The film “is a timeless classic because it is about love at a time of anxiety and unrest,” University of Arizona professor Dian Li said. 

Although the film speaks to a specific time period in Hong Kong, Li said “it represents our deep-seated desire for a nostalgic release of our current frustrations, which in this case is a visual banquet of stylistic iterations.”

The last event, with Rodriguez, will be at the UA Poetry Center on Oct. 24, at 7 p.m.

“I am thrilled to participate in this residency and festival and to share my expertise in culture change and narrative strategy in a region impacted by climate crisis, inhumane migration policy, and the militarization of the U.S. Mexico Border,” Rodriguez said.

For those interested in exploring style through the lens of these artists, visit the Tucson Humanities Festival website to read more or sign up for alerts. The fashion show with Tim Gunn and the film are the only events for which tickets are needed. General admission to see Tim Gunn is $20 and student tickets are $5. All the other events are free.

“We hope the community will join us for these engaging events that explore just how much style influences, guides and enriches the human experience,” Durand said.

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John Washington is an investigative journalist based in Tucson with a focus on immigration and borders, as well as criminal justice and literature. His first book, "The Dispossessed: A Story of Asylum...