Olivia Drake

Campus Community Gathers for Moment of Silence

As a sign of our solidarity and commitment to address bias and inequity on campus and in the community, Wesleyan students, faculty and staff gathered at Usdan’s Huss Courtyard Sept. 27 for a moment of silence.

“As we continue to witness acts of violence around our country – especially toward black and brown and other marginalized persons – we are filled with many strong emotions based upon our own identities and experiences,” said Dean Mike Whaley, vice president for student affairs.

After a moment of silence and reflection, staff from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life met with groups and individuals wanting to talk about recent events.

“Beyond this visible sign of solidarity, we commit to continue our personal and institutional work toward peace, justice, equity and inclusion,” Whaley said.

Photos of the moment of silence are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

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Telfair’s “Invented Landscapes” Featured in Biography, Discussion, Exhibit

Professor of Art Tula Telfair stands in her painting studio, located in Lyme, Conn. 

Professor of Art Tula Telfair stands in her painting studio located in Lyme, Conn. Her work will be celebrated with a biography released on Oct. 18, an open discussion on Oct. 19, and solo show in New York, N.Y., opening Nov. 10.

Although Professor of Art Tula Telfair’s hyper-realistic landscape paintings are vividly detailed, the scenes she depicts are not found in nature; they are conjured from memory and imagination. Informed by her experiences growing up on four continents, Telfair produces fantastical visions with delicate brushstrokes and a mastery of color and light. Suggestive of waterfalls in Africa, deserts of the American Southwest, and ice floes in Antarctica, Telfair’s art draws attention to the power and fragility of nature.

telfairbookcoverTelfair’s art, which has been featured in public collections around the world, will be showcased in a new book, Invented Landscapes, released on Oct. 18 by Abrams Books. The book can be pre-ordered online.

Included in the book are more than 120 images of her paintings, works in progress and personal photos. The images are accompanied by essays written by Michael Roth ’78, president of Wesleyan University; J. Michael Fay, biologist, ecologist, conservationist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence; and Henry Adams, the Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment and a professor of art history at Case Western Reserve University. Read more about the essay authors online.

“In the art of Tula Telfair we find … ourselves at once entranced by the beauty of the painted canvas and invited to examine the mystery of the world within it,” Roth says in his essay. “As we probe deeper, we find ourselves returning to the surface as if out of breath. The mysteriousness of the inner world, rendered with such precision, remains intact.”

Telfair was raised in Gabon, located on the west coast of Africa, surrounded by Fang, Pygmy and Bakuta tribes. Her father, Peter Telfair, worked as a geological mining engineer for Bethlehem Steel, the Gabonese government and a French mining company.

“We lived in the jungle and raised orphaned baby lowland gorillas,” she recalls. “Nature was the most powerful force there. I always felt small in the face of such a constant and unpredictable presence.”

Although Telfair’s work looks realistic, she works intuitively and only plans the size and format of each canvas.

“Pancakes with P-Safe” Promotes Dialog Between Officers, Students

At right, Public Safety Supervisor Lt. Fred West and Officer Kathy Burdick, center, gather with Wesleyan students in Bennet Hall during "Pancakes with P-Safe."

Public Safety Supervisor Lt. Fred West (at right) and Officer Kathy Burdick (center) gather with Wesleyan students in Bennet Hall during “Pancakes with P-Safe.”

Students enjoyed a late-night snack/early breakfast Sept. 24 at “Pancakes with Public Safety.” At midnight, Wesleyan’s Public Safety Officers ventured to Bennet Hall where they prepared a meal and spoke to students about safety issues on campus.

“Students often see us as enforcement, so we want to have conversations with students so they see us in a different light,” said Public Safety Supervisor Lt. Fred West, who created the series of Residence Officer Programs in 2013. Past programs include “Pistachio Ice Cream with P-Safe” and “Pasta with P-Safe,” whereas “Potatoes with P-Safe” may be next in line.

Cardinal Achievement Awards Presented in August

The following employees received Cardinal Achievement Awards during the month of August for their efforts in demonstrating extraordinary initiative in performing a specific task associated with their work at Wesleyan University. This special honor comes with a $250 award and reflects the university’s gratitude for their extra efforts:

Robert Chiapetta, manager of intercollegiate operations, Physical Education

Melissa Sullivan, lead video producer, Information Technology Services

Henk Meij, manager of Unix systems group, Information Technology Services

Kuenzel Investigates Whether the Diversity of Countries’ Export Portfolios Affects Economic Growth

David Kuenzel

David Kuenzel

David Kuenzel, assistant professor of economics, is the co-author of a new paper published in the Canadian Journal of Economics titled “The Elusive Effects of Trade on Growth: Export Diversity and Economic Take-off.

In the paper, Kuenzel and his co-author, Theo Eicher from the University of Washington, investigate whether the diversity of countries’ export portfolios affects their economic growth performance.

In the paper, Kuenzel and Eicher propose a structured approach to trade and growth determinants based on recent advances in international trade. The results show that export diversity serves as a crucial growth determinant for low-income countries, and the effect weakens with a country’s level of development.

 

Fecteau ’91, Nelson ’94 Recipients of MacArthur Genius Grants

Vincent Fecteau '91 and Maggie Nelson '94 received MacArthur "genius grants" Sept. 22. 

Vincent Fecteau ’91 and Maggie Nelson ’94 received MacArthur “genius grants” on Sept. 22.

Two Wesleyan alumni are recipients of the 2016 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, commonly known as the “genius grants.”

Vincent Fecteau ’91 and Maggie Nelson ’94 each received a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant for their exceptional creativity and potential for future contributions to their fields.

Vincent Fecteau works from his studio in California.

Vincent Fecteau works from his studio in California.

They’re among 23 fellows in the country to receive the honor.

“While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these 23 extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope” said MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch. “They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all.”

Vincent Fecteau, a studio arts major, is a sculptor who creates abstract pieces—by hand from simple materials—that encourage careful and concentrated looking and reflection. His slow and meticulous approach to his craft, as well as his experimentation with modes of displaying his work, demonstrates that abstract sculpture is a vital and expressive form of art.

The results are both captivating and demanding; as viewers work to understand what they are seeing, they find themselves at the threshold between visual perception and objective knowledge of three-dimensional space. In this way, Fecteau imbues his work with philosophical content, just as the work assumes psychological dimensions through its uncanny correspondences with the human body. In our age of ever-increasing distraction, Fecteau’s sculpture offers a place for the sustained experience of thought and observation to unfold and flourish.

Maggie Nelson, an English major, is a writer reflecting on the complexities of gender, identity and culture in day-to-day living in works that transcend the divide between the intellectual and the personal. She is creating a new form of nonfiction writing and cultural criticism that examines some of the most pressing cultural issues of our time, such as transgender and queer identity, depictions of violence and femininity. Her work, like her most recent book The Argonauts, represents an empathetic and open-ended way of thinking that offers a model for how even very different people can live together.

Since 2005, she has been a member of the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts, where she currently serves as director of the Creative Writing Program.

Since 2005, Maggie Nelson has been a member of the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts, where she currently serves as director of the Creative Writing Program.

In all of her work, Nelson remains skeptical of truisms and ideologies and continually challenges herself to consider multiple perspectives. Her empathetic and open-ended way of thinking—her willingness to change her mind and even embrace qualities of two seemingly incompatible positions—offers a powerful example for how very different people can think and live together. Through the dynamic interplay between personal experience and critical theory, Nelson is broadening the scope of nonfiction writing while also offering compelling meditations on social and cultural questions.

Sculpture artist Jeffrey Schiff, professor of art, and painter Tula Telfair, professor of art, remember having Fecteau as a student. They’re impressed with his “remarkable body of work” that explores the fullness of dimensionality in sculpture.

“His small and medium sized sculptures, usually on pedestals or hanging on the wall, wrap form around space in convoluted tangles, sometimes incorporating objects or photographic images in the mix. The work reminds us of the endless potential mobility of space, while composed of simple non-precious materials,” Shiff says. “In all his work, his touch or hand is in evidence.

At Wesleyan, working with Tula Telfair, Fecteau produced a painting thesis that was, even then, fundamentally sculptural, balancing colorful objects in juxtaposition with each other and the gallery space – each contained in a plastic tailored slipcover. “These sculptures hung a few inches off the wall like paintings – creating shimmery and curiously intimate bubbles that hinted at narratives while remaining purely formal,” Telfair said.

Christina Crosby, professor of English, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, worked with Nelson on her honors thesis, which focused on confessional poetry.

“Maggie’s artistic practice is a demanding one,” Crosby says. “She reports in The Argonauts that she sometimes finds herself laboring ‘grimly’ over her sentences, wondering if any language offers the needful form (52). Her practice makes no claim for emotional transparency (as if one can simply know one’s own, or another’s, emotions). Art can hold open a space in which we – the writer and the reader – don’t know, and in that not knowing can address the world without attempting to know it fully creates possibility. Her artistic practice makes a space for interactions that undo the known landscape, the one covered by cliché. She is open to exploring the sometimes explosive intimacies of the everyday – not every conversation is a happy one –, and she does not hide, conceal, sidestep, or evade what she finds there.”

Wesleyan boasts several other alumni MacArthur Fellows including 1988 recipient Ruth Behar ’77, cultural anthropologist; 1994 recipient Sam-Ang Sam PhD ’88, musician and cultural preservationist; 2005 recipient Majora Carter ’88, urban revitalization strategist; 2009 recipient James Longley ’94, filmmaker; and 2015 recipient Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, playwright and performer.

In addition, translator/poet/publisher Peter Cole, who worked as a visiting writer and professor at Wesleyan, also received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2007, as did jazz composer and performer Anthony Braxton, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus. Braxton received the award in 1994.

Middletown Mayor Delivers Annual Constitution Day Lecture

Mayor of Middletown Dan Drew delivered the 2016 Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 16 titled "Are We Better Than Our Predecessors? Toward a New Era of Progress." In this talk, Mayor Drew explored the erroneous assumptions that we are more advanced than preceding generations and what we can do to focus ourselves toward a future predicated on progressive social and economic advancement.

Mayor of Middletown Dan Drew delivered the 2016 Constitution Day Lecture on Sept. 16 titled “Are We Better Than Our Predecessors? Toward a New Era of Progress.” In this talk, Mayor Drew explored the erroneous assumptions that we are more advanced than preceding generations and what we can do to focus ourselves toward a future predicated on progressive social and economic advancement. The annual Constitution Day Lecture is sponsored by the Friends of Wesleyan Library.

Experts to Discuss the Historic Decision on Net Neutrality

“Right Now! The Historic Decision on Net Neutrality, and What it Means for the Future” will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Hansel Lecture Hall (Room 001 Public Affairs Center).

Panelists include Jessica Rosenworcel ’93, FCC Commissioner; Brad Burnham ‘77, managing partner at Union Square Ventures; and Christiaan Hogendorn, associate professor of economics.

Norm Danner, associate professor of computer science, will moderate the event.

Photographs by Albert MALS ’94 Exhibited in Olin Library

Hillcrest Orchards © 2016 Nancy Ottmann Albert

Hillcrest Orchards © 2016 Nancy Ottmann AlbertNancy Ottmann Albert’s (MALS ’94) evocative photographs of vanishing New England structures and landscapes will be featured in “Documents in Black and White,” a new exhibition opening in Olin Library on Oct. 5, 2016. The show is being presented in conjunction with the formal announcement of Albert’s gift of her papers to the library’s Special Collections & Archives (SC&A).

Nancy Ottmann Albert’s (MALS ’94) evocative photographs of vanishing New England structures and landscapes will be featured in “Documents in Black and White,” a new exhibition opening in Olin Library on Oct. 5, 2016. The show is being presented in conjunction with the formal announcement of Albert’s gift of her papers to the library’s Special Collections & Archives (SC&A).

Albert will speak about her work at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 in the library’s Develin Room.

Selected by the artist, the works span the 30 years she spent documenting New England’s built environment. Inspired by Walker Evans and the 1930s Farm Security Administration photographers, she began to photograph textile mills and industrial sites throughout New England in 1981. Shooting black and white film in a medium format camera, she returned over the years to record the buildings’ decline and disappearance.

Further exploration led her to seek out other endangered structures and landscapes. These include mental institutions emptied by changing philosophies of treatment and a commissioned study of Long River Village, Middletown’s oldest housing project, prior to its demolition.
The exhibition also contains images of roadside and urban vernacular architecture, barns and abandoned homesteads, filling stations, and drive-in theaters. All of the work, which includes gelatin silver photographs, was printed by the artist.

In 2014, Albert donated her papers to SC&A. Her papers include images taken in New England, France, Cuba, Portugal, Spain, London, Italy, Eastern Europe, Vienna, Barcelona, Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia and Berlin, along with her research notes. The papers are now freely available for research and are described in an online finding aid. The gift will be formally acknowledged prior to her Oct 28. talk.

“Documents in Black and White” will be on view from Oct. 5 through Dec. 16, 2016, in the SC&A exhibition cases on the first floor of Olin Library during normal library hours. For more information, call 860-685-3863 or e-mail sca@wesleyan.edu.

Wesleyan Student Assembly Hosts Student Groups Fair

The Wesleyan Student Assembly hosted the 25th annual Student Groups Fair Sept. 16 on Andrus Field. The campus-wide event provided an opportunity for all students to learn about new and established student groups, network with different academic departments, and interact with vendors from the local Middletown community.

The Wesleyan Student Assembly hosted the 25th annual Student Groups Fair Sept. 16 on Andrus Field. The campus-wide event provided an opportunity for all students to learn about new and established student groups, network with different academic departments, and interact with vendors from the local Middletown community. Wesleyan boasts more than 250 clubs and student groups.

Throw Culture is Wesleyan's mixed ultimate frisbee team. The group has regular practices to prepare for tournaments throughout the year. The team is an open space for everyone to come play and learn ultimate.

Throw Culture is Wesleyan’s mixed ultimate frisbee team. The group has regular practices to prepare for tournaments throughout the year. The team is an open space for everyone to come play and learn ultimate.

Anarchist Histories and Activism Presentations Oct. 1

On Oct. 1, Wesleyan students will publicly present their research from the American studies course, Anarchy in America: From Haymarket Riot to Occupy Wall Street, taught by J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, chair and professor of American studies, professor of anthropology. The course focused on anarchism as a political philosophy and practice — a little known, aspect of American culture and society.

Students examined select aspects of anarchist political thought and praxis in the United States and the ways that anarchism has been represented positively, vilified or dismissed. The course explored a range of diverse political traditions including: individualist anarchism, socialist anarchism, anarcha-feminism, black anarchism, queer anarchism, indigenous influences and critiques, and other schools of thought. These presentations – by self-selected students from the class — are based on the final assignment for the course, a research-based political pamphlet. Kauanui will moderate two panels:

10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Historical Genealogies & Radical Analysis
“Free Love, Motherhood, and Spiritism: Reading Anarchy Through the Writings of Luisa Capetillo,” Iryelis López ’17
“Love as Prefigurative Politics,” Sarah Lurie ’17
“Black Feminist Resonances: The Overlaps and Intersections With Anarchist Principles,” Kaiyana Cervera ’19

Noon to 1:30 p.m. Community Resistance and Diverse Forms of Direct Action
“Encrypted But Not Cryptic: An Intro to Crypto Anarchy and Practical Resistance of the Modern Surveillance State,” Kate Pappas ’18
“Threads of Anarchism: A Look at Flint Community Action Amidst a State Crime,” Aura Ochoa ’17
“Power to the People! Energy Democracy and the Socialization of our Energy Infrastructure,” Joshua Nodiff ’19

The presentations will take place at Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown, CT 06457.