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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.

Hughes, Leiman-Sifry Research Published in Astrophysical Journal, Nature

Meredith Hughes

Meredith Hughes

Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, is the co-author of “Debris Disks in the Scorpius-Centaurus OB Association Resolved by Alma,” published in The Astrophysical Journal, Vo. 828, No. 1. Jesse Lieman-Sifry ’15 also is a co-author of the article.

In addition, the international weekly journal of science Nature mentioned the article in a Sept. 8 publication.

The co-authors explored the idea of carbon-monoxide potentially being in large-star disks. As explained in her abstract, “Stars twice the size of the sun can feature carbon-monoxide-rich gas disks around them, contrary to the expectation that ultraviolet radiation would have stripped away the gas.”

Hughes used the “Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in northern Chile to probe the regions around 24 young star systems, only about 5 million to 10 million years old. They chose stars surrounded by a disk of dust debris—resembling a scaled-up version of the Solar System’s Kuiper belt—this leftover material could form new planets, including gas giants.

In conclusion, the researchers noted that three of the larger stars in the sample had strong carbon monoxide emissions.

“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

Higgins’ Matinee Melodrama Delves into the Genre of Adventure Serials

Scott Higgins author of new book, Matinee Melodrama

ProductImageHandler.ashxScott Higgins, professor of film and chair of the College of Film and the Moving Image, is the author of a new book titled, Matinee Melodrama: Playing with Formula in the Sound Serial, published in February 2016 by Rutgers University Press.

Higgins newest work delves into the genre of adventure serials as a distinct art form, unwrapping its different elements and what makes adventure serials so successful. Intrigued by the active, dedicated fan culture, Higgins suggests that serial’s incoherent plotting and reliance on formula, as well as, the use of other cinematic elements such as, stock characters and cliffhangers, are actually some of the genre’s most appealing attributes, not faults. The earliest forms of this genre, including before Batman, Flash Gordon, or the Lone Ranger had their own TV shows, laid the groundwork for today’s blockbusters like, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Tomb.

As the first book about the adventure serial, Matinee Melodrama examines the nature of suspense, the aesthetics of action, and the potentials of formulaic narrative, while giving readers the opportunity to analyze everything from Zorro’s Fighting Legion to Daredevils of the Red Circle.     

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.

Attorney Hasselman ’91 Represents Standing Rock Sioux Against Dakota Access Pipeline

Attorney Jan Hasselman ’91 is representing Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, speaks to members of the media outside U.S. District Court in Washington, DC., Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, as members of the tribe asked a federal judge to temporarily stop work on parts of the Dakota Access Pipeline to prevent the destruction of sacred and culturally significant sites near Lake Oahe. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Attorney Jan Hasselman ’91 is representing Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, speaks to members of the media outside U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Sept. 6 as members of the tribe asked a federal judge to temporarily stop work on parts of the Dakota Access Pipeline to prevent the destruction of sacred and culturally significant sites near Lake Oahe. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Jan Hasselman ’91, a staff attorney with Earthjustice’s Northwest office in Seattle, serves as counsel for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in their efforts to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

An article in The Atlantic “The Legal Case for Blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline,” asks “Did the U.S. government help destroy a major Sioux archeological site?

The article is one of several in the media that highlight the work of the legal team and the questions they raise. At this time, the issue ongoing.

Atlantic Associate Editor Robinson Meyer writes in his Sept. 9 article:

“As part of the ongoing trial, the legal team for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe submitted documents to the court last Friday that certified one of their main claims in the case: that the pipeline will pass through and likely destroy Native burial sites and sacred places.

“These documents provided some of the first evidence that state authorities had missed major archeological discoveries in the path of the pipeline. For instance, they described a large stone feature that depicted the constellation Iyokaptan Tanka (the Big Dipper)—a sign that a major leader, likely a highly respected Chief, was buried nearby.

“‘This is one of the most significant archeological finds in North Dakota in many years,” said Tim Mentz, a Standing Rock Sioux member and a longtime Native archeologist in the Great Plains. “[Dakota Access Pipeline] consultants would have had to literally walk directly over some of these features. However, reviewing DAPL’s survey work, it appears that they did not independently survey this area but relied on a 1985 survey.”

Hasselman, who has been affiliated with Earthjustice since 1998, is working with colleagues Associate Attorney Stephanie Tsosie and Managing Attorney Patti Goldman on this project. An Earthjustice case overview offers a summary so far, updates, concerns, and a “What’s at Stake” summary: “The Army Corps’ approval of the permit allows the oil company to dig the pipeline under the Missouri River just upstream of the reservation and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s drinking water supply. An oil spill at this site would constitute an existential threat to the Tribe’s culture and way of life.”

When Democracy Now reported on Sept. 7, on a federal judge ruling that construction on sacred tribal burial sites could continue. Hasselman was quoted as saying, “We’re disappointed with what happened here today. We provided evidence on Friday of sacred sites that were directly in the pipeline’s route. By Saturday morning, those sites had been destroyed. And we saw things happening out at Standing Rock—dogs being put on protesters—that haven’t been seen in America in 40, 50 years.”

Hasselman, who majored in history at Wesleyan, is a graduate of Boston College Law School, where he was was executive editor of the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review. While at Earthjustice, he has successfully litigated a number of regional and national issues, including listings of salmon under the Endangered Species Act, stormwater pollution, coal fired power plants, and forestry. He also serves on as an adjunct on the faculty of University of Washington and Seattle University law schools.

Award-winning Documentary ‘Dream On,’ by Roger Weisberg ’75 Airs on PBS, Oct. 7

DreamONDream On, the newest documentary by Roger Weisberg ’75, will air on PBS at 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7. (check local listing). The film is the 32nd documentary written, produced and directed by Weisberg, who heads Public Policy Productions. Dream On has already appeared in 19 international film festivals, garnering four top awards. Weisberg’s earlier works have won more than 150 awards, including Emmy and Peabody awards, as well as two Academy Award nominations.

Dream On asks the question: “Is the American Dream still alive and well?” Are we still optimistic that hard work will raise our standard of living—for our generation and for our children? Weisberg explores this question with political comedian John Fugelsang serving as host and commentator throughout this unusual road trip. The journey revisits the cities of Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1831 itinerary, which served as the Frenchman’s research for Democracy in America. In it, Tocqueville described America as a land of equality, opportunity and social mobility. For those interested in viewing the film as part of a community screening event or classroom educational opportunity, PBS offers a viewer’s guide, as well as a trailer and additional resources, including video segments that Weisberg was not able to include in the 90-minute slot for PBS.

Roger Weisberg ’75, founder of Public Policy Productions, introduces his latest documentary exploring the American dream in a roadtrip following the 1931 journey of Alexis de Toqueville and featuring political comedian John Fugelsang.

Roger Weisberg ’75, founder of Public Policy Productions, introduces his latest documentary, an epic road trip exploring the endangered American dream. The film retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville and features political comedian John Fugelsang.

Weisberg also spoke to The Wesleyan Connection about the process of creating his newest work and his hopes for it: 

Connection: What was the inspiration for Dream On?

Roger Weisberg: I wanted to make a contribution to PBS programming surrounding the election, but I wanted to do it in a way that was different from some of my more conventional reporting on poverty, social mobility and economic inequality. The road trip infused this project with a degree of exuberance and levity, while also permitting us to examine some urgent social issues and meet some really powerful subjects along the way.

Connection: How did John Fugelsang come to join you?

RW: We were pretty lucky to have been referred to him by colleagues who worked with Bill Moyers. It turned out that for John, the timing was perfect: He’d just lost his job as a talk show host, because the cable network that had hired him was sold to a foreign buyer. Because of John’s new feeling of economic insecurity, he was able to put himself in the shoes of many of the people he met on our Tocqueville odyssey.

Connection: What kind of time frame were you working in?

RW: In the early part of 2013, I did the whole road trip on my own, without a crew, to meet prospective participants and scout locations. In the fall of 2013, we filmed this journey in two stints of about 25 days each.

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.