Arts & Culture

Tucker: Can Culture Transcend Russia-West Conflict?

In an op-ed in The Moscow TimesJennifer Tucker and Aria Danaparamita ’13 write about the recent controversy over the British Museum’s decision to lend Russia the Parthenon marbles, “one of the most esteemed vestiges of Western art and civilization.”

According to the op-ed:

Controversy has followed the marbles since Thomas Bruce, seventh earl of Elgin, claimed in 1811 to have obtained a permit to remove the classical Greek marble sculptures from the Acropolis in Athens. They were purchased by the British government and passed to the British Museum. Greece has long lobbied for the restoration of the country’s monuments, and this year UNESCO agreed to mediate the dispute between Britain and Greece.The controversy was revived after the artwork was flown to St. Petersburg.

The authors contend, “Yet whatever one thinks of the morality or legality of the British Museum’s decision, it is a mistake to minimize the potential for art to play a role in cross-cultural negotiations and political dialogue.”

Danaparamita was a history major at Wesleyan, and received high honors for her thesis, titled, “British Borobudur Buddha: Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, Orientalist Antiquarianism, and a Material Historiography of Java (1811-1816).”

Tucker is associate professor of history, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor in the environmental studies program, associate professor of science in society, and faculty fellow in the College of the Environment.

The Timely Sculpture of Rachel Harrison ’89 Featured

The New Yorker has a lengthy profile of Rachel Harrison ’89, a sculptor whose work is “both the zestiest and the least digestible in contemporary art. It may also be the most important, owing to an originality that breaks a prevalent spell in an art world of recycled genres, styles, and ideas.” Ann Temkin, the chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, is quoted as saying, “When I first saw work by Rachel, I actively disliked it. I thought, Uh-uh! Then I couldn’t get enough of it.”

According to the article, Harrison enrolled at Wesleyan in 1984 and declared a major in comparative religions, but left after her sophomore year. She then traveled and took odd jobs, and completed a disappointing semester at another school, before returning to Wesleyan in 1987, where “she was strongly influenced by two teachers: [Chair and Professor of Art] Jeffrey Schiff, a sculptor, and [John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus] Alvin Lucier, a composer who makes sound installations. Another teacher introduced her to the poetry of William Carlos Williams, who appealed to her partly because, in his other career, as a family doctor, he delivered the artist Robert Smithson in 1938, in New Jersey. A line from Williams’s epic ‘Paterson’ became a watchword for her: ‘No ideas but in things.’”

Art Books Illustrate Environmental Concerns, Lessons

From left, Sophia Ptacek '18 and Khephren Spigner '18 show their artist book to instructor Kim Diver.

From left, E&ES 197 students Sophia Ptacek ’18 and Khephren Spigner ’18 show their final project to instructor Kim Diver.

Students from Introduction to Environmental Studies (E&ES 197) presented their final projects Dec. 11 in Exley Science Center.

The Project Showcase involved 80 students informally presenting artists books, GIS story maps, children’s stories, fictional journals and other creative explorations.

“All projects are related to environmental issues in the Connecticut River,” said course instructor Kim Diver, visiting assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences. The project is associated with the Center for the Arts’ Feet to the Fire initiative.

Several Wesleyan scholars and staff volunteered their time to demonstrate artist books to the students including Kate TenEyck, art studio technician and visiting assistant professor of art; Suzy Taraba, director of Special Collections and Archives; Rebecca McCallum, cataloguing librarian; and Joseph Smolinski, the Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment. Erinn Roos-Brown, program manager in the Center for the Arts, helped initiate the idea for the artist book projects.

Photos of the Project Showcase are below: (Photos by Cynthia Rockwell)

Chantel Jones '17 and Tanya Mistry '17.

Chantel Jones ’17 and Tanya Mistry ’17.

Students Showcase Art at Painting Show

Thirteen students enrolled in Professor of Art Tula Telfair’s Painting I course (ARTS 439) displayed their artwork at a Painting Show Dec. 8 at Art Studio South.

This introductory-level course in painting (oils) emphasized work from observation and stressed the fundamentals of formal structure: color, paint manipulation, composition and scale. Students addressed conceptual problems that helped them develop an understanding of the power of visual images to convey ideas and expressions. (Photos by Dat Vu ’15)

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Scott: Is Our Art Equal to the Challenges of Our Times?

Distinguished Professor of Film Criticism A.O. Scott writes in The New York Times that ever since the financial crisis of 2008, he’s been on the lookout for the next great piece of art–a new “The Grapes of Wrath” or “Death of a Salesman.”

“The originals are all still around, available for revival and rediscovery and part of a robust artistic record of hard times past,” he writes. “But we are in the midst of hard times now, and it feels as if art is failing us.”

Scott explains, “Serious art and popular entertainment, in their diverse ways, offer refuge and distraction. Their pleasures and comforts are not trivial, but essential. Art is the domain of solved problems, even if the problems are formal and the solutions artificial.”

NEA Supports Center for the Arts’ Breaking Ground Dance Series

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts a $20,000 grant to support the 2015–2016 Breaking Ground Dance Series. The CFA is one of the 919 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant.

The Breaking Ground Dance Series, now in its 15th season at Wesleyan, features cutting-edge choreography, world-renowned companies, and companies pushing the boundaries of the art form.

Montreal’s Compagnie Marie Chouinard returns to Wesleyan with two new dance works.

Montreal’s Compagnie Marie Chouinard returns to Wesleyan with two new dance works.

Upcoming performances this season include the return of Montréal’s Compagnie Marie Chouinard on Feb. 6-7, 2015 and Tari Aceh! Music and Dance from Northern Sumatra on Feb. 27.

Compagnie Marie Chouinard will be performing the New England premiere of “Gymnopédies,” created around the theme of the duet set to music by French composer and pianist Érik Satie; and the Connecticut premiere of “Henri Michaux: Mouvements,” featuring texts and visually arresting projected India-ink drawings from the book “Mouvements” by Belgian-born poet, writer and painter Henri Michaux, and electroacoustic music by Canadian composer Louis Dufort.

Books by Roth, Bloom, Waldman ’86 Honored by Washington Post

Beyond the University

President Michael Roth’s Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters

The Washington Post selected President Michael Roth‘s book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters, on its list of top 50 notable works of nonfiction in 2014. A brief summary of the review states:

The president of Wesleyan University describes two distinct traditions of a liberal education–one philosophical and “skeptical,” the other rhetorical and “reverential”–and argues that both are necessary for educating autonomous individuals who can also participate with others.

Beyond the University was originally reviewed in the Post on May 23 by Christopher Nelson, president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md. In that review, Nelson calls the book “a substantial and lively discussion” as well as “an economical and nearly jargon-free account of liberal education in America.”

Amy Bloom's Lucky Us

Amy Bloom’s Lucky Us

Two other members of the Wesleyan community were honored in the Post‘s “Top 50 Fiction Books for 2014.” The list included Lucky Us by Amy Bloom, distinguished university writer-in-residence and director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing, and Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman ’86.

Graduate Students Speak on Taiwanese Music at Ethnomusicology Meeting

Pictured at the Society for Ethnomusicology's Annual Meeting are, from left, Wesleyan's Ender Terwilliger, Po-wei Weng, Joy Lu and Su Zheng.v

Pictured at the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Annual Meeting are, from left, Wesleyan’s Ender Terwilliger, Po-wei Weng, Joy Lu and Su Zheng.

During the 2014 Society for Ethnomusicology’s 59th Annual Meeting, held Nov. 13-16 in Pittsburgh, Pa., Wesleyan graduate students collaborated to present the first panel dedicated to Taiwanese identity and music.

The panel, titled “How Taiwanese Should I Be? Contesting Taiwanese Identities in Local, Regional and Global Contexts,” comprised of Ph.D. candidates Joy Lu and Po-wei Weng, and graduate student Ender Terwilliger.

Su Zheng, associate professor of music, chaired the panel.

Covering Taiwanese opera, Pili Budaixi, and fusion performances, the panel explored the process of identity formation when promoting Taiwanese identity in politically delicate situations domestically and overseas.

In addition, Ph.D. candidates Dustin Wiebe, Min Yang and Fugan Dineen presented papers at the conference.

Green Street Hosts “Math on the Move” Workshop for Area Teachers

On Oct. 16, the Green Street Arts Center hosted a "Math on the Move" workshop for area math teachers. "Math on the Move" was a follow-up workshop for K-8 teachers who participated in the 2014 PIMMS Intel Math Summer Institute. The Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science (PIMMS), a partner of the Green Street Arts Center, developed the course for Middletown and Meriden teachers, supported by the Connecticut State Mathematics and Science Partnership grant of $158,483.

On Oct. 16, the Green Street Arts Center hosted a “Math on the Move” workshop for area math teachers. “Math on the Move” was a follow-up workshop for K-8 teachers who participated in the 2014 PIMMS Intel Math Summer Institute. The Project to Increase Mastery of Mathematics and Science (PIMMS), a partner of the Green Street Arts Center, developed the course for Middletown and Meriden teachers, supported by the Connecticut State Mathematics and Science Partnership grant of $158,483.

Lily Herman ’16 Active in Online Media, Journalism

Lily Herman '16 co-founded The Prospect, a culture/lifestyle magazine and college admissions/college life website. Two years later, the site features about five new articles a day and staffs 140 contributing writers. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Lily Herman ’16 co-founded The Prospect, a website focused on college admissions and college life. Two years later, the site features about five new articles a day written by a team of about 140 contributing writers, all high school and college students. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A, meet Lily Herman from the Class of 2016.

Q:
 Lily, what are you majoring in and why did you choose Wesleyan?

A: I’m a junior double majoring in government and sociology, and I hail from the semi-boonies of Jacksonville, Fla. I ended up at Wesleyan after my mom checked it off in a Fiske Guide to Colleges when I was a high school sophomore and I read all about it. After visiting Wes on a clear, sunny September day during my senior year of high school, I was 100 percent sold and applied Early Decision. Despite the fact that no one went to Wesleyan, my entire family now consists of diehard Wes fans, and my dad owns more Wesleyan merchandise than I do.

Q: You are extremely active in the world of online media. How did your interest in writing and digital media develop?

A: I really started getting into writing (blogging, more specifically) during my junior and senior years of high school when I, like every other angsty teenager, started a Tumblr account. It was my first foray into online content and having an audience, and it was really the first time I saw the power and impact that words and images can have.

Lily Herman is a peer advisor for the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship; a verbal coach for a nonprofit that provides free SAT tutoring and college admissions assistance to underserved high school students; and a contributing editor for Wesleying.

Lily Herman is a peer advisor for the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship; a verbal coach for a nonprofit that provides free SAT tutoring and college admissions assistance to underserved high school students; and a contributing editor for Wesleying.

It wasn’t until I got to campus and joined Wesleying that I started putting the pieces together and researching the digital media sphere. My first semester of Wesleyan was really spent poking around trying to figure out how to write and be a journalist. I hadn’t even considered it as a possible career option in high school. I was convinced I was going to be POTUS [President of the United States], so it was a really enlightening and absolutely terrifying first couple months of college.

Q: In 2013, you co-founded The Prospect, which describes itself as part culture/lifestyle magazine and part resourceful college admissions/college life website (but all parts awesome). Tell us how The Prospect came to be.

A: The inspiration for The Prospect comes from a lot of places.

Wesleyan U. Press Publishes James’ ’14 New Field Guide

Book by Oliver James '14.

Book by Oliver James ’14.

College of the Environment major Oliver James ’14 is the author and illustrator of A Field Guide to the Birds of Wesleyan, published by Wesleyan University Press in November.

This 48-page book, originally published in May by the student-run group, Stethoscope Press, was slightly revised and republished. Sixteen campus birds are featured in the book.

James has been an avid birder since about the age of 5. One of his earliest memories accompanying his aunt, a field ornithologist, to Bodega Bay, where she was researching the vocalizations of a type of sparrow.

The book features original color illustrations by the author in mixed media—watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil—capturing the beauty and unique field marks of each bird.

Read more about the book in this past News @ Wesleyan story.

Rose on Keeping Babar’s Story Alive

Phyllis Rose, professor of English, emerita, and wife of Babar author Laurent de Brunhoff, spoke to The Globe and Mail about the iconic elephant of children’s book fame. Since the first Babar story was written by Jean de Brunhoff in 1931, it has become the longest-running children’s series in history. de Brunhoff’s son, Laurent, took over writing after his father died of tuberculosis at age 37. Now 89, Laurent de Brunhoff is working on his 50th Babar book.

According to the article, Rose “has long been helping her husband dream up ideas and pen the stories.” She assisted in other ways as well: When de Brunhoff attempted to draw Babar’s pregnant wife, Celeste, Rose “grabbed a pillow and modeled for him.”

In the article, Rose reflects on the original Babar story, which remains the most controversial:

Only a few pages into that first book, Babar’s mother is shot and killed by a “wicked hunter.” Today, many parents skip over that first book entirely to shield their children from any awful truths. “The Story of Babar would not get published today. There is no doubt in our minds,” says Rose, “I had a cousin who would never give her child a balloon because she was afraid the balloon would pop. I think that one of the purposes of children’s literature is to expose them to frightening and horrible things, in a safe way.”