Arts & Culture

New Volume of Elizabeth Willis’ Poetry Published

Elizabeth Willis

Elizabeth Willis

Alive: New and Selected Poemsa new volume of poetry by Elizabeth Willis, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, professor of English, was recently published by New York Review Books. The book contains poems spanning more than 20 years.

According to the publisher’s website, with these poems, Willis “draws us into intricate patterns of thought and feeling. The intimate and civic address of these poems is laced with subterranean affinities among painters, botanists, politicians, witches and agitators. Coursing through this work is the clarity and resistance of a world that asks the poem to rise to this, to speak its fury.

Willis is also the author of Address (2011), which received the PEN New England/L. L. Winship Prize, and four previous books of poetry.

Blatt ’17 Selected As a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar

Kai Blatt '17 plans to major in studio art and biology. (Photo by Olivia Drake MALS '08)

Kai Blatt ’17 plans to major in studio art and biology. (Photo by Olivia Drake MALS ’08)

#THISISWHY

Kai Blatt ’17 has been selected to take part in the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Washington. This eight-week, all expenses paid “classroom-in-the-field” program helps students develop their vision for conservation, and gives them the natural and social science skills to become a conservation change-maker. The program is just entering its second year of existence, and this will be the second year a Wesleyan student has participated.

Blatt, who is from Los Angeles and plans to major in studio art and biology, learned of the program from her friend Joseph Eusebio ’17,

Siry to Speak at Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences Meeting April 2

The U.S. Capitol offers an illuminating case study of how modern architecture developed mechanically before the current era of sustainability.

The U.S. Capitol offers an illuminating case study of how modern architecture developed mechanically before the current era of sustainability.

Joe Siry

Joe Siry

On April 2, Wesleyan will host the 1,443rd meeting of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences (the third oldest learned society in the Unites States, chartered in 1799) on campus. To honor the proud occasion, Joseph Siry, professor of art history, the Kenan Professor of the Humanities will give a public lecture presentation about his research.

Siry’s talk, titled “Air Conditioning in the United States Capitol: Architecture, Technology and Congressional Life,” will take place at 5 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Hall. The U.S. Capitol offers an illuminating case study of how modern architecture developed mechanically before the current era of sustainability. This talk examines how air conditioning systems altered patterns of congressional operations during the 1930s and after.

CAAS_LOGO_175pxThe event is free and open to students and the general public.

Rudensky Discusses Her Latest Project with Jewish Daily Forward, Rubin ’13

Sasha Rudensky

Sasha Rudensky

The Jewish Daily Forward has published an in-depth interview with Assistant Professor of Art Sasha Rudensky ’01. The conversation ranges from her immigration to the U.S. from Moscow at age 9 to her start as an artist to her latest photography project, Eastern Eve.

Hannah Rubin ’13, a former student of Rudensky, wrote the story as part of a larger series she’s working on that spotlights Jewish female artists.

Rubin describes Rudensky’s work: “She uses her photography as a means of personally investigating the contradictions and continuities of contemporary Russian culture. Though her work defies being labeled as ‘feminine,’ it culls from a sensibility that is distinctly gentle and yet perverse, that seeks to make photographs that are repellent and attractive. They trade in generalities, but their details establish her voice — a statue of Stalin in a hallway, a wall of faded shampoo advertisements, the surprisingly limber legs of an eleven-year old rhythmic gymnast. Each picture becomes a question, a statement, a kind of rhythmic curiosity of light, color, and form that points to a history and a future that both feel unknown.”

Asked about her latest project, Eastern Eve, Rudensky said:

I’ve been working on it this series of portraits for the past five years or so, kind of as a side project. The youngest model in the group is twelve and her name is Sasha and I think maybe it was when I photographed her that the idea gelled and came together. There is a kind of fetishistic fascination of Eastern European women: a very specific kind of prototype is conjured up. And in many ways, it isn’t completely mistaken. But in the reality, of course, it is so much more diverse. So I wanted to play with both of these ideas, and make pictures of women that are very confrontational, and contradictory to the stereotype, but not always. The title Eastern Eve plays on the generic woman notion: something that denotes a kind of every day, or a kind of Jane version of the Russian woman. But then that generality gets broken down by the specificity in each image. The specific skin, specific body type, specific haircut.

On a more personal level, this series is, in many ways, a projection of myself onto these women — looking at these women, at these lives that perhaps I was meant to lead. There is always this idea for me of what would have happened if I had stayed in Russia and grown up there. So, ultimately, it feels like a self-portraiture project.

Photographs from Eastern Eve can be seen here.

 

 

WeSlam Poetry Team Takes Victory at Regional Slam

Wesleyan's slam poets competed against five other teams.

Wesleyan’s slam poets competed against five other teams.

Wesleyan’s Slam Poetry Team, WeSlam, took first place at the Yale Regional Poetry Slam Feb. 28 in New Haven, Conn. Wesleyan competed against five other teams from Yale, Brown University, Columbia/Barnard, Middlebury College and Emerson College.

“Our team brought important pieces about racial and religious identity, sexual violence across the gender binary, and gender roles,” said former WeSlam member Mike Rosen ’11, who serves as the team’s advisor.

Poets include Giorgia Peckman ’18, Jon Logan-Rung ’18, Hazem Fahmy ’17, Rick Manayan ’17 and Max Friedlich ’17.

Fahmy received a standing ovation for his poem about popular culture’s portrayal of Islam.

For more information on WeSlam, email WeSlam.wesleyan@gmail.com.

Indonesian Dancers Perform, Lead Workshop with Green Street TLC Students

Tari Aceh! performers worked with students at the Green Street Arts Center Feb. 25.

Tari Aceh! performers worked with students at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center Feb. 25.

On Feb. 5, the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center hosted dancers from the Connecticut premier of Tari Aceh! (Dance Aceh!). The performance features a group of nine female performers from Aceh, Indonesia on their first-ever tour of the United States. Their dances, inherited from their ancestors, are stunning in their synchronicity and include rhythmic body percussion and the singing of both Islamic liturgical and folk texts, accompanied by percussion. The dancers are between the ages of 14 and 24, and study at Syiah Kuala University, located in Banda Aceh, the capital of the Aceh province on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Green Street held a workshop with the Acehnese dancers for its AfterSchool students. The workshop exposed them to a similar dance from another culture. Afterwards, the Green Street TLC Hip Hop students taught the Indonesian dancers their own dance routine.

A supporter of Green Street TLC, the Center for the Arts regularly includes visiting artists in programming for the AfterSchool program.

A video and photos of the program are below: (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16)

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Shinohara’s Solo Exhibitions to be Displayed in Japan

keijiMaster printmaker Keiji Shinohara, artist in residence, will have three solo exhibitions in 2015.” The title is “Keiji Shinohara: Woodcut.”

The first will be at the Odakyu Shinjuku Art Salon in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan March 11-17. For more information call 03-3342-1111 (Japan).

The second show will be at Art Zone-Kaguraoka in Kyoto, Japan May 9-May 25. For more information call o75-754-0155 (Japan).

The exhibition will return to the United States and be on display at the Visual Arts Gallery at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. throughout the month of October.

In addition, Shinohara will be demonstrating Japanese Ukiyo-e printmaking and techniques at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston from noon to 3 p.m. April 6 and April 19. He’ll also lead a workshop at the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, N.C. Aug. 9-21.

Shinohara teaches in the Art and Art History Department and the College of East Asian Studies. While living in Kyoto, he trained for 10 years in the traditional Japanese woodblock printing style known as Ukiyo-e.  The technical foundation for his artwork is rooted in that training, accompanied by techniques of contemporary western printmaking, yet the imagery itself is very different from historical Ukiyo-e.

According to Shinohara’s artist statement, “the story behind the work is very important; there is a sense of narrative that is very private. The feelings and emotions that I convey through these abstract landscapes matter most to me. Almost always my images are of nature, but it is the essence of the landscape that I want to express, not realistic accuracy.”

Graduate Student Blasser Hand Crafts Analog Instruments

Graduate student Peter Blasser tunes one of his hand-crafted analog instruments. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Graduate student Peter Blasser tunes one of his hand-crafted analog instruments. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A, we speak with Peter Blasser, a music graduate student. 

Q: What was your first experiences with music? When did you decide that music would be your life work?

A: I was in elementary school in the 1980s when music programs were still part of the public school curriculum. I remember that those music classes were not very noteworthy at the time. In middle school I took a wood shop class and liked working with the tools. After taking classical civilization classes, I started to triangulate all three — I wanted to work with wood to make ancient Greek instruments to see what they sounded like. The first instruments I decided to recreate were ancient stringed instruments.

Blasser changes where the transistors are connected in order to tune the instrument.

Blasser changes where the transistors are connected in order to tune the instrument.

Q: Where did you complete your undergraduate studies?

A: I went to Oberlin College. I initially went as a classics major, but still had a passion for making classical instruments. Oberlin had a conservatory for music, and they offered introductory courses in electronic music. I started to use electronic music to model and tune classical instruments. I also was able to take a course in analog music, learning about transistors and electronics, and how they could be used to make music. This caused me to combine wood and analog electronics, which is all about the flow of the transistors.

Q: What did you do after graduating?

A: I purchased a home in Baltimore about 10 years ago as a space to work on my art. Fixing up the house was an artistic experience in of itself. I also started my own business where I sold analog instruments. I wasn’t making much money, so I spent a lot of time working on poetry, thinking of ideas for my business and exploring my philosophy. I also toured with my instruments, but didn’t like how much I had to promote myself and push my brand.

Q: Why did you choose Wesleyan for your graduate school?

Blasser likes to work with wood, which is frequently used in his instruments.

Blasser likes to work with wood, which is frequently used in his instruments.

A: I decided to attend Wesleyan after developing a friendship with Ron Kuivila, chair of the Music Department. After graduating from Oberlin I never thought I would return to school, but I found that I enjoyed giving lectures and helping other students make their instruments. I also like how Wesleyan’s music program, and art program in general, is experimental — there are no prejudices from students about what music should “be” like. The different departments are porous, there is mixing between different mediums and styles. This enables me to sit with undergraduates and help them make a piece that the student will own, with a shared experience. This made me realize that I enjoy teaching, and in order to become a professor, formal education is required.

Q: What are your plans after Wesleyan?

A: Right now my analog electronics business,

Mlozanowski Author of Night Flying

Joy Mlozanowski, library assistant/accounting specialist, is the author of Night Flying, published by Port Yonder Press in January 2015.

Abstract: In her diary, Mae questions God as she and her husband confront the news of an abnormal pregnancy and agonize over the decisions they face. Needing time away to think, she visits her childhood home and reconnects with Will, a deaf friend who taught her to sign when they were young. After her visit, Mae and Will continue an intimate written exchange in which she confides her despair, while Will shares his own struggle to honor the wishes of his dying father, and reconcile his mother’s reluctance to let go.

This collection of correspondences between Mae and Will form a powerful, nonjudgmental narrative around faith and the controversial topics of abortion and end-of-life care. Their story is one of understanding and hope, and promises to deeply touch anyone who has faced these difficult and heartbreaking choices.

Mlozanowski has an MFA from Southern Connecticut State University, and also is a visual artist and the assistant editor for Pith Journal. Read more: www.joychristine.com

Wesleyan Writers Conference Offering Scholarships, Fellowships

Wesleyan is hosting the 59th annual Wesleyan Writers Conference June 10-14.

Wesleyan is hosting the 59th annual Wesleyan Writers Conference June 10-14.

Registration is open for the 59th Annual Wesleyan Writers Conference. This year, the conference is offering scholarships and fellowships for alumni and other members of the Wesleyan community, including six scholarships for undergraduates.

The conference, held June 10-14, welcomes established writers, new writers, and everyone interested in the writer’s craft, and features seminars, workshops, readings and manuscript consultations.

Sessions include novel, short story, poetry, nonfiction, journalism and special sessions such as writing about science and medicine.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to start a new project or develop your current work with the help of distinguished writers, editors, agents and publishers,” said Anne Greene, director of the Wesleyan Writers Conference.

Faculty include Amy Bloom, Roxana Robinson, Alexander Chee, and William Finnegan of The New Yorker, as well as many others. To register, or apply for a scholarship, visit the conference website.

Jazz Quartet Stanley Maxwell to Perform World Premieres March 1 at Russell House

Jazz quartet Stanley Maxwell will perform at 3 p.m. March 1 in the Russell House.

Jazz quartet Stanley Maxwell will perform at 3 p.m. March 1 in the Russell House.

Wesleyan’s “Music at the Russell House” series concludes with a free concert by the Connecticut-based jazz quartet Stanley Maxwell at 3 p.m. March 1 in the Russell House. The group plays music that blends tight arrangements with intricate group improvisations. The concert at Wesleyan will feature acoustic arrangements of original tunes from the past decade, including several world premieres.

Stanley Maxwell's Andy Chatfield, pictured second from left, composed several original tunes for the group that will make their world premier at the March 1 concert. (Photos by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography)

Stanley Maxwell’s Andy Chatfield, pictured second from left, composed several original tunes for the group that will make their world premiere at the March 1 concert. (Photos by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography)

Stanley Maxwell features the CFA’s Press and Marketing Director Andy Chatfield on drums, Mark Crino on bass, Eric DellaVecchia on alto saxophone, and Evan Green on piano.

The group has built a grassroots name for themselves at colleges and festivals throughout the northeast since 2001, combining the virtuosic and the simple into a visceral concoction, which helped lead to their winning “Best Jazz Band” in the Hartford Advocate’s Grand Band Slam Readers’ Poll in 2007, 2009, and 2010.

“Mousetrap,” an 11-bar blues written by pianist Evan Green, was influenced by Thelonious Monk, and was featured on Stanley Maxwell’s debut album Don’t Wake The Baby!  The band’s recording of the composition attracted international attention, including “Mousetrap” winning “Best Jazz Song” at the 7th annual Independent Music Awards in December 2007. The band also won the Relix Magazine November 2007 “JamOff” contest for unsigned artists, with “Mousetrap” featured on that month’s Relix CD sampler, included with over 100,000 issues of the internationally distributed magazine, dedicated to jam bands and improvisational music.