Arts & Culture

Williams ’89 Reads, Sings, Signs at Bookstore Event

Singer-songwriter Dar Williams '89 performed, and read from her new book, at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Oct. 10.

Singer-songwriter Dar Williams ’89 performed—and also read from her new book—at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Oct. 10.

Dar Williams ’89 read, sang and signed copies of her new book, What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musician’s Guide to Rebuilding America’s Communities—One Coffee Shop, Dog Run & Open-Mike Night at a Time (Basic Book, 2017), for an appreciative audience made up of members of both the Wesleyan and Middletown communities during an appearance at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Oct. 10. The book is a journey through America’s small towns, where the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter has toured over the past 20 years,

Assistant Professor of Music Sorey MA ’11 Wins MacArthur “Genius” Award

Tyshawn Sorey (Photo Credit: John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey (Photo Credit: John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, who joined Wesleyan’s faculty this fall as assistant professor of music, has been awarded a fellowship—better known as a “genius” grant—from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The announcement was made Oct. 11.

The fellowship is a “$625,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative and creative individuals as an investment in their potential,” according to the MacArthur website. Fellows are selected based on “exceptional creativity,” “promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments” and “potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.”

Graduate Student Kiman Awarded Scholarship to Attend Yiddish Festival

Douglas Kiman

Douglas Kiman

Douglas Kiman, a first-year PhD student in ethnomusicology, recently received a scholarship to attend the 2017 Yiddish New York festival held Dec. 23-28. Kiman’s research focuses on contemporary klezmer music in Western Europe.

Yiddish New York celebrates and engages with East European Jewish (and other Jewish and co-territorial) traditions to foster new creativity. Drawing inspiration from the historic cultural riches of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Yiddish New York is an intergenerational gathering featuring daily workshops and a broad spectrum of performances and programming. Yiddish New York evenings feature concerts, dance parties, and jam sessions at clubs.

Kiman, a native of France, spent two years in New York as a visiting scholar conducting research at the Yiddish Cultural Institute (YIVO). He also was a member of the Columbia Klezmer Band under the conducting of Jeffrey Warshauer.

“This scholarship is a unique opportunity to collaborate and study with some of the greatest living exponents of Yiddish folk arts including instrumental klezmer music, Yiddish song, dance and theater,” said Cheryl-Ann Hagner, director of Graduate Student Services. “Douglas will also start fieldwork for his dissertation by meeting and interviewing the most prominent American and international members of today’s klezmer scene.”

Garcia ’88 Joins NPR with Weekly Podcast: What’s Good with Stretch and Bobbito

Bobbito Garcia and DJ Stretch Armstrong are in animated discussion and laughter across a studio table on the air at NPR.

Bobbito Garcia ’88 (AKA Bob Kool Love) and DJ Stretch Armstrong, a legendary duo from late-night hip-hop radio in the ’90s, have reunited—reigniting their wit and wisdom in interviews with current cultural icons for the NPR podcast, What’s Good With Stretch and Bobbito.

Bobbito Garcia ’88 and DJ Stretch Armstrong are back broadcasting—just like they were in the ’90s. Except:

It’s not student radio WKCR at Columbia University; it’s National Public Radio.

It’s not in the 1 until 5 a.m. timeslot; it’s an audio-on-demand podcast.

And the guests are not the as-yet-undiscovered hip-hop artists.

In What’s Good with Stretch and Bobbito, the listener will find Garcia and Armstrong offering smart, lively conversation with trendsetters and cultural icons ranging from Chance The Rapper, to activists Linda Sarsour, to Stevie Wonder. (“The standout interview of my career,” says Garcia, “with the legend of legends.”)

Local Youth Learn Musical Skills from Wesleyan Musicians

As part of Green Street Teaching and Learning Center's AfterSchool Program, Nadya Potemkina, adjunct assistant professor of music, led a special music program for students in grades 1-5.

As part of Green Street Teaching and Learning Center’s (GSTLC) AfterSchool Program, Nadya Potemkina, adjunct assistant professor of music (pictured at right), led a special music program for students in grades 1 through 5 on Sept. 25. Potemkina directs the Wesleyan University Orchestra and teaches Wesleyan Concert Choir. She’s also adjunct assistant professor of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies.

Ma ’17 Exhibits Painting Thesis at Freeman Gallery

Paintings by Jiaqi Maria Ma '17 are on exhibit in the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Gallery. Ma created the paintings, titled (BEIJING | 北京) for her thesis at Wesleyan.

Paintings by Jiaqi Maria Ma ’17 are on exhibit at the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Gallery. Ma, pictured at right, created the paintings for her Wesleyan thesis titled (BEIJING | 北京).

On Sept. 20, Ma presented an artists talk inside the gallery. (BEIJING | 北京) consists of a series of five paintings based on her experiences in Beijing. "I feel as though I made my memories real by building my own city through the process of painting," she said.

On Sept. 20, Ma presented an artist’s talk inside the gallery. (BEIJING | 北京) consists of a series of five paintings based on her experiences living in Beijing. “I feel as though I made my memories real by building my own city through the process of painting,” she said. Ma, a Freeman Asian Scholar, double majored in classical studies and studio art and minored in archaeology.

WesPress Book Longlisted for 2017 National Book Award for Poetry

For the second year in a row, a book of poetry published by Wesleyan University Press has been longlisted as one of ten nominees for the National Book Award for Poetry. This year’s nominee, In the Language of My Captor, by Shane McCrae, examines the idea of freedom told through stories of captivity. Comprised of historical persona poems with a prose memoir at its center, the book addresses the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans.

“We are delighted and honored that Shane McCrae’s book is on the long list for poetry—and to be in such esteemed company,” said Suzanna Tamminen, director and editor-in-chief of Wesleyan University Press. “It’s a tremendous achievement for our press, following on the heels of last year’s National Book Award finalist for poetry, Archeophonics, by Peter Gizzi.”

The Leavers, by Lisa Ko ’98, Longlisted for National Book Award for Fiction

The Leavers, the debut novel by Lisa Ko ’98, has been selected as one of 10 works longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction.

“I was surprised and thrilled to receive the news, which I hadn’t expected as a debut novelist,” says Ko. “I’m thankful to the judges and everyone who has read and supported The Leavers. It’s especially great to see how many women writers are on the longlist this year—women of color in particular.”

Inspired by the true case of an undocumented mother who was deported without her son in 2009, the book tells the story of 11-year-old Deming Guo, whose mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, fails to return home one day from her job at a nail salon in Brooklyn—leaving the boy alone to navigate a new life as the adopted son of a well-meaning American couple in upstate New York.

Rudensky’s Post-Putin Era Photographs on Display at Davison Art Center

Photographs by Assistant Professor of Art Sasha Rudensky ’01 are on display in the Davison Art Center through Dec. 10. During a gallery talk, Rudensky explained how she rented an unsedated boa constrictor to make the photograph Snake Handlers, pictured in the center.

For more than a decade, Assistant Professor of Art Sasha Rudensky ’01 has repeatedly returned to Russia and the post-Soviet territories to photograph a lost generation that has come of age during the Vladimir Putin era.

On Sept. 13, Rudensky debuted a collection of these photographs at an exhibit titled “Acts and Illusions” at the Davison Art Center. The exhibition presents 24 photographs together with a video installation, revealing an unsettling view into contemporary life in the New East. Elijah Huge, associate professor of art, associate professor of environmental studies, collaborated with Rudensky on the video installation. Clare Rogan, curator of the Davison Art Center, coordinated the exhibition.

Studio arts major Rudensky was born in Russia and moved to the U.S. when she was 11 and returned as an artist in 2004. She’s also an assistant professor of Russian, East European and Eurasian studies and teaches Photography I and Digital Photography I this fall.

CTNow featured Rudensky’s exhibit in a recent article.

Photos of the “Acts and Illusions” reception and gallery talk are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

6th Annual The MASH Highlights Wesleyan’s Music Scene

Inspired by Fete de la Musique (also known as World Music Day), the sixth annual The MASH festival on Sept. 9 highlighted Wesleyan’s student music scene, with multiple stages on campus featuring everything from a cappella ensembles to student, faculty and alumni bands.

Stages were set up at Foss Hill, outside Olin Library and North College. More than 20 groups and soloists performed at Wesleyan’s The Mash including Bonanza, Good Morning CT, McCleary McCleary, MEG, Saint Something, Jal, The Basukes, Smokin’ Lilies, Jess Best ’14, Prometheus, New Group, Gabe & Brien, Savannah Jeffreys ’18, Johnny Gilmore ’18, Anna Savage ’18, Quasimodal, Sloane Peterson, ethereal whoosing, The Purple Windsounds, LAZ, Cicero Presley and Tasty Desert Creatures.

The MASH was held in conjunction with the City of Middletown’s Main Street Stroll, a family-friendly celebration of Middletown’s Main Street and the new Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore. The stroll featured music, street performers, specialty workshops and more.

Anna Savage '18 performed at the Olin stage.

Anna Savage ’18 performed at the Olin stage.

Documentary by Magruder ’17, DuMont ’17 to be Screened Sept. 18 on Campus

While still undergraduates, Julie Magruder ’17 and Jackson DuMont ’17 began filming The Face of Kinship Care, a documentary highlighting the important role that familial, but non-parental, caregivers provide in the lives of children. The documentary will be will be shown at Wesleyan—as well as more widely—at 8 p.m., Monday, Sept. 18, at the Powell Family Cinema. September, notes Magruder, is Kinship Care Month in a number of states. Through her work on this film, Magruder has become an advocate for highlighting the importance of kinship caregivers in all states.

The project began more than a year ago, when Christine James-Brown, president of the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), requested a documentary on the topic. Through the W. T. Grant Foundation, DuMont was put in touch with James-Brown. DuMont knew of Magruder’s particular interest in nonfiction storytelling, and once the idea had been solidified, he reached out to collaborate.

Hyman ’85 to be Awarded French Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres

Visual artist and author Miles Hyman ’85 has been chosen for the prestigious title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French Ministry of Culture. The award will be bestowed during a ceremony on a future date to be determined.

Hyman studied drawing and printmaking with Professor of Art David Schorr at Wesleyan and went on to study at the Paris Ecole des Beaux-arts. Hyman’s award-winning drawings and paintings have appeared in books, magazines and galleries in the United States and Europe, with clients that include the New Yorker, the New York Times, Viking Press, Chronicle Books, GQ and Louis Vuitton. He is also the author and illustrator of several graphic novels, including his adaptation of his grandmother Shirley Jackson’s renowned short story “The Lottery” (Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation, Hill & Wang/Casterman, 2016) and The Prague Coup, a graphic novel retracing Graham Greene’s voyage to Vienna in 1948 to write The Third Man (with writer J-L Fromental, Dupuis, 2017). The monograph Miles Hyman/Drawings, featuring more than 200 of Hyman’s works, was published in 2015 (Glénat).