Faculty

Telfair’s “Invented Landscapes” Featured in Biography, Topic of Talk, 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.

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.

 

Johnston, Eiko Exhibit A Body in Fukushima in Manhattan

From The Fukushima Project, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston: Hattachi Benten 7 August 2016 No. 0457; Photo by William Johnston.

From The Fukushima Project, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston: Hattachi Benten 7 August 2016 No. 0457; Photo by William Johnston.

A Body in Fukushima, the collaborative work of Wesleyan artist-in-residence Eiko Otake P’07, ’10 and Professor of History and East Asian Studies William Johnston, will be on view at the Cathedral of St, John the Divine in Upper Manhattan as part of a larger exhibition The Christa Project: Manifesting Divine Bodies from Oct. 6 through March 12. Otake, who serves as an artist-in-residence at the Cathedral and a co-curator with Wesleyan senior Hannah Eisner ’17 for this project, will offer a short performance for the opening reception, which is open to the public. The exhibition includes works by many notable artists such as Kiki Smith, Kara Walker and Meredith Bergmann ’76.

The project offers a response to and a wider revisiting of the 1984 exhibit of sculptor Edwina Sandys’s Christa, a conceptualizing of the crucified Christ in female form, which sparked considerable outrage at the time. In a statement introducing this re-exhibition of the sculpture, now alongside works of 21 contemporary artists, the project directors note: “Christa’s essential statement …remains vital to our world today: people are hungry to see themselves and each other fully represented in society, especially in its most powerful and iconic institutions.

Otake and Johnston’s collaboration, A Body in Fukushima, explores environmental disaster, human failure, and loss through Johnston’s photographs of Otake’s presence in Fukushima, the site of the 2011 earthquake, tsumanmi and nuclear meltdowns. The large area of Fukushima remains uninhabitable to this day. Prior to this artistic collaboration with their three visits to Fukushima in 2014 and this summer, the two have co-taught courses on the atomic bombings and mountaintop removal mining.

In artists’ statements the two note the importance of a physical presence and bearing witness. Otake says, “By placing my body in these places, I thought of the generations of people who used to live there. Now desolate, only time and wind continue to move.”

Johnston, also, speaks to the historic context of the place: “By witnessing events and places, we actually change them and ourselves in ways that may not always be apparent but are important. Through photographing Eiko in these places in Fukushima, we are witnessing not only her and the places themselves, but the people whose lives crossed with those places.”

Hittachi Benten 7 August 2016 No._0457 Photo by Wm Johnston copyJohnston

From The Fukushima Project, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston: Minami Soma, Shiogama Shrine, 3 August 2016 No. 426. (Photo by William Johnston)

From The Fukushima Project, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston: Tomioka 5 August 2016 No. 0215; Photo by William Johnston

From The Fukushima Project, by Eiko Otake and William Johnston: Tomioka 5 August 2016 No. 0215.(Photo by William Johnston)

 

Grossman to Advise Queen’s University’s Economic Programs

At Queen’s University, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Richard Grossman, professor of economics, was appointed to the International Advisory Board of Queen’s University Center for Economic History, where he will advise on the university’s many economic programs. Grossman also served as an external examiner on a PhD thesis titled, “Bears and Bubbles in Financial Markets: Essays on the British Bicycle Mania,” at Queen’s University.

Grossman also presented his co-authored papers “Beresford’s Revenge: British equity holdings in Latin America, 1869-1929,” and “Long-Run Patters and Shifts in Wealth—Insights from Irish Share Prices since 1825,” Sept. 1-2 at the 6th Eurhistock Conference, a conference focusing on the history of the European stock market.

Hudes’ New Musical Focuses on Family in an Ever-Changing American Society

Quiara Alegria Hudes

Quiara Alegria Hudes

Miss You Like Hell is a new musical written by the Shapiro Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater, Quiara Alegria Hudes. Focusing on what it means to be a family in an ever-changing American society, Hudes’ work follows the story of a “whip-smart, deeply imaginative teenager and her free spirited Latina mother, as they embark on a road trip.”

Commissioned by Christopher Ashley, the artistic director at La Jolla Playhouse, in La Jolla, California, the production is a new piece that embraces the idea of changing identities. Ashley states in an a broadwayworld.com article, “this is exactly the right time for their powerful and moving new musical…”

Hudes received her BA in music composition from Yale University and a MFA in playwriting from Brown University. Boasting an extensive list of accomplishments, Hudes received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama for her play Water by the Spoonful. Her play Elliott, A Soldier’s Fugue was a Pulitzer finalist, and her most recent work, The Happiest Song Plays Last, premiered at the Goodman Theater. Hudes also wrote the book to the Tony Award winning musical, In the Heights, where Wesleyan alumni Lin Manual-Miranda ’02, music and lyrics, and Thomas Kail ’99, director, also had major roles in its creation.

Miss You Like Hell will run from Oct. 25 through Dec. 4 in the Mandell Weiss Theater in La Jolla, Calif. Tickets are available at lajollaplayhouse.org.

Higgins Delivers Keynote at International Film Conference

Scott Higgins

Scott Higgins

Scott Higgins, chair and professor of film studies, delivered the keynote address during the 2016 SERCIA Conference, held Sept. 8-10 in Paris, France. The topic of his talk was “Benefits of Incoherence: Seriality in the Studio Era,” largely based on book, Matinee Melodrama: Playing with Formula in the Sound Serial (Rutgers, 2016).

SERCIA, an organization established in France in 1993, encourages teaching and research in English-speaking cinema.

During the 22nd annual conference, Higgins joined film scholars from all over the world to explore links between the filmic form and seriality.

“I argued that American sound-serials in the 1930s and 1940s, with incoherent plots, nonetheless offered certain kinds of artistic refinement,” Higgins explained. His main example was the 1944 version of Captain America. Higgins shares similar ideas in his video-blog on the sound-serial fight sequence.

This was Higgins’ second international talk in the past six months. In June, he was the respondent to a conference hosted at the John F. Kennedy Institute at the Free University in Berlin, Germany titled “Seriality Seriality Seriality: The Many Lives of the Field that Isn’t One.” Higgins shares his thoughts about the conference online here.

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, admires her colleague for his recent international efforts.

“I think it’s a reflection on how important a young scholar he is,” Basinger said. “I feel happy that the future of Film Studies at Wesleyan is in such good hands because he is also a great teacher and colleague.”

At Wesleyan, Higgins teaches courses about film history, genre and aesthetics. His other books include Harnessing the Rainbow: Technicolor Aesthetics in the 1930s and Arnheim for Film and Media Studies. He offered the first ever Massive Open Online Course in film on Coursera, and maintains the blog Thinking Cinematically.

Weaver MALS ’75, CAS ’76 to Co-Direct Smithsonian’s Video Game Pioneers Archive

ChristopherWeaverChris Weaver MALS ’75, CAS ’76, visiting professor in the College of Integrative Sciences at Wesleyan, was appointed co-director of the Video Game Pioneers Archive at the Smithsonian Institute’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. This one-of-a-kind initiative will record oral-history interviews with first-generation inventors of the video game industry, creating a multimedia archive that will preserve the evolution of the industry in the words of its founders. The archive will offer scholars and the public the opportunity to better understand the personalities, technologies, and social forces that have driven interactive media to become one of the largest entertainment businesses of all time.

The Lemelson Center became interested in the video game industry while working to acquire the basement laboratory of the late Ralph Baer, considered the father of the video game industry. The Baer family and the Smithsonian wanted to expand on the importance of video games in today’s society so they tapped Weaver, someone with his own remarkable career in the industry and a close friend of Baer, to take the helm as external director, working side-by-side with Arthur Daemmrich, director of the Lemelson Center. This partnership has resulted in the creation of the Video Game Pioneers Archive, a long-term, massive undertaking—and a first for the Smithsonian—made even more unique by the fact that, according to Weaver, “no other industry in the history of technology has ever created anything like this. This archive will be a comprehensive recording of the creation of an industry as told by its founders.”

Kolcio, Stanton Create, Perform “Steppe Lands” as Freedom Dance Ukraine

Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio, left, and Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton, right, perform with Freedom Dance Ukraine this summer. The project was based on Kolcio's recent work in Ukraine. (Photo by Lucy Guiliano)

Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio, bottom left, and Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton, bottom right, perform with Freedom Dance Ukraine this summer. The project was based on Kolcio’s recent work in Ukraine. Other members of the ensemble: (above, left to right): Elvira Demerdzhy Julian Kytasty, Alina Kuzma.  (Photo by Lucy Guiliano)

A Connecticut dance event offered Associate Professor of Dance Katja Kolcio an additional way to explore her ongoing dance/movement project highlighting the effect of political forces at work in Ukraine.

Last summer, Kolcio invited colleague and Associate Professor of Dance Nicole Stanton to join with two other dancers, both with ties to Ukraine, to create a dance. This event, Dance for Peace, was sponsored by Artists for World Peace, an organization founded and led by Wendy Black-Nasta P’07, with music director Robert Nasta MA ’98, P’07.

Kolcio, who holds a doctorate in somatics, places the dance they created, “Steppe Land,” in the context of her project in Ukraine, where she has familial roots.

NIH to Support Weir’s Research on Ribosome Protein Translation

Michael Weir

Michael Weir

Michael Weir, professor of biology, professor of integrative sciences, received a grant worth $491,599 from the National Institutes of Health in September. Weir will use the award to better understand how ribosomes — the machines that make proteins — choose sequences in mRNAs (messenger ribonucleic acids) to start protein translation.

“This is an ongoing challenge in biology and is of great importance for investigations of cell function,” Weir said.

Weir is testing the hypothesis that sequences downstream of the translation start codon of mRNAs can form transient base pairs with a conserved sequence in 18S ribosomal RNA (called the 530 loop). This ribosomal RNA sequence is part of the structure of the ribosome and is located in the ribosome entrance tunnel for mRNAs.

He proposes that the base pairing is like a car’s braking system that helps the ribosome pause at the start codon, and that the transient base pairing also helps the ribosome walk along the mRNA in three-nucleotide steps as it adds amino acids to the growing new protein chain.

Cohan Presents Research at Microbial Ecology Symposium

cohanposter
Frederick Cohan, professor of biology, professor of environmental studies, presented his research poster, “Genetic Sweeps by Whisk Brooms and Garage Brooms — the Role of Ecology” at the 16th annual International Symposium on Microbial Ecology, held Aug. 21-26 in Montreal. Cohan presented his models on the origins of bacterial species, in particular that the rate a bacterial group forms new species is determined by the foods it consumes.

Microbial ecology is the study of microbes in the environment and their interactions with each other.

The International Society for Microbial Ecology is the principle non-profit scientific society for the burgeoning field of microbial ecology and its related disciplines. ISME fosters the exchange of scientific information by organizing international symposia as well as specific workshops, sponsoring publications, and promoting education/research. The society offers financial and travel awards during its symposia and provides services to the scientific as well as the wider community.

Pitts-Taylor Edits Collection on Feminist Science Studies and the Brain’s Body

9781479845439_FullVictoria Pitts-Taylor, chair and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, is the editor of Mattering: Feminism, Science and Materialism published by NYU Press in August 2016.

Anthony Hatch, assistant professor of science in society, co-authored a chapter in the collection titled “Prisons Matter: Psychotropics and the Trope of Silence in Technocorrections.”

Mattering presents contemporary feminist perspectives on the materialist or ‘naturalizing’ turn in feminist theory, and also represents the newest wave of feminist engagement with science. The volume addresses the relationship between human corporeality and subjectivity, questions and redefines the boundaries of human/non-human and nature/culture, elaborates on the entanglements of matter, knowledge, and practice, and addresses biological materialization as a complex and open process.