Arts & Culture

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.”

‘In the Heights’ Returns to Wesleyan

Playbill.com highlighted the recent production of “In the Heights” at Wesleyan, produced by the Theater Department and Music Department. The show was developed by Tony Award-winning songwriter, singer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 during his sophomore year at Wesleyan. The book was written by Quiara Alegria Hudes, now Wesleyan’s Shapiro Distinguished Professor of Writing and Theater. The recent production was directed by Associate Professor of Theater Claudia Nascimento, who first connected with Miranda when he was a senior at Wesleyan and she was a new member of the faculty.

“It was such a crazy, full-circle feeling,” Miranda told Playbill.com. “First of all, you have to know that I met Cláudia my senior year at Wesleyan, when she was coming in as a professor as I was going out as a student. Her first year at Wesleyan was my last year; we became friends then. She didn’t advise on my senior project, but she was around. We worked together on a couple of shows, and I really like her…”

Nascimento told Playbill.com that “In the Heights” had attracted a lot of interest among students, and she was eager to discuss the musical’s challenges with its creator.

“I said, ‘This cannot be a musical cast only with Latino students. We need to cast the musical in a manner that is representative of the diversity that we have on campus,’ and he was, from day one, very excited, very supportive,” said Nascimento. “The only thing he asked me was to keep the respect for Spanish language, which I think is more than fair. The cast is very diverse as well because that’s the makeup of the student body at the university, and it has been a particularly touching experience for me to witness the kind of exchange of experiences— it’s not just ethnically diverse, but they have very different backgrounds of family histories…

“Some of them are international students, and since ‘In the Heights’ is a musical about community, that value or that theme has been transferred to the rehearsal process, and so the Spanish-speaking students coach the non Spanish-speaking students on how to speak the language. They exchange ideas about the accent when they speak English. Some students are from Washington Heights — they bring that kind of information — so it’s been generally a very, very positive experience.”

A. O. Scott Moderates Talk on Arts Criticism

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Four arts writers participated in a panel conversation titled “Criticism Now! A Conversation on the State of the Art” Nov. 11 at the Goldsmith Family Cinema, Center for Film Studies. A. O. Scott, Distinguished Professor of Film Criticism at Wesleyan and a chief film critic at The New York Times, moderated the event.

Alden Trust Supports New Digital Design Studio

Wesleyan received a $150,000 grant from the George I. Alden Trust to support a Digital Design Studio currently under construction in the Davison Art Center. The interdisciplinary Digital Design Studio will equip Wesleyan students and faculty to address current and future needs with the tools to imagine and test new frontiers in design.

The Digital Design Studio will become a new hub within Wesleyan’s existing facilities in the Center for the Arts. The studio will provide a much-needed space for digital production for students enrolled in numerous studio arts courses and design-related fields. Emblematic of liberal education at Wesleyan, the new digital design studio is envisioned as a crossroads for faculty and students working across those disciplines that have become part of the massive digitization of design and the humanities. The new space will not only provide students with the tools, procedures, and techniques of digital design, but also the theoretical background needed to bridge the divide between what they are learning in their humanities and arts classes and the tremendous shifts going on in the digital world. Read more about the project in this News @ Wesleyan article.

The George I. Alden Trust was established for the general purpose of “the maintenance of some charitable or philanthropic enterprises” with particular expressed interest in “the promotion of education in schools, colleges, or other educational institutions.” The Trust supports institutions that demonstrate a combination of educational excellence, exciting programming, and efficient and effective administration.

New Digital Design Studio to Bridge Divide between Arts, Technology

Contractors are working to restore and transform the Davison Art Center's carriage house section into a Digital Design Studio. The space formerly housed the Art Library

Contractors are working to restore and transform the Davison Art Center’s carriage house section into a Digital Design Studio. The space formerly housed the Art Library.

Imagine a place where Wesleyan students with a panoply of interests – art, photography, architecture, graphic design, and theatrical design, to name but a few – can work together in a dedicated digital space. Where faculty and students can bridge the divide between traditional arts and humanities courses and the tremendous shifts taking place in the technological world.

The new lab will feature new computers, scanners and 3-D printers.

The new lab will feature new computers, scanners and 3-D printers. (Photos by Dat Vu ’15)

That place is no longer imaginary. A $150,000 grant from the George I. Alden Trust will support a Digital Design Studio in the repurposed carriage house section of the Davison Art Center. Beginning with about eight classes taught by three or four faculty members, the digital design program, slated to open in January 2015, will ultimately include intensive summer programming, reaching dozens more students by its second year.

“More than a simple grouping of high-end computers and software for arts classes, this will become a crossroads for faculty and students,” said Dean of Arts and Humanities Andrew Curran. “Together they will work across a variety of disciplines that are part of the massive digitization of design and humanities.”

The carriage house housed the Art Library until 2013, when the library’s holdings were consolidated at Olin. The grant will be used to repurpose and renovate the space and to purchase technology including scanners, 3-D printers and special software.

Wesleyan’s proposal for the Digital Design Studio envisions that eventually students will be able to solicit and accept projects from outside the university, gaining valuable career experience through non-academic digital design work.

#THISISWHY

Neuroscience Training Influences Lee’s (’12) Art

Gizmodo features the artwork of Timothy “Timmy” Lee ’12. A neuroscience and behavior, biology and studio arts triple major, Lee always loved drawing but decided to pursue art professionally during his last year at Wesleyan, abandoning plans to attend medical school. According to the article, his time as a neuroscience student is apparent in his work: “These beautiful sculptures and paintings are his way of digging inside his own complex and sometimes disturbing personality.”

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Choreographer Otake Begins 3-Year Appointment with Seminar, Exhibition

Eiko Otake, visiting instructor in dance, performed "Body in a Station" at the Amtrack's 30th Street Station in Philadelphia on Oct. 8. Otake will speak on "Nakedness" Nov. 5 and participate in an exhibition titled "A Body in Fukushima," at Wesleyan starting in February 2015. (Photo by William Johnston)

Eiko Otake, visiting instructor in dance, performed “Body in a Station” at the Amtrack’s 30th Street Station in Philadelphia on Oct. 8. Otake will participate in an exhibition titled “A Body in Fukushima,” at Wesleyan starting in February 2015. (Photo by William Johnston)

Japanese-born choreographer/dancer Eiko Otake, visiting instructor in dance, recently accepted a three-year appointment in the Dance Department and College of East Asian Studies. Otake has a 13-year performance history at the Center for the Arts, which began with a three-hour performance of “Offering,” Eiko & Koma’s response to 9/11, in the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery. Since then, Otake has visited campus many times as a Center for Creative Research Artist-in-Residence, and then as a Wesleyan University Creative Campus Fellow to teach, to offer workshops, to curate events, and to give lectures.

Eiko Otake. (Photo by Gregory Georges)

In the spring of 2015, Eiko Otake will teach an interdisciplinary seminar called “Delicious Movement: Time is Not Even, Space is Not Empty.” (Photo by Gregory Georges)

Since 1972, Otake has collaborated with Takashi Koma Otake in creating a unique theater of movement out of stillness, shape, light, sound, and time. Eiko & Koma have received two New York Dance and Performance Awards, or “Bessies,” as well as Guggenheim, MacArthur and United States Artists Fellowships.

Middlesex, Wesleyan Students Lead Robot Demo at Green Street Arts Center

On Oct. 20, children at Wesleyan's Green Street Arts Center were treated to a robot demonstration led by students from Middlesex Community College. The robot, named Mixy, put on a show for the kids ranging from following basic commands to displaying his tai chi moves. Wesleyan students assisted with the presentation.  The Middlesex Community College students visited Green Street as part of Connecticut's "Public Higher Education Makes a Difference Week." Taking place Oct. 19-25, this statewide program celebrates and promotes civic engagement while developing students' citizenship skills, forging community partnerships and integrating service learning and volunteering at Connecticut's public colleges and universities. It culminates on Oct. 25 with "National Make a Difference Day."

On Oct. 20, children at Wesleyan’s Green Street Arts Center were treated to a robot demonstration led by students from Middlesex Community College. The robot, named Mixy, put on a show for the kids ranging from following basic commands to displaying his tai chi moves. Wesleyan students assisted with the presentation.

The Middlesex Community College students visited Green Street as part of Connecticut's "Public Higher Education Makes a Difference Week." Taking place Oct. 19-25, this statewide program celebrates and promotes civic engagement while developing students' citizenship skills, forging community partnerships and integrating service learning and volunteering at Connecticut's public colleges and universities. It culminates on Oct. 25 with "National Make a Difference Day."

The Middlesex Community College students visited Green Street as part of Connecticut’s “Public Higher Education Makes a Difference Week.” Taking place Oct. 19-25, this statewide program celebrates and promotes civic engagement while developing students’ citizenship skills, forging community partnerships and integrating service learning and volunteering at Connecticut’s public colleges and universities. It culminates on Oct. 25 with “National Make a Difference Day.”

 

British History Class Takes Field Trip to Yale’s British Art Center

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On Oct. 7, students enrolled in the course HIST 269: Notes from a Small Island — Modern British History, 1700 – Present, visited the Yale Center for British Art.

The class, taught by Alice Kelly, visiting assistant professor of history, toured the center’s two current exhibitions, “Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837–1901” and “Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in 18 Century Atlantic Britain.”

“Seeing history through a different lens — art and sculpture — really aided their understanding of some of the class readings, and we were able to find a number of similarities, particularly in the Figures of Empire exhibition,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s course offers a survey of the political, social, economic, and cultural history of Britain since the beginning of the 18th century and traces the movement into modernity. Topics covered include the Acts of Union, the Jacobite Rising, the Napoleonic Wars, imperial expansion, the Slavery Abolition Act, the Industrial Revolution, the development of mass literacy, the Edwardian era, the First World War, the Second World War and the Blitz, the end of empire, the Sexual Revolution and the Swinging Sixties, and contemporary multicultural Britain. Read more about the HIST 269 course here.

Wesleyan Presents Muslim Women’s Voices

Pam Tatge, director of the Center of the Arts, was a guest on WNPR’s “Where We Live” to discuss a year-long program at Wesleyan looking at Muslim women’s voices through the lens of the arts.

“What we’re doing is really looking at the complexity of Muslim women today through the various performance modes that there are around the world. What that means is we are bringing artists in to be embedded in courses across the university–gender studies classes, Arabic classes, French classes, government classes–and then also do a performance,” said Tatge. “It’s the combination of the curricular integration and the performance that’s really going to allow us to have conversations with our community and our campus around some of the issues.”

Riffat Sultana, a Sufi fusion singer who will perform at Wesleyan on Nov. 7, was also a guest on the show.

Learn more about Muslim Women’s Voices at Wesleyan here.

Davison Art Center’s 19th Century Goya Print Exhibited in Boston

Open Access Image from the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan Universi

Francisco Goya’s portrait of the French printer Cyprien Gaulon will be on exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The print is owned by Wesleyan’s Davison Art Center.

One of Davison Art Center’s most important works – an early 19th century Francisco Goya lithograph – will be shown in a major art exhibit in Boston this fall.

The print, a portrait of the printer Cyprien-Charles-Marie Nicolas Gaulon, was made at the end of Goya’s life, between 1825 and 1826, and is one of only two known “first state” copies of the work (the other is in France’s Bibliotheque Nationale).  Gaulon taught Goya lithography during the artist’s senescent exile in Bordeaux.

“It’s a portrait of a friend, the man who taught him this technique, towards the end of his life,”  said Clare Rogan, curator of the DAC. “It’s a view onto Goya’s life at the time.”

The print was lent last month to the Museum of Fine Arts, where it will be exhibited in “Goya: Order and Disorder” Oct. 12-Jan. 19. The largest Goya exhibit in North America in 25 years, the show will include everything from the portraits of aristocrats that established his reputation to the prints and drawings that carried the Spanish artist’s fame beyond his country.