Pre-Med Student ‘Takes 5’ to Appreciate Art

By Joseph Bailey
University Communications

Billal Masood ’13/T5 ’14 came out of his years as an undergraduate last spring with a degree in biology and all the right qualifications for medical school…but he decided to spend a fifth year at Rochester to pursue an interest in fine art. He is finishing up his Take 5 year as an intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he works under the supervision of Michelle Hagewood, as a spring gallery and studio programs intern in the Education Department of the Met. He serves as a teaching assistant for studio programs, and also does research for the museum’s Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art grant. He learned of the internship in 2012, when visiting the Met, and is in the “Big Apple” through the University’s Art NY program

While Masood’s undergraduate career has seen him earn a degree in biology, with a minor in English and a cluster in psychology, he sees potential in developing new art-based therapies, where he hopes to apply what he has learned during the Art New York experience with what he will learn at medical school.

This year’s program attracted a variety of majors, including biology, business, and economics majors, etc., but they all shared a common interest in art. The program seeks to help students gain insight into the marriage of art theory and practice. His internship duties include serving as a T.A. for studio art programs, educating the general population of museum-goers, and lining up specific tours for the class he assists.

With regards to theory and practice of art, interns in the Art New York program take three classes: their individual internship, a colloquium, and a new media course. For the colloquium, the professor, Elizabeth Cohen, gives many lectures, and invites frequent guest lecturers as well. The program exposes students to the art scene in NYC, through immersion as well as instruction. Masood says, “I’m proud to have been a participant.”

Masood credits his family and Rochester faculty members for nurturing his love for art and academia. It’s a passion that his Met internship is deepening. He is constantly exploring the two million square feet of galleries the Met has to offer; often taking short lunch breaks to maximize his time seeing the art. These excursions have even taken him to the Guggenheim, which has piqued his interest in the relationship between art and architecture.

Some of the pieces Masood has spent the most time appreciating are The Temple of Dendur, Shiva as Lord of Dance, and a painting, Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies. The Temple of Dendur is a massive piece that includes inscriptions of many ancient Egyptian gods, including Isis, Osiris, and Horus. In Masood’s opinion, Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies reflects nature’s beauty and peace. He noted how his time at the museum has helped mature his appreciation of art.“I’m constantly involved in both behind-the-scenes and readily visible preparations,” he said. “I really hope to increase my understanding and appreciation of art each day.”

GlobeMed presents IMPACT, 2nd Annual Art Gala

By Rachel Goldstein ’13
University Communications

What is your impact on the local community? How do your actions impact the world? GlobeMed, an undergraduate organization at the University of Rochester, asks these salient questions of the Rochester community with its second annual art gala, IMPACT.

The public exhibition, presenting juried artwork for viewing and for sale, will be held at the Art Museum of Rochester, 610 Monroe Ave. on December 6 with an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Guests can expect a showcase of Rochester talent–great art, musical entertainment, refreshments, a raffle featuring products from local businesses, as well as an opportunity to learn more about what GlobeMed does abroad and in Rochester. There is a suggested five dollar donation.

The gala is part of an on-going fundraising campaign for GlobeMed’s partnering organization, Kallpa Iquitos, a grassroots nonprofit aiming to empower youth and enhance opportunities through youth development projects in Iquitos, Peru.

“We want our fundraisers to reflect the values of our partner while also engaging the Rochester community–not just UR students, but the community at large,” says Art Gala co-coordinator, Alysha Alani ’15. The gala was pioneered last year as a way to tie Kallpa Iquitos into the local picture. “They use art as a public messaging forum,” explains Alani, “a way to promote healthy lifestyles and empower the community.”

GlobeMed, a group that addresses health equity and social justice, has partnered with Kallpa Iquitos since 2010 when founders Anupa Gewali ’12 and Rohini Bhatia ’13 applied to be a chapter. Part of a national organization comprised of 55 groups in total, the GlobeMed chapter at the University is working to achieve global health equity through local efforts and long-term partnerships abroad.

Kallpa Iquitos and GlobeMed co-construct a memorandum of understanding, which outlines how much money GlobeMed can commit to raising and how that money will be used. “We believe that Kallpa is an expert on the community they work and live in,” says Alani. “They know best how to sustainably address these self-identified issues and how GlobeMed can best use our resources as University students–not only financially, but time and knowledge–to help.”

Kallpa Iquitos is currently focused on empowering youth to take ownership of their communities through establishing youth centers and facilitating the development of academic enrichment programming, sexual health classes, and employment opportunities, among other projects. They are currently working with nine neighborhoods within the Pampachica area of Iquitos.

Locally, GlobeMed engages in community service and strives to educate the Rochester community about public health issues and disparities. “We cannot turn a blind eye to marginalized communities,” says Alani, “whether they are in our own backyard or 3,000 miles away.”

GlobeMed held their 2nd annual 5K walk in partnership with two Rochester non-profits in October 2013. They are planning their 3rd annual benefit dinner in mid-February, last year’s theme being “Hope in Health: Youth in Action.” Additionally, GlobeMed hopes to organize an educational debate on public health topics for the spring semester. Past events have included a panel discussion on the Affordable Care Act that featured a public health professor, physician, theologian, and economist, as well as a debate on cultural relativism and family planning co-sponsored by the debate team.

“I especially value the educational curriculum that GlobeMed incorporates,” Alani explains, “topics such as why health is a human right, the history of global health efforts, and models of foreign aid. It is rare to find a group of students as passionate and willing to learn.”

Alani attended two GlobeMed conferences in the past year–one regional and one national–that bring together university chapters and GlobeMed alumni. They were a reminder of the immense tasks at hand, but also the small changes that can go a long way.

“I am continually proud and impressed,” Alani states, “with what a group of undergraduates can do when we put our minds to it.”

For more information about the gala, visit urglobemedartgala.tumblr.com, e-mail at urglobemedartgala@gmail.com, or see the event Facebook page

 

 

Summer Plans Series: Saroyah Mevorach Experiences the London Fashion World

By Blake Silberberg ‘13
University Communications

University of Rochester senior Saroyah Mevorach recently returned from an internship in London, England, with the Fashion and Textile Museum. The art history major participated in the Educational Programmes Abroad (EPA) Internships in Europe. The program is offered through the College Center for Study Abroad.

Mevorach grew up surrounded by a family of art collectors, in homes filled with Chinese and European art collections. After taking every art course available to her in high school, she was certain she wanted to pursue a degree in art at Rochester. During the spring of her sophomore year, she participated in the University’s Art New York program, where she worked as an editorial intern for Town & Country magazine in Manhattan. As an intern, she helped prepare information and photos for upcoming spreads, fact checked for fashion, lifestyle, or social articles, and helped out in the fashion closet, prepping for shoots and unpacking as well as organizing inventory.

“Since it is a very elite and fashionable magazine, I was able to see designers, models, socialites, and other relevant figures coming in and out of the office and was also able to work with and observe extraordinary people,” explained sm1Mevorach, “I was able to see how the runway is translated to the page and then distributed to the public. It was a very comprehensive learning experience and I really loved it.”

Building on that positive opportunity, Mevorach embarked this summer on the EPA program in London. The program sponsors semester-long study programs in London, Berlin, Bonn, Cologne, Brussels, Edinburgh, and Madrid and combine eight-credit internships with coursework throughout the semester. It also provides solid work experience for the students involved.

Mevorach describes London as “A great city for fashion, contemporary art, and multicultural experiences, and an excellent place for someone involved in art to intern.” She interned at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, which is owned by Newham College, and was founded by Zandra Rhodes, a famous British designer. Because the organization’s staff is only 8 people, she was able to experience what she describes as “nearly all aspects and roles within the museum.”.

“I helped plan curatorial approaches and layouts, organize exhibition lists, and even worked in the shop and gallery once or twice.” Mevorach also helped create and maintain a social media campaign for the museum, as well as helping to draft press releases. Being part of such a small staff also allowed her the opportunity to work with high profile designers.

“The best day was probably when I worked with David Sassoon, designer for the notable fashion label Bellville Sassoon, who created dresses, gowns and outfits for the Royals, including Princess Diana,” recounts Mevorach. “I smhelped him organize his upcoming exhibition at the show and was able to see all of his original sketches. He is so sweet and amazingly talented.”

Mevorach describes living and working abroad as eye opening. “Our world and all of its industries have gone global, and I think it’s extremely important to experience any field outside the borders of the United States.”

“After working and living in London, I have a greater appreciation for and understanding of what it takes to make it in the creative industry. I have learned to be more independent and met people who have inspired me. This program offers a growing experience for anyone willing to go and accept a new challenge.”

This story is part of the Summer Plans Series, a collection of stories about how undergrads at the University of Rochester are spending their summer. Know of someone doing something cool over break? Email The Buzz (thebuzz@rochester.edu) and tell us all about it!

Sagefest 6 Pits Superhero Scientists Against Art Avengers

Spelling bees. Volleyball games. Raft races. Costume contests. No, it’s not an elementary school field day, it’s Sagefest 6. And in 2013, these activities were designed to continue the long-standing, much discussed rivalry between art and science.

On the afternoon of April 19, students from engineering and science departments (Team Science) went up against art students (Team Art) in a battle of wits, athleticism, and creativity. When the dust (or sand) settled on the volleyball court, and the last word had been spelled correctly, Team Science had racked up an impressive 141 points and Team Art lagged behind with only 95 points. As Sagefest organizer Derek Crowe ’10 said, “Team Art Lost. L-7 Style.”

Despite the fierce competition, by all accounts, the day was a success. “The weather was wonderful. We had a terrific showing and the entirety of the chocolate milk was drunk in less than 30 minutes,” said Crowe. “Costumed people were silly, yelled, ran up a hill with a boat, and threw bowling balls at unsuspecting Frisbee players.”

And so, the epic battle was won. Proof of Team Science’s victory, a motorized, rotating brain sculpture, will be on display in the biomedical engineering department office until next year, when Team Art will have a second chance to glory.

At Sagefest, the annual event organized by the Sage Art Center, printmaking students were also on hand screen-printing original designs on T-shirts and WRUR provided musical entertainment.

Crowe provides a full recap, along with photos, here: http://sageartcenter.com/2013/05/01/sagefest-a-success-artists-give-away-art/.

sagefest-4

sagefest6

 

Anonymous Willpower: Eastman Doctoral Student Takes on Rochester’s First Fringe Festival

Univ. Communications – Erin Futterer, ’14E (DMA), a doctoral candidate studying horn performance at the Eastman School of Music, has lent her strong musical background and passion for “cross-media” into helping plan Rochester’s first Fringe Festival, which will take place from September 19-23.

A native of Arkansas, Futterer graduated from Northwestern University in 2007, majoring in horn performance, and went abroad for her masters, studying at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, Norway. While there, she impressively combined her master’s studies with a Fulbright fellowship studying under world-renowned horn musician and teacher Frøydis Ree Wekre.

In addition to earning her degree at Eastman, Futterer works as a teaching assistant at the River Campus and stays involved in multiple arts and musical associations, including the Arts Leadership Program, Pegasus Early Music, and the Sound Exchange Group of Musicians. This summer, she embarked on her latest endeavor, helping to plan the Fringe Festival through an internship with the Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Program.

According to Futterer, the festival is an avenue for “promoting artistic culture” and helps to “connect different artistic mediums.” The event will feature local Rochester musicians, artists, dancers, and performers, complemented by headliners Patton Oswald, the Harlem Gospel Choir, and aerial dance group Project Bandaloop.

The concept of the “fringe” tradition started in Edinburgh in 1947 when eight theater groups turned up at the Edinburgh International Festival uninvited and decided to perform at venues they organized themselves.  Today, Fringe Festivals are held in nearly 200 cities around the world, including 20 cities in the U.S.

Fringe Festival Director Erica Fee ’99, whom Futterer describes as an “incredible mentor,” gave her the chance to contribute to the festival in any way that she wanted. Futterer says she picked the “fun job” of party planner, helping to organize a launch party aimed at getting the performers to know and support each other.

Futterer explains that a major aim of the festival is to “bring people of different specialties together” so artists of different mediums can get to know each other as “comrades rather than competitors.” She notes that one of the best things about the festival is that it is “100% nonprofit” and provides little-known artists and performers with greater recognition and support.

More than 20 venues have lent their support for the effort, with shows at Geva Theater, Eastman Theater, Millennium Park, and Little Theater, among others. Gibbs St. in downtown Rochester will shutdown to host the weekend-long festival. The effort has the support of many local businesses in the Rochester community, including the Boylan Code Law Firm in the Culver Road Armory, in which festival board meetings are held, several Rochester schools, including the University of Rochester and Eastman, as well as its biggest sponsor, First Niagara Bank.

Futterer has been thrilled about the process of organizing the Fringe, getting to know some amazing people in Rochester, and being a part of the effort to bring the city’s “hidden arts culture” and “little gems” up to the surface for more people to experience. She also appreciates that the festival “doesn’t speak to a certain age level or a certain genre … it is something for everybody.” The Fringe features 120 different shows, and covers a wide range of art forms:  theatre, dance, comedy, music, film, visual arts, multidisciplinary, children’s, and variety.

Tickets for the Fringe Festival are available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office on 433 East Main Street, Wegmans “That’s the Ticket!” locations, at the door of all venue locations, and on the festival’s website, http://rochesterfringe.com. A festival guide, which is featured on the website, provides listings of all shows and venues.

Article written by Caitlin Mack, an intern in University Communications.

Tinkerer, Scholar, Hacker, Innovator

Rochester Review – For more than a week in May, Andrew Tomich ’14, Jared Suresky ’12, and other members of the Midnight Ramblers will hole up in makeshift recording booths in the basement of Spurrier Gym. There, over the course of back-to-back, 12- to 15-hour days, they will haul into the building their own microphones, their own portable recording system, computers loaded with professional software, and other equipment to record up to a dozen new songs.

At the end of the marathon sessions, the members of the a cappella group will emerge, bleary-eyed—maybe a little hoarse—but with a laptop containing the gist of their 10th “studio” album. The do-it-yourself method is how the Ramblers have recorded all nine of their albums over the last decade: on their own, late into the night, with their own equipment.

They have no faculty members to guide them, no tech support crew to troubleshoot problems, and no formal training in how to record digital music. They have just their own desire to create a collection of music they can share with their fans.

“We keep teaching ourselves how to do it,” says Tomich, a biomedical engineering major from Cleveland. “A lot of what we’ve learned is through experimentation, and through one generation of Ramblers handing off the knowledge to another generation.

“We kind of make do,” he says.

And make do very well. With albums regularly selected as among the best in the collegiate a cappella world, the Ramblers are something of an ongoing digital media enterprise. In addition to recording their own tracks (they rely on a professional engineering company to mix the albums), they conceive, record, and produce their own videos, and they oversee their own advertising and communications effort. All done digitally on their own equipment.

As the tools—the cameras, computers, software—that used to be available to only the most sophisticated professional have become practically standard on introductory laptops, if not on smartphones, students at Rochester and across the country are teaching themselves how to create their own artistic, personal, and professional digital portfolios.

And they take on the projects because they want to, regardless of their majors or whether they’ve taken classes or been formally trained in digital media. It’s not just for film geeks or photo mavens or computer jocks any more.

Couple that ubiquity with the 24/7, can-do, let’s-make-something-cool spirit that’s contagious among college students, and academic leaders say the University is poised not just to make advances in the world of digital media and art, but also to help rekindle a spirit of innovation.

Tom DiPiero, dean for humanities and interdisciplinary studies, says one of the hallmarks of students who have grown up in the Internet era is that they’re immune to the notion that creativity is bound within individual disciplines. Riffing on the British scientist C. P. Snow’s famous critique of academia and the danger of compartmentalization, DiPiero says students don’t think in terms of “two cultures” any longer, if they ever did.

“Any of us who are older still think in terms of the divides—the arts and humanities side and the science and engineering side,” says DiPiero. “That’s not how kids think today. They might have a predilection toward one or the other side of things, but they don’t think in those kinds of boxes.”

In an effort to further strengthen the connections among intellectual interests, Arts, Sciences & Engineering is launching a multipronged initiative this spring with the goal of providing students with an academic and cocurricular home for their multidisciplinary interests.

The clearest manifestation is a new building, which campus planners hope to break ground on later this year, that will house state-of-the-art space for students to explore, create, and study digital media, including video and audio production, website technology, and mobile applications.

Built to connect with Morey Hall, the new building will provide much of the technologically equipped studio space for two new majors designed to give students an academic structure to channel their interests in the arts, humanities, and digital technology. One major, in digital media studies, has begun enrolling students for the fall; the second, in audio and music engineering, is expected to be approved soon.

DiPiero says the new major in digital media is designed to give students a liberal arts grounding in perspectives about narrative, analysis, video production, film history, media, technology, and other humanistic approaches, complemented with production-oriented classes in video, audio, Web, and other technologies.

Such a program will not only improve the digital skills of students, but will also provide them with a broad perspective to think critically about the technology around them, he says.

“If you know the history, if you know the aesthetics, you are much more likely to be able to produce something that people will want to watch,” says DiPiero. “But we also want to address the fact that every educated adult needs to be both a critical reader of media—that is, they need to know how to look at media, how to understand them historically, socially, and even aesthetically—and at the same time, they need to know something about how to produce these forms of media.”

Tomich of the Ramblers says having a broader sense of the history and aesthetics of media production would only improve the quality of the group’s productions.

“As a non-major, I’m interested in those things; as a user I’m interested in those things,” he says. “If it was a major, I’d still be interested in those things. Knowing where things have come from enables you to create better work.

“I would have no qualms about taking a history class to understand why we have what we have, and how it has progressed to this point. I think that’s really cool.”

The idea of channeling student inquisitiveness and innovation guides a second main component of the new building—a state-of-the-art “studio for engineers”—known as the fabrication center, or “fab lab,” where students can fabricate prototypes and work with materials for shaping ideas into products.

Rob Clark, dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, says the design of the fab lab and its placement within the new building acknowledges that innovative ideas come from across the spectrum of students.

He, too, has seen a trend among students to bridge what traditionally have been seen as distinct disciplines. For example, last year, when a computer-aided design course required for mechanical engineering students was mistakenly listed in the course schedule as having no prerequisites, the first 25 to 30 seats were filled with arts and sciences students. The Hajim School had to offer a second section to accommodate the additional demand.

Clark attributes the enrollment to students’ interest in the gaming industry and the growth of virtual online worlds, but he says it’s a fitting example of how students approach new technologies.

“Students here and at other institutions are less driven by the requirements and constraints put on any particular discipline,” Clark says. “They are interested in learning what they’re curious about at the time. They’re less interested in the boundaries between disciplines. I think this space creates an opportunity to say, ‘We encourage that.’”

Bradley Halpern ’12, president of the Students’ Association, says students have long been tinkering with media production, particularly campus performing groups who produce video and audio projects. Regardless of major, students think nothing of drawing on other disciplines to figure out how to solve a problem.

“People are starting to realize that you need crossdisciplinary study to solve the world’s problems,” says Halpern. “It’s a way of thinking that makes us, as students, more capable and more likely to take that approach when we’re in the workforce.”

An engineer, Halpern is focusing his major on human-computer interaction, a field that explores the social, cultural, and psychological ways that people interact with technology and how to improve that experience. He draws on his interests in computers, political science, music, and other fields as he explores ways to make technology more user-friendly.

Halpern works with Jeff Bigham, an assistant professor of computer science who helped draft the new major in digital media studies. Bigham says technological fields like computer engineering are just beginning to recognize how much artists, psychologists, and humanists can bring to the design of technology.

The new initiatives can only spark more collaboration among students, who, he agrees, no longer think in terms of “us” and “them” when it comes to digital culture.

“We older people might think that there are two groups,” he says. “Younger people are just thinking, I’m a digital media person and I might sample from computer science or I might sample from art and art history. They’re already doing it; why not just formalize it?”

Bigham notes that the willingness of students to explore the potential of technological tools is not new. Such creativity lies at the heart of what most people think of as “hacking,” or the nonmalicious approach of taking a gadget apart, figuring out how it works, and using its concepts and parts to create something new. In that sense, the arts and humanities are particular hotspots right now, he says.

“It used to be the computer scientists who were going off and gluing together hardware, and they were writing their own software to do stuff that they thought was cool, to get stuff done,” Bigham says. “Now, we’ve matured as a discipline; we have all this stuff. Now it’s the artists, who don’t have formal training in computer science or in electrical engineering, who are taking whatever they can find, gluing it together in whatever way they want to be able to achieve whatever art they want to create. They are the ones who are doing the hacking that really started with computer programming.”

For his part, Clark wouldn’t mind rekindling the idea that being a good engineer means being a good tinkerer.

As do other engineering administrators around the country, Clark notes that the profession’s success in making sure that students are mathematically prepared and comfortable working with computer technology has lessened the likelihood that incoming engineering students have experience in developing, producing, or improving physical products.

“Our students come in with great math and science skills,” he says. “That’s true across the field of engineering. It’s generational. But part of education is always to find the components of the things that someone needs to learn to succeed in a particular career. In engineering part of what you need to succeed is to understand how things work. To do that, you need to be able to take things apart or put them together and to conceive design.

“I want to encourage engineering students to use the space as an art student would use an art studio. If you’re a sophomore and you have an idea of some widget you want to build, then you should be able to figure out what tools you need to use to build the device and be able to go into the lab and build it.”

Cary Peppermint, assistant professor of art and art history, says artists have traditionally been willing to do exactly that—go into a studio and use the tools at hand to pursue an artistic vision. What’s new is that the technology is different and the approaches to art tend to be more collaborative and interactive than they’ve been in the past.

He’s the founder of an artistic collective that uses technology such as GPS programs, Web interfaces, and social media to analyze and question modern society’s connections with nature.

In his classes, he and his students explore ways to repurpose technologies to create new artistic works and to develop interactions between artists, viewers, and art.

“The collaborative and interdisciplinary component is different from an artist’s perspective,” he says. In contrast to the stereotypical image of the lone artist, most digital art requires a group of programmers, graphic designers, artists, digital video, and sound producers.

“No one can be an expert in all those things,” Peppermint says. “It’s a new way of working. That’s very exciting.”

fea_digitalmedia

One of the students in Peppermint’s introduction to digital art class, Nicolette Howell ’13, says she’s used to tinkering as a studio arts major interested in photography. The brooding images in a recent portfolio of her work hide a menagerie of menacing shapes and shadows within swirls of computer-enhanced smoke. All created with imagination, vision—and software.

Like generations of photographers and artists before her, the junior from Dacula, Ga., is learning to experiment with her medium and her equipment to get the results she sees in her mind’s eye.

She’s already acquainted herself with Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, and other commercial-level image and design programs. In the course on digital art last winter, she used software to animate her images so that they moved as viewers clicked them on a computer screen.

The project was her first effort at interactive art, and it piqued her interest in improving her skills with increasingly advanced technology. She doesn’t want to be a computer programmer, but she does want to know enough about software to help express her artistic ideas.

Says Howell: “I always think that learning about more things will make my work better.”

Article written for the May-June issue of Rochester Review by Scott Hauser, editor of Review.

In the Photos:

ROLL ‘TAPE’: Setting up their own equipment in practice rooms in Spurrier Gym, Jared Suresky ’12 (singing), Kevin Layden ’13 (left), Noah Berg ’12, Andrew Tomich ’14, and the rest of the Midnight Ramblers have recorded nine CDs, teaching themselves how to use new technology.

DESIGNING TIMES: Computer science professor Jeff Bigham says technologists have begun to recognize the contributions of humanists and social scientists in making technology more user-friendly.

STUDIO ARTIST: Nicolette Howell ’13, a studio arts major from Dacula, Ga., says an introductory class on digital art piqued her interest in learning more about how she can use technology to broaden the range of artistic expression she can bring to her photographic work.

Photos courtesy of J. Adam Fenster, University Communications.

Students Delve Deeper into the Divine Comedy

Univ. Communications – On a Tuesday afternoon, a small group of students huddled around several rare print editions of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library at the University. The books dated as far back as the sixteenth century and featured delicate engravings and woodcuts produced through a variety of technologies.

For the first time in the history of the University, a course has been developed purely for the purpose of exploring the visual culture surrounding Dante’s magnum opus. Offered by the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, the Dante Multimedia Lab, led by Associate Professor of Italian Donatella Stocchi-Perucchio, is designed for students to engage with the text of the Comedy, study the history of the book as an object, and also to evaluate the cultural impact of the work through art.

“The reoccurring point of inspiration for me is the realization of how deep of an impact a single medieval story had on Western art, theology, and literature,” said Beau Reynolds ’12, a political science major. “Dante is so influential in Western thought that the majority of time his influence is so subtle that it goes unnoticed. We are really focusing on discovering how deep that impact goes. It is as much a study of humanity and society as it is of art and literature.”

Illustrations of the Divine Comedy date back almost to the time of its writing in the early fourteenth century. Early manuscripts featured illuminations of the text and by the 1480s the first illustration cycle done by Sandro Botticelli was printed. The tradition of illustrating the comedy continued through the centuries with such prominent artists as Alessandro Vellutello, Gustave Doré, and most recently California-based Sandow Birk. Birk actually rewrote the text of the Comedy to reflect modern jargon and to accompany his reinterpretation of Doré’s illustrations, set in a dystopian Los Angeles. Later in the semester, the class will have a video conference with Birk about his work.

The first section of the course was devoted to a classificatory exercise; the students explored the illustrators and learned about the social, geographical, and historical context in which their work was produced.  This task helps students create a “geographic and historical landscape around the Comedy,” said Stocchi-Perucchio.

All of the students in the class have taken at least one course on Dante previously and are familiar with the text of the Comedy. Only one student is an art history major. At its core, explained Stocchi-Perucchio, “this is a course that interrogates the reader of literature who watches art. And he will watch art from a different perspective than the art historian.”

As the students compare how different artists in different historical contexts represent the same scenes, they are attempting to detect the dialogue between image and text. Dante’s verse is by nature emphatically visual and this is precisely the reason it has inspired so many generations of artists. Images of and inspired by the Comedy can be narrative or symbolic; some artists aim to depict a close reading of Dante, others use the poet’s text to talk about themselves and their time.

“The format of the class is unlike any other I’ve ever participated in. It is both research and discussion intensive … Every class consists of individual presentation and discussion,” says Reynolds.  “It’s very satisfying to see individual input turn into new class objectives and material.”

Indeed the student-driven nature of the course has satisfied Stocchi-Perucchio as well. “I’ve seen the questions rising, I’ve seen the engagement, I’ve seen them excited about doing the course themselves, because I’ve not really taken stage that much so far, and I’ve seen them liking that.”

The course is part of the larger push for research in the humanities within the University.  Through their work the students are expanding the body of knowledge about a sphere of human creative production and also cataloging information for the promotion of further inquiry by others. “Research in the humanities is much less subjective than is supposed,” insisted Reynolds.  “Critical questions regarding intent and motive regarding artwork are becoming more of a natural way of thinking, as opposed to simply enjoying the aesthetics of the work.”

Article written by Maya Dukmasova, a Take 5 Scholar at the University of Rochester and an intern at University Communications. She majored in philosophy and religion and focused her Take 5 year on researching the way American media covers current events in the Muslim world. An aspiring journalist, Dukmasova has freelanced for Rochester Magazine, the Phoenix New Times, and the Daily News Egypt in Cairo. She also maintains two blogs, one devoted to culture and society in Russia (www.out-of-russia.com) and the other to photography (www.myorientalism.com).

 

Photos courtesy of Maya Dukmasova.

University to Participate in First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival

Univ. Communications – Rochester’s East End district and the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music will be at the center of the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival when it opens with entertainment headliners and self-produced shows from Sept. 20 to 23. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to apply by April 14 to share their talents in theater, dance, visual arts, music, comedy, and other creative pursuits.

“The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival is about inspiring even more creativity throughout Rochester’s large and talented artistic community, as well as attracting a large, diverse audience for their work,” said University President Joel Seligman. “The University has always been a passionate advocate for strengthening this city, and we believe that this festival will do just that.”

Erica Fee, who is the festival’s producer, a native of Victor, and a University alumna, described the independent shows that sprang up around the official 1947 Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland as the start of the fringe festival movement. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is now the world’s largest arts festival and runs for a month.

“Rochester’s four-day Fringe will also have that fun ‘expect-the-unexpected feel’ while showcasing everything from theater and dance, to visual arts and music, to comedy and family entertainment,” explained Fee. “There will truly be something for everyone!”

Individual artists, groups, and producers of all types can apply online at www.rochesterfringe.com for a place at the festival’s official venues, which include such locations as Kilbourn Hall and Hatch Recital Hall at the Eastman School, Java’s, and the Rochester Museum and Science Center’s Strasenburgh Planetarium. More East End locations will be added. Applicants also have the option to “Bring Your Own Venue” by discovering a location and gaining permission to use a site within the festival’s footprint.

Fringe festivals number about 200 worldwide with 20 in the United States, festival organizers say. Those closest to Rochester are in Toronto and Philadelphia. The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival will be the second location for New York State after New York City’s.

The festival’s board of directors includes representatives from the Rochester Downtown Development Corp., the University of Rochester, the Eastman School of Music, Rochester Institute of Technology, Boylan Code LLC, and Mengel Metzger Barr. Many local cultural institutions support the effort, including Geva Theatre Center, the George Eastman House, and Garth Fagan Dance, as well as newer groups such as PUSH Physical Theatre and Method Machine.

To submit your show or for more information, visit the festival website at www.rochesterfringe.com, follow them on Twitter at @rochesterfringe, and like them on Facebook.

Article written by Valerie Alhart, humanities press officer in University Communications.

 

Rochester Fringe Festival logo courtesy of www.rochesterfringe.com

Spend Summer on Campus with Sustainability Research Internships

Philosophy Department – Have an interest in learning about wildlife habitats in the Northeastern U.S.? Looking to put your background in biological sciences to use on a biofuel research project? Think the opportunity to explore the University’s South Campus forest might be cool?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, than you’re in luck! You could be one of the half-dozen students selected participate in one of the sustainability-related internships opportunities during summer 2012.

Sponsored by the College, the internships provide a $1,000 stipend and free campus housing for the months of June and July to selected students. (Please note that the offer of free campus housing cannot be converted into funds for off campus housing.) Interested students may apply by sending a resume and letter of interest indicating the specific internship(s) sought to Prof. Randall Curren via email at randall.curren@rochester.edu.

Applications are due March 7, 2012 and assignments will be announced by March 28. The following opportunities are available:

Biofuel Research

Professor David Wu (Chemical Engineering) will sponsor 1 to 2 interns to participate in his biofuel research. He uses a molecular biology approach to study the microbial enzyme system that breaks down recalcitrant cellulosic materials into fermentable sugars, which are in turn converted to ethanol or other biofuels through a fermentation process.  The molecular biology approach will be used for engineering the microorganism for a more efficient cellulose-ethanol conversion process. The intern would need background and interest in biological science.

Creative Research Project: Animals & the Relationship between Rural & Urban Environments

Professors Leila Nadir (Sustainability) and Cary Peppermint (Art and Art History) are seeking a summer 2012 student intern to assist with a creative research project on animals and the relationship between rural and urban environments. They will be designing an installation that gathers real-time dynamic data of animals in a wilderness feed plot and projects these images into urban galleries. They are looking for assistance in the following areas: (1) knowledge and research skills in wildlife habitat in the Northeastern United States toward the creation of a feed plot on forested land in central Maine and/or (2) computer programming skills in Java, Processing, and free/open-source software for experimenting in visualization techniques. Competitive applicants will have experience in working in a studio art environment.

Sustainability & Study Abroad

Jackie Levine (Study Abroad Office) and Karen Berger (Earth and Environmental Sciences) will jointly supervise an intern who will work to enhance sustainability and study abroad opportunities for UR students. The intern will organize information on overseas sustainability-related courses and programs according to topical areas.  This will then be used to identify those locations that best supplement existing courses offered in Rochester.  The result will be the creation of a resource for students interested both in studying abroad and enhancing their sustainability coursework. Key qualifications are strong organizational skills and the ability to work independently.  An academic interest in sustainability and international study is a plus.

Sustainability Tracking and Assessment and Rating System: Academic & Research

Professor Karen Berger (Earth and Environmental Science; Coordinator, College Sustainability Studies) will sponsor an intern to work primarily on the collection and evaluation of data pertaining to UR sustainability-related teaching and research, to complete the “Academic and Research” component of STARS, the Sustainability Tracking and Assessment and Rating System.  More information about this program can be found at stars.aashe.org.  Other tasks may include researching case studies for incorporation into EES courses, and developing a campus-based database for environmental volunteer opportunities and events. Qualifications for this position include (1) an ability to work independently, and (2) an ability to think creatively when encountering obstacles in data collection.

Sustainability Tracking and Assessment and Rating System: Operations and Planning, Administration, and Engagement

Pat Beaumont (Director Support Operations) will sponsor a sustainability research intern to assist in gathering and organizing data for the Operations and Planning, Administration, and Engagement components of STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ program. STARS® is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. STARS® was developed by AASHE with broad participation from the higher education community.  The intern will be part of the STARS working group of the University Council on Sustainability.  The intern will need strong verbal and written communication skills, knowledge of sustainability initiatives and programs, ability to research sustainability measurements, strong organizational skills, and an ability to work independently and in teams.

Forest Preservation

Justin and Tara Ramsey (Biology) will sponsor an intern in forest preservation. With help from summer interns in 2010 and 2011, the Ramsey field crew has worked to improve access of the South Campus forest to U of R undergraduate courses, the university community, and the public. As part of the Ramsey field crew, the 2012 intern will: (1) Work with U of R facilities to place platform structures on seasonally-wet areas throughout the south campus trail system; (2) Repair trail linings damaged over the past year; (3)  Develop a new section of trail (~100 m) in the “north woods”  parcel behind the Alumni & Development Center; (4)  Eradicate garlic mustard and other invasive species in the forest and forest edge; (5)  Organize photographs, species lists, and trail maps into an online “interpretive package.” The intern should be comfortable and experienced in working outdoors, be able to work independently and in small groups, and have a basic knowledge of the flora/fauna. Further information about South Campus preservation efforts can be found at the Ramsey lab website, at the following links:

http://web.mac.com/justin_ramsey/Ramsey_lab/Rochester_Forests.html

http://web.mac.com/justin_ramsey/Ramsey_lab/History_%28URW%29.html

http://web.mac.com/justin_ramsey/Ramsey_lab/Trails_%28URW%29.html

http://web.mac.com/justin_ramsey/Ramsey_lab/Plant_communities_%28URW%29.html

http://web.mac.com/justin_ramsey/Ramsey_lab/Wildlife_%28URW%29.html

http://web.mac.com/justin_ramsey/Ramsey_lab/Invasive_organisms_%28URW%29.html

Article compliments of Randall Curren, professor and chair of philosophy and professor of education. Photo courtesy of University Communications.

Carlson and Rush Rhees Libraries Announce 2011 Art Purchase Prizes

Rush Rhees Library – The Carlson Science and Engineering Library’s Undergraduate Student Art Prize was awarded to Sam Sadtler ’11, a Take Five student majoring in mechanical engineering. Sadtler’s work of inkjet prints, “In the Dark,” is on permanent exhibition in the Carlson Library (see prints to the right).

The Rush Rhees Library’s Undergraduate Student Art Prize was awarded to Ryane Logsdon ’12, an ecology and evolutionary biology major. Logsdon’s work of inkjet prints, titled “It would have gone unnoticed,” is on permanent exhibition in the Rush Rhees Library (see prints below).

Both the Carlson Library and Rush Rhees Library Art Prizes, which have been given annually since 2004, are selected by River Campus Library staff members during the Undergraduate Juried Art Exhibition at Hartnett Gallery.