newsId: 8A1CE841-983F-7284-1017784398AC838F
Title: Come Celebrate the Arts at AU
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: Fall for the Arts takes place on September 20 in Katzen Arts Center.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 08/15/2014
Content:

Have you ever wanted to join a band, perform in a Shakespeare play, or become a landscape photographer for a day? If so, you’ll have your chance at the College of Arts and Sciences’ annual Fall for the Arts celebration, held this year on September 20 at the Katzen Arts Center.  

Each year, Fall for the Arts brings together neighbors, students, faculty, and friends through a day devoted to the arts. The event features nearly 20 workshops and sessions on acting, music, writing, and visual art, as well as a behind-the-scene tour of the museum and surprise performances throughout the day.  

This year’s workshops include Drawing in the Italian Renaissance, No-Fear Shakespeare, Fundamentals of Color, Writing the 4-Chord Song, and many more. Participants will learn how to age creatively, use acting methods to improve public speaking, and unlock their inner playwright. Children can build their very own cabinets of curiosity, learn how to interpret musical recipes, and experience the 13 movements of Schumann’s Scenes from a Childhood.  

Reception and Auction

The day concludes with an early evening reception in the Katzen Arts Center and an art auction featuring 34 items from the estate of prominent art collector Marc Moyens. Auction works include paintings, sculptures, and mixed media pieces from artists including James Bumgardner, Alan Stone, Maureen McCabe, and Carlos Gomez Bal, among many others.  

When H. Marc Moyens founded Gallery Marc in 1969, he quickly became a central figure in the Washington, DC, arts world. Gallery Marc was part of the District's first "gallery row" on P Street Northwest, establishing Moyens as a serious arts collector and one of the first major gallery owners in the city. He later opened Gallery K with his partner Komei Wachi in 1975, which bucked current trends by focusing on photorealism and surrealism at a time when the Washington Color School was favored. Upon his death in April 2003, Moyens' collection contained nearly 2,500 pieces, encompassing art from New York, California, and all around the world. 

Paul Richard, in his Washington Post review of the H. Marc Moyens Collection at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1969, hit the nail on the head when he described the works as "realistic spooky things that have the originality of nightmares." Richard went on to note that "Moyens' taste is at its best when it is at its weirdest."  

Details and Ticket Information 

Fall for the Arts is a fundraiser for the arts at American University. All proceeds benefit the arts at AU. It is open to the public, local residents, patrons of the arts, parents of AU students, and the entire AU community. Tickets are $25 and $10 for students and those under 18. For workshop schedules, online tickets, and auction information, visit the Fall for the Arts website.

Tags: Art Dept,Art History,Arts Management,Arts Management Pgm,Arts, Fine,Arts, Performing,College of Arts and Sciences,Dance,Museums,Music,Theatre and Music Theatre,Performing Arts Dept
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newsId: 823A2607-AD0F-D8CB-9B293A8C55AF3A61
Title: Art Auction in the AU Museum
Author: Jamie McCrary
Subtitle:
Abstract: Fall for the Arts auction features artwork from the Estate of H. Marc Moyens.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 08/15/2014
Content:

When H. Marc Moyens founded Gallery Marc in 1969, he quickly became a central figure in the Washington, DC, arts world. Gallery Marc was part of the District's first "gallery row" on P Street Northwest, establishing Moyens as a serious arts collector and one of the first major gallery owners in the city. He later opened Gallery K with his partner Komei Wachi in 1975, which bucked current trends by focusing on photorealism and surrealism at a time when the Washington Color School was favored. Upon his death in April 2003, Moyens' collection contained nearly 2,500 pieces, encompassing art from New York, California, and all around the world.

Paul Richard, in his Washington Post review of the H. Marc Moyens Collection at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1969, hit the nail on the head when he described the works as "realistic spooky things that have the originality of nightmares." Richard went on to note that "Moyens' taste is at its best when it is at its weirdest." 

This year, American University's Fall for the Arts auction will feature 34 items from Moyens' estate, featuring works by artists James Bumgardner, Alan Stone, Maureen McCabe, and Carlos Gomez Bal, among many others. Auction works include paintings, sculptures, and mixed media pieces from the mid to late 21st century. 

The auction will take place in the AU Museum on Saturday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m., with all proceeds benefiting the arts at AU. 

The auction marks the end of a jam-packed afternoon of arts exploration at the Katzen Arts Center. An annual AU event, Fall for the Arts features arts courses and workshops, offering sessions in Drawing in the Italian Renaissance, Fundamentals of Color, and Behind the Scenes of the Auction, among others. The event is open to the public. 

Though arts enthusiasts can wait to place their bids at the live auction on September 20, they can also place bids early at the AU Museum in the Katzen Arts Center. Works from Moyens' collection will be on view and available for pre-auction bidding from September 6 through September 20 at the AU Museum. Bidders may also e-mail their offer to museum@american.edu. 

In order to place a bid, all participants must register for Fall for the Arts. Once registered, bidders may participate in the silent auction before the event, or place their bids at the live auction on September 20. 

Whether you are an avid art collector or someone who simply appreciates a beautiful painting or sculpture, this year's arts auction is not to be missed. Be sure to mark September 20 on your calendar as a day of experiencing the arts, and for the life and legacy of Marc Moyens. 

For more information about the auction and about Fall for the Arts, please visit the Fall for the Arts website.

 

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Title: AU Museum Receives Gift to Support Washington Art
Author: Rebecca Basu
Subtitle:
Abstract: Alumna and art advocate Carolyn Alper’s gift will establish the Alper Initiative for Washington Art.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 07/18/2014
Content:

Washington is fortunate to have a thriving arts community. Now, thanks to a major gift from AU alumna and art advocate Carolyn Alper, BA/CAS '68, to the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, more resources will be allocated to the study and exhibition of Washington art.

Alper's gift will establish the Alper Initiative for Washington Art at the American University Museum. The initiative will dedicate space for displaying the work of Washington artists, including more tightly focused, historical shows; development of space for archives of Washington art (available for both members of the public and AU students); an endowment to support more programming of events, gatherings, lectures and films; and digitization of AU's growing collection of Washington art.

"Carolyn's gift provides American University Museum the funds necessary to elevate Washington art to the place of prominence it deserves," said AU Museum Curator and Director Jack Rasmussen. "All of Washington should be grateful as Carolyn has put her contributions where her heart is."

Rasmussen has made Washington art a priority with two "Washington Art Matters" exhibits and opportunities for regular displays of works by Washington artists. A reviewer with Washington City Paper recently wrote: "For almost a decade, the de facto museum of D.C. art has been at American University… The case has been made: Washington art does matter. All we need is the wall space to display it."

Five of the six exhibits on display at the museum through Aug. 17 feature Washington artists and collectors: Mynd Alive by B.K. ADAMS/I AM ART; Syzygy by William Newman; Continental Drift (Being Here and Being There) by Judy Byron; Passionate Collectors: The Washington Print Club at 50, with prints curated from Washington collections; and The Franz and Virginia Bader Fund: Second Act, with art by grant recipients from the region.

Tags: Alumni,AU Museum,College of Arts and Sciences,Development,Featured News,Giving,Katzen Arts Center,Media Relations
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newsId: 528B08A1-E5C2-839A-95ADD62FDB84DE15
Title: Day in the Life of a Musician
Author: Nancy Jo Snider
Subtitle:
Abstract: Music Program Director Nancy Jo Snider gives insight into the duties of a professional musician.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 07/17/2014
Content:

Music Program Director Nancy Jo Snider, ‘cellist, educator, and administrator, is a full-time senior professorial lecturer in the Department of Performing Arts.  

A multi-faceted career is “de rigueur” for artists. Playing my ‘cello in everything from period instrument performances of French Baroque music at the Opera Royal in the Palace of Versailles, to avant-garde solo playing with a Czech theatre company in South Africa, is all part of a day’s work.  

The joy of sharing the training and knowledge that has made this possible is what informs much of my teaching. Additionally, my teaching philosophy remains grounded in meeting my students where they are and helping them to their appropriate next step. Organization and communication are essential to juggling such a rich life, and it is here that my administrative talents are put to the test.  

But directing a program is not just about these details. There is a constant striving for excellence in the AU Music Program that requires vision, leadership, and the ability to engage all of the program’s components to keep it moving in a positive direction.  

 

There is no such thing as a daily task list—besides always checking email—but...

7:30 a.m.
The two E’s: espresso and e-mail.  

9:00 a.m.
Meetings with faculty, my Director’s Musicians of Accomplishment, other students, and members of the community to discuss new Music Program and Department of Performing Arts ventures and options for upcoming performances. 

11:45 a.m.
Time to teach University College Understanding Music, an introduction to musical language, to a group of 15 students. I love having the opportunity to share something I am passionate about with those who are also interested and to see their understanding grow as a result. That is the best!  

1:00 p.m.
Cortado at the Dav!  

2:00 p.m.
Afternoons are spent teaching ‘cello lessons and directing the chamber music ensembles. The ensembles perform around the DC area, and we always want to be ready for the next performance. 

4:00 p.m.
Student advising is an important part of directing the Music Program. We serve hundreds of students, and I want to make sure all of them reach their goals after graduation—whether that is attending graduate school, performing, or entering the work force. The best of our music majors are competitive with the best majors anywhere!  

5:00 p.m.
Time to exercise—either going biking, swimming, walking, or visiting the gym. 

8:00 p.m.
I make time to practice in the evening, typically 15 to 20 hours a week.  

11:00 p.m.
Reading the novel du jour. I’ll read (almost) anything, but particularly value the classics. Proust, Faulkner, and Joyce are my top three favorite authors. I also have a deep connection to the novels from the American South and follow the Booker Prize winners with special interest. 

My days also include rehearsals and performing (or attending performances). There is no typical “day in the life” for a teaching musician, only the certainty that the day will be very full with all of the wonderful opportunities we are so lucky to have.

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newsId: AE54073E-CA04-A55C-E74C2797A971AA54
Title: Favorite Summer Activities in the DC Area
Author:
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Abstract: College of Arts and Sciences faculty and staff share preferred summer activities.
Topic: In the Community
Publication Date: 06/30/2014
Content:

Summer has arrived in the Washington, DC, area! And with that brings a range of summertime opportunities. This could mean checking out the thousands of lotus flowers at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, enjoying BBQ at the National Building Museum, listening to jazz in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, or taking advantage of DC museums to learn something new—and stay out of the heat. 

Interested in additional recommendations? College of Arts and Sciences faculty and staff shared some of their favorite summer pastimes.

 

Photo courtesy of Karl Kippola.

Karl Kippola
Theatre/Musical Theatre Professor

My summer will begin by playing Brutus in Julius Caesar and Malvolio in a musical version of 12th Night at the Virginia Shakespeare Festival in Williamsburg (June 25-July 20). After that is finished, I can enjoy the numerous summer theatre opportunities in the DC area. I love the Capital Fringe Festival (July 10-27), which presents an enormous spectrum of new work—tending toward the cutting edge, avant garde, or downright bizarre. The Page-to-Stage Festival at the Kennedy Center (late August, dates TBA) offers free readings of works under consideration for future seasons. I am also looking forward to the Shakespeare Theatre's Free For All (August 19-31). They are presenting The Winter's Tale, one of my favorites. (Photo courtesy of Karl Kippola.)

 

Photo by Thor.

Anne L'Ecuyer
Arts Management Professor

In the category of cheap therapy, consider Rocky Gorge Batting Cages up Columbia Pike just past the T. Howard Duckett Watershed. The short drive is enough to leave the city behind, and the bat is a satisfying tool to send your worries sailing. A quick search will turn up a few other batting cages in the region, but I'm partial to Rocky Gorge, with a put-put course past its prime and the grubby goodness of the old orange cages. They have a driving range too. Open every day until 11 p.m., no appointment necessary. (Photo by Thor.)

 

 Photo of Kathy Franz near a wooden Hungarian Puli at the 2013 festival.

Kathy Franz
History Professor

I love the Smithsonian Folklife Festival because it's a chance to do something rare—talk to people from different cultures and communities, and learn more about their food, dress, craft, technology, and music. Yes, you can learn about these things in books, online, or even traveling, but the folklorists bring it all to you at the National Mall. It's right in our backyard, and it's an amazing cultural experience. I like it so much that I volunteered last year. Anyone can volunteer and help the folklorists document and preserve these cultural traditions for the Smithsonian collections. (Photo of Kathy Franz near a wooden Hungarian Puli at the 2013 festival.)

 

Photo by Daniel Lobo.

Michael Robinson
Mathematics and Statistics Professor

I discovered that bicycle riding in DC is wonderful—there are lots of fun trails in the area that are both pleasant and scenic. For instance, I recently got back from a ride from Bethesda to the Lincoln memorial on the Capital Crescent Trail. Last week, my family rode the Sligo Creek Stream Valley Trail, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, and others! (Photo by Daniel Lobo.)

 

 

Photo by Tim Evanson.

Thomas Husted
Economics Professor and Department Chair

I really like to go play some golf at the East Potomac Golf Course in DC and wish I could go more often. It allows me to get some great views of the monuments. Open year round, the East Potomac Golf Course has three courses, a driving range, and miniature golf. (Photo by Tim Evanson.)

 

 

Photo courtesy of Marla Boren.

Marla Boren
Undergraduate Advising Director

Hopping on the Metro and going to National's Park to see a ballgame is definitely my favorite summer pastime. The park has great views of the Capitol, you can watch the racing presidents, and pick up some great AU wonk trivia. If you are a real fan of the game, you'll have an opportunity to see an up-and-coming team with some terrific young players: Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg. Whether you want to hang out on the red porch for happy hour and watch the game from the outfield on a Friday night, or take in a day game and enjoy a traditional hot dog on a lazy Sunday afternoon, it's a good time. If they don't win, it's a shame. (Photo courtesy of Marla Boren.)

 

Photo by Scott Frances.

Tim Doud
Studio Art Professor

I recommend checking out Glenstone in Potomac, MD. The museum features work from the collection of Mitchell and Emily Rales, and there is a great exhibition by collaborative artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss on display this summer. The exhibition includes a tour de force piece of work that resembles a workshop/studio, but the entire room is constructed from painted styrofoam—it takes a moment to realize that you are looking at art. Overall, the artists' practice is broad and sometimes very humorous. 

The museum is private, so you have to call ahead and make reservations. They allow only small groups into the museum, which is a real benefit, and you will be shown the exhibition spaces by a knowledgeable guide. The museum recently acquired a living piece by Jeff Koons, it should be blooming by now (It is an enormous cartoon-head topiary). There are several pieces on the road to the museum, one by Charles Ray near the entry gate—including a toy tractor that looks plastic, but it's actually several tons of steel—and several enormous Richard Serra sculptures. The museum is located in a beautiful area, it is a nice drive to get there, and it is free! (Photo by Scott Frances.)

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newsId: 4357575E-CA81-EB60-67A7831D4A5C22EF
Title: Alumna Awarded Bosch Fellowship
Author: Jamie McCrary
Subtitle:
Abstract: Arts management and art history alumna won a prestigious Bosch Fellowship.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 06/20/2014
Content:

When Laura Hagood, MA arts management and art history ’04, decided to apply to the prestigious Bosch Fellowship program, she knew the competition would be fierce. “They receive between 200 and 300 applications, and they only accept 15 people. I knew the odds were against me,” Hagood says. “All along, I thought, ‘This isn’t going to happen.’”  

A cross-cultural professional development program, the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship offers U.S. professionals the opportunity to work as consultants at leading institutions in Germany. The program includes intensive German language training, customized work placements, and professional seminars, with the goal of creating a network of American leaders with firsthand experience with Germany’s cultural environment. 

In past years, the Bosch Foundation has awarded fellowships to individuals working in business administration, journalism, law, public policy, and urban planning. This year, the foundation added a new field to the mix—cultural management. “When I got the acceptance e-mail, I was in shock for a full two weeks,” says Hagood. “As one of their first cultural management fellows, this is a major professional development opportunity for me. I’m hoping this will distinguish me from my peers and allow me to take a bold step forward.” 

Though the program offers many benefits, Hagood is most excited about gaining a different perspective on her field. A fundraising professional, she hopes that working in a German cultural institution will deepen and broaden her practice. “When you’re doing your job, it can be hard to step back and really analyze what you’re doing,” she says. “Working in Germany will give me the opportunity to see what development and philanthropy look like there, and will give me a unique vantage point that I can bring back to the States.”  

Every Bosch Fellow is asked to select a topic to research and write about while working abroad. Hagood chose museum revenue diversification strategies as her focus, with hopes of expanding her knowledge and helping German institutions to better understand effective fundraising. “In the United States, the role of private fundraising is key for almost any nonprofit, but in Germany and most of Europe, it’s different because governments have traditionally funded cultural organizations almost completely,” Hagood says. 

Recently, however, German and European government funding has been trimmed, forcing some organizations to merge with others, or even close their doors. Now that their primary source of support is becoming less secure, German cultural institutions are looking at U.S. philanthropy as a possible model. Because cultural managers in Europe have never needed to fundraise before, many organizations are unsure of how to tackle this new challenge. “The biggest obstacle to the development of fundraising is the fact that there are few trained European fundraisers,” Hagood says.  

Hagood feels that her years of experience will help inform her research and work, and hopefully contribute to the professionalization of fundraising in Germany. “There is a real societal benefit to philanthropy, and I feel like I’ve been in my profession long enough that I can be useful in another cultural setting,” Hagood says. “I also think I know what questions to ask. If I had done this program ten years ago, I’m not sure I would have known what to do with it.”  

Though she worked hard to win the fellowship, Hagood also believes that without the support she received from American University, she would not have been successful. A key individual she credits is Sherburne Laughlin, an AU arts management professor and former director of the program. Not only did Laughlin send her the initial opportunity, but she connected Hagood with her husband, a former Bosch fellow, and spoke with the Foundation to find out if it was worthwhile for Hagood to apply. “She was incredibly encouraging and helpful,” says Hagood. “If it hadn’t been for her, I don’t think I would have applied.”  

Hagood also received an incredible amount of support from the AU Office of Merit Awards. The office connected Hagood with a School of International Service professor, Aaron Bosenecker, who helped with the application; it also set up a mock interview to help her prepare for the final phase of the application process. “It was like having a cheering squad or coaching team helping me every step of the way. It’s amazing that after you graduate, there’s this whole network of support for you, just by virtue of having a degree from AU,” Hagood says. “The level of resources that were devoted to helping me get this fellowship was really exceptional.” 

Currently, Hagood is completing four hours of weekly German language training here in Washington, DC. In early August, she will travel to Berlin to continue one month of full-time language study, during which she will determine where she will be placed for her six-month work assignment. Though she is uncertain of what lies ahead, Hagood is thrilled to embark on a journey of personal, cultural, and professional growth. 

“When you have an experience with something very different, you never look at where you came from quite the same way,” she says. “This experience will prompt me to ask questions I never would have thought to ask before. Having the opportunity to develop that outside perspective—that’s worth its weight in gold.”

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Title: College Alumna Appointed NEA Director of Literature
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: Amy Stolls selected for new leadership role at the National Endowment of the Arts.
Topic: Literature
Publication Date: 06/20/2014
Content:

Amy Stolls has been appointed the new director of literature at the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). Stolls, who received an MFA in creative writing from AU in 2000, also served as an adjunct literature professor at the College, teaching classes on contemporary literature. 

“I was a journalist in Seattle when the faculty at American’s MFA Program in Creative Writing took a chance on me and changed the course of my career,” said Stolls. “In many ways, I am who I am today because of the support and inspiration and continuing friendship of many creative writers and literature professors and colleagues I met at AU. My heart expands when I think back to the days of sitting in workshops, chatting with colleagues, and (later) watching my students get excited about good literature. I am tremendously grateful to American for enriching my life.” 

Professor of literature Richard McCann was Stolls’ thesis advisor at AU. “This is wonderful news, and so well deserved,” he said. “Amy has published two critically well-acclaimed novels, and she’s always had a deep interest in fiction that goes beyond her own work. We’re grateful that she has come back to the College many times over the years to talk to our MFA students, and to share her deep understanding of writing.” 

In her new appointment, Stolls will oversee the NEA's grant awards in literature.  

“To be part of the literary community—that passionate, wonderful lot of writers, teachers, publishers, editors, presenters, librarians, translators, and more who work tirelessly on behalf of books and reading—is an honor. To be in a position to help this community is a gift,” said Stolls. “I have always believed deeply in the NEA’s mission; I look forward to carrying out that mission as best I can in my new role.” 

Stolls first joined the NEA's literature office as an intern in 1998 while she was in the creative writing program at AU. As a literature specialist and later as the literature program officer at the NEA, she has been an integral part of the organization’s grantmaking process. She has spoken on the topic of literature at conferences and festivals around the country and abroad, including the Moscow Book Festival. She spearheaded the NEA's involvement in the National Book Festival and advised on the NEA's Big Read program.

Stolls is the author of the young adult novel Palms to the Ground (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), winner of the 2005 Parents' Choice Gold Award, and the novel The Ninth Wife (HarperCollins, 2011), as well as more than a dozen personal and literature-related essays. She currently writes a blog about the Old Post Office of the United States, which has been home to the NEA for 30 years.

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Title: Big Year for Science at AU
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: College students awarded competitive science fellowships, scholarships, and internships.
Topic: Science
Publication Date: 06/13/2014
Content:

It was a banner spring awards season for College of Arts and Sciences students in the sciences, who won Fulbright and National Science Foundation grants for graduate work, as well as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Fellowships, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships, an Environmental Protection Agency Fellowship, and a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention for undergraduate study. 

“What makes this year so special is the range of recipients we had for prestigious science awards,” said Paula Warrick, director of the office of merit awards. “Our science faculty did a great job of mentoring students and encouraging them to apply for these opportunities.”  

In addition, dozens of AU students are spending the summer conducting science research. Their work will be supported by a wide range of institutions: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the National Science Foundation, Applied Research in Acoustics LLC (ARiA), the European Commission, the Max Planck Institute in Germany, and the University of Tokyo.  

“With the support of the College’s stellar faculty, our students continue to win prestigious science awards and internships,” said Dean Peter Starr. “It’s a testament to the excellence and hard work of our students, and to the College’s dedication to the sciences.” 

 

Alyssa Frederick Braciszewski (BS marine biology ’12)
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

The National Science Foundation has awarded AU grad Braciszewski a stipend of $32,000 a year for three years, along with $12,000 towards graduate school tuition at the University of California, Irvine. Her research focuses on the nutritional physiology of marine organisms.  

While at AU, Braciszewski received a 2012-13 Fulbright Grant to New Zealand. “Alyssa possesses a unique combination of intelligence, curiosity, and focus,” said professor of environmental science Kiho Kim, who assisted her with the Fulbright application process. “I felt incredibly fortunate to have worked with her and look forward to seeing how far she will go in her research career.”

 

Ben Derby (BS physics ’15)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Boulder
Honorable Mention, Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

Derby, a physics major minoring in economics, will spend the summer in Boulder, Colorado, building a Raman spectrometer to measure graphene, a newly discovered “wonder material” that is expected to revolutionize the next generation of electronic devices.  

“Ben is a spectacular student,” said Nathan Harshman, chair of the department of physics. “He has a bright future in material sciences, and he’s already put together a portfolio of skills and experiences that will make him a formidable candidate for graduate school— and a great researcher once he gets there.”  

 

Ben Gamache (BS biology ’13)
Fulbright Grant to Spain

Gamache will travel to Spain where he will study the enzyme telomerase, and how it relates to aging and cancer, at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centers. While at AU, he worked with the National Cancer Institute to study genetic pathways in blood cancer, and after graduation he received a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health to continue this research.  

“Ben is an amazing student and well deserving of the Fulbright. He applied for two prestigious scholarships: the Fulbright to Spain, and a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) scholarship to study in Germany,” said professor of biology Katie De Cicco-Skinner. “He won both, and he decided to accept the Fulbright. In addition to his academic and research accomplishments, Ben is a natural teacher. He can explain complicated material to others, and he makes sure that his students understand the principles behind laboratory techniques.”  

 

Daniel Pasquale (BS environmental studies ’15)
Environmental Protection Agency Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowship

The fellowship, one of approximately 40 of its kind awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency this year, will provide $50,000 to Pasquale for tuition and travel as he works to monitor bacteria levels in the Potomac River. His goal is to determine the impact of combined sewer overflow events on the river’s health.  

After graduation, Pasquale plans to continue his research and advocacy work on environmental issues. “He just doesn’t give up,” says Joan Echols, who helped Pasquale with his application essays in her capacity as Office of Merit Awards associate director. “And that’s a really impressive quality, because there are so many distractions as a student.” 

 

Valerie Rennoll (BS audio technology and physics ’16)
NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship

Rennoll’s scholarship will provide her with an $8,000 stipend annually during her junior and senior years, as well as financial support for a summer research internship with The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). She will study underwater audiology and marine acoustics, as well as other areas of applied audiology. 

“I was thrilled to learn I had been selected as a NOAA Hollings scholar,” says Rennoll. “This opportunity will enable me to extend my learning beyond the classroom while also being part of a unique research experience.” 

Also this summer, Rennoll will be interning at Applied Research in Acoustics LLC (ARiA), a DC firm of scientists and engineers involved in applied research for the development of prototypes and field-ready software and systems. She is working on the final development stage of WaveQuest, ARiA’s underwater-acoustics education and training video game. 

 

Lindsay Wylie (BA international studies and mathematics ’16)
NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship
 
Wylie, who is majoring in international studies and mathematics, is interested in international environmental policy and its potential to prevent and mitigate natural disasters and extreme weather events such as Hurricane Sandy, which devastated her hometown in New Jersey. She hopes to eventually pursue a master's degree in environmental public policy. 

“I want to study global environmental politics in the future, and I am thankful that the Hollings Scholarship committee recognized my combination of majors as unique and relevant to NOAA's mission,” says Wylie. “I hope to work on climate change, and I hope this experience will broaden my knowledge in the field and help me narrow down my career interests.” 

 

Students also received the following awards: 

  • Anand Adhikari (BS biology ’16) Killam Fellowship
  • Billie Case (BA environmental studies ’16) NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship
  • Benjamin Friedel (BS biology ’16) Killam Fellowship
  • Jessica Hirtenstein (BS mathematics and physics ’14) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Gaithersburg
  • Nadya Khapochkina (BS physics ’14) National Science Foundation S- STEM Sustainable Engineering Graduate Scholars Program (SEGUE)
  • Chenoa Lee (BS environmental science and international studies ’15) Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship
  • Matthew Makowski (BS biology ’12) European Commission Marie Curie Actions Fellowship, Netherlands
  • James Schwabacher (BS chem ’15) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Gaithersburg
  • Rachael Somerville (BA international studies and environmental studies ’15) Udall Scholarship
  • Mark Verdi (BS applied mathematics ’14) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Gaithersburg
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Title: Prints, Photos, and Paintings at the AU Museum
Author: Rebecca Basu
Subtitle:
Abstract: Printmaking exhibit includes work by Picasso, Durer, and Pissarro.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 06/13/2014
Content:

Exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center this summer ruminate on the nature and nurture of art in Washington, D.C., and beyond. Exhibits open June 14 and run through Aug. 17.

Passion for Prints

Passionate Collectors: The Washington Print Club at 50 features almost 150 prints selected from Washington collections. The collection reveals a diversity of techniques from relief printing by celebrated masters Durer, van Dyck, Carracci, Pissarro, Picasso and Chuck Close to monoprints by contemporaries Richard Estes, Ventura Salimbeni, Thomas Frye, Adolphe Appian, Reinhard Hilker and Keiko Hara.

Among the contemporary works is a print involving buckshot, and one created with 4,225 small black dots.

"Viewers will be surprised there are no dominating genres or periods or artists represented in this show, but rather a huge range of works that are national, international and local," said AU Museum Director and Curator Jack Rasmussen. "We share our location in the nation's capital with most international diplomatic missions to the United States. Washington is a community with diverse interests and affiliations and may well provide the most diverse group of collectors in the country."

The show will also feature Midwest Matrix, a film study of post-World War II printmaking to present, produced and directed by Susan Goldman.

The Washington Print Club was established in 1964 as an independent, nonprofit volunteer organization consisting of both collectors and practicing artists. This biennial exhibition celebrates the club's 50th anniversary.

Lives Devoted to Art

The Franz and Virginia Bader Fund: Second Act features paintings, sculptures and works on paper by Richard Cleaver, Emilie Brzezinski, Fred Folsom and other artists who received grants totaling $670,000 over the last 13 years from the Bader Fund. Legendary Washington art dealer Franz Bader and his wife, Virginia, started the fund, which continues to support the arts long after the couple's deaths in 1994 and 2001, respectively. The fund committee awards grants for artists 40 and older who live within 150 miles of the U.S. Capitol.

The first exhibition of Bader Fund artists took place a decade ago. Second Act provides another viewing of the range and quality of work supported by the grants.

Franz Bader was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1903. Bader and his first wife, Antonia, were fortunate to escape Vienna after the takeover of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938, arriving in Washington in early 1939 with few possessions and little money. But, as is true of so many émigrés from Hitler's Europe, their arrival was America's good fortune—Washington's, in particular.

Working at first with the Whyte Bookstore and Gallery and then, from 1953 to 1985, at his own art and book shop, Bader was a pioneer and creator of a vibrant art scene in his adopted city.

Personal Drifts of Culture

Continental Drift surveys the work of Washington artist Judy Byron, and invites the viewer to consider the visual and auditory environment that informs identity. The exhibition acknowledges the artist's drifting of visual influences between three specific countries: Brazil, China, and Ghana.

From 2010 through 2012, Byron traveled abroad and photographed details of sidewalks, toys, products, netting, foliage, clothing and detritus. Images from her travels formed the point of departure for 18 color pencil drawings. Accompanying the drawings are the voices of three women from Brazil, China, and Ghana who now live in the Metro D.C. area and have established roots while maintaining strong identification with their places of birth.

Three smaller drawings—Memories of Home—are based on photos Byron took of objects in their homes that remind the women of the homes they left behind. The sound of ocean waves lapping the shore can be heard throughout the exhibition space.

Rasmussen observed:"I don't think any artist has communicated so beautifully the interaction of community and environment in the construction of culture."

Nature's Fleeting Beauty

Syzygy, William Newman's series of 19 oil paintings and digital images, and two metal sculptures, is a vibrant investigation of temporality, subjective freedom, and natural splendor. The photographs, photorealist paintings and stainless steel sculptures present striking natural forms and places holding personal resonance for Newman, including Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, and the cosmos.

For his sculptures, Newman had natural artifacts from his farmhouse in Shenandoah County duplicated in welded, polished stainless steel by craftsmen in Beijing. The resulting forms gracefully blend elements of abstraction with Newman's mastery of representational expression.

This tactile sensibility is also evident in Newman's conjunction of paintings and photographs. The central subjects of his paintings are round forms from nature, which Newman and his assistants meticulously recreated from photographs that he took himself or appropriated from NASA's public archives. Newman then conjoined the objects with photographs using rare-earth magnets. Photographs that took just a click to create and paintings that took years to make join to represent nature's fleeting beauty, its life through memory and desire, and its timeless eternal renewal.

Continuing Exhibitions

Also on view through Aug. 17: An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan and Their Circle; Brink and Boundary; and MYND ALIVE / BK ADAMS. I AM ART.

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Title: AU History and Music Student Pursues Passions
Author: Jamie McCrary
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Abstract: Zachary Kopin is making the most of his time at AU—both on and off campus.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 06/05/2014
Content:

Zachary Kopin is making the most of his time at AU—both on and off campus. He is a bachelor’s degree candidate in music, and a candidate for the combined BA/MA in history, with a resume full of high-level work experience, scholarly awards, publications, and community service. “I know it seems like I’m doing many different things, but when I’m working, I feel like I’m contributing,” Kopin says. “There are some late nights, but at the end of it all, hopefully I’ll know I’ve helped people.”

Kopin started at AU as a music major, but quickly recognized his passion for history, and shifted his degree path to include both fields. Kopin feels that studying history will best prepare him for the world outside academia. “What you learn in school you need to be able to apply to life, and there are many lessons in history that enable you to do so,” he says.

Of all of his endeavors, he is most excited about his current work with AU’s Nuclear Studies Institute. Directed by history professor Peter Kuznick, the Nuclear Studies Institute offers classes, programs, and study abroad trips focused on different aspects of nuclear history, from the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to current efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons. As director of programming and outreach, Kopin is working to expand the Institute’s web presence and program offerings, with hopes of adding more classes and hosting a symposium next school year.

“We’re trying to make it into something that really reaches and affects people,” he says. “I’m proud of the work, and I’ve had a lot of ownership over it. I feel like I’ve been able to make something from nothing.”

Kopin has also worked with a wide range of history-centric organizations. Currently he serves as president of the AU student historical society, and he was a former teaching assistant in AU’s Department of History, and a former research intern at both the Smithsonian’s Wilson Center and the U.S. Navy’s Naval History and Heritage Command. “I’m interested in how different people think,” Kopin says. “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you should just apply to everything, even if you don’t think you’re going to get it. Ultimately, you need to trust your work. The worst thing you can do is limit yourself.”

Kopin acknowledges that his professors’ mentorship and guidance have been key in helping him reach his goals. “My professors have invested in me as an individual,” Kopin says. “And because AU’s class sizes are relatively small, I’ve been able to get to know pretty much everyone in the department, which is wonderful in terms of networking. It teaches you how to relate to people, and also how to relate to your professors on a human level.”

Kopin also feels AU’s size has been beneficial, giving him the opportunity to take on leadership roles, while still offering chances for collaboration with his classmates. “I think the school is exactly the right size,” he says. “It presents enough opportunities for exploration and leadership. It’s not too small to limit this, or too big to make it impossible for an individual to make an impact.”

After graduation in 2015, he hopes to pursue a doctorate in history, and possibly an additional advanced degree in public policy. More than anything, he hopes he can continue to find ways to combine and pursue all of his interests—and continue working to benefit others.

“There’s a quote by Harold Washington, a former mayor of Chicago, that I really try to live by,” Kopin says. “He said, ‘We have not just a right, but a responsibility to give the best that we have to our society.’ If I keep using this to guide my work, then hopefully what I do really can make a difference.”

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Title: Music and the Afghan Refugee
Author: Abbey Becker
Subtitle:
Abstract: Student’s senior thesis examined the importance of traditional music in the Afghan refugee culture.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 05/30/2014
Content:

Like many people, Sydney Krieck (CAS ’14) was affected by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. She grew up a 30-minute drive from New York City, and she knew two people who died in the tragedy. In addition, 17 people from her town died. The resulting second Afghan War further muddled her emotions and thoughts on the tragedy and the people it affected. “It’s always been a sensitive issue for me, and I have trouble comprehending it,” she says. “I learned about war and conflict in my classes at school, but I didn’t really understand it.” 

Krieck, a music and anthropology double major with a focus in ethnomusicology, blended her interests in social change and music with her desire to educate herself about the Afghan people after the instigation of the war in Afghanistan. Her senior thesis, “Music and the Afghan Refugee: Identity, Memory, and Place,” examines the importance of traditional music in the Afghan refugee culture. “A culture’s traditional music is important when you’re living a life without technology and other things to occupy your time, which is something that refugees experience,” she says. “This paper was an exploration of that idea, and it helped me understand the Afghan people a bit better.” 

Krieck stumbled upon ethnomusicology after realizing that her original plan, to study music education, fell through. “When I came to AU, I thought I knew what I wanted to do, but I took a music theory class and it wasn’t for me,” she says. “But then I took a sociology class called Views of the Third World taught by an anthropology professor. I’d grown up in a small town my whole life that felt like a bubble, and I realized there was so much more I wanted to know.” After that, she declared her double major. 

While abroad in Denmark in 2012, she focused her studies on Muslim integration in Danish society. When she returned to AU, she took a class on music and Islam to further her interests in Muslim culture that were ignited while studying abroad. “We talked about Afghanistan, its musical history, and how that was affected by the conflict,” she says. Krieck decided to do more research on what she learned in the class, which resulted in her thesis. 

When the 2014 Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference put out the call for submissions, Krieck sent in an abstract and was selected to participate. “I’m really proud of my research, and this was a great way to prepare for when I’ll have to do this in the future,” she says. “It really taught me how to tell a story to the people in the room.” She received an award for Best Oral Presentation in the Social Sciences by a Junior or Senior. 

Krieck enjoyed educating the audience about Afghan culture, and she says she hopes to one day extend that kind of influence into an international organization. “The end goal for me is to be able to work in or create an organization in North Africa or southeastern Turkey—places I see that are the next hotspots of refugee culture.”

Tags: Anthropology,College of Arts and Sciences,Music
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Title: Researching Music and Memory
Author: Jamie McCrary
Subtitle:
Abstract: Student’s research presents major implications for  music education and marketing.
Topic: Research
Publication Date: 05/21/2014
Content:

Though AU student Nia Tannis has many talents and skills, perhaps her greatest attribute is her ability to combine multiple interests into one academic and professional career. A psychology and French double major and a music and education studies double minor, Tannis explores these focuses in both her classes and her work outside of AU, seeking cross-disciplinary opportunities that combine her different passions. “My schedule is packed, but it’s been really fun being able to do everything I love,” Tannis says. “It’s really interesting to try to combine everything.” 

Under the supervision of psychology professor Zehra Peynircioglu, Tannis recently completed a study that allowed her to combine her interests in music and education with her focus in psychology. Presented on March 29 at the Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference in the Katzen Arts Center, Tannis’s research investigated what enables people to remember “unfamiliar” music in detail. 

In the study, unfamiliar music is defined as “songs not commonly heard or recognized in every- day life,” and includes unknown music such as national anthems from foreign countries, folk music, and popular and classical melodies.  

Distinct or Emotional?

Selecting a total of 48 unfamiliar melodies, Tannis examined two dimensions in people’s ability to process the music: distinctiveness and mood-evoking ability. Songs were presented in pairs, and participants were asked to choose whether melodies were more unique, distinctive, or if they were more emotional, mood-evoking. Following the distinctiveness and mood judgment test, participants were then presented all the songs at random and were asked to identify and describe those they had heard previously.  

Tannis found that not only could participants more accurately identify songs they deemed “distinct” and “mood evoking,” but they could describe them in greater detail. 

“The major research conclusion was that if a song is more distinctive, then you will remember it better,” Tannis says. “Tacking on to this is mood, but not in the way you might initially think. The fact that a song is mood-evoking doesn’t necessarily stimulate memory. What matters is that you’re thinking of what type of mood or emotion it is conveying.”  

Major Implications in Music, Marketing

These conclusions have major implications for the music world, directly connecting to teaching and student learning. By focusing on distinctive aspects of a piece and analyzing how the music affects them emotionally, music students can utilize this research to strengthen their memorization skills. 

“I’m a singer, and I am asked to memorize music pretty frequently,” says Tannis. “If I apply these research conclusions, I know that in order to best remember my music I should examine what emotion certain parts of the song are conveying, and what kinds of distinct details occur within the song.”

Tannis’s research also has potential implications for a seemingly completely different field: marketing and advertising, a profession she is considering pursuing after graduation. Tannis believes her research connects to marketing by providing insight into how people learn and think. 

“My research relates to marketing and advertising because if you know how people remember music and how this data can impact their learning, then you’re able to market products or ideas to that specific demographic,” she says.

Moving forward, Tannis plans to pursue a master’s degree in marketing and advertising or possibly in business administration. Through marketing, Tannis hopes to continue analyzing people’s thoughts and behavior, a key reason she chose to pursue psychology. In addition to offering a psychological focus, Tannis believes marketing will also enable her to continue combining her interests, giving her the opportunity to advertise work across multiple disciplines. 

“I’m hoping I can keep finding ways to include all of my interests in my life,” she says. “Most of all, I want to do something that helps me better understand people and how they think—and hopefully make a difference in people’s lives, too.”

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Title: College of Arts and Sciences 2014 Commencement
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: The 2014 College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony took place on Sunday, May 11, at 1 p.m.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 05/16/2014
Content:

Congratulations Class of 2014!  

The 2014 College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony took place on Sunday, May 11, at 1 p.m. View photos of the ceremony.  

 

 

 

Speeches

Featured Speaker

The Honorable Cecilia Muñoz spoke to the graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences. 

“I am a firm believer in a liberal arts education…That kind of training from a university as fine and great as this one is an invaluable asset. I know this because I hire young people, and I look for people who have learned what you have learned in your time here. 

“You have learned how to think. You have learned how to write. You have learned how to make an argument and support it with facts, how to engage people from a wide variety of backgrounds, how to respect other people’s ideas, and how to challenge those ideas respectfully. 

“From one liberal arts major to another, I can’t wait to see what you do!”  

Muñoz is the assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council, which coordinates the domestic policy-making process in the White House. Prior to this role, she served as deputy assistant to the president and director of Intergovernmental Affairs where she oversaw the Obama Administration’s relationships with state and local governments.  

Before joining the Obama Administration, Muñoz served as senior vice president for the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights organization. She supervised NCLR’s policy staff covering a variety of issues of importance to Latinos, including civil rights, employment, poverty, farmworker issues, education, health, housing, and immigration. Her particular area of expertise is immigration policy, which she covered at NCLR for twenty years. 

Watch video.

 

Student Speaker

Alison Donnelly, who graduated with a major in theatre performance and a minor in education studies, told her fellow students, “So, my only wish for all of us today is that, as we leave this institution and move on into the next chapter of our lives, we never lose this fervor, our failures remain sacred, our successes remain earth-shattering, and we remain proud of whatever it is that we want to be.” 

During Donnelly’s time at AU, she performed in eight theatre productions, worked as an assistant stage manager at the Greenberg Theatre, served as vice president and music director for AU’s acapella group Treble in Paradise, spent a semester studying in the British American Drama Academy’s London Theatre Program, and worked to help teachers from under-resourced schools to integrate the arts into their classrooms. 

Watch video.

 

Awards

  • Alexis Dobbs was recognized as the winner of the President's Award. The President's Award is the highest honor awarded at commencement. It is given to an undergraduate senior who has displayed a longstanding commitment to building community and promoting AU’s ideals of academic achievement, integrity, selflessness, leadership, and service.
  • Erica Elizabeth Munkwitz received the University Student Award for Outstanding Scholar at the Graduate Level.
  • Jessica Nesbitt won the University Student Award for Outstanding Service to the University Community.
  • Lillian Guthrie McGee received the Evelyn Swarthout Hayes Award.
  • Alifa Shelby Watkins received the Fletcher Scholar Award.
  • Hannah Sydnor-Greenberg won the Cathryn Seckler-Hudson Award.
  • Victoria Vogel received the Charles W. Van Way Award.
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Title: Dean Starr Delivers Fifth Annual Address
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: Dean Peter Starr leads town hall meeting for College of Arts and Sciences faculty and staff.
Topic: On Campus
Publication Date: 05/09/2014
Content:

In a bright change in tradition, Dean Peter Starr turned his fifth annual address into a town hall meeting and brought the College of Arts and Sciences’ faculty and staff up on the stage with him in the Abramson Family Recital Hall on April 23.

“It was a great opportunity to get everyone more directly involved in a discussion of upcoming goals, challenges, and priorities for the College," said Starr.

Surrounded by faculty and staff, Starr reviewed the College highlights of the year and discussed the findings from the Dean’s Advisory Committee’s most recent survey of College faculty.

“The College has reached new levels of excellence in many areas, including new hires, faculty honors and awards, innovative programs and initiatives, student achievement, and fundraising,” said Starr. “At the same time, the survey identified areas for growth and will help us set faculty priorities for the next several years.”

New Hires and Faculty Awards

“We had another strong recruiting year, which included hires from Yale, Princeton, the University of California–San Diego, the University of California–Santa Cruz, and the Rand Graduate School,” he said. “We look forward to having these outstanding new faculty join us in the fall.”

Starr also highlighted the accomplishments of current College faculty. This year, for the first time, five faculty members were named or served as presidents of their respective scholarly organizations:

  • Michael Brenner (Israeli studies), Leo Baeck Institute
  • Terry Davidson (psychology), Eastern Psychology Association
  • Martha Starr (economics), Association for Social Economics
  • Alan Kraut (history), Organization of American Historians
  • Robert Lerman (economics), President of the Society of Government Economists

Starr announced that four faculty members were awarded Fulbrights: Deborah Payne Fiske (literature), Max Paul Friedman (history), Adrienne Pine (anthropology), and Elizabeth Worden (SETH). In addition, Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman (history) received a Tikkun Olam Award and the National Jewish Book Award for their book FDR and the Jews. Vivian Vasquez (SETH) received the Advancement of People of Color Leadership (APCL) Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

American University honored three College faculty for their outstanding teaching, research, and service. Max Paul Friedman (history) was named the American University Scholar/Teacher of the Year, the university’s highest faculty award. Robert Blecker (economics), won the Outstanding Service to the University Community Award, and Yuliya Gorenman (performing arts) won an Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment Award.

College faculty built on their strong record of winning research grants. Major research funding was won by Dave Culver (biology), Amos Golan (economics), Kiho Kim (environmental science), John Nolan (mathematics and statistics), Andrew Taylor (performing arts), and Paul Winters (economics), among many others.

New Programs and Initiatives

Starr noted the importance of innovation and collaboration in new programs and initiatives throughout the College.

New programs include a game design master’s program with the School of Communication, an undergraduate neuroscience major, and three online master’s degrees: teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), nutrition education, and applied economics. In addition, work is well under way on the proposed CAS Leadership and Ethical Development (LEAD) program.

“Substantial progress has been made in gathering departments and programs together by similar disciplines to create purposeful learning spaces,” said Starr. “These plans include a state-of-the-art science building on the future East Campus. This building illustrates that we are serious about the sciences and serious about pedagogical innovation. It will serve as an incubator for new collaboration among the sciences.”

Student Achievement

Starr praised the faculty’s efforts towards nurturing and supporting College students. “This year our student body included a Truman Scholar, a Udall Scholar, four Fulbright Scholars, seven Gilman Scholars, three Killam Fellows, and our third Rhodes finalist in as many years.”

Alexis Dobbs, a College senior majoring in public health with a minor in biology, received the highest honor for undergraduate students: The President’s Award, which is presented to a graduating senior whose accomplishments are considered exceptional and reflect American University’s highest ideals.

Fundraising

It was a strong fundraising year for the College, with newly endowed scholarships for literature, psychology, special education, and the sciences. The highlight of the year was a naming gift from Carolyn Alper funding a space in the AU Museum to showcase art and artists from the Washington, D.C., area.

Dean’s Advisory Committee (DAC) Report, Spring 2014

In fall 2013, the Dean’s Advisory Committee conducted a survey of College faculty to gather information about widely shared suggestions and concerns for which it could identify concrete recommendations for action.

Starr turned over the meeting over to DAC committee chair Phil Johnson (physics) to present the survey findings and recommendations. Some of the recommendations are already being implemented, including creating a new faculty mentoring plan, expanding research and grant support, developing more opportunities for faculty recognition, and increasing efforts to help associate professors find a strong path to promotion. In addition, to promote innovative pedagogy and community building, the DAC recommended the College provide more opportunities for team-teaching and collaborative work, as well as more informal conversations and events for College faculty.

“I want to thank the DAC committee members for all their hard work on the survey, and for their clear, insightful, data-driven analysis of issues,” said Starr. “I look forward to more discussion and faculty input, and to seeing these recommendations implemented across the College.”

 

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Title: AU Honors College of Arts and Sciences Faculty
Author: Patty Housman
Subtitle:
Abstract: Three College faculty are honored with 2014 University Faculty Awards.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 05/09/2014
Content:

Each year American University recognizes outstanding faculty who have made significant contributions in the areas of teaching, research, and service. Three College of Arts and Sciences professors received awards for the 2013-2014 academic year:

 

 

  • Max Paul Friedman, Scholar/Teacher of the Year
  • Robert Blecker, Outstanding Service to the University Community
  • Yuliya Gorenman, Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment

“These three colleagues are exceptional teachers, scholars, and mentors,” said Dean Peter Starr. “We are proud of their work and dedication, and of the way they so strikingly contribute to the College's tradition of excellence.”

 

Max Paul Friedman

Max Paul Friedman, professor of history, won the 2014 American University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award, the university’s highest faculty award.

Friedman specializes in 20th-century U.S. foreign relations. He was a Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellow and is a 2013-2014 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations awarded him the Bernath Article Prize and Bernath Lecture Prize for his scholarship published in journals specializing in diplomatic, intellectual, social, and cultural history.

“Max Paul Friedman is our 2014 Scholar/Teacher for his pathbreaking and award-winning scholarship, brilliant teaching, and extraordinary service to AU, the profession, and beyond,” said Pam Nadell, chair of the Department of History. “I consider it a privilege to have worked with and learned from him. His wise counsel, sound judgment, keen diplomatic skills, and grace are the hallmarks of the ideal of the AU Scholar/Teacher.”

Friedman’s first book, Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign against the Germans of Latin America in World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2003) won the Herbert Hoover Prize in U.S. History and the A.B. Thomas Prize in Latin American Studies. His most recent book is Rethinking Anti-Americanism: The History of an Exceptional Concept in American Foreign Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Most recently, Friedman received a Fulbright Specialist Grant to spend a month in Argentina this summer, where he will lecture at the embassy and the Universidad del Salvador and conduct research at the Foreign Ministry and National Archives.


Robert Blecker

Robert Blecker, professor of economics, received the 2014 University Faculty Award for Outstanding Service to the University Community for his work as co-chair of the Middle States Accreditation Self-Study Steering Committee.

As co-chair of the committee, Blecker led a sweeping two-year review of AU’s administration, governance, budgets, faculty, student recruitment, programs, and teaching. The report served to re-accredit American University and served as a blueprint for making recommendations for improvement.

“Robert was instrumental in the success of the Middle States accreditation. He has an incredible knowledge of AU and did a great job of helping the committee to focus on the key issues facing the university,” said Karen Froslid Jones, director of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA). “In the midst of all he had going on with his research and teaching, he never hesitated to chip in when something needed to get done. I really appreciated his sense of humor, positive outlook, and commitment to excellence.”

Blecker’s research interests include international trade, open economy macroeconomics, the value of the dollar and the US trade deficit, economic integration in North America, the Mexican economy, the limits to export-led growth strategies in developing countries, and U.S. trade policy.

He is the coauthor of Fundamentals of U.S. Foreign Trade Policy: Economics, Politics, Laws, and Issues, the author of Taming Global Finance: A Better Architecture for Growth and Equity, and editor of U.S. Trade Policy and Global Growth. His articles have appeared in many refereed journals.


Yuliya Gorenman

Yuliya Gorenman, musician in residence in the Department of Performing Arts, received a University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment.

The internationally acclaimed musician has been called a "pianist without fear." She has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal Philharmonic of Flanders, amongst others. She has appeared at the Kennedy Center, the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, and many other venues, earning praise for her artistry and virtuosity.

Gorenman performed the entire cycle of Beethoven piano sonatas in a series of recitals named the Gorenman Beethoven Project. Her current series, the Gorenman Piano Project, explores masterpieces of piano repertoire in eight concerts. Her two remaining recitals will be dedicated to the great works of French composers on October 18, 2014, and Russian composers on March 21, 2015.

Gorenman’s father was a professor of economics, and her mother was a professor of piano at the Conservatory of Music in Almaty, Kazakhstan. She grew up surrounded by teachers and students, and believes that teaching is a calling. “My mother, who passed away in 2011, was my first teacher,” she said. “I brought my father to the awards ceremony because I knew how much it meant for him to be there with me.”

The winners were honored at the annual Faculty Recognition Dinner at the National Press Club on April 27.


Retiring Faculty and Years of Service Honorees

Two retiring faculty were also recognized for dedicating their careers to American University.

Ali Enayat, emeritus professor of mathematics, is retiring after working at American University since 1987. He is currently a professor of logic at the University of Gotenburg in Sweden.

Edward Smith, assistant anthropology professor and founder and co-director of the American University Civil War Institute, will be retiring after 45 years at American University. A third generation Washingtonian, Smith is also a study tour leader, a visiting classics tutor at St. John’s College in Annapolis, and a lecturer for the James Madison Memorial Foundation.

The following Years of Service Honorees will also be recognized for their years of work at American University.

45 Years of Service

Robert Charles Karch, SETH
Barry W. McCarthy, Psychology
Roberta Rubenstein, Literature
Larry B. Sawers, Economics
Edward C. Smith, Anthropology

40 Years of Service

Alan M. Kraut, History
Scott R. Parker, Psychology

35 Years of Service

James E. Girard, Chemistry
John A. Willoughby, Economics

25 Years of Service

Bryan D. Fantie, Psychology
Robert M. Feinberg, Economics
David Haaga, Psychology
Jeffrey L. Hakim, Mathematics and Statistics
Caleen Jennings, Performing Arts
Robert I. Lerman, Economics
Mieke E. Meurs, Economics
John P. Nolan, Mathematics and Statistics
Amy A. Oliver, World Languages and Cultures
Virginia “Lyn” Stallings, Mathematics and Statistics

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newsId: 6260E122-EC4E-FB0B-220D82FBA66B1EC1
Title: Alumna Opens New Art Gallery
Author: Abbey Becker
Subtitle:
Abstract: Art history alumna Suzanne L’Heureux founded Interface Gallery in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 05/01/2014
Content:

Sometimes, all it takes is one person to change the course of a life. For alumna Suzanne L’Heureux, that person was Helen Langa, director of the College of Arts and Science’s Art History Program.

L’Heureux met Langa while pursuing her undergraduate degree in fine arts at the University of Dayton, where she also picked up a minor in women’s studies. At the time, Langa was an art professor at the university, and she was the one who introduced L’Heureux to a feminist approach to art. “When she left Dayton for AU, she suggested that I might want to pursue a graduate degree in art history,” says L’Heureux. “I took her up on it, and it was a real turning point for me.”

Since graduating with her master’s in art history in 1999, she’s turned her studies to work. A resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, L’Heureux organizes a free outdoor movie night right in her neighborhood, called Temescal Street Cinema, which showcases films by Bay Area artists. She also started Interface Gallery, which highlights the work of emerging artists who are critically exploring the relationship of humans to the environment. L’Heureux’s work has an emphasis on community building. “I value the way that responding to and reflecting on art has the potential to deepen our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the world,” L’Heureux says. “I’m also inspired by the emphasis on collective authorship and community-based art that was very much spearheaded by feminist artists, who I learned about at AU.”

Works at Interface often have a social practice focus. L’Heureux lives near the California College of the Arts, where the first official social practice program in art was started by Ted Purves. “Community-based art is kind of in the air around here.”

L’Heureux likes the idea of extending meaningful art experiences to more people than just those that are art scene regulars. Community-based projects in the space have included free workshops and skill-sharing sessions on topics ranging from natural dyeing to growing medicinal herbs in the garden. In her solo and group shows at Interface, L’Heureux encourages artists to include interactive or hands-on elements. One show included a picnic table in the center of the gallery that visitors gathered around and were invited to carve into throughout the exhibition. L’Heureux views such activities as an invitation to people who might not otherwise step over the gallery threshold. “There’s a kind of intimacy and openness between people participating that can be quite lovely,” she says. “I love seeing again and again how willingly people accept the invitation to participate, how delighted they are by it—it’s a reminder of how much we all want to feel included.”

L’Heureux also teaches in the Academy of Art University’s online art history program—a job that she received thanks AU alumna Julie Charles. “I had such an inspiring experience at AU, and I wanted to ignite other people’s interest in art history in a similar way, as well as bring some of the socio-political perspectives I gained at AU to that pursuit,” L’Heureux says. She recently developed a class called Women, Art, and Society, which draws upon much of what she learned from the Art History Program at AU.

L’Heureux’s efforts at Interface Gallery are supported by various grants and awards from national organizations, including the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the Potrero Nuevo Foundation, Southern Exposure (which combines support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and San Francisco Grants for the Arts), the Awesome Foundation, and the Sui Generis Foundation.

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Title: Providing Access to the Arts
Author: Abbey Becker
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Abstract: Alumna Brooke Kidd founded Joe’s Movement Emporium, a community-based performing arts center.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 04/21/2014
Content:

When Brooke Kidd’s friends mentioned they needed a dance space to rehearse, she answered the call. Kidd, who graduated from AU with two bachelor’s degrees in ’91—international relations and an individualized degree from the College of Arts and Sciences combining dance and African studies—and a master’s degree in dance in ’98, founded Joe’s Movement Emporium as a response to a community need.  

With some experience working for nonprofits and a desire to start a community-based performing arts center strong in dance, Kidd launched Joe’s in 1995. She chose the community of Mt. Rainier, a small community on the border of Washington, D.C., in Prince George’s County, Maryland, as the home base for Joe’s due to its need for arts education. “I intentionally chose a community near D.C. that had problems with access to the arts,” she says.  

Kidd came up with an idea for a space like Joe’s after traveling as an undergraduate to Cameroon, where she saw examples of performing arts centers that were more “open-door-oriented” than a large facility. She enrolled in the master’s program for dance to further develop her ideas about dance education, especially teaching it in a community setting. She managed a teaching contract as a graduate student staffer for a year that hosted arts classes in 15 different D.C. public housing communities.

Now in its 18th year, the nonprofit performing arts center provides education, production, and artists’ services for a collective of 24 professional artist groups. “We’re a business environment for arts companies, where they can retain their original identities and share space,” says Kidd.  

Joe’s started in a single, vacant storefront. Between 1997 and 2006, the organization expanded to three storefronts on 34th Street in Mt. Rainier. In 2007, Joe’s relocated to a renovated space in a vacant 20,000-square-foot facility around the corner. The $3.2 million capital project funded three new studios, a large lobby and theater, an arts education center, and five individually leased artist studios. 

While Joe’s has grown exponentially since its inception, initially Kidd wasn’t sure how the organization would fare. “When you open something like this, you don’t know what to expect,” she says. “It’s an evolving experience.” 

The organization offers year-round arts education programs, in addition to rehearsal space, performances, and events of all kinds. “We added an afterschool program in response to the community’s request,” she says. “This part of the county was lacking out-of-school services for elementary and middle school kids.” 

Many of the programs at Joe’s center around movement, which Kidd considers an essential part of human development. “People feel so good after moving,” she says. “In particular, when working with special populations, you can see the impact even more clearly. Dance and dance-related arts are lifestyles that people can adopt for the long-term; fitness tends to be more sporadic.” 

In addition to working with children, Joe’s provides dance classes to disabled adults who lead a sedentary life. “With regular movement, their independence and capacity just blossom,” Kidd says.

Kidd believes in the equalizing power of dance. “It creates social structures of inclusion that really balance everything. There’s no hierarchy in dance,” she says. 

That idea can be applied to those who don’t consider themselves particularly coordinated. “There’s an old African proverb,” she says. “‘If you can talk, you can sing; if you can walk, you can dance.’”

Kidd continues to stay connected to the university. She is on the Arts Management Advisory Council and has set up a fellowship for students in the Arts Management Program. Master's candidates receive a scholarship plus a stipend to pursue professional projects at Joe's Movement Emporium.

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Title: Merging Theatre and International Relations
Author: Abbey Becker
Subtitle:
Abstract: Jeff Gan ’14 finds his sweet spot at the junction of theatre and international relations.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 04/07/2014
Content:

When Jeff Gan arrived at AU, he declared a major in international relations in the School of International Studies. Like many of his fellow students, he wanted to work at the State Department and join the Foreign Service. But then he caught a bug that altered his path. 

On a whim, Gan joined the University College, a small-group learning and living community for first-year students. Participants share an on-campus “residential neighborhood” and attend an intensive seminar together, which for Gan’s cohort was Theatre: Principles, Plays, and Performance. 

Gan had done some theatre in high school, and he had made some new theatre friends through the program, so he decided to take a few theatre courses on the side. “I thought I’d be a theatre minor at most,” he says. 

But the more classes he took, the more he discovered professors he really liked, and he developed a passion for the art. 

Gan noticed that he had begun to look at international relations through a cultural lens—and at theatre through an international perspective. A cultural context, he discovered, enriched his understanding of history—and vice versa. And so Gan decided to declare a second major: theatre. 

“The more I got into the liberal arts curriculum, the more I realized there were more options that could give me a broader reach,” he says. “I could touch economics, politics, the arts, literature, and sociology through this art form.” 

It didn’t take long for Gan to become a part of AU’s small and intimate performing arts community, where everyone is on a first-name basis. “We have regular meetings as an entire department, initiated by Professor Sybil Williams,” he says, “and we hold informal freshman-senior gettogethers every month to address concerns, offer advice, even play Apples to Apples.” 

Gan knew he loved theatre, but he wasn’t sure where his second major might lead. His revelation, he says, came in Cara Gabriel’s theatre history class. Gan approached his teacher after class one day and told her, “I really enjoyed this—how can I do more of this kind of thing?” She told him that he could be a director or an academic—or look into dramaturgy. It turns out he didn’t have to look long or far. 

Gan went to see theatre professor Carl Menninger, who was directing the show Bare: A Pop Opera, and he asked how he could get involved in the production. Menninger suggested that he be the dramaturge. And that is how Gan discovered his path. 

“You get to form this very passionate relationship with the text,” he says. “Some directors say that their experience feels like giving birth—you pour so much of yourself into it. With dramaturgy, you’re really involved with the process, but it’s less emotionally draining.” 

Research is at the center of dramaturgy, which satisfies Gan’s insatiable curiosity. “You get to reach into subjects that aren’t necessarily about drama,” he says. “I get to do a lot of historical research. For one of the shows I did, I devoted three hours to researching the postage system in Weimar Germany, and I loved it.” 

Gan has long been a fan of the performing arts, but now he understands them on a deeper level. “Every live performance is unique. You’ll never have the same confluence of audience and actors or have the cues called in the exact same way,” he says. “It’s a really beautiful and very brief relationship between the audience and the performance that can’t be replicated.” 

Gan’s enthusiasm for theatre and his passion for research have not gone unnoticed by his professors or the directors he’s worked with. 

“Jeff is perfectly suited to life in the theatre because he is something of a Renaissance man,” says professor Meghan Raham. “He has a truly curious mind and is eager and able to synthesize ideas and information from seemingly disparate disciplines into a central idea. Jeff’s interest in everything makes him particularly valuable as a collaborator, and he also manages somehow to be quite likeable while knowing a lot about everything—an even more unique trait. I can’t wait to see what the world looks like once he takes over.” 

While world domination doesn’t seem to be part of his agenda, Gan hopes eventually to follow in the footsteps of those who have inspired him most: his theatre professors. “I want to expose as many people as possible to theatre,” he says. “I believe in its power, and I want to help build a sustainable consumer base for the arts.”

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Title: Spring Exhibits at the AU Museum 
Author: Rebecca Basu
Subtitle:
Abstract: Shows focus on Beat Generation, Korean contemporary art, and interactive technologies.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 03/31/2014
Content:

Exhibits at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center this spring showcase the diversity of American and global artists while encouraging viewers to contemplate past events and contemporary times.

Artistic visionaries and the Beat Generation

An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle, showing Saturday, April 26 through Sunday, Aug. 17, features work by Jess Collins, known simply as Jess, and his partner, the poet Robert Duncan. Soon after meeting in San Francisco in the early 1950’s, they began both a romantic and professional partnership that lasted until Duncan’s death. They merged their personal and artistic lives by exploring their mutual interest in cultural mythologies, transformative narrative, and the appropriation of images. Jess’s collages and drawings were often published to accompany Duncan’s poems and essays. Duncan’s writings and ideas in turn made their way into Jess’s dense and allusive works. The couple’s gatherings at their San Francisco home served as a salon and gallery space for their artist friends.

This exhibition looks at Jess’s and Duncan’s influence and unique position as precursors of Postmodernism and will present works by the couple, along with a selection of works by the couple’s artist friends.

Commenting on the show, AU Museum Director and Curator Jack Rasmussen observed: “The Beat Generation is the antidote to our increasingly monetized contemporary art world: more transformative rather than strategic, more collaborative than entrepreneurial.”

SMALL_Double_Mirror_Ironing 2006 MyongHiKim

Mixed Media Exhibit Muses on Multi-cultural Identities

Double Mirror, showing Tuesday, April 1, through June 1, features the work of 30 Korean and Korean-American artists. Paintings, drawings, photography, reliefs, video projection and other installations convey the complexity and richness of reflective processes of being a creative wanderer in the mainstream art world. Artworks also explore the challenges of being a minority or an outsider in the United States.


Outdoor Sculpture Showcases Washington, D.C. Artist

SMALL_BK_Adams

Mynd Alive / BK ADAMS•I AM ART features outdoor sculpture by BK ADAMS. The show runs from Tuesday, April 1, through Sunday, August 17. Of Adams’ work, Washington Post journalist Michael O’Sullivan wrote that it “evoke[s] the squiggles of Jackson Pollock, the graffiti-like scribbles of Jean-Michel Basquiat and African figuration, all topped with a healthy sense of humor and play that keeps the work from seeming derivative.”

Pause, Look and Listen in Unlikely Spaces

SMALL_BrinkandBoundary_Sky

Brink and Boundary showing Tuesday, April 1 through Sunday August 17, invites viewers to experience how spaces often overlooked and forgotten in the Katzen Arts Center—its emergency stairwell, entryway, elevator and exterior—can transform with surprising and inventive installations. New and interactive technologies in sound and video redefine the boundaries of traditional exhibition spaces.  

Meet The Neighbors

SMALL_Neighbors_Mothership

Curated by AU professors Zoë Charlton and Tim Doud, The Neighbors opens Tuesday, April 1, and runs through June 1. The show features painting, sculpture, video and installations by teaching artists from 13 Washington, D.C.-area universities and colleges.

Emerging Artists

SMALL_MFA

Students in pursuit of Masters of Fine Arts degrees at AU will showcase their work in two shows: Champion Divers opens to the public Saturday, April 5, and runs through April 20. The second show, Perambulators, opens Saturday, April 26, and runs through May 12. Both shows feature an exciting range of art including works in painting, sculpture, collage and material studies, photography and new media.

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Title: Professor's Artwork Explores Choice
Author: Alyssa Rohricht
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Abstract: Studio art professor Tim Doud finds inspiration and focus for many of his paintings through online portrayals.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 03/26/2014
Content:

Think about how you portray yourself online—on all those profiles and platforms and social media sites. You might post your occupation, your hometown, your hobbies and favorite foods, a link to your blog. Maybe you feature a favorite quote. Sometimes you pick a unique username. And almost always you select a photo of yourself that reflects who you are as you want to be seen. 

The process by which we create our fantasy self for public presentation is complex and involves a series of choices, some of which we may not be able to explain—but all of which reflect our desires, wishes, hopes, and realities. We put it out there in cyberspace, this imagined self, and we invite others to connect and engage with this reflection of our personal fantasy. It is this interaction between the self and the imagination that inspires artist and art professor Tim Doud. 

For two series of portraits, Doud visited online dating sites to find his models. He sees the dynamic between artist and model as collaborative. “I pay attention to the choices people make,” says Doud. “The model is a collaborator [in that] she or he makes decisions about their public self for presentation.”

Doud’s models choose their clothes, their makeup, and, to some extent, the setting and staging. The “meaning” of the portrait, he says, lies in the interaction between the model’s choices of “self material” and his or her imagined life and the artist’s ability to bring this material into focus. 

His series Angie (Mac) features a makeup artist. Angie made herself up, literally and figuratively; the craft of the portraiture, says Doud, is to make the model’s choices visible. So, for example, in the painting Polly Vinyl, Angie wears a white fur ski cap with a puffy blue winter coat and bright white eye shadow, while in Wanderlust, she chooses braided pigtails, bright pink lips, and electric blue makeup. 

Doud’s work draws attention to the theatricality of everyday life. The model in his Rodney series chooses clothing that is elaborate and fun. In See, Rodney poses in black and leather with reflective glasses, fingerless gloves, and an elaborate headpiece. In Buzz, he wears a black hat with a bow tie and a green and black flamenco shirt with puffy sleeves. In Designer, Rodney reclines in a wooden chair, now wearing a pinstriped suit with green striped shirt and red tie and glasses. 

It’s about more than dressing up, says Doud. Each different outfit is a part of Rodney’s identity. The idea is to consider the choices we make and how they “flesh us out” into public identity. 

In the multiframe series titled Blue, Doud created 30 self-portraits that are meant to be viewed as one unified piece. Each portrait depicts Doud from the chest up and wearing a different blue, button-up shirt. “I made the choices of what shirts to wear, I chose my glasses,” says Doud. “I problematize these by arranging them in systems across a structure of color and hue choices. Each portrait, then, examines how commodity makes personality present.” 

In each series, including Blue, the facial expression of the model remains the same. That is because it isn’t about the psychology of the face, says Doud. “It is about the psychology of the choice and the expectations brought to those choices by viewers.” The artist directs focus away from what a portrait means to the means by which it signifies—what our clothing signifies, the brands we choose, which bring up larger questions of consumerism and self-representation. 

Doud currently is working on part two of his Blue series, which more directly questions the Western-centric fashion industry. 

Doud’s work has been exhibited in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Washington, D.C., as well as in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. A finalist in the 2013 Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, his portrait Room and Board from the Rodney series was featured on the cover of the catalog.

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Title: Turning a Dream into Reality
Author: Jamie McCrary
Subtitle:
Abstract: Arts supporter Sylvia Greenberg performed on the Greenberg Theatre stage.
Topic: Arts
Publication Date: 03/21/2014
Content:

AU arts patron Sylvia Greenberg always wanted to be on stage. “When I was getting ready for college, I wanted to go to New York and be an actress,” says Greenberg. “My father said no, so I never pursued it, but I think being on stage was my big dream.” 

When theatre professor Carl Menninger learned that 91-year-old Greenberg had never had an opportunity to be an actress, he decided it was time to do something about it. 

“I thought, how could we not make this happen?” says Menninger. “She has done so much for AU’s Theatre Program. For me, helping turn her dream into reality was a way to thank Sylvia for her tremendous generosity.” 

A longtime supporter of the arts at AU, Greenberg and her husband, Harold, provided the funding to establish AU’s Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre. Before it opened in March 2003, students rehearsed and performed in the Experimental Theatre, a small black box space on campus that was missing a backstage. “I really wanted AU students to have a place where they could feel like they were on stage,” says Greenberg. “I think a lot of these young people have great talent, and I wanted to give them a place to cultivate that.” 

Menninger believes the Greenberg Theatre has helped to expand AU’s Theatre and Musical Theatre Programs. “The [theatre] program would not be what it is today without her. Since Iarrived at AU 10 years ago, the program has doubled, and in no small part because we have a beautiful facility for students to use,” says Menninger. “So, she’s always wanted to act, and there’s a theatre named after her—why is she not standing on the stage that has her name on it?” 

After reading several scripts, Menninger discovered the perfect fit for Greenberg: Amy Herzog’s 4,000 Miles. A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in drama, the play explores the relationship between 21-year-old Leo and his feisty, 91-year-old grandmother, Vera, examining their differences, disagreements, and ultimately, their connection. Greenberg played Vera, which proved to be an ideal role for her. 

“I think this show was written for me, because I could really identify with Vera,” says Greenberg. “I use the same expressions she uses. I even say the same things [in real life that] she said in the script.” 

Presented at the Greenberg Theatre on November 24, 2013, Menninger organized the show as a staged reading with AU theatre students. “No one had to memorize anything because we read the script from music stands. We could rehearse as much or as little as Sylvia had time for,” says Menninger. “She was terrific—she got a standing ovation. The cast took a bow, and instantly the audience was on their feet.” 

Aside from fulfilling her dream of being on stage, the performance fueled another passion in Greenberg: working with students. “I’ve never had more fun, working with Carl and all the young people,” says Greenberg. “I’ve been connected with the students because I’ve always attended performances, but I never really got that close to them. I enjoyed getting to know them.” 

For Menninger, the intergenerational component of the play made the experience all the richer. “Because 4,000 Miles is about a grandmother and a grandson, it sparked so many interesting conversations between Sylvia and the students,” says Menninger. “One day, we sat there with the young man who played Leo and he talked about his grandparents, and Greenberg talked about her grandson and the challenges of that relationship. There was so much to be learned without ever feeling you were learning anything.” 

Greenberg hopes that she can continue working with AU students and that her support for the arts will help them succeed. “I think there’s a great deal of talent at AU, and I’d love to see these students be successful,” says Greenberg. “It would make me feel really good knowing I was a part of that.” 

More than anything, Greenberg hopes that she can continue acting. “I enjoyed every minute of performing in 4,000 Miles,” she says. “I loved the whole experience. I’m ready for the stage now.”

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