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6/27/13

By Anne Midgette, Washington Post

So let’s talk Stravinsky. Heard anything about Stravinsky lately? The centennial of “The Rite of Spring” this year seems to me to have occasioned more tributesspin-offs, and homages than I can remember seeing since the last Mozart year (2006) and Bach year (2000). Forget Verdi, forget Wagner (both of whom are having bicentennials this year); we’ve seized on “Rite” as a watershed moment in the development of contemporary music, and it’s being feted as the gateway to modernity around the world. (I may have been reactionary in pointing out in the Washington Post some weeks ago that Diaghilev, who commissioned the piece, was in the business of creating commercial as well as artistic successes.)

The New York Philharmonic got its “Rite” stuff in at the start of this season. Tonight, it’s closing out the season with another look at Stravinsky ballets called “A Dancer’s Dream”: a multimedia puppet-choreography-video production of “The Fairy’s Kiss” and “Petrushka,” overseen by director Doug Fitch, known to Philharmonic audiences for “Le Grand Macabre” and “The Cunning Little Vixen” in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

What the website doesn’t tell you, though, is that this “Petrushka” originated at the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra in 2008, where Fitch was an artist in residence. (The Philharmonic does credit James Ross, UMD’s director of orchestral activities, as the “music consultant.”)

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By Karen Shih, Terp magazine

The university is exploring a partnership with Washington, D.C.’s famed Corcoran Gallery of Art and Corcoran College of Art + Design that could lead to access to the gallery’s $2 billion, 17,000-piece collection, enhanced art and design opportunities for Maryland students, and increased visibility and presence for the university in the nation’s capital.

President Wallace Loh in April signed a memorandum of understanding with the head of the Corcoran Board of Trustees and has appointed an 18-member task force to consider a formal collaboration. It is scheduled to report its findings to him by the end of the summer.

“We are energized by the potential to enhance both institutions, to bring together diverse academic disciplines, students and faculty to create something truly unique and compelling in higher education,” Loh says. “This is a moment of remarkable possibility.”

The Corcoran was established in 1869 as D.C.’s first private art museum, dedicated, in the words of founder William Wilson Corcoran, to “encouraging American genius.” Its renowned collection, housed just a block from the White House, includes works by Degas, Monet, Picasso and Sargent. 

 The college opened in 1878 and today has approximately 550 undergraduate and graduate students. In recent years, the museum has struggled to overcome severe financial troubles, including $7 million operating deficits for the last two years and a $130 million backlog in building repairs.

The agreement signed by the Corcoran and UMD notes the advantages of UMD’s management expertise, financial strengths, economies of scale and capacity to help run the Corcoran’s administrative side, in such areas as student services, fundraising, facilities management and human resources.

The UMD task force, led by Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin; Curlee Holton, interim executive director of the David C. Driskell Center; and School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Dean David Cronrath, is now investigating the possibilities for new courses, joint degrees and innovation studios, which would bring together students and faculty from disciplines like engineering and business with the arts.

“All our students will have to be creative problem-solvers and designers as well as entrepreneurs in their jobs,” Cronrath says.

“All great universities have a well-balanced set of disciplines,” he says. “This will complement nicely the partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, which tends to focus on science and engineering.”

If the task force recommends moving forward, the University of Maryland Board of Regents and the Corcoran Board of Trustees will vote on the decision.  

This partnership would be unique but not unprecedented. The University of California, Los Angeles operates the Hammer Museum, and Johns Hopkins University has partnered with the Peabody Institute for more than three decades.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity, and it takes great courage and leadership for President Loh to imagine it and make it possible,” Holton says.

By Monette A. Bailey, Terp magazine

An African-American art collection valued at more than $2.2 million now belongs to the university’s David C. Driskell Center.

The nearly 270 paintings, sculptures and other works bequeathed by Sandra Anderson Baccus, who died last year, and her late husband, Dr. Lloyd T. Baccus, make it the center’s largest gift. Mrs. Baccus served on the center’s board from 2004 to 2006.

“She was impressed with what we were doing here,” says Dorit Yaron, acting director. “Usually 3 to 5 percent is shown on exhibitions while the rest of objects are stored. At a place like the center, she believed we would use the collection more often for study, classes and possibly an exhibition.”

Familiar names such as Clementine Hunter, Romare Bearden and Palmer Hayden are represented, as are a range of formats and subjects. The collection includes abstract metal sculptures addressing lynching, fine drawings evoking nights at the famed Apollo Theater and even a pair of creatively decorated shoes.

“There were a number of artists she was interested in, and her husband was interested in a different group,” says Curlee Holton, interim executive director of the center. He says it makes for a diverse and “exceptional” collection.

5/14/13

By Kathy Park, WJLA

University of Maryland students took over public space in the Long Branch neighborhood and put a spotlight on an area that may soon get even more attention with the Purple Line.

baseline">Hands-on work takes on new meaning for Fox. She spent the semester along with other classmates using the Long Branch community as their canvas.

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baseline">“This piece is called Thirsty for Change,” says Kristen Fox, a graduate student at the University of Maryland. Her piece consists of 3,444 plastic bottles.

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baseline">“My favorite thing to do is watch the kids,” says Fox. “You’ll see as soon as they get off school they immediately run in and run around the tree here.”

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baseline">The two-week public art display aims to connect the neighborhood while showcasing what the area has to offer.

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baseline">“This temporary work is part of thinking about the longer term vision,” says Ronit Eisenbach, a professor at the University of Maryland.

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baseline">Part of the future plans includes the highly-anticipated and controversial Purple line, a light rail system proposed to go through Long Branch.

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4/22/13

By Paul Voosen, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Sean Pue had an Urdu problem. An assistant professor of South Asian literature at Michigan State University, Mr. Pue was searching for a way to automate his analysis of classical Urdu's internal meter. As an adherent of the small but growing digital humanities movement, he had some coding proficiency, but not enough: Urdu poetry is not based on stress, but on contextual patterns of syllables. His program ran slow, and the problem proved to be, in computational argot, "combinatorially explosive"—the variables piled up, bogging it down.

While at his daughter's ballet class, Mr. Pue mentioned his difficulties to Tracy K. Teal, a microbial ecologist and postdoc at the university. The two had never seen each other on campus, but their girls, best friends, brought the families together. Ms. Teal began to see analogies between how the information in DNA causes proteins to form and the chain of transformations Mr. Pue used to extract Urdu's scansion. Perhaps, she offered, she could help?

The duo were soon in for a surprise, though. The central dogma of biology—that DNA makes RNA makes protein—had nothing on the ballads of Mirza Asadullah Khan. "As we discussed it further," Ms. Teal said, "we actually realized that Urdu poetry is a lot more complicated."

That revelation was one of many packed into a small, two-day meeting at the University of Maryland at College Park that brought together, for the first time, scholars engaged in the digital humanities with scientists from the data-heavy trenches of computational biology.

Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Institutes of Health, among others, and held by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, the symposium, titled "Shared Horizons," sought to present the fields together as equals. In application, though, it offered lessons to digital humanists from biology, a field that has already gone through its own, sometimes painful, computational revolution.

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3/22/13

By Michael O'Sullivan, The Washington Post 

There’s an ambivalence to a lot of the art in “Network of Mutuality: 50 Years Post-Birmingham.” If there’s a commonality among the civil-rights-themed works by 21 contemporary artists at the University of Maryland’s Art Gallery, it might be this sentiment: We’ve come far since the infamous 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., that killed four girls, but we still have a long way to go.

That friction between aspiration and reality creates, at times, heat.

Archie Boston’s posterlike digital print “We’ve Come Too Far” charts the evolution of terms used by whites to describe blacks, from “slave” to “colored” to “African American,” with other names in between (including a notoriously offensive one). The last item on the list, however, isn’t a word at all but an image commonly used on handbills announcing fugitive slaves.

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By Natalie Kornicks

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an elegant award-winning writer from Nigeria, but if you ask her she’ll tell you she’s just like her grandmother—“a trouble maker, fierce and difficult,” all of which she loves.

“I think Africans have a tendency to romanticize who and what we are,”Adichie said to the sold-out crowd at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center during the third installment of the 2012-13 WORLDWISE Arts and Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series.

Early in the conversation on Tuesday, Feb. 19, Adichie described a moment that took place in her family's ancestral hometown of Abba, on her way to visit her Uncle Mai—“My father’s only brother. My favourite uncle,” she wrote in an article for the Financial Times in Nigeria last year.

“A woman walking ahead of me tripped and fell, and then she said ‘f***, f***.’ That was the last thing I expected to hear from her. Part of me was taken aback—I probably would have wanted to say something deep and moving, but this woman said f***,” Adichie laughed. “The reality of things is how you want them to be. It’s the reality—you say f*** when you fall down.”

Hearing that word come out of the mouth of such an accomplished author, a MacArthur “genius” award winner who graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Connecticut State University and completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, delighted the crowd with “mild shock,” said Associate Professor Sheri Parks, who moderated the lecture.

“It helped make her point,” Parks said. “For us to see that it made her realize that she had romanticized her homeland.”

A place, where according to Adichie, others in the African community would say of the incident if it were to occur in one of her books, “That’s not Nigerian.”

But even if Adichie is writing about someone else’s experience, it’s authentic. And she doesn’t worry about what other people think about her portrayals of reality and place, because she is telling her own truth, she said.

“I think place is very important for me…I don’t think that what I am—whatever that is—is unable to coexist with Africaness—whatever that is,” she said. “I think I grew up in Nigeria and my sensibility is Nigerian.”

While her two most notable books, Purple Hibiscus (2003) and Half a Yellow Sun (2006), took place in Nigeria, not all of her stories take place in Africa. Yet Adichie said all of her writing is really about exploring “Nigerianness,” which she does through her characters.

Even if the story is set in the U.S.—a country that is filled with “an abundance of unreasonable hope”—it is really about Nigeria, she said.

After soliciting suggestions from the campus for the series and a considerable deliberation process, Adichie was chosen for her relevance across multiple departments of the College of Arts and Humanities to make a balanced and engaging event, according to members of the lecture series committee.

“[Adichie] embodies the spirit of global innovation and connectedness that is at the heart of the University of Maryland’s mission to be a leading internationally recognized institution that fosters cosmopolitan citizenship,” said Assistant Professor of English Keguro Macharia, who recommended Adichie as a potential speaker. “Her works are already widely taught on campus—so students are familiar with her—and her status as a successful African immigrant woman would be inspirational.”

Adichie’s significance to Maryland transcends literature and is not only inspirational to students of English, but also students of theatre, dance, history, linguistics, women’s studies and language and culture.

But overall, Adichie just wants people to tell truthful stories, whether they are good or bad, she said.

When Parks asked Adichie how she felt about being called wise, Parks read the following quote from renowned novelist Chinua Achebe:

“We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers. Adichie knows what is at stake and what to do about it…” Parks read.

“I memorized that,” Adichie said.

And the two finished reciting the quote aloud in tandem, “She is fearless or she would not have taken on the intimidating horror of Nigeria’s civil war. Adichie came almost fully made.”

To hear another motivational conversation, attend the last lecture of the series with Cathy Davidson, who will speak about digital humanities on April 18 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

For more information on Adichie visit: http://www.l3.ulg.ac.be/adichie/

2/27/13

By Nelson Pressley, The Washington Post

An ambitious National Civil War Project will be unveiled Thursday at Arena Stage as major universities and flagship theaters in four cities team up to create new performances and campus programming.

The partnerships represent a “radical collaboration,” says Arena artistic director Molly Smith. Arena is working with George Washington University. The announcement is scheduled to include “artistic demonstrations” of the kinds of theater, dance, music and scholarship likely to emerge from this large-scale initiative...

Baltimore’s Centerstage and the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, a pod that has already initiated a notably big project. The Kronos Quartet has been commissioned for a piece composed by jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard; the performance will involve a 500-voice choir and spoken word by 2011 National Book Award winner Nikky Finney. The result, “At War With Ourselves,” will be performed at a historically significant site.

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Adichie examines the powerful impact storytelling has on politics and culture across generations.

The University of Maryland’s College of Arts and Humanities presents the WORLDWISE Arts and Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2008 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient and award-winning Nigerian author, and it’s FREE!

WHAT:

An intimate conversation with the influential author, Chimamanda Adichie.  Named by The New Yorker as one of the 20 most important fiction writers under 40 years old, Adichie describes her work as “realist fiction” and is largely inspired by the cultural and political history of her home country of Nigeria.

She will speak  to the cross-generational significance of storytelling and its enduring impact on the cultural history of our lives.

Recently Adichie was also named one of “The New Guard: People Who Are Shaping Washington” by the Washingtonian and awarded the 2011-2012 fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.  Her newest novel, “Americanah” will be published by Knopf in May 2013.

WHEN:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 5:30-7:30 PM

WHERE:

Gildenhorn Recital Hall, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 Map.

BACKGROUND:

Presented by the College of Arts and Humanities in collaboration with the Center for Literary and Comparative Studies and the Institute for International Programs.

Admittance is free. Media should present credentials. For those attending:

  • Please RSVP with Nicky Everette at meve@umd.edu
  • Due to limited seating, please arrive early - Doors open at 5:00 p.m.
  • No food/drinks are allowed in the Gildenhorn Recital Hall

ABOUT THE DEAN’S LECTURE SERIES:

The Dean's Lecture Series provides an opportunity for the college faculty, students and staff to join together with colleagues across campus for stimulating conversation about issues that cross our disciplines.  Lectures and performances may address either enduring or emerging questions central to the arts and humanities, or questions arising from other disciplines to which the arts and humanities might speak.

In addition to presenting a major public event, each speaker interacts in smaller settings with faculty, graduate students and/or undergraduates.  This new series follows up on the spirited and popular moderated round table discussions, "BE WORLDWISE: The Arts and Humanities in the 21st Century."

MEDIA:

Media coverage is welcome. Parking is available in the Stadium Drive Garage across from the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and just off University Blvd.

To join in the live twitter conversation on the day of the event, follow the College of Arts and Humanities on Twitter @umd_arhu and use #ARHUDLS

CONTACT:

For more information about this event, please contact Nicky Everette, College of Arts & Humanities, Director of Marketing and Communications at meve@umd.edu or 301-405-6714.

 

11/29/12

By Alex Kirshner, The Diamondback

Eric Schlosser’s investigative journalism on the fast food industry has won him critical acclaim — but as students found out last night, there’s a lot more to his story.

His reporting has taken him to meatpacking plants, nuclear bunkers and the ranks of The New York Times best-sellers list. And last night, it took him to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, where he spoke before a sold-out crowd of 300.

During an interactive talk moderated by Sheri Parks, arts and humanities associate dean, Schlosser discussed America’s political and economic climates, the state of the food industry and his journalistic work.

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