Getting Schooled in Museum Education

student interns strike a pose. Courtesy UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Art, Design & Architecture Museum student interns strike a pose. Courtesy UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Interns at the Art, Design & Architecture Museum earn academic credit and valuable experience

By Leslie Dinaberg
Wednesday, August 28, 2019 – 06:00 Santa Barbara, CA

When this year’s cohort of interns take their place at UC Santa Barbara’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum (AD&A Museum), they’ll have the opportunity not only to add valuable skills to their own resumes, but also serve to the University and the broader Santa Barbara community.

“We are contributing to the development of the museum field by fostering future professionals,” said Elyse Gonzales, AD&A Museum’s acting director. “I also see the internship program, and all of our efforts really, as a means of developing future museum visitors, members, and donors for our museum and all museums in general. Our goals for the undergraduate internship program at the AD&A Museum are quite ambitious.”

Internships for academic credit are offered in the curatorial, collections management, archival management, programs/events, education outreach and public relations departments of the AD&A Museum. The museum also offers collaborative internships with the University Library’s special collections department; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where interns serve as gallery guides for students in grades six through 12; and with online platform impactmania — in collaboration with the Neuroscience Research Institute, Department of Religious Studies and global partners — where interns work to deliver a suite of interviews, interactive presentations, and events related to the topic “Human Mind and Migration.”

“I approach all of our UCSB students — really all students — who come to the museum the same way, with a warm welcome, emphasizing that the museum is for them,” Gonzales said. “If we can get them to visit while they are at UCSB, give them a positive experience and help them understand that the museum is not an intimidating place — this is not a place that is about exclusion, it’s about inclusion — then you’ve hooked a museum-goer for the rest of their life.

The more we can reach out to and engage younger generations, the better we are going to be in the long run. And when I say ‘we’ I mean the AD&A Museum, but also museums in general.”

Gonzales credits much of the vision for the internship program to Bruce Robertson, the recently retired museum director. “Studies reveal that most museum professionals and others in the arts became interested in these fields because they had a pivotal moment with an object or a formative creative experience. Knowing that, and with education as the imperative of the entire university, we immediately understood that we could make a significant contribution to our field,” Gonzales said. “But, also the reality of our situation is that we have a lot of tasks, projects, and events that need to be executed and managed and loads of ambitions to do even more. Knowing this, it became clear that working with students would not only help them but help us achieve our goals and mission.”

Focused on professional development, the resulting program pairs students with employees at the museum.

“The students have been great to work with — they are excited to learn new things, go ‘behind the scenes’ at the museum, and are able to explore possible career paths,” said Architecture and Design Collection Reference Archivist Julia Larson. “The students are eager to come in for their intern shifts because they are working on concrete projects — putting materials in folders, organizing and labelling collections, assisting with cataloging which they can cite as examples of work projects for future jobs or grad school. They also ask a lot of good questions and force me to think through my work and how best to explain things.

“The students learn how to process archival collections,” she added, “which is very hands-on work.”

Said Susan Lucke, collections manager and registrar, “We rely on our interns so much. They’re just not doing entry-level work. They actually get to do work that I would do. We need the help, and they gain a lot of experience and that’s so useful when they start to look for a job.

“I think it’s helpful for kids to look at all their options in school and this is a really a good program,” Lucke continued. “It’s not like sitting in a classroom with 300 other kids. It’s more of an intimate experience, and students get a lot of one-on-one attention plus it enables them to look at another side of life.”

AD&A Museum interns have gone on to graduate school; the Peace Corps; and to careers at many different kinds of museums, including the Smithsonian, the Peterson Automotive Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara and the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara, among others.

For-credit internships are open to undergraduates in all majors. “We find that many of our interns love art and architecture but also feel like they need to have a degree in something else, something they perceive as being more stable,” said Gonzales.

“The impetus behind this internship program is primarily to help give students professional experiences but also to help alleviate student and parental concerns about future career opportunities,” she added. “In addition, one of my goals is to help reflect the diversity of our campus and to create opportunities to diversify the field for future museum leadership.”

What she feels most proud about the internship program is that when students leave, they have concrete real- world experiences they can put on a resume and several individuals willing to give them a great reference. “A really smart and committed intern can do wonders,” Gonzales noted. “We should know, our museum wouldn’t function half so well without their terrific help.”

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 28, 2019.

Bells Will Be Ringing

Performance by university carillonist Wesley Arai celebrates the 50th anniversary of Storke Tower

By Leslie Dinaberg

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 – 12:00, Santa Barbara, CA

University Carillonist Wesley Arai, courtesy photo.

University Carillonist Wesley Arai, courtesy photo.

From a small space atop Storke Tower, the music Wesley Arai creates on a 61-bell carillon rings out across the UC Santa Barbara campus.

Audiences will be treated to a special program Sunday, Aug. 25, when Arai, the university carillonist, gives a recital as part of series celebrating the 50th anniversary of Storke Tower. Free and open to the public, the concert begins at 2 p.m. Listeners are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs to sit on the grass beneath the tower.

“I realize that most people aren’t familiar with the carillon, so I try to make my recitals accessible and varied,” said Arai, who also oversees the maintenance of the instrument and organizes guest carillon recitals as part of his duties. The summer concert will include well-known classical music, popular songs and some music written specifically for the carillon. As a tribute to the 50th anniversary, Arai said, “I’ve been trying to also include music that is significant to the university and its carillon. Going with that theme, the concert will likely include some music written for the campus carillon, music written by past university carillonists and school songs.”

Arai, also a lecturer in the Department of Music, has performed extensively across the United States and abroad. He has recently performed in Australia, at the Eighth Berkeley Carillon Festival, at the Springfield International Carillon Festival and at the Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, which this year took place in Lake Wales, Florida. In addition, he gave the dedicatory recital for the carillon at the University of Washington. Arai also performs annually at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, Washington.

In addition to the carillon, Arai has studied piano, trombone and voice, and has performed in a variety of concert bands, marching bands, jazz bands, orchestras and choral groups. He also enjoys arranging music and occasionally performs some of his own arrangements on the carillon.

An alumnus of UC Berkeley, where he received bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and in statistics, Arai discovered the carillon as an undergraduate student. “I would hear the bells all the time while walking to class,” he said, “and I heard there was a class to learn how to play — so I signed up and have been playing ever since.”

Enthusiastic to share his passion and skill, Arai invites UC Santa Barbara students interested in learning to play the Storke Tower carillon to email him at warai at gmail dot com to schedule a piano audition. Enrollment is limited to three students per quarter.

Storke Tower and its carillon were a gift from Thomas More Storke, former publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press. The instrument consists of 61 bells cast by Petit & Fritsen of the Netherlands, with the bells weighing from 18 pounds to 2.5 tons and spanning five octaves. The carillon at UC Santa Barbara is a much larger modern copy of historical instruments that were invented approximately 500 years ago in the Low Countries of Europe. Then, tower bells were used to signal time, much like a clock chime, and as a means of additional notifications (e.g. an enemy is approaching) and directives, such as to close the city gates or go to church.

Eventually, the number of bells was increased and they were connected to a keyboard to facilitate the performance of music. A melody was often played to attract the attention of the townspeople before the hour bell tolled the time throughout the day. A carillon is played with the fists and feet, and the action is completely mechanical. To vary the dynamics of the music, the performer must strike the key harder or use a lighter touch, much like a piano.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 20, 2019.

Body-Mind Connection

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

UCSB Campus Bluffs, painting by Chris Potter.

BMCA somatic movement conference focuses on embodiment and brain research, with an indigenous education element

By Leslie Dinaberg

Monday, August 5, 2019 – 10:15

Santa Barbara, CA

Bringing together more than 70 presenters from around the world, the Body-Mind Centering Association (BMCA) presents its 34th annual interdisciplinary laboratory, research and workshop conference at UC Santa Barbara August 6-11.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

brooke smiley.  Photo by Peter Aguilar.

Hosted by brooke smiley, a lecturer in the Department of Theater and Dance, this somatic movement conference features an array of workshops, panel discussions, presentations and performances. The theme, “Self and Other,” reflects the conference emphasis on the evolving indigenous embodiment in relation to dance, song and land.

“I wanted to create a focus on what it means to value our differences and also bring focus to our interconnectedness,” said smiley.

She anticipates approximately 130 participants at the conference, which is open to the public. “It’s interesting because we have a lot of people from different realms: science, dance, academia, choreographers, dancers, therapists and infant movement development specialists,” smiley said. “Movement research takes a lot of different forms out in the world. As host, I’ve been able to be supported in bringing a focus to an indigenous educational awareness about the land here, specifically before UC Santa Barbara was here, and the dances and the songs that came from the bodies in relationship to this land.”

With that awareness in mind, the Friday, Aug. 9 plenary session led by smiley, titled “Embodying Land in Dance and Song: Addressing Decolonization in Indigenous Ceremony and Performance,” includes a panel from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. An indigenous dance artist herself, smiley was recently named a 2019/2020 Advancing Indigenous Performers Fellow by the Western Arts Alliance, a program made possible by a lead grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and additional support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Among the conference highlights:

• A two-part presentation by BMCA founder and Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. “Engaging Self and Other through Embodiment, Part I” will begin at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Part II will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11.

• 2019 Guggenheim Scholar Ann Cooper Albright’s two-part “Cultivating the 3R’s: Responsiveness, Resistance, Resilience” (Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. and Aug. 7 at 9 a.m. ). Cooper is professor and chair of dance at Oberlin College.

• Two evenings of dance performances (Aug. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m.) in 1151 Humanities and Social Sciences Building. Admission is free.

Founded in 1985, the BMCA is a professional organization dedicated to exploring, sharing and expanding body-mind centering work. Members reside around the world, including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Additional conference details and registration information is available at https://bmcassociation.org/conferences/2019-bmca-conference. A complete schedule of events can be found at https://bit.ly/2JHR7YJ.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on August 5, 2019.

Community-Led Publishing

The library is a key partner in a $3.6 million international project to envision a new ecosystem for open access publishing

Photo by Terry Wimmer, courtesy UCSB Current.

Photo by Terry Wimmer, courtesy UCSB Current.

An ambitious project to develop new and innovative open access publishing models just got a major funding boost from Research England, and UC Santa Barbara is among the principal partners.

The $3.6 million, three-year project (to be funded with £2.2 million from Research England and £600,00 from the partners) will support Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM), a project designed to transform open access (OA) book publishing in the humanities and social sciences to a more horizontal and cooperative, knowledge-sharing approach, and ultimately to help ensure that publicly funded research is widely and freely accessible to all.

The project will be led by Coventry University, with key project leaders including Sherri Barnes, the UC Santa Barbara Library’s scholarly communication program coordinator, and Eileen A. Fradenburg Joy, founder and co-director of Punctum Books and the campus’s Arnhold-Punctum Publishing Lab, a scholar-led monograph publishing collaboration with the library and UC Santa Barbara’s Writing Program.

Providing Access to Scholarship

“COPIM puts UC Santa Barbara in a leadership role with regard to the transition to open access in monograph publishing,” said Barnes. “Scholar-led OA publishing is author-centered, mission driven, and cooperative. Scholars are at the center of the editorial work, with librarians and technologists applying their expertise as stewards of the scholarly record. We’re working to solve big and important problems that empower faculty authors, libraries, and universities, while returning some of scholarly publishing to the academy.”

“The University of California is very committed collectively — not just the libraries, but faculty leadership and administrators, including UC President Janet Napolitano — to opening up scholarship created by UC researchers to be freely available to all to read and make use of,” said University Librarian Kristin Antelman. “Making good on that requires the investment of time, effort, money and political capital toward transforming the current, very closed, scholarly publishing system for both journals and books.”

While the COPIM project focuses on book publishing, the issues surrounding both book and journal publishing are highly intertwined and part of a larger UC commitment to find sustainable and more transformative models for scholarly communication, as laid out in the UC Libraries’ “Pathways to Open Access” document released last year.

“The rising cost of journal subscriptions has also edged out the budget for books,” explained Joy. “More books are being published by more scholars than ever, and libraries are purchasing fewer of them. Some libraries have said maybe we won’t even be able to buy books at all if the journal subscriptions keep going up.”

Added Antelman, “When I started as a librarian around 1990, there was kind of an unspoken goal that you tried to balance your collections budget 50/50 between journals and monographs. The current balance in research libraries is closer to 80/20 in favor of journals. That whole balanced model was thrown out as journals became more and more expensive.”

The open access press Punctum Books is a COPIM participant, courtesy photo.

The open access press Punctum Books is a COPIM participant, courtesy photo.

Addressing the Hurdles

COPIM’s goal is to address the key technological, structural and organizational hurdles — around funding, production, dissemination, discovery, reuse and archiving — that are standing in the way of the wider adoption and impact of OA books. Joy, one of the authors of the grant proposal, noted, “COPIM involves fundamentally re-imagining the relationships between key players in academic book publishing.”

Further manifesting the concept of open access, as the team was writing the grant, they made it public on a website, “so people could see what we were doing, and with Hypothesis annotation software they could give us notes,” Joy said. “We are five presses run by academics and we’re trying to do things a little bit differently. We are working on questions like, ‘How can we create the tools for publishing more accessible and open source and how can we rewire the business model in collaboration with libraries and publishers?’

“We want to try to move to a model where everything’s in daylight, everything’s transparent and the books themselves are community-controlled and community-owned, and everything is done in collaboration and not competitively,” she continued. “It’s going to be interesting to see how that develops.”

The effort funded by COPIM includes seven interconnected work packages, two of which will be concentrated at UC Santa Barbara. The first, led by Joy in collaboration with Joe Deville of Lancaster University, will create new funding channels for open access book publishing, including devising new consortial funding models designed to maximize the ability of libraries to directly support open access publishers and content that best serves the needs of their highly localized constituencies.

The second, led by Barnes in collaboration with Janneke Adema of Coventry University, will develop new open access community governance models that will support the needs of a valuably diverse and hybrid community of open access publishers.

A Collaborative Effort

However, cooperation will be a common thread throughout all areas of the COPIM project.

“Collaboration is core to scholar-led OA publishing,” said Barnes. “We’ll be reaching out to international library organizations, societies and scholars, librarians and publishers, committed to building a more diverse scholarly communication system.

“Many UC Santa Barbara faculty members are also publishers and active members of their respective societies’ publishing programs,” she continued. “Their input will be valuable. There will be opportunities for faculty and students to participate in workshops and public events that will be held at UCSB. I encourage faculty and graduate students to join UCSB’s Scholarly Publishing and Communication Discussion List to stay abreast of developments and related local programming.”

Additional project participants include representatives from Birkbeck, University of London; Lancaster University; Trinity College, Cambridge; the Loughborough University Library; the ScholarLed consortium of established open access presses (Open Book Publishers, punctum books, Open Humanities Press, Mattering Press and meson press); infrastructure providers Directory of Open Access Books and Jisc; and the international membership organization The Digital Preservation Coalition.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on June 25, 2019.

UCSB Commencement 2019: Navigating the Vast Unknown

Graduate Division keynote speaker uses her own journey to inspire and uplift others

In the Samala Chumash language, the word “kalašpi” means “breathe on.” It also is the title of the speech Nicolasa (Niki) Sandoval will deliver as the keynote speaker at the Graduate Division’s 2019 commencement ceremony. A lecturer in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, Sandoval earned her Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara in 2007.

Niki Sandoval, courtesy UCSB Current.

Niki Sandoval, courtesy UCSB Current.

“Kalašpi,” Sandoval explained, is inspired by the work of graduate student and optical oceanographer James G. Allen. “As a scientist who draws from cartography, meteorology and geography, Allen’s research represents the currency and relevance of a rich, interdisciplinary graduate education that is unique to UC Santa Barbara,” Sandoval said. “I am utterly captivated by the fact that the ocean is breathing. The deeper the breath, the more turbulent the churning that happens in the darkness of the abyss, the more productive for life on earth.”

There are clear parallels with the process of engaging in advanced study and the extraordinary contributions of UC Santa Barbara’s graduates. “The churning they have set in motion through their work, their persistence through the enormous swells, and the new knowledge they are breathing into our world, illuminates our way forward,” she said.

Sandoval is no stranger to the concept of illuminating the way forward. As the first descendant of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to earn a doctorate, she said she “learned to navigate a vast unknown, with the assistance of good-hearted people who held high expectations for me, and is committed to being of service to others.”

Twice appointed by former California Governor Jerry Brown to the State Board of Education, where she currently serves, Sandoval says that her perspective and voice as a Native person and a Latina from the Central Coast region are important, but her primary task is to listen to diverse stakeholders. “Through my life experience and advanced study at UC Santa Barbara, I am keenly aware of inequities and systemic dysfunction that have plagued our educational systems,” she noted. “I hold open the possibility that growth occurs through conflict and that addressing the root cause of the conflict has a restorative effect. This transforms the challenge into an opportunity for growth and positive change.”

She acknowledges this is an uncomfortable but necessary tension to hold. “As a member of the California State Board of Education I am one of 11 people who set policy for more than 6 million students in grades K-12,” Sandoval said. “We adopt curricular frameworks and materials you see in classrooms and we aspire to make sure that all students are graduating ready for college and a career.”

Sandoval is also the education director of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, where she oversees a staff of 47 and works with elected tribal officials to guide educational policies and strategic investments to improve academic outcomes, promote self-sufficiency and nurture the next generation of leaders from birth through career.

In addition, as a lecturer at UC Santa Barbara, she has worked with more than 1,000 students seeking to become teachers, school psychologists or guidance counselors.

“Inviting out each person’s gifts requires connection, deep listening, and a lot of time. It also requires an understanding that there are different pathways through the educational process that are valid,” Sandoval said. “The ability to help others advance in their education, career, and fulfillment is a powerful reward.”

The Graduate Division Commencement Ceremony will take place Friday, June 14, at 1 p.m. on the Commencement Green.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on June 11, 2019.

Creating New Knowledge

Undergraduate Research Colloquium is part of Undergraduate Research Week. Previous Undergraduate Research Colloquium participants have represented disciplines across science and engineering and the social sciences, humanities and fine arts. Courtesy photo.

Undergraduate Research Colloquium is part of Undergraduate Research Week. Previous Undergraduate Research Colloquium participants have represented disciplines across science and engineering and the social sciences, humanities and fine arts. Courtesy photo.

A week of events spotlights undergraduate student-led research initiatives and projects

Many believe that no research is ever quite complete, and the true value of the work is that it opens the way for something better. Aiming to spread the joy that comes with educational discovery, UC Santa Barbara’s debut Undergraduate Research Week offers a variety of ways to share ideas.

“A university is supposed to be about the interchange of ideas and thought and I want to encourage as many students as possible to feel like they can be a part of that,” said Anne Charity Hudley, director of undergraduate research in the Office of Undergraduate Education and North Hall Endowed Chair in Linguistics, who is leading Undergraduate Research Week.

Last year’s two-day event was so popular that the undergraduate research showcase expands to a full week of events beginning Monday, May 6. The traditional Undergraduate Research Colloquium will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, May 7 and 8, in Corwin Pavilion.

“I’m really excited to see the number of projects grow,” said Charity Hudley. “The thing I like to emphasize to students is that you should share your work, no matter what stage you are in, rather than just thinking that it has to be a culminating experience. The actual discussion and sharing of ideas and information is the most important takeaway.”

Undergraduate Research Colloquium is part of Undergraduate Research Week. Previous Undergraduate Research Colloquium participants have represented disciplines across science and engineering and the social sciences, humanities and fine arts. Courtesy photo.

Undergraduate Research Colloquium is part of Undergraduate Research Week. Previous Undergraduate Research Colloquium participants have represented disciplines across science and engineering and the social sciences, humanities and fine arts. Courtesy photo.

The variety of projects on display will be rich and varied. Xochitl Briseno’s research — performed under the guidance of Rebeca Mireles Rios, an assistant professor in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education — explores the role of Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) in supporting the Latinx scholar. It also addresses the factors that contribute to the retention and persistence of Latinx students as well as the importance of an HSI’s role in supporting high-impact practices that provide a second form of engagement to aid the second through third year transition.

Graduating senior Erika Prado’s research sheds light on the interactional competence of autistic individuals. Prado will pursue a Ph.D. in comparative human development at the University of Chicago next fall, and credits her decision to do so in part to her undergraduate research experiences — with the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences’s Attention Lab, the Koegel Autism Center and as a McNair Scholar in the Department of Linguistics — as well as her work as a peer mentor for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA).

All undergraduate students had the option to participate in the Colloquium, which includes traditional poster presentations; Colloquium Unbound, which includes videos, graphic novels, board games, performances and other artifacts that represent the essence of the research; or the Undergraduate Research Slam, a lively competition in which students, vying for the $2,500 prize, present their research in three minutes or less to a panel of judges.

Charity Hudley encourages students, faculty and staff to attend any or all of Undergraduate Research Week. “It’s really celebrating the students’ achievements from a developmental perspective,” she said. “We expect these research projects to grow and change over time — the more that they can learn from each other the more that will also strengthen their research. It’s more than just a showcase to show your friends or your professors your research, it’s also a great opportunity to learn from seeing what other people are doing.”

Schedule of Events:

May 6 – Undergraduate Research Panels – Library 1312

10 a.m. URCA & FRAP Mentors, featuring:

•          Jennifer King, Geography

•          Nadège Clitandre, Global Studies

•           Stuart Feinstein, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology

•           Andrew Griffin, English

1 p.m. Newer Faculty, featuring:

•          Daniel Conroy-Beam, Psychology

•          Janet Bourne, Music

•          Anne H. Charity Hudley, Linguistics

3 p.m. Research Centers on Campus featuring:

•           Samantha Davis, Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships (CSEP)

•           Erin Nerstad, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC)

•           Linda Adler-Kassner, Center for Innovative Teaching, Research & Learning  (CITRAL)

5 p.m. Peter Felten of Elon University’s Center for Engaged Learning

May 7 – Undergraduate Research Colloquium – Corwin Pavilion

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Math, Life and Physical Sciences

May 8 – Undergraduate Research Colloquium – Corwin Pavilion

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Social Sciences, Humanities and Fine Arts

May 9 – Undergraduate Research Slam Finals – Old Little Theater

5:30 – 8 p.m. Sixteen finalists compete for the top prize of $2,500 the People Choice award of $1,000

May 10 – Undergraduate Research Trivia – CITRAL (Library 1576, ground floor Oceanside)

3 – 5 p.m. Put together your team and join in an afternoon of trivia

Originally published in the UCSB Current on May 3, 2019.

Dance Drives Dialogue

International colloquium in dance and performance studies addresses issues of race and racism in American classical ballet

The beauty and artistry of ballet can belie the sometimes painful truths that exist behind the dance.

Calvin Royal III and Unity Phelan in George Balanchine’s “Agon” (1957), Vail International Dance Festival 2018. Restaged by Heather Watts. Photo by Eric Baiano.

Calvin Royal III and Unity Phelan in George Balanchine’s “Agon” (1957), Vail International Dance Festival 2018. Restaged by Heather Watts. Photo by Eric Baiano.

“Those dances by George Balanchine and other 20th-century neoclassical choreographers reveal how the idiom of classical ballet has institutionalized and subverted American racism,” said Ninotchka D. Bennahum, a professor of dance and performance studies at UC Santa Barbara.

These ballets — such as the iconic, Civil Rights-era Balanchine ballet “Agon” from 1957 — reveal the complex relationship ballet and preeminent cultural institutions share with racial consciousness in the United States before and after World War II, she added. “Dance artists asked to undertake these roles have the capacity, the moral responsibility to shift our consciousness or to raise our consciousness. No work of art belongs solely to its time,” Bennahum said.

These topics and others will be considered when distinguished scholars and world-class performers gather Monday, April 29 in UC Santa Barbara’s ballet studio for the colloquium “Race, Ballet, American Dance,” a day of discussion and demonstration. Co-curated by Bennahum and Stephanie Batiste, an associate professor of English and of Black studies, the conference is the inaugural event of the International Colloquium for the Study of Dance and Performance Studies.

“We will pose the question, ‘What is the value of these actual works of ballet as historical archive?”

Combining elements of live performance and music, discussion and filmography, the multidisciplinary colloquium — which is free and open to the public — will explore the critical role of art in capturing and commenting on American history, specifically examining how racism has been institutionalized in American classical ballet.

“The history of the civil rights movement is written by ballet choreographers and modern choreographers,” said Bennahum. “Dancing bodies play a vital role in getting audiences, in raising public awareness to issues of injustice, to issues of joy and love and sexuality, and things that are not so easy to articulate with words.

“But these are not happenstance dances, these are dances that happened in very particular moments of time,” she added. “The relationship between African American vernacular dance, African American choreographed ballet and Russian, British, American ballet, really became a symbol of race relations in the United States.”

Participants will enter the event through a lobby exhibition featuring an archival collection of photographs curated by Bennahum from the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library, the largest and most comprehensive archive in the world devoted to the documentation of dance.

“I really feel that it’s very important for students that we show them dancing bodies they cannot see in Santa Barbara,” Bennahum said. “The gravitational center of dance in the world is New York and I just felt we had to bring it to them, and we had to bring it in the form of performance and in the form of art exhibit, images on the walls, so they see that this is an intellectual, academic subject they can study. But it cannot happen without performance because without that the archive is missing. You have to have a sense of the geography of the stage. For these kids learning to dance, to know and feel their way through history, kinesthetic awareness is really significant.”

Further to that end, the colloquium’s featured guests include Heather Watts, former principal dancer of New York City Ballet and a distinguished lecturer, who will present and stage two seminal works: George Balanchine’s “Agon,” with music by Igor Stravinsky, and Jerome Robbins’ “Afternoon of a Faun,” with music by Claude Debussy. The pieces will be danced by Calvin Royal III (principal dancer, American Ballet Theatre) and Unity Phelan (soloist, New York City Ballet), accompanied by New York City Ballet Orchestra pianist Cameron Grant.

“In different ways, at their premieres both Balanchine’s “Agon” (1957) and Robbins’ “Afternoon of a Faun” (1953) addressed issues of race,” said Watts. “I’m looking forward to sharing and examining these works at the colloquium, focusing on their impact felt not only in the mid-century civil rights era in which they were created, but also today as they live on through new generations of dancers.”

Also performing is Alicia Graf Mack, chair of dance at The Juilliard School and former principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Alonzo King/LINES. Her piece will be followed by a conversation with Lynn Garafola, professor emerita of dance at Barnard College, Columbia University and “preeminent ballet scholar in the United States who, with her husband (American historian Eric Foner of Columbia University) is a really important race scholar,” noted Bennahum. Garafola also will lecture on the African American Presence in Postwar American Dance.

An artists’ roundtable early in the day will provide insight direct from dancers themselves, while a later artist-scholar discussion will offer a multi-pronged analysis of what has taken place during the conference.

“My research on Black dance often has a lot to do with analysis of form and in terms of movement and repertoire,” Batiste said. “Dancers often think about dance in ways that are really different from how scholars think about dance. Those two approaches to how the body makes meaning together in one space show the value of what scholars bring and what dancers bring to same work of art.”

Batiste gave much of the credit to Bennahum for putting together the colloquium, while Bennahum extended credit to Watts, to donors John and Jody Arnhold and to Majewski. “Dance is very expensive,” said Bennahum. “Classical ballet is very expensive and they have made this possible for the university, and believed that UC Santa Barbara, above every other place in the country, was the place to create a laboratory, a think tank, about race and ballet.

“We’re at a very tense moment in history,” she concluded. “Art plays a significant role in that conversation in these moments in time.”

Originally published in the UCSB Current on April 23, 2019.

Celebrating 60 Years

Six decades strong, Arts & Lectures keeps education at the core of its mission

Ma’s visit to Santa Barbara — which includes a free, open-to-the-public, master class with UC Santa Barbara students, and the above-mentioned lecture, “Culture, Understanding and Survival” — marks a high point for the program.

“Our relationship with Yo-Yo is very special,” said Celesta M. Billeci, A&L’s Miller McCune Executive Director. “I think it’s unique to any program in the country, and I can say with confidence he has a very special relationship with us.” That relationship, she added, extends to Chancellor Henry T. Yang and his wife, Dilling.

This season, A&L has also co-commissioned a project with the Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble, founded by Ma in 1998. The genre-defying global musicians will perform the world premiere of “Take Their Stands” Friday, April 26, at the Granada.

“This is really research in action in the arts,” Billeci said. “We gave the money to this ensemble to create new work. They’ve created five new pieces they will premiere and will tour all over the world. And we did this here at UCSB. So that’s a real testament to the quality of this program and to being a leader in the arts.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Yannick Lebrun and Sarah Daley. Photo Credit: ANDREW ECCLES.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Yannick Lebrun and Sarah Daley. Photo Credit: ANDREW ECCLES.

During the week prior to their performance, the musicians will be on campus working with students in the music, dance and religious studies departments and in the Givertz School of Education.

For example, Silkroad members Haruka Fuji and Sandeep Das will conduct a lecture/demonstration and Kayhan Kalhor will conduct a Dastgah practicum in world music; Kojiro Umezaki and Cristina Pato will hold a workshop with Gevirtz School of Education student teachers; Ahmad Sadri and Wu Tong will lead a meet-the-artist conversation on Asian religious traditions; and Aparna Ramaswamy will share Bharatnatyam dance traditions with students in the theater and dance department.

Education, Billeci stressed, is at the heart of A&L’s programming. “Its purpose is to really be intertwined with the academic program and be a supplement for the academic experience of students on this campus,” she said. “It’s not peripheral; it’s definitely to the core of the academic mission.”

To that end, Billeci, Associate Director Roman Baratiak and their team, particularly program manager Heather Silva, work closely with academic departments and individual faculty members to set priorities for the types of lectures and performances they bring to campus. “The speakers and artists we bring are not just coming here and doing their public presentation,” explained Caitlin O’Hara, A&L writer and publicist. “They’re going to campus for class events or master classes. They’re very heavily enmeshed in the campus as part of their stay.”

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s recent visit is a prime example. Prior to her public lecture she met with honors students from the College of Letters and Science. “Frankly, I think some of our speakers are shocked at how much we expect them to do,” Baratiak quipped.

“We also present a lot of free events for students,” added Billeci, noting the recent concert with ukulele wizard Jake Shimabukuro in Storke Plaza. “This is the second time we’ve had him do that. He did it before and the students went nuts for him. They just love him. And he just loves them. He’s a great ambassador for our program and for music overall.”

Plans to bring performers to A&L are often in the works years ahead of time. With the dance series, for instance, Billeci meets with faculty members several times throughout the year to understand who they are interested in having come to campus. Professors and lecturers often build class visits into their curricula, and when these companies perform, hundreds of students are in the audience.

“On our lecture side, our education coordinator will reach out to academic departments and individual faculty members and say, ‘Here’s an opportunity,’” explained Baratiak. They can elect to send their students to an event or, if time can be spared in the performer’s or presenter’s schedule, he or she might meet with students. “We have collaborations with the College of Creative Studies, the writing program, pretty much most departments,” he added.

“I think we’ve got one of the most exciting and interesting public lecture programs in the country,” said Baratiak, whose 40-year tenure with the program began when he was a student at UC Santa Barbara. “So it’s obviously something that I think all of us are proud of here at A&L.”

Baratiak is particularly enthusiastic, he added, about the annual free summer film series presented at the Santa Barbara Courthouse in collaboration with the Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture.

The truth is, over the last 60 years, A&L has enabled Santa Barbara audiences to spend time with some incredible individuals and performers: Upton Sinclair, Robert Oppenheimer, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Allen Ginsberg and The Dalai Lama (on three separate occasions), to name a few.

In addition to Yo-Yo Ma, A&L has more recently brought to the local stage Joan Baez, Trevor Noah, Laurie Anderson, Gloria Steinem, Bill T. Jones, the NYC Ballet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Sonny Rollins and Twyla Tharp.

A&L also presented talks by Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai (“We were the only university in the country that got that date,” Billeci pointed out) and comedian Jon Stewart (“We presented him to 5,000 students in the Thunderdome”), and a concert by alumnus Jack Johnson, who performed at Harder Stadium.

The talk by former vice president Joe Biden at the Arlington Theater also stands out. “We were doing a free simulcast for students on the campus, and as soon as it ended he jumped in the car and came to campus to meet with the students who’d watched the simulcast,” recalled O’Hara. “He sat and talked with them. I’ve had so many students talk to me and say how impactful that was.”

Similarly, a recent — and free — lecture by Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo Movement, also was a high point for students, according to O’Hara. So many students wanted to hear her talk that simulcasts to overflow rooms were required to accommodate them.

“If you go back 60 years,” Billeci remarked, “this program is really really amazing.”

On the community outreach side, the A&L initiative dearest to Billeci’s heart is ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! The program offers free performances and educational activities to students, at-risk youth and families in Santa Barbara County. “We have made the long-term commitment to bring high quality arts — not average or mediocre — the very best in music and dance to these communities and to the folks who live there,” Billeci said.

Putting on more than 100 events every year is a team effort, and Billeci is quick to credit the contributions of A&L staff, which includes roughly 75 work-study students. “Often Roman and I get a lot of credit, but this does not work without the amazing group of people that make this machine move,” she said. “For the size of this program — a nationally respected, top-five program in the country — this group of people is so dedicated and so hard working and it’s my privilege and my pleasure to work with them every day.”

More information about A&L, including and a schedule of events, is available at www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.

Originally published in the UCSB Current on April 19, 2019.

UCSB Arts Walk

UCSB’s Department of MusicDepartment of Theater and DanceDepartment of ArtCollege of Creative StudiesArt, Design & Architecture MuseumMultiCultural Center and Library to host an open house of visual & performing arts

UCSB presents the inaugural UCSB Arts Walk on Wednesday, April 11, from 4:30-8 p.m. at various locations across the campus. The event gives students, faculty, staff and community members the opportunity to visit galleries and studios, watch preview performances and behind-the-scenes rehearsals, and participate in programming designed to highlight the artistic creativity and talent of the UCSB community. Best of all, everything is free of charge.

The Art, Design, & Architecture Museum has several exhibitions on display, including Chiura Obata: An American Modern, UCSB Campus Architecture: Design and Social Change, Jane Gottlieb Photographs France, and Keith Puccinelli. In addition, the museum hosts a Kitchell Architecture and Design lecture at 6 p.m., featuring UCSB Associate Campus Architect, Dennis Whelan. Whelan recounts the history of UC Santa Barbara campus planning and design, in conjunction with the Museum’s exhibition.

Image by Jane Gottlieb, currently on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Image by Jane Gottlieb, currently on view at UCSB Art, Design & Architecture Museum.

Highlights from the Department of Music include an open rehearsal of a faculty duet featuring cellist Jennifer Kloetzel and pianist Robert Koenig, plus performances by members of the Chamber Choir, Music of India Ensemble, Flute Choir, Jazz Combos, Middle East Ensemble, Chamber Players, Clarinet Choir, Gamelan Ensemble, and more. Guests can interact directly with performers during Q&A sessions following several of the events, such as a performance of scenes from UCSB Opera Theatre’s February production of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and composition graduate student Brandon J. Rolle’s electro-acoustic music exhibition.

The Department of Theater and Dance also presents a wide variety of performances, open rehearsals, and exhibitions, including an open rehearsal for the department’s upcoming production of Cabaret (May 25-June 3), as well as performances by UCSB Dance BFA students in outdoor spaces surrounding the Theater and Dance buildings. The UCSB Dance Company and Freshmen Dance Company presents a special concert in the Old Ballet Studio (HSSB), while exhibitions showcasing puppets and work by UCSB Design students are also on display. Interactive playwright showcase stations will give guests the unique opportunity to work with student playwrights to compose novelty pieces on the spot.

On view from the Department of Art are multiple exhibitions of student work in the Art Building #534 and at the Red Barn Project Space in the Old Gym, Building #479, (near the bus loop by the Pollock Theater). Highlights include an exhibit of senior artwork in the GlassBox Gallery in Arts 1328, and from 7 p.m. on, Windows—a sampler of videos from Maya Gurantz’s “Intermediate Digital Video” class projected from the second story windows of Arts 2220, overlooking the bike path. In the Red Barn Project Space, UCSB Womanhouse Collective presents SHE-DEN, an intersectional, multi-media group exhibit exploring the place of women in contemporary art and culture.

The MultiCultural Center’s lounge features an exhibition by UCSB graduate student Andrew Morrison, entitled “Indian Heritage,” a Native American art exhibition that compliments his film, Great Walls of Indian Heritage. This exhibit speaks to all walks of life, its genesis is from the red road, and the American Indian Student Association inspires its vitality. The exhibit is on display in the MultiCultural Center Lounge through June 15, with an opening reception on April 12 at 6 p.m.

The College of Creative Studies (CCS), which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary during the current academic year, offers a glimpse into the work of the College’s Art, Music Composition, and Writing and Literature students in the CCS Gallery and the Old Little Theater. An exhibition of student artwork fills the CCS Gallery, while the Old Little Theater’s programming includes performances of Music Composition students’ original pieces as well as readings from Writing & Literature students and faculty.

Event link: https://www.library.ucsb.edu/artswalk

Directions and parking information: https://www.library.ucsb.edu/directions-parking

Campus map: http://www.aw.id.ucsb.edu/maps/ucsbmap.html

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 9, 2018.

 

Phoebe Brunner: Breathe

Phoebe Brunner, "Silver Threads," oil on canvas, 30 x 54."

Phoebe Brunner, “Silver Threads,” oil on canvas, 30 x 54.”

Sullivan Goss Gallery presents new work by acclaimed local artist Phoebe Brunner in her second solo exhibition for the gallery, titled “Breathe.” The show opens April 5, with a 1st Thursday reception from 5-8 p.m.

The gallery describes Brunner’s latest body of vibrant work as “connecting to the earth around us as it regenerates from a long lack of rain. Poppies explode, scattering their seeds to the wind for the next season of flowers. Roads lead through winding hills verdant with fresh grass. Clouds settle in to canyons to coat the hills with moisture. While her views are primarily imaginative, we are drawn to them by sense of memory for a place we have visited or more accurately, the familiarity of worlds we have wandered in our dreams. This remarkable group of paintings reminds us to take a collective breath. Spring is coming, bringing regeneration and a continuation of nature’s endless cycle.”

Phoebe Brunner, "Rain, Happy Hour," oil on canvas, 30 x 22."

Phoebe Brunner, “Rain, Happy Hour,” oil on canvas, 30 x 22.”

Brunner earned a BFA from UCSB and trained at Otis Art Institute, Chouinard Art Institute and the University of Guadalajara. She has been exhibiting in the Santa Barbara area for 40 years and brings a local’s knowledge of the terrain together with a visionary artist’s sense of interpretation.

The exhibition remains on view at Sullivan Goss Gallery, 11 E. Anapamu St., through June 3. For more information, visit www.sullivangoss.com or www.facebook.com/sullivan.goss or call 805/730-1460.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on April 4, 2018.