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Syracuse Marks National Arts and Humanities Month: University Celebrates ‘Importance of Culture’ with Spate of Events, Activities
October is National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM), and Syracuse University is marking the occasion with an array of events and activities.
Vivian May, director of the Humanities Center, says most of the University’s NAHM-related programming originates in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), SUArt Galleries and Syracuse University Libraries.
“NAHM raises awareness of the arts and humanities, while sparking creative partnerships,” says May, also a professor of women’s and gender studies in A&S. “There is no shortage of scholarly and creative projects on campus.”
May considers the arts and humanities vital to Syracuse’s research mission, whether faculty are integrating art into STEM education or students are using scientific methods to understand and interpret the world. “NAHM recognizes the importance of culture not just during October but throughout the entire year,” she adds.
The following is a snapshot of arts and humanities events this month on campus:
College of Arts and Sciences
Home of the humanities, A&S sponsors a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary initiatives. Chief among them is the Humanities Center—a hub of research activity, fellowships, visiting professorships and public programming, located in the historic Tolley Building.
The Humanities Center presents Syracuse Symposium, an annual public events series with an overarching theme. This year’s symposium looks at the meaning and impact of storytelling from diverse perspectives and genres.
As part of NAHM, Syracuse Symposium will present the exhibition “Look Now: Facing Breast Cancer,” Oct. 11-31; a lecture about spirituality and sacred space by Williams College geographer Nicolas Howe, Oct. 12; a panel discussion about slave narratives and identity, Oct. 21; and a University Lecture by “Handmaid’s Tale” author Margaret Atwood, Oct. 25. For details, visit humcenter.syr.edu.
The Humanities Center also sponsors competitive fellowships and visiting professorships. This year’s Dissertation Fellows are Lorenza D’Angelo and Adam Kozaczka, Ph.D. candidates in philosophy and English, respectively.
Joining them are two Public Humanities Graduate Fellows: Camilla Bell and Gemma Cooper-Novack, Ph.D. candidates in the School of Education. Their work is supported in part by the Mellon-funded Central New York Humanities Corridor (a program of the Humanities Center) and Humanities New York.
May is pleased to welcome this year’s Faculty Fellows: Myrna García-Calderón (Spanish), Michael Rieppel (philosophy), Carol Fadda (English) and Albrecht Diem (history). Preparations also are underway for a spring semester mini-residency by Larry Blumenfeld, the Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor, who is a culture reporter and music critic for The Wall Street Journal.
May’s work is complemented by that of Dorri Beam, new chair of the Humanities Council. Composed mostly of departmental chairs and program directors in A&S, the council partners with the Humanities Center, the Humanities Corridor and Syracuse Universities Libraries to assure the humanities have, in May’s words, a “robust, dynamic presence” on campus.
“The study of the humanities encourages interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge, problem solving, communal life, research techniques and classroom dynamics,” says Beam, also an associate professor of English. “Our faculty are known for their internationally recognized research and for creating opportunities for intellectual exchange.”
Case in point: The Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program and Department of Psychology kicked off NAHM with a visit by Baba Brinkman. A self-described “white, Canadian, peer-reviewed science rapper,” he presented his award-winning show “The Rap Guide to Consciousness” in Hendricks Chapel.
“It was an interdisciplinary, multimedia experience, showing how science and the humanities work together. ’The Rap Guide to Consciousness’ is to neuroscience what [the musical] ‘Hamilton’ is to history,’” one observer recalls.
Other October events in A&S include the following:
- The Raymond Carver Reading Series, featuring novelist Robert Lopez on Wednesday, Oct. 10, and Katie Kitamura, The Leonard and Elise Elman Visiting Writer, on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Both readings are at 5:30 p.m. in Gifford Auditorium.
- A lecture by art historian Ittai Weinryb about his new exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center called “Agents of Faith: Votive Objects in Time and Space.” Glenn Peers, newly appointed professor of art history, is organizing the lecture, which is Thursday, Oct. 11, from 5-7 p.m. in Maxwell Auditorium.
- The Joseph and Amelia Borgognoni Lecture in Catholic Theology and Religion in Society, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Catonsville Nine, on Monday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. in Maxwell Auditorium.
- Artist LaToya Hobbs’ solo show “Salt of the Earth,” exploring perceptions of Black womanhood, running through Nov. 3 at the Community Folk Art Center.
College of Visual and Performing Arts
While Baba Brickman was freestyling in Hendricks, another Canadian artist—trumpeter, singer and songwriter Bria Skonberg—was hitting all the right notes in Setnor Auditorium. Her performance marked the culmination of a three-day residency in the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music.Setnor is one of six schools and departments in VPA, which is presenting more than 50 events in October. They include the following:
- An exhibition of Tyrolean-styled dirndl skirts called “High on a Hill Is a Lonely Dirndl,” running through Oct. 12 at the Sue & Leon Genet Gallery.
- A concert by the Invoke Quartet, part of the Setnor Guest Artist Series, on Tuesday, Oct. 9, from 8-9 p.m. in Setnor Auditorium.
- The Syracuse International Film Festival, highlighting music and fashion icon Grace Jones, Oct. 10-14 at various locations throughout Syracuse.
- The School of Art’s Visiting Artist Lecture series, with illustrator Mike Curato ’03, on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 6:30 p.m. in Shemin Auditorium.
- The Department of Drama’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” Oct. 12-21 at Syracuse Stage.
More information is at vpa.syr.edu/calendar.
Syracuse University Art Galleries
SUArt Galleries has six exhibitions going on during NAHM, between Main Campus and Lubin House in New York City.
Two of the exhibitions—“Forbidden Fruit: Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s America” and “Rodin: The Human Experience/Selections from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collections”—have been the subject of gallery talks by David Prince, associate director and curator of collections of SUArt Galleries, and Romita Ray, associate professor of art, as well as chair of art and music histories in A&S.
The Kuniyoshi exhibition, curated by Prince, examines the artist’s life and career through his 1950 painting, “Forbidden Fruit,” which is housed in the University’s permanent art collection. Kuniyoshi’s lifelong desire to become naturalized was thwarted by a perfect storm of arcane government regulations, World War II and the Cold War, Prince says.
A regular presenter in the Galleries’ Lunchtime Lecture series, Prince also will discuss “Rodin and Syracuse” on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 12:15 p.m. at SUArt Galleries. He will consider sculptures by several noted students of Rodin, including Ivan Meštrović, whom Rodin called the “greatest phenomenon amongst sculptors.”
A sculptor-in-residence and professor of sculpture at Syracuse from 1947 to 1955, Meštrović has inspired students and scholars alike. His work in the University’s art collection and papers in the Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) drew Fulbright Scholar Dalibor Prancevic from Croatia to campus earlier this year. They also shaped a prize-winning Honors Capstone project by Tammy Hong ’18.
Located on the sixth floor of Bird Library, the SCRC presents “We Remember Them: The Legacy of Pan Am Flight 103.” The nine-month exhibition, which began last month, commemorates the 30th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The incident claimed the lives of 270 people from 21 countries, including 35 Syracuse students returning home from a semester abroad.“Whether through scholarship, public advocacy, art or physical memorials, we ensure their lives and the lessons learned from their deaths are not forgotten,” says Pan Am 103 Archivist and Assistant University Archivist Vanessa St.Oegger-Menn. “The exhibition documents not only the terrorist act itself, but also the lives of those lost and the ways in which they are remembered.”Adds Vivian May, “No matter who you are or where you live, there are many ways to celebrate the arts and humanities. Syracuse is committed to cultivating collaboration, active exchange and a sustained dialogue among our students, faculty and community partners. NAHM is one way we do this.”
NAHM is a coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in the United States. Americans for the Arts launched the event 30 years ago, but reestablished it in 1993 as a month-long celebration.
NAHM focuses on the arts at local, state, and national levels; encourages individuals and organizations to participate in the arts; allows governments and businesses to show their support of the arts; and raises public awareness about the role the arts and humanities play in our communities and lives. More information is at americansforthearts.org.