Eastern to hold Ninth Annual Service Expo and Awards Ceremony

WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/11/2018) Eastern Connecticut State University will hold its annual Service Expo and Awards Ceremony on April 19 from 2-5 p.m. in the lobby of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. Sponsored by the Center for Community Engagement (CCE), the event will showcase the numerous service projects being spearheaded by Eastern students in the Windham area.

Student volunteers will present posters describing their projects, which have occurred at more than 30 sites in the region. Guest judges from the community and Eastern faculty and staff will present awards for the best programs.

Awards will be given to the following individuals: Service Learning Award – Denise Matthews, professor of communication at Eastern; Community Program Award – Christy Calkins and Journey House Program at Natchaug Hospital; and Community Engagement Awards to Nancy Brennan, Interfaith Campus Ministry, Erin Corbett and student Makayla Mowel.

The expo will kick off with keynote speaker Erin Corbett of Second Chances, an education program within the Connecticut prison system. The event is open to the public. For more information, contact the CCE at (860) 465-0090.

The Artists of ‘Mom and Dad’ Explain their Work

Kalen Na’il Roach stands before one of his pieces in the Art Gallery.

Written by Casey Collins

The Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University is exhibiting “Mom & Dad” from March 8 to April 19. The exhibit features a collection of long-term photographic projects from artists Nelson Chan, Kalen Na’il Roach and Mariela Sancari. On March 22, Chan and Roach held an artist talk at the opening reception to discuss the motivations behind their snapshots.

Nelson Chan addresses the crowd at the exhibition’s opening reception.

For Chan, a picture is priceless. The thought and precision needed to capture exactly what he wants within the 8×10 frame exceeds any sort of limits he could imagine. Yet he assigns very specific values to each photo that stem from a reason, a memory, a longing or desire to understand the true meaning of family.

For decades, Chan’s parents lived apart from each other. While his mother resided in New Jersey, his father often spent his time running the family toy business in Hong Kong. Their relationship was one of cold and silence, yet some equal level of understanding. For Chan, it was especially difficult to understand this at such a young age, all the while splitting time between the two homes.

To better understand his parents’ relationship, Chan undertook “Mom & Dad,” a photographical exploration of his parent’s relationship. Now 13 years into the project, Chan explained what it has taken for him to reach this point in the work where he is ready to share the shots.

“They were embracing in their office, and I thought it was a very tender moment between the two of them,” he recalls. “I remember saying to myself that I would give the shot to my mother as a gift. When she came back to New Jersey I gave it to her and she was not happy about it at all. This photograph that I describe as my parents embracing each other was actually my mother embracing my father, and my father, who was very distant, looking out into the distance. When she opened it, she whispered something to herself, and I heard it. She said, ‘He doesn’t love me anymore.'”

Chan described the moment as earth-shattering to him. At the time he was simply a college student trying to figure out what it meant to be a photographer. For a truth like this to come from a gift of good intentions was mind-blowing to him, and helped him discover the unintentional power that photographs can truly contain.

An arrangement of photographs by Nelson Chan.

“In that moment I realized pictures can mean so many different things to so many different people,” said Chan. “I decided I would begin this project of photographing my family after college. Not just to better understand my family, but to better understand myself.”

While Chan takes a more traditional approach to presenting his work, Kalen Na’il Roach has mastered the unorthodox. His art hangs from the gallery walls in the form of vibrant cloth banners. Images of men from decades past center the streamers, a collage of different backgrounds and colors laid out behind them. It is as dazzling as it is confusing to the eye. The men are Roach’s family members, a theme central to his art.

Art had been an integral part of Roach’s family lineage dating back generations. His father was a photographer and his grandfather was a painter and jazz musician. Before he became a photographer Roach was a talented painter himself, but, “It was my father who put the camera in my hands first.” His father passed away in October 2017.

Roach’s fascination with his family’s work stems from a vast collection of photographs left behind by his father and grandfather. “I had found these images that my father took at parties. He would take these portraits of people and sell them for $5 a pop,” said Roach. “One day I found these images that he hadn’t sold, and they were all pictures of my family, I was shocked at the performance of it all and how much photography can be performance; how it relates to portraiture; and how it related to my experience with my family members. In the pictures they were putting on their best selves, but I knew so much more.”

The more he mined this archive of photos, the deeper his understanding grew, but it was never enough. While Roach’s ultimate goal of his art is to honor the legacies his father and grandfather, he also yearned to fully comprehend the relationships of his family especially that of his mother and father. While the two were close, they were not together- separating when Roach was three years old. Despite all the photos of his family he had unearthed, one of the hardest things for Roach was that he did not have a photograph of him and his parents. It was only a short time ago that he set out on one of his most ambitious projects yet- to take that coveted photograph.

A photograph by Mariela Sancari.

“I tricked them into doing a shoot together,” explained Roach. “I told them to wear black and meet me at my mom’s basement, and that it was an emergency and that I needed them both. I knew there was no other way to do it. I needed to create this image of them together because we didn’t have it.”

Roach describes how he used this photo for his first-ever solo show, the deeper motivations behind the shot, and what it took to capture this elusive moment. “I was playing with the idea of what our family really was and what our family looks like,” said Roach. “I thought it was going to be like pulling teeth, but once we got together they were all-in. We had a great time, but I forced them to be stoic. I told them what to be, how to look and how to act. I was so controlling with it because I wanted it to be as made up of a picture as possible, so when you looked at the awkwardness of it you could see the tension. It was an acronym of what two people who have a kid together and aren’t together anymore- but love each other- is.”

Although she was not able to attend the opening reception, Sancari did leave a message explaining the meaning behind her portion of the gallery. Her photography explores how memory shapes identity, and how it shades into fiction. In her photographic series “Moisés,” Sancari confronts the lingering uncertainties surrounding her father’s life and death by photographing men in their 70s- the age her father would be today had he not committed suicide when she was a child.

The Art Gallery is located in Room 112 of the Fine Arts Instructional Center, on the Eastern Connecticut State University campus. Gallery hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 11 to 5 p.m.; Thursdays from 1-7 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 2-5 p.m. Parking is available in the Cervantes parking garage and in the Student Center parking lot. For more information regarding this and other exhibitions at The Art Gallery, please call (860) 465-4659 or visit www.easternct.edu/artgallery.

Eastern Professor Anne Dawson wins 2018 Ruth Emery Award

Written by Casey Collins

WILLIMANTIC, CT (03/28/2018) Anne Dawson, professor of art history at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been announced as the unanimous winner of the 2018 Victorian Society in America Ruth Emery Award. Her book, “Rare Light,” explores the life and career of American impressionist J. Alden Weir, an artist who created some of his most notable works while living in Windham, CT. The Ruth Emery Award recognizes top scholarly work on 19th-century regional history.

The book is rated 4.5 out of five stars on Amazon, receiving numerous positive reviews from critics. “Within a growing body of distinguished literature on American art, the volume sparkles with rich historical detail and fresh archival research,” said Patricia McDonnell, director of the Wichita Art Museum. “As editor and lead author, Anne Dawson makes a meaningful contribution to our knowledge of American impressionism through the lens of a finely focused study.”

“Rare Light” was one of 109 titles submitted for the awards, which included categories in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and young readers. Each category was reviewed by a panel of five judges, all with substantial expertise in the literary arts. The books were reviewed over a course of three months, with each category critiqued according to a specifically assigned criteria. Of the 109 books, only 17 were selected for the list of finalists.

Dawson has been an Eastern faculty member for 24 years, and now serves as chair of the Art and Art History Department.

 

Eastern Art Gallery presents “Mom & Dad”

Written by Michael Rouleau

WILLIMANTIC, CT (03/12/2018) The Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present “Mom & Dad” from March 8 to April 19. On March 22 from 3-4 p.m. there will be a gallery talk with exhibiting artists Nelson Chan and Kalen Na’il Roach, followed by an opening reception from 4-6 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

“Mom & Dad” brings together Chan, Roach and fellow artist Mariela Sancari, who investigate their personal and familial histories through long-term photographic series and installations.

Chan’s photographs follow his parents as they travel back and forth between the United States and Hong Kong, where their business is based. His project is both an intimate portrait of his parents’ lives and relationship and a snapshot of larger processes of globalization and economic migration.

Roach works with and within his family’s archive. By painting, drawing and pasting over family photographs, he searches for the family he knows beneath the seamless illusion of the photographic surface.

Like Roach, Sancari explores how memory shapes identity-and how it shades into fiction. In her photographic series “Moisés,” Sancari confronts the lingering uncertainties surrounding her father’s life and death by photographing men in their 70s–the age her father would be today had he not committed suicide when she was a child.

The Art Gallery is located in room 112 of the Fine Arts Instructional Center, on the Eastern Connecticut State University campus. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 1-7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2-5 p.m. Parking is available in Cervantes Garage and in the Student Center parking lot. For more information regarding this and other exhibitions at the Art Gallery, please call (860) 465-4659 or visit on the website at http://www.easternct.edu/artgallery.

Eastern Makes “College Consensus” List of Top Colleges in Connecticut

Written by Ed Osborn

WILLIMANTIC, CT (01/26/2018) College Consensus, a unique new college review aggregator, has recognized Eastern Connecticut State University in its ranking of “Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18.” Eastern was ranked in the top 10 schools in Connecticut, and was one of only two public institutions chosen, the University of Connecticut being the other.

To identify the Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18, College Consensus averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems, including U.S. News and World Report among others, along with thousands of student review scores, to produce a unique rating for each school. Read about the organization’s methodology at https://www.collegeconsensus.com/about.

“Congratulations on making the list of Best Colleges in Connecticut for 2017-18,” said Carrie Sealey-Morris, managing editor of College Consensus. “Your inclusion in our ranking shows that your school has been recognized for excellence by both publishers on the outside and students and alumni on the inside.”

Part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, Eastern began its life in 1889 as a public normal school. Today the University is recognized as one of top 25 public universities in the North Region by U.S. News & World Report, and has been named one of the nation’s Green Colleges eight years in a row by the Princeton Review.

Eastern is Connecticut’s public liberal arts college, with a student body of 5,300 students; more than 90 percent of Eastern’s students are from Connecticut. Eastern’s size gives its students an uncommon degree of individualized attention, aided by a 15:1 student/faculty ratio and a strong commitment to student success.

In addition to a strong liberal art foundation, Eastern has many opportunities for students to engage in practical, hands-on learning, ranging from internships to study abroad, community service and undergraduate research. For instance, Eastern has sent more student researchers to the competitive National Conference on Undergraduate Research in the past four years than all the other public universities in Connecticut combined. In 2018, 41 of the 44 students from Connecticut who will present their research at the conference in April are from Eastern.

With its history, Eastern is also one of Connecticut’s foremost educators of teachers, and its professional studies and continuing education programs have made it an important institution for Connecticut’s working adults.

To see Eastern’s College Consensus profile, visit https://www.collegeconsensus.com/school/eastern-connecticut-state-university.

Eastern’s Imna Arroyo Presents Artwork

             Professor Emeritus Imna Arroyo Exhibits “Ancestors of the Passage”

                                               at William Benton Museum of Art

Written by Casey Collins

Eastern Connecticut State University Professor Emeritus Imna Arroyo will present her installation “Ancestors of the Passage” at the William Benton Museum of Art. The installation will be on display from Jan. 18 to March 11, with an opening reception on Jan. 25 from 4:30-7 p.m.

“Ancestors of the Passage” is a multimedia installation composed of 27 terracotta ceramic figures, each one cast in a blue sea of acrylic canvas and silk fabric. The figures have a blank stare on their face as they reach a hand out toward the viewer.

The inspiration for the installation comes from Viet Thanh Nguyen’s “The Refugees,” and the histories of voluntary and involuntary immigration that brought us to become American.” Much like Nguyen’s work, Arroyo’s installation explores the forced immigration of slaves from Africa.

Entrance to the reception is free and open to the public. For more information regarding the installation, please contact the William Benton Museum of Art at (860) 486-4520.

Eastern’s Rahmanifar Exhibits in NYC

Afarins Arnavaz_and_ShahrnazWritten by Casey Collins

From Nov. 17 to Dec. 22, Brooklyn’s SOHO20 Gallery will present “Women of Shahnameh, The Memories Between,” an exhibition by Afarin Rahmanifar, art professor at Eastern Connecticut State University. For Rahmanifar, who resides in Manchester, this will be her first time on display at the prestigious New York gallery – in the past month she was also featured at the ArtWalk Gallery in Hartford, CT, and the Hans Weiss Newspace at Manchester Community College.

Self-described as having “intersecting points of Eastern and Western culture,” Rahmanifar’s work is a reflection of her life as a young exile of Iran and a proud American mother. As a child, Rahmanifar’s family was forced to abandon her home in Tehran, Iran, in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. She later came to America, where her passion for art led her to earning a master’s in fine arts at the University of Connecticut.

“Women of Shahnameh, The Memories Between,” is a masterful collection of different art forms, including painting, installation and animated motion picture. The exhibition draws inspiration from “Shahnameh” (“The Book of Kings”). The book is the world’s longest poem, and is a staple of Iranian mythology, telling the stories of magic, superheroes and love. Rahmanifar’s exhibition translates the epic into short films and original stories that tell modernized tales of the women of Shahnameh, while still encapsulating the main themes of love, dreams and demons.

“Women of Shahnameh, The Memories Between” is on display until Dec. 22. For more information, call (718) 366-3661 or visit https://www.facebook.com/pg/soho20gallery/about/?ref=page_internal.

Eastern Students Present Art Work

                                                  ‘Spectrum’ and ‘Towards Eternity’ in December

Spectrum Towards_EternityWritten by Michael Rouleau

Students in Eastern Connecticut State University’s “Museums and Exhibitions” course will host two art shows this December. “Spectrum,” an emotional exhibition about the psychology of color, will be displayed from Dec. 4-8 in room 224 of Wood Support Services. “Towards Eternity,” an exhibition about spirituality across the world, will be displayed from Dec. 5-13 on the first floor of the Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC).

“Colors have an unspoken yet powerful effect on us,” wrote the students in a press release for “Spectrum,” which will have an opening reception on Dec. 5 from 5-7 p.m. “Our collection shows a variety of pieces that emulate what each color represents. We aim to inspire viewers to question the use of color not only in art, but in the world around us.”

Spectrum student art flyer“Spectrum” will feature work from students Anning Antwi, Dylan Waddington, Isabella Zira and Amber Dickinson, as well as global artists including Jack Youngerman, Katerina Stepanova and Ilya Bolotowsky. Gallery hours are Dec. 4 from 12-6 p.m.; Dec. 5 from 2-7 p.m.; Dec. 6 from 12-7 p.m.; Dec. 7 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Dec. 8 from 12-6 p.m.

Regarding “Towards Eternity,” students wrote: “The exhibition will feature objects from all around the world such as a Tibetan prayer wheel and Native American headdresses. Guests will find the exhibition educational, as extensive research into various spiritual beliefs ranging from Christianity to Cannibalism will be displayed.” Light snacks and refreshments will be served at the show’s reception on Dec. 5 from 5-7 p.m. on the first floor of the FAIC.

Both shows are the product of the course “Museums and Exhibitions,” which is led by Art Professor Gail Gelburd. For more information, contact Gelburd at gelburdg@easternct.edu or the art department at (860) 465-0197.

Visitors to Eastern are reminded that the Art Gallery, located at room 112 of the FAIC, continues to present “Mars,” a sound art installation by contemporary artist Sean Langlais, until Nov. 2. Art Gallery hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursdays from 1-7 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 2-5 p.m. For more information regarding “Mars” and upcoming exhibitions at the Art Gallery, call (860) 465-4659 or visit www.easternct.edu/artgallery.

Admission to all shows is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Cervantes parking garage and in the Student Center parking lot.

Education for Democracy at Eastern

•Rick Battistoni leads the conference's keynote discussion

Rick Battistoni leads the conference’s keynote discussion

Written by Michael Rouleau

Eastern Connecticut State University hosted its second annual Civic Action Conference on Nov. 8. to dissect the practice of “service learning” and its impact on students and society. Service learning is a mutually beneficial teaching strategy that aligns classroom learning with community efforts. Organized by the Center for Community Engagement, the conference featured insights from Eastern faculty and students – Rick Battistoni, who teaches public/community service studies at Providence College, was the keynote speaker.

•Professor Terry Lennox presents on her class's service learning work with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

Professor Terry Lennox presents on her class’s service learning work with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

“Why connect classroom to community?” asked Terry Lennox, digital art and design professor. She had three answers: Working in the real world accelerates the learning process. Secondly, when students can see their impact, they realize the value of their work. Thirdly, service learning is great for portfolios and resumes.

For several years, Lennox has led the Eastern Design Group (a capstone course for seniors) on digital design projects with local nonprofits and community organizations. Among their endeavors, students have designed a permanent exhibit at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, as well as created designs for a gala at Windham Hospital and the nonprofit Grow Windham.

•An Eastern student presents on her service learning work with the Windham Region No Freeze shelter.

•An Eastern student presents on her service learning work with the Windham Region No Freeze shelter.

Speaking to service learning in general, Lennox added, “students benefit by increasing their depth of pre-professional experiences, as well as gaining the reward of successfully working together and seeing their individual talents bring about positive change.”

Communication Professor Denise Matthews has taught a video field production course for 14 years, in which students produce videos for local organizations. “While the quality of the work is very important,” she says, “the experience that students acquire in the process of working as a professional with a client may be the most important component of their learning experience.”

Business Administration Professor Fatma Pakdil brings her students to collaborate with local businesses to analyze operations management topics. “We focus on their business problems and projects so students can see the real-life application of topics covered in the classroom,” she said. “Having a real case with various topics to work on is more challenging and informative, and shows students what they can expect after graduation.”

Keynote speaker Rick Battistoni took the stage for his talk, “Community or Political Engagement? Educating for Democracy in Troubled Times.” “Our current political landscape is full of craters and our discourse has become more polarized,” he said, adding that “voter turnout is abysmally low, especially among college-aged people, for a country that I like to think of as a democracy.”

Battistoni is confident that well-implemented service learning in higher education can counter this civic disengagement, saying that “community engagement is indeed education for democracy.”

In order for this to come to fruition, however, Battistoni says service learning must satisfy three things: purpose, accountability and time.

He explained that classroom goals must clearly align with the goals of the community partner (purpose); the impact must be measured (accountability); and the programs must be long enough to develop meaningful relationships and knowledge (time). “It must be sustained and developmental,” he said, “not just a one-and-done.”

This concept of “time” aligned with the conference’s opening presentation on Eastern’s soon-to-be-formalized Civic Action Plan, which aims to “institutionalize” the practice of service learning. The plan will expand service learning and community engagement opportunities at Eastern; create an academic minor in civic engagement; develop a committee on community-engaged teaching and learning; and reinforce the practice by recognizing and rewarding service learning achievements.

“Eastern has always had a longstanding relationship with the community; it just hasn’t always been organized,” said Kim Silcox, director of the Center for Community Engagement, which acts as a bridge between the campus and the surrounding community. “This plan broadens and refines the work that’s already been happening on campus.”

 

Collaborative Multimedia Performance at Eastern

SOY dancersWritten by Jolene Potter

Music, visual art and dance came together on Nov. 3 for a unique multimedia performance at Eastern Connecticut State University. This multimedia event involved extensive collaboration between Eastern faculty and students to provide audience members with an exceptional sensory-engaging experience. The “S.O.Y. Piano Trio Multi-Media Concert” was held in Eastern’s state-of-the art Fine Arts Instructional Center (FAIC) Concert Hall.

The talented S.O.Y. Piano Trio, composed of violinist Seulye Park, pianist Okon Hwang and cellist Yun-Yang Lin, worked with visual artist Afarin Rahmanifar, movement specialist Alycia Bright-Holland, and media designers Kristen Morgan and Travis Houldcroft to present pieces by Cornicello, Rocherolle and Piazzolla.

Multimedia productions enrich music performance through a combination of different forms of expression such as audio, text, imagery, video and interactive content. The concert illustrated the artistic shift away from music as a product to music as one element of a multimedia art form.

SOY musiciansThe show opened with Anthony Cornicello’s “Towards,” performed by the S.O.Y. Piano Trio and accompanied by audio and video interaction and media design. Cornicello is a professor of music theory, composition and electronic music at Eastern. His music is vibrant and visceral, full of rhythmic energy and harmonic sophistication. “Towards” illustrates how live electronics have led to exciting combinations of instruments and processed sound.

Performers also presented six original compositions by Eugénie Rocherolle written for piano, violin and cello. The beautiful collection of flowing pieces show Rocherolle’s warm compositional style. The performance involved the collaboration of the S.O.Y. Piano Trio, movement specialist and Eastern professor Alycia Bright-Holland and Eastern dance group Modern Movement. Bright-Holland is a professor of performance arts with a particular focus on acting and movement.

The performance also led audience members on a journey throughout the four seasons with one of Astor Piazzolla’s most popular works “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aries.” The musical transitions from summer to autumn, winter and spring presented by the S.O.Y. Piano Trio were accompanied by the striking and expressive artwork of Afarin Rahmanifar, professor of painting and drawing at Eastern. The music and artwork provided concert-goers with an audio and visual sensory experience of the seasons, capturing the beauty of this famous work.