Eastern Breaks Into List of Top 25 Public Regional Universities

Written by Ed Osborn

eastern_front_entranceFor the first time, Eastern Connecticut State University made the list of the top 25 regional public universities in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 edition of “Best Colleges.” Eastern was the highest ranked university among the four Connecticut state universities. The annual rankings were released on Sept. 12.

•Theatre students perform Cervantes' "Pedro, The Great Pretender," as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern's new Fine Arts Instructional Center

• Theatre students perform Cervantes’ “Pedro, The Great Pretender,” as the first production in the Proscenium Theatre of Eastern’s new Fine Arts Instructional Center

Regional universities such as Eastern are ranked on the basis of 16 criteria that include peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, admissions selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving. The North Region includes colleges and universities from New England, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.

•Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono '17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

• Biology major Elizabeth DelBuono ’17 is in the graduate program in Genetic Counseling at Sarah Lawrence College.

“I am gratified to see Eastern ranked in the top 25 public institutions in the North in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 Best Colleges report,” said Eastern President Elsa Nunez. “Our commitment to high standards, our focus on providing students with personal attention, and the introduction of new academic programs have resulted in our favorable ranking. Students and their families turn to the Best Colleges rankings to help decide where to attend college.  These newest rankings reaffirm that Eastern is providing a relevant and high quality education on our beautiful residential campus.”

This year’s U.S. News and World Report rankings included reviews of 1,389 schools nationwide and are available at www.usnews.com/colleges. They will also be published in the Best Colleges 2017 Guidebook, published by U.S. News & World Report and available on newsstands on Oct. 10.

For the past 33 years, the U.S. News and World Report rankings, which group colleges based on categories created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have grown to be the most comprehensive research tool for students and parents considering higher education opportunities.

‘Kingdom Animalia’ Kicks off Fall Semester at Eastern

First Art Exhibition of 2017-18 Academic Year

"On the Edge: Sea Ice Melt and Polar Bear," 2017 (30" X 20" archival digital print on paper) by Terry Lennox, digital art and design professor at Eastern

“On the Edge: Sea Ice Melt and Polar Bear,” 2017 (30″ X 20″ archival digital print on paper) by Terry Lennox, digital art and design professor at Eastern

WILLIMANTIC, CT (08/25/2017) The Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present “Kingdom Animalia: Illustrations from New England” from Aug. 31 to Oct. 12. An opening reception will be held on Sept. 7 from 4-6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“Kingdom Animalia” is a sprawling, modern-day take on the medieval bestiary. These “books of beasts” were illustrated encyclopedias of the animal kingdom. Similarly, the 22 illustrators included in the exhibition depict animals ranging from the familiar to the fantastic. In addition to showcasing the work of local and regional artists, “Kingdom Animalia” also celebrates Eastern’s new Illustration Concentration, which the Art and Art History Department launched this past year.

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 Named a ‘Great College to Work For’ for Eighth Time

Written by Michael Rouleau

2013GCWF_4CsingularWILLIMANTIC, CT (07/17/2017) Eastern Connecticut State University has again been named a “Great College to Work For” by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a top trade publication for colleges and universities. Released today by The Chronicle, the results are based on a survey of 232 colleges and universities. This is the eighth time Eastern has received “Great Colleges” distinction since it first began participating in the program in 2009.

Only 79 of the institutions that applied for the program achieved “Great College to Work For” recognition this year. Eastern was also named to the national Great Colleges “Honor Roll,” one of only 42 institutions named to this exclusive club. This is the third year in a row that Eastern has been named to the honor roll. Eastern was also the only public four-year university or college in New England to gain “Great Colleges” distinction.

The Chronicle’s Great Colleges to Work For survey is the largest and most comprehensive workplace study in higher education. Now in its 10th year, it recognizes the colleges that get top ratings from their employees on workforce practices and policies.

The survey results are based on a two-part assessment process: an institutional audit that captured demographics and workplace policies, and a survey administered to faculty, administrators, and professional support staff. The primary factor in deciding whether an institution received recognition was employee feedback.

Eastern won honors in six survey categories this year: Collaborative Governance; Compensation and Benefits; Facilities, Workspaces, and Security; Confidence in Senior Leadership; Teaching Environment; and Tenure Clarity and Process.

“It is gratifying to know that our employees continue to value the positive working atmosphere we share on our campus,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “The ‘Great Colleges to Work For’ recognition is not only a symbol of the common purpose found among our faculty and staff, it represents the welcoming and supportive environment that our students experience every day.

“To know that Eastern has consistently received this honor – winning ‘Great Colleges’ recognition in each of the eight years we have participated – is an indication that our commitment to campus unity is an enduring value firmly embedded in our culture.”

“Ten years in, the ‘Great Colleges to Work For’ distinction is well-known by academic jobseekers as a sign that an institution’s employees are valued and given opportunities for growth even when they face financial constraints,” said Liz McMillen, editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Any college or university that’s on the list is showing that they emphasize one of their most valuable assets: their faculty and staff.”

To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle worked with ModernThink LLC, a strategic human capital consulting firm that has conducted numerous “Best Places to Work” programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide. “It’s easier to be a great workplace during good times, but it’s when times are tough that the commitment to workplace quality really gets tested,” said Richard K. Boyer, principal and managing partner of ModernThink LLC. “Those institutions that measure up during times of economic hardship reinforce their already strong cultures and put even more distance between them and their peer institutions for whom they compete for talent.”

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About Eastern Connecticut State University

Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 23 other states and 20 other countries. A residential campus offering 39 majors and 64 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 26th top public university in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2017 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded “Green Campus” status by the U.S. Green Building Council seven years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.

About The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education is dedicated to serving the higher-education community with insights, understanding, and intellectual engagement. Academic leaders and professionals from around the world trust The Chronicle’s analysis and in-depth exploration to make informed decisions.

About ModernThink LLC

As a research and consulting leader in workplace issues, ModernThink has supported a wide variety of “Best Place to Work” initiatives. Through these programs, the firm has gained substantial survey and industry expertise, including specific insight into higher education. ModernThink knows what it takes to build a great place to work and shares that know-how with its clients. The ModernThink team of organizational development experts is dedicated to helping colleges follow through and capitalize on feedback from employees and benchmark data from peers to drive meaningful change at their institutions. Learn more at http://www.modernthink.com.

View Online: http://easternct.meritpages.com/news/eastern-named-a–great-college-to-work-for–for-eighth-time/691

Former Washington Post Publisher Addresses Eastern Graduates

Written by Ed Osborn

                                                     Eastern Graduates 1,238 at XL Center

David Graham

David Graham

Hartford, CT — Former Washington Post Publisher Donald Graham told the graduates at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 127th Commencement exercises to “treasure this college. Eastern has given you a wonderful education . . . once you are making a living, give something back so that you can help Eastern continue to be great in the future.”

The annual graduation ceremony was held at the XL Center in Hartford on May 17, with more than 12,000 family members and friends cheering on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,180 undergraduates and 58 graduate students received their diplomas.

Graham also told the graduates, “Throughout our history, American leaders have stood up in times of peril — during the American Revolution, during the Civil War, confronting Hitler, standing up to Communism, and advancing civil and women’s rights.  At some time in your life, you will be asked to stand up for what is right, and I know you will answer the call.” Noting that the American political system has worked very well for more than 200 years, Graham said, “Future politicians will say, ‘I will fight for you.’  That’s fine. But ask them, ‘What will you do when you are done fighting?’”

Commencement 2017 Crowd_7167The commencement speaker also received an honorary degree from Eastern in a special hooding ceremony during the graduation exercises. Graham is chairman of Graham Holdings Co., formerly the Washington Post Co. A graduate of Harvard College, he is a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving as an information specialist with the First Cavalry Division from 1967-68.  He later served as a patrolman on the Washington, D.C., police force before joining the staff at the Washington Post in 1971 as a reporter.  Graham assumed the position of publisher of the Washington Post in 1979, following in the footsteps of his mother, Katherine Graham, who led the newspaper following her husband Philip Graham’s passing in 1963. In 1991, Donald Graham took over leadership as chief executive officer of the Washington Post Co.

Commencement 2017 Nunez and BabyIn 2013, Graham and his wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amanda Bennett, joined Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and Henry R. Munoz III, chairman of Munoz & Company, to co-found TheDream.US, a national scholarship fund that helps undocumented immigrant youth get access to a college education. Since its founding, TheDream.US has raised $91 million in scholarship funds, providing financial support to 1,700 college students nationwide. Graham also co-founded and served as chairman of the District of Columbia College Access Program; he remains a member of the board.  The program has helped double the number of District of Columbia public high school students going on to college and has helped triple the number graduating from college.

Commencement 2017 Nunez Shakes HandOther speakers at the Commencement Exercises included Eastern President Elsa Nunez; Matt Fleury, chair of the Board of Regents for Higher Education; Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and University System; and Senior Class President Abigail Caselli, who delivered the Senior Class Address. Other members of the platform party included Willimantic Mayor Ernie Eldridge; Justin Murphy ’98, president of the ECSU Foundation; Ellen Lang ’81, president of the ECSU Alumni Association; Father Larry LaPointe; and other Eastern officials.

Commencement 2017 BEST BalloonNunez told the graduates she was confident they would impact the world in three ways,  first as professionals in the workforce, equipped with “. . . a highly desired set of skills” sought by the majority of American employers — “analytical thinking, teamwork and communication skills, the broad intellectual and social competencies available through a liberal arts education.” Nunez also urged the graduates to give back to their communities, quoting Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, who once said, “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.”

Waving BESTLastly, Nunez encouraged the Eastern seniors to “. . . exercise your duties and rights as American citizens. Our nation remains a beacon of freedom and a guiding light for other nations to follow, not because of our military might or our economic power, but because of the political, religious and personal freedoms we enjoy.”

Commencement 2017 Four LadiesNoting those freedoms must be protected, Eastern’s president went on to say, “Being a citizen of this great nation is clearly an investment of time, but it is the only way we can protect the freedoms we hold dear. Never abdicate your responsibilities as a citizen to someone else.  Be willing to question the status quo.  And stand up for the values you believe in.”

Commencement 2017 FamiliesMore than 40 percent of the graduates were the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. As Connecticut’s only public liberal arts university, Eastern draws students from 163 of the state’s 169 towns. Approximately 85 percent of graduates stay in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.

Commencement 2017 Student PresidentSenior Class President Abigail Caselli presented the Senior Class Gift to President Nunez — an annual Class of 2017 scholarship — and thanked her classmates’ families, friends and faculty for supporting the senior class in its journey. “To a room filled with the next great doctors, nurses, actors and actresses, genetic counselors, presidents of universities, human resource managers and professors, just to name a few of the success stories to be written about my fellow graduates, I encourage you to use the opportunities that Eastern has given you and make the world around you better.  As someone once said, ‘Service is the highest form of leadership.’ May each of you find and share that leadership within you.”

Matt Fleury, president and CEO of the Connecticut Science Center, spoke on behalf of the Board of Regents for Higher Education. “Today is a significant milestone for you,” he said. “We are proud of your accomplishments and applaud the many sacrifices you have made to get here. Your journey to this point was not easy, but for that reason, it is so much more satisfying. Whatever path you have chosen, you can make a difference.”Commencement 2017 SelfiesMark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System, also spoke to the graduates. “You have come a very long way since the first day you arrived at Eastern,” said Ojakian. “Life will take you in many different directions after you leave here tonight. The road in front of you is undefined. But I am hopeful that our state and our nation will be in a better place — as you become your future.”Commencement 2017 Christina

Commencement 2017 Foot GuardFrom the Governor’s Foot Guard Color Guard in attendance, to the plaintive sound of the bagpipes of the St. Patrick’s Pipe Band and the pre-event music of the Thread City Brass Quintet, this year’s graduation ceremonies again reflected Eastern’s Commencement traditions.

Commencemetn 2017 SingersUniversity Senate President Maryanne Clifford presided over the commencement exercises; seniors Abigail Perreira and Kristin Uschkureit sang “America the Beautiful”; Senior Leigha Grushkin gave the invocation; and Environmental Earth Science Professor Peter Drzewiecki was recognized as the 2017 Distinguished Professor Award recipient.

MEDIA ADVISORY: 300 Students to Participate in Eastern Research Conference

WILLIMANTIC, CT — The Third Annual CREATE Conference at Eastern Connecticut State University will take place this Friday, April 21, from 8:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CREATE stands for “Celebrating Research Excellence and Artistic Talent at Eastern,” and is the University’s premier conference showcasing student research and creative activity.

All activities take place in the Student Center except for an exhibit of student art taking place in room 223 of the Wood Support Services Center from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

From art to zoology, Shakespeare to social media, tax law to terrorism, Eastern students of all majors explore important concepts and produce exemplary research and creative work; the culmination of their work this academic year will be on display at CREATE. The one-day conference will feature more than 300 Eastern undergraduates, who will present talks, professional posters, live music, dance performances, art and photography exhibits, documentary films and panel discussions.

“CREATE is a reaffirmation of Eastern’s commitment to undergraduate research as Connecticut’s only public liberal arts university,” said Niti Pandey, business administration professor and conference co-chair. Reflecting on this year’s record number of participants, she added, “There is a wonderful variety of presentations and performances for people to see. CREATE 2017 showcases the hard work and talent of our students and demonstrates the dedication of their faculty mentors. We look forward to an excellent event!”

Members of the Eastern campus and surrounding communities are invited to browse the conference’s many cultural and academic offerings. “CREATE will be a superb learning experience for all who participate and a true celebration of our student’s achievements,” said Patricia Szczys, biology professor and conference co-chair.

Registration takes place at 8:15 a.m. in the Student Center Café, and the opening ceremony will begin at 8:45 a.m. in the Student Center Theatre. Those interested in the event but unable to attend the whole conference can view the schedule and presentation details at www.easternct.edu/create. Ample parking is available in the University’s two parking garages.

NOTE TO NEWS MEDIA:  The news media is invited to attend and cover the conference. This event is a marvelous collection of academic presentations, plays, musical performances, art on exhibit, and other student work — more than 300 students in all. Students and faculty mentors are available for interviews, and there will be host of photography opportunities. Come and see how undergraduates at Eastern are doing research commonly found only in graduate programs at larger institutions!

The Windham Project to Kick Off on April 20

Written by Michael Rouleau

•Local artist John Byrne installs "Leaves of Grass" on a Main Street building in Willimantic. The sculpture is composed of backlit pieces of cast fiberglass.

• Local artist John Byrne installs “Leaves of Grass” on a Main Street building in Willimantic. The sculpture is composed of backlit pieces of cast fiberglass.

WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/12/2017) The opening reception for the Windham Project, a six-week public art showcase in downtown Willimantic, will occur on April 20 from 5-8 p.m. Starting at Kerri Gallery (861 Main Street, Willimantic), the “progressive” reception will travel down Main Street and visit a number of Windham Project art installations along the way.

Participating local restaurants and businesses include Leaf and Flour tea room/coffee bar, Willimantic Brewing Company, Zok’s Brewing, Eminence tattoo shop, Kerri Gallery, Rajean’s Gifts and Antiques, Jewels Verne Jewelers, Willimantic Records, A Cupcake for Later and more.

Windham_Project Map

Art sites along Main Street include the Windham Town Hall, Kerri Gallery, Windham Town Library, Nathan Hale Building, Hooker Building, Burton Levitt Theatre, Jillson Square, 750 Main, Jamaican Me Crazy and Riverside Drive.

The Windham Project will run from April 15 to May 25 and feature 22 artists who will transform historic downtown Willimantic into an alternative art space. Kerri Gallery is the central hub where guests can find information on the artists, project proposals, exhibition maps and brochures.

The project was founded in 2015 by Gail Gelburd, professor of art history at Eastern Connecticut State University, as a way for the University and town to highlight Windham’s art scene and boost the local economy. The Windham Project’s 2015 inaugural event drew more than 2,000 visitors to town.

This year’s project features a new set of artists, with artwork ranging from large-scale installations to a 16-foot sculpture, a mural, sound and kinetic art, theatrical performances and more.

The Windham Project is sponsored and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Office of the Arts (a subset of the Connecticut Department of Economic Development), Eastern Connecticut State University, the Town of Windham, Willimantic Waste, Meehan and Daughters and Meyburd Real Estate.

Pedro Guerrero’s Photography on Display until April 20

Reception ThreeWritten by Christina Rossomando

WILLIMANTIC, CT (04/05/2017) The exhibit “Guerrero & Wright: Architecture Stories” is open to the public at the Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University through April 20. The exhibition consists of 33 photographs from the estate of the late Pedro Guerrero, the Mexican-American photographer chosen by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright to document his work. “Guerrero & Wright: Architecture Stories” also celebrates the centennial of Guerrero’s birth in 1917.

reception one

In 1939, Guerrero traveled to Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ, in search of a job. Luckily for Guerrero, Wright was in the midst of building the campus and needed someone to document the process. Wright soon recognized Guerrero’s talent, as well as the young photographer’s ability to translate his architectural forms to film.

reception two

Guerrero worked as Wright’s chief photographer for decades, traveling the country to photograph many of Wright’s most notable public and private commissions. Published in architectural journals and mass-market magazines alike, Guerrero’s photographic “architecture stories” shaped the public perception of the architect and his work.

Guerrero is the author of “Picturing Wright, An Album from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Photographer” (1993) and “Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey” (2007), among others. His work has been widely exhibited in both the United States and Europe.

‘Guerrero & Wright: Architecture Stories’ Coming to Eastern’s Art Gallery

Written by Michael Rouleau

Guerrero FLW Demonstrates Organic Architecture

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — The Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present “Guerrero & Wright: Architecture Stories” from March 9-April 20. This exhibition of photographs from the estate of Pedro E. Guerrero, a longtime resident of New Canaan, explores the collaboration between the Mexican-American photographer and famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. “Guerrero & Wright: Architecture Stories” also celebrates the centennial of Guerrero’s birth in 1917.

An opening reception will be held on March 23 from 4-6 p.m. Prior to the reception, there will be a screening of the American Masters documentary “Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey” in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center from 3-4 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

In 1939, 22-year-old Guerrero traveled the short distance from his hometown of Mesa, AZ, to Taliesin West, Wright’s newly-established winter home and school in Scottsdale. Upon meeting the well-known architect, he introduced himself by saying simply, “My name is Pedro E. Guerrero and I’m a photographer.” Despite Guerrero’s youth and inexperience, Wright hired him on the spot to document Taliesin’s construction. Wright soon recognized Guerrero’s talent, as well as the young photographer’s ability to translate his architectural forms to film. As Guerrero would later explain, Wright appreciated his ability to visit a building and “come back with a story of [Wright’s] architecture.”

Guerrero worked as Wright’s chief photographer until the architect’s death in 1959. He continued to photograph both Taliesin West and the original Taliesin in Spring Green, WI, creating an intimate visual record of Wright and his apprentices at work. The final decades of Wright’s career were also his most prolific. During this creative resurgence, Wright sent Guerrero across the country to photograph many of his most notable public and private commissions. Published in architectural journals and mass-market magazines alike, Guerrero’s photographic “architecture stories” shaped the public perception of the architect and his work.

Guerrero is the author of “Picturing Wright, An Album from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Photographer” (1993) and “Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey” (2007), among others. His work has been widely exhibited in both the United States and Europe. Forthcoming exhibitions include solo shows at The Mexican Museum (San Francisco, CA), and Taliesin (Spring Green, WI). Guerrero’s photographs will also be featured in the catalogue for the upcoming exhibition “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive” at the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY).

‘Elemental Light’ Illuminates Eastern’s Art Gallery Until Feb. 23

One of Stephen Knapp’s “light paintings,” made with dichroic glass and illuminated by a single light bulb

One of Stephen Knapp’s “light paintings,” made with dichroic glass and illuminated by a single light bulb

Written by Michael Rouleau

The transformational power of light is on display in the Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University in an exhibition titled “Elemental Light.” Running from Jan. 12 to Feb. 23, the exhibition features the experimental work of Stephen Knapp, who uses dichroic glass to create “light paintings,” and Alex Harding, who makes universe-inspired photographs with vinyl records and television screens.

“Both artists are interested in stripping art down to its most essential component,” said Emily Handlin, Eastern’s gallery coordinator. “Indeed, for both artists, light is the medium and the subject of their work, which encourages us to consider the elemental role light plays in our own perception of the world around us.”

A gallery visitor gazes upward at another light painting

A gallery visitor gazes upward at another light painting

“I’m trying to take painting in a different direction,” said Knapp at the exhibition’s opening reception on Jan. 19. “For millennia, people have painted to capture light, but I’m using light to paint with.”

Knapp’s light paintings are constructed with pieces of dichroic glass, a dynamic material developed by NASA that transmits, reflects and filters light. The pieces are fastened ambiguously to a wall with stainless-steel brackets. A single 75-watt light bulb brings each piece to life as the dichroic glass casts a rainbow of colors upon the wall like an abstract painting.

“Light is something we are aware of on a subconscious level,” said Knapp, referring to its omnipresence and our tendency to take it for granted. “We sort of let it pass by; I’m trying to remind us of how important light is in our lives.”

Knapp’s seven light paintings play with perspective. “In a dark room, they become more brilliant. You lose track of planes, it goes into different dimensions, into the walls and out from the walls.”

Harding also has a reverence for light, with an acute fascination for that which transmits from the heavens. His series of photographs was inspired by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which has taken stunning, up-close photos of Saturn.

Alex Harding explains that he used vinyl records and no digital editing to make these space-inspired photographs

Alex Harding explains that he used vinyl records and no digital editing to make these space-inspired photographs

“If Cassini can have one way of looking at the universe, I can have my own,” said Harding. Furthermore, “If Cassini’s photos look otherworldly, why can’t I make my own?”

This idea of “making” photographs, as opposed to “taking” them, speaks to the essence of Harding’s approach. “For me, photography is not about capturing a moment in time. To photograph something new and different, you have to make it, as opposed to go out and find it.

“I started asking, ‘what’s more like Saturn’s rings than an LP?’ So I set up records on a turntable and began photographing under different conditions.”

Using this technique, Harding’s photos resemble a black hole, an eclipse and other celestial images. “There is no digital editing,” he emphasized. “It’s very important to me that everything you see in the picture occurred within the camera.”

This Harding photograph was made with a macro lens one inch from a TV screen, magnified by 500 percent.

This Harding photograph was made with a macro lens one inch from a TV screen, magnified by 500 percent.

Harding has another series on display, inspired by the increase of television viewing he’s experienced while passing the time with his sleeping newborn baby. “How do I make a picture of a television that no one has seen before?” he asked himself.

He decided to invest in a macro lens and take close ups of the TV screen. The result? An inch from the screen and magnified by approximately 500 percent, the photographs depict the red, blue and green of individual pixels.

“These complex, high-definition images are composed of the most basic colors,” said Harding, reflecting on when he stepped back and saw that his camera was photographing a football game. “My photographs show how those TV images are made.”

Coincidentally, at this magnified level, TV screens also have an air of the cosmos; with the pixels surrounded by blackness resembling the starry void of space.

The Art Gallery is located in Room 112 of the Fine Arts Instructional Center on the Eastern campus. Parking is available in Cervantes Garage and in the Student Center parking lot. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 11 to 5 p.m., Thursday 1 to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, call the gallery at (860) 465-4659 or visit www.easternct.edu/artgallery/.

Eastern Hosts Art Show on the Sacredness of Nature

Gerald Lee Hoffman’s “Festa Yemanja Salvador” photographed in 2010 and printed on high-gloss aluminum.

Gerald Lee Hoffman’s “Festa Yemanja Salvador,” photographed in 2010 and printed on high-gloss aluminum

Isolina Limonta’s collagraphic print “El Maestro/The Master”

Isolina Limonta’s collagraphic print “El Maestro/The Master”

Written by Michael Rouleau

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. — A timely exhibition related to nature and spirituality is on display in the Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University from Nov. 2 to Dec. 8. “Guardians of Nature” features the work of four worldly artists who are united by a common understanding: all of the natural world is sacred. The exhibition visualizes the spiritual deities of the Earth —particularly those of African and Latin American culture — with a focus on “Yemanja,” the goddess of the sea who is the source of all life.

Printmaker Isolina Limonta is one of Cuba’s most prolific modern-day artists. She is among the world’s foremost practitioners of collagraphy, a printmaking technique with deep Cuban tradition. Jose Rodriguez is a New York City-based installation artist who creates spiritual altars influenced by the cultures of his past homes in Guatemala and Japan. Filmmaker Donna Roberts and photographer/videographer Gerald Lee Hoffman are a Pennsylvania-based team with a focus on ecology and Afro-Brazilian culture.

Imna Arroyo, Jose Rodriguez and Isolina Limonta revel during the exhibition’s reception

Imna Arroyo, Jose Rodriguez and Isolina Limonta revel during the exhibition’s reception

“Everything around us has life, everything has energy; that’s what this exhibition is about,” said curator Imna Arroyo, printmaker and art professor at Eastern. “The focus is that everything is sacred, therefore we should treat it with respect.”

“Guardians of Nature” coincidentally aligns with the conflict at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, where members of the tribe are opposing a pipeline that would run through their sacred land. During the exhibition’s reception on Nov. 3, Arroyo said, “As we speak, 4,000 people are engaged in the largest indigenous act in American history, not as demonstrators, but as water protectors and earth guardians.”

At the center of “Guardians of Nature” is a massive installation of Yemanja — the principle spirit, or orisha, of the African culture of Yoruba — made specifically for this exhibition by Rodriguez. With the help of Eastern students from every arts discipline, the towering figure was meticulously assembled throughout the week prior to the gallery’s opening.

The towering figure of Yemanja, created specifically for this exhibition by Jose Rodriguez with help from Eastern art students

The towering figure of Yemanja, created specifically for this exhibition by Jose Rodriguez with help from Eastern art students

“What is art?” asked Rodriguez. “I’ve asked myself this question all my life. Art is more than what you see. Art is sacred, not through technique or skill, but through intent. Energy is what makes art sacred.”

Jose Rodriguez's mixed-media installation "Per(il)locution"

Jose Rodriguez’s mixed-media installation “Per(il)locution”

Lining the gallery are two other ritualistic installations by Rodriguez; numerous collagraphic prints by Limonta; a gallery of photographs by Hoffman depicting Bahia, a Brazilian state with deep African roots held together by a philosophy called “Candomble”; and a documentary by Roberts titled “Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil.”

Brazil was the destination of more African slaves than anywhere else in the Americas, as well as the last country to abolish slavery in the West. “Candomble reconstructed the African community in Brazil,” said Roberts, explaining that it’s an oral tradition centralized around deities who represent the forces of nature. “It’s more than a religion; it’s a philosophy, a way of life. Candomble communities are largely self-sufficient, small and communal.”

Gerald Lee Hoffman and Donna Roberts, videography/filmmaking team

Gerald Lee Hoffman and Donna Roberts, videography/filmmaking team

Roberts added that the people of Candomble culture “refer to us consumers as ‘little brother,’” suggesting that we have not reached their level of spiritual awareness.

“Indigenous cultures across the world all have this commonality: a relationship between spirituality and nature,” said Professor Gail Gelburd, professor and art historian at Eastern. “They’ve recognized the need to take care of nature, particularly the water, which is why the focus of the exhibition is on Yemanja. A large portion of our earth is water, as are our bodies. Without water, we wouldn’t exist.”

A screenshot of Donna Roberts’ documentary “Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil”

A screenshot of Donna Roberts’ documentary “Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil”

“Guardians of Nature” is located in the Art Gallery of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. It is free and open to the public until Dec. 8 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursdays 1-7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 2-5 p.m. For more information, call the gallery at (860) 465-4659, the office at (860) 465-4647, or visit www.easternct.edu/artgallery.