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April 11, 2014

By Bethany Hexom

Columbia College will honor five leaders in their fields with honorary degrees during its spring 2014 commencement ceremonies for more than 2,400 graduate and undergraduate students on May 17 and 18 at the Chicago Theatre. The college will present honorary degrees to founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects, Jeanne Gang; composer, lyricist and writer Jim Jacobs; president and director of Expo Chicago, Tony Karman; professor and historian Diane Ravitch; and founder and artistic director of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn.

Jeanne Gang
Honored at 10 a.m. ceremony on May 17

Jeanne Gang is the founder and principal of Chicago-based architectural firm Studio Gang Architects. Her projects include the 82-story Aqua Tower near Millennium Park, the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo and Columbia College’s Media Production Center. Her work with Studio Gang has been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. In 2009, she was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and she received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2011. In 2013, Studio Gang received a National Design Award for Architecture Design from the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York.

Jim Jacobs
Honored at 1:30 p.m. ceremony on May 17

Chicagoan Jim Jacobs is a composer, actor and playwright, best known for co-authoring with the late Warren Casey on the iconic musical comedy Grease, inspired by Jacobs’ experiences as a teenager at Chicago’s Taft High School in the late 1950s. He also co-authored a spoof of B movies titled Island of Lost Co-eds. He also established the Jim Jacobs Musical Theatre Scholarship at Columbia College in 2012.

Tony Karman
Honored at 5 p.m. ceremony on May 17

Tony Karman is the president, director and founder of EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art. He has been an advocate, promoter and strategic marketer of contemporary art in Chicago for 30 years. He was the former director of EXPO CHICAGO’s predecessor, Art Chicago, and has worked for several other fine and performing arts organizations around the city. He also has partnered with local art institutions to present year-round public programs on different elements of the contemporary arts landscape in Chicago.

Diane Ravitch
Honored at 11 a.m. ceremony on May 18

Diane Ravitch, historian of American public education and professor at New York University, has become the nation’s most prominent critic of standardized test-based assessment of public school students. She is the author or editor of 14 books, the most recent being The Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and Danger to America’s Public Schools (2013). She was an assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush.

Gordon Quinn
Honored at 2:30 p.m. ceremony on May 18

A distinguished documentary filmmaker, Gordon Quinn is the founder and artistic director of Kartemquin Films, which he co-founded in 1966. He has served as the director, producer or executive producer of dozens of documentaries, most notably the award-winning Hoop Dreams (1994). Kartemquin’s other films include A Good Man (2011), At the Death House Door (2008), Vietnam, Long Time Coming (1998) and the seven-hour PBS series The New Americans (2004).

Posted on Apr 4, 2014

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Honorary Degree Recipients, Keynote Speakers Include Composer, Historian/Author,
Filmmaker, and Local Entrepreneurs

CHICAGO (April 11, 2014) – Columbia College Chicago will honor five leaders in their fields with honorary degrees during its spring 2014 commencement ceremonies for more than 2,400 graduate and undergraduate students on May 17 and 18 at the Chicago Theatre.

The college will present honorary degrees to founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects, Jeanne Gang; composer, lyricist and writer Jim Jacobs; president and director of Expo Chicago, Tony Karman; professor and historian Diane Ravitch; and founder and artistic director of Kartemquin Films, Gordon Quinn.

Jeanne Gang
Honored at 10 a.m. ceremony on May 17

Jeanne Gang is the founder and principal of Chicago-based architectural firm Studio Gang Architects. Her work with Studio Gang has been exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. In 2009, she was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and she received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2011. In 2013, Studio Gang received a National Design Award for Architecture Design from the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York.

Jim Jacobs
Honored at 1:30 p.m. ceremony on May 17

Chicagoan Jim Jacobs is a composer, actor and playwright, best known for co-authoring with the late Warren Casey on the iconic musical comedy Grease, inspired by Jacobs’ experiences as a teenager at Chicago’s Taft High School in the late 1950s. He also co-authored a spoof of B movies titled Island of Lost Co-eds. He also established the Jim Jacobs Musical Theatre Scholarship at Columbia College in 2012.

Tony Karman
Honored at 5 p.m. ceremony on May 17

Tony Karman is the president, director and founder of EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art. He has been an advocate, promoter and strategic marketer of contemporary art in Chicago for 30 years. He was the former director of EXPO CHICAGO’s predecessor, Art Chicago, and has worked for several other fine and performing arts organizations around the city. He also has partnered with local art institutions to present year-round public programs on different elements of the contemporary arts landscape in Chicago.

Diane Ravitch
Honored at 11 a.m. ceremony on May 18

Diane Ravitch, historian of American public education and professor at New York University, has become the nation’s most prominent critic of standardized test-based assessment of public school students. She is the author or editor of 14 books, the most recent being The Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (2013). She was an assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush.

Gordon Quinn
Honored at 2:30 p.m. ceremony on May 18

A distinguished documentary filmmaker, Gordon Quinn is the founder and artistic director of Kartemquin Films, which he co-founded in 1966. He has served as the director, producer or executive producer of dozens of documentaries, most notably the award-winning Hoop Dreams (1994). Kartemquin’s other films include A Good Man (2011), At the Death House Door (2008), Vietnam, Long Time Coming (1998) and the seven-hour PBS series The New Americans (2004).

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts for more than 10,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit www.colum.edu.

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Media Contact:
Steve Kauffman, 312.369.7383, skauffman@colum.edu
Cara Birch, 312.369.8695, cbirch@colum.edu

Posted on Apr 4, 2014

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 Center for Book and Paper Arts Hosts Mixed Media Show Featuring Student Work

Davina' Stewart as Sandy Sanguine Preparing Nigglet Delights 8.24.14 video still, 2014 (Image courtesy of the artist)

Davina’ Stewart as Sandy Sanguine Preparing Nigglet Delights 8.24.14 video still, 2014
(Image courtesy of the artist)

CHICAGO (April 7, 2014) – Columbia College Chicago’s Interdisciplinary Arts Department and Center for Book and Paper Arts presents the 2014 MFA Thesis Exhibition and Performances. The exhibition opens to the public May 2 and will be on view through May 24 at the Columbia College Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash.

Immersive and cutting edge projects will reflect the Interdisciplinary Art Department’s multi-dimensional curriculum that combines media such as performance, sound, paper, artists’ books, printmaking, video and installation.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a public performance will take place throughout the first and second floor exhibition spaces on May 16 during Manifest, Columbia College Chicago’s campus-wide festival and celebration of student art and culture. The time-based performances by five graduating students will activate spaces throughout the exhibition, and will be ongoing from 2-10 pm. Ranging in duration from fifteen minutes to one hour, viewers can navigate the performances at their own pace. A complete schedule is available at www.colum.edu/academics/interarts.

WHEN:
May 2-May 24
On Site Performances: May 16, 2-10 p.m.
Reception: May 19, 5-8 p.m

WHERE:
Center for Book and Paper Arts & Conaway Center, Columbia College Chicago
1104 S Wabash Ave, 1st and 2nd Floors (Exhibition & Performances)

WHO:
Participating artists include:
Greta Bach, Kathi Beste, Alex Borgen, Greg Browe, Jillian Bruschera, Dennis Burke, Scott Dickens, Ahmed Hamad, Penelope Hearne, Brent Koehn, Kate Morgan, Juliana Piscitiello, Megan Pitcher, Leonardo Selvaggio, Chelsey Shilling, N. Davina’ Stewart, Folleh Tamba, Valentina Vella, Jamie Weaver

Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday: noon-5 p.m.
For more information, visit: www.colum.edu/Academics/Interarts

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts for more than 10,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit www.colum.edu.

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Media Contact:
Cara Birch, 312.369.8695, cbirch@colum.edu

Posted on Apr 4, 2014

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Theatrical performances, celebration of Chicago blues & jazz, and lunches as art among series of live installations in ongoing exhibition

Faheem Majeed's "Shacks and Shanties"

Faheem Majeed’s “Shacks and Shanties”

CHICAGO (March 31, 2014) – With 12 more live installations happening in April for Columbia College Chicago’s RISK: Empathy, Art and Social Practice exhibition, audiences and artists continue to engage in a city-wide experience of dialogue and social cooperation. In the tradition of social practice art, the live installations allow audiences to engage with artwork in surprising ways.

RISK, which opened earlier this month, features more than 60 artworks and performances by established and emerging artists engaging in various political and social issues in Chicago. The exhibition draws from more than 25 museums, galleries, schools, community centers, businesses and other non-traditional art spaces across Chicago. April highlights include:

April 2, 10-11:30 a.m., Faheem Majeed’s Shacks and Shanties Performance 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Majeed will host a theatrical performance and discussion by the Margaret Burroughs Collective featuring Jenae Taylor and Viktor Le.

April 12, 7-11 p.m., Samantha Hill’s Stompin’ at the Parkway Ballroom 4445 S. King Drive Ave. A celebration of the history of Chicago blues & jazz at the famed Parkway Ballroom. This photography installation and dance event will feature live blues/jazz/soul music from Chicago musicians. Advance registration required at www.parkwayballroom.com.

April 25, noon-1 p.m., Lunch Room Expanse with Alberto Aguilar 1104 S. Wabash Ave. In this enhanced environment Alberto Aguilar will provide lunch and entertainment for a small group of strangers. The artist will be present at each lunch hour to welcome guests, serve food, and hand out a parting gift. Registration required at lunchroomexpanse@yahoo.com.

April 26, 6:30-8 p.m., Closing Reception and Catalog Release 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Following the symposium, Out There: Enquiries about Civic Practice, Civility and Art, audiences are welcome to celebrate the release of the RISK catalogue with the artists and collaborators. Symposium will be at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. See more at: http://www2.mcachicago.org/event/mca-talk-out-there-contemporary-practice-art-and-civility/

For more information and full list of April events click here.

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts for more than 10,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit www.colum.edu.

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Media Contacts: Cara Birch, 312.369.8695, cbirch@colum.edu Steve Kauffman, 312.369.7383, skauffman@colum.edu

Posted on Mar 3, 2014

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March 26, 2014

By Bethany Hexom

ArtStart1Columbia College is offering a summer arts camp program this year called ArtStart for children entering grades 3-9 interested in visual, media, and performing arts. The program runs weekdays June 16 – Aug. 1.

“The ArtStart Summer Arts Camp offers unique opportunities for campers to become fully immersed in a collaborative, supportive and incredibly fun artistic community,” said Megan Powers, program manager. “Artistic disciplines are taught and explored through self-expression, awareness and teamwork, creating an engaging, safe, and rewarding summer environment for both students and staff alike.”

ArtStart2The camp counselors and teachers are select students, alumni, and working artists from the Columbia College community and beyond. Campers will attend classes, field trips, outdoor lunches in Grant Park, and guest artist workshops.

Campers are assigned to small groups with participants their own age, and they all attend daily classes in visual arts, media arts, performing arts, and an alternating dance and music class.

  • Through the performing arts classes, campers learn to write, rehearse and perform an original piece using a combination of dance, music, improvisation techniques and acting.
  • The visual arts classes introduce campers to a variety of mediums including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography and comic book illustration, as well as teaching them how to create large-scale installations for an art gallery.
  • ArtStart3The media arts classes teach campers the step-by-step process of creating a film from beginning to end – the students learn the ins and outs of storyboarding, camera angles, proper equipment use and the art of creating a script.
  •  The alternating music and dance classes help campers explore their current knowledge of music and dance theory and performance while collaborating with their instructors on original pieces, music and choreography.

At the end of the seven-week session, their work comes together in the form of a stage performance, film screening and gallery opening. For registration and more information, visit http://summer.colum.edu/

Posted on Mar 3, 2014

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On Paper: The Everything of Its Two Thousand Year History

CHICAGO (March 25, 2014) – Historians estimate that there are on the order of twenty-thousand commercial uses of paper in the world today. The average American handles, on average, about thirty different objects every day that have been made with paper. Which begs the question—is the paperless society we hear so much about today as imminent as some people suggest?

Who better to tackle this question, and everything else in the storied and surprising history of paper than Nicholas Basbanes who has written eight acclaimed books on every conceivable aspect of books and book culture.

Basbanes will discuss ideas from his new book, On Paper, which documents his travels from southwest China where paper was first invented, to a pulping mill at the National Security Agency, to a Kimberly-Clark mill where a million boxes of Kleenex are made every day and into the fascinating ways paper has shaped our culture, politics, economy, and history. For more information on Nicolas Basbanes, see his website at: nicholasbasbanes.com.

The lecture will be held on Monday, March 31, 6-7 p.m. at Columbia College Chicago, Ferguson Hall, located at 600 S. Michigan Ave., First Floor. Immediately following the lecture, audience members are invited to a Social Paper Exhibition Viewing at the Center for Book and Paper Arts located at 1104 S. Wabash Ave., 2nd Floor.

This program is co-sponsored by the Center for Book and Paper Arts and the Columbia College Chicago Library. It is free and open to the public.

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts for more than 10,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit www.colum.edu.

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Media Contacts:
Steve Kauffman, 312.369.7383, skauffman@colum.edu
Cara Birch, 312.369.8695, cbirch@colum.edu

Posted on Mar 3, 2014

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Columbia College Chicago offers Summer Arts Camp for children interested in Visual, Media and Performing Arts

CHICAGO (March 25, 2014) – Registration is now open for Columbia College Chicago’s
ArtStart Summer Arts Camp program for children entering grades 3-9 who wish to pursue their interests in visual, media and performing arts.

The program runs Monday-Friday, June 16 through Aug. 1. Camp begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. with an optional after-camp program available daily for parents/guardians who require additional time for pick-up. Registration runs through June, or until maximum enrollment capacity has been reached.

“The ArtStart Summer Arts Camp offers unique opportunities for campers to become fully immersed in a collaborative, supportive and incredibly fun artistic community,” said Megan Powers, program manager. “Artistic disciplines are taught and explored through self-expression, awareness and teamwork, creating an engaging, safe, and rewarding summer environment for both students and staff alike.”

Campers attend four daily classes in visual arts, media arts, performing arts and an alternating dance and music class daily.

  • Through the performing arts classes, campers learn to write, rehearse and perform an original piece using a combination of dance, music, improvisation techniques and acting.
  • The visual arts classes introduce campers to a variety of mediums including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography and comic book illustration, as well as teaching them how to create large-scale installations for an art gallery.
  • The media arts classes teach campers the step-by-step process of creating a film from beginning to end – the students learn the ins and outs of storyboarding, camera angles, proper equipment use and the art of creating a script.
  • The alternating music and dance classes help campers explore their current knowledge of music and dance theory and performance while collaborating with their instructors on original pieces, music and choreography.

At the end of the seven-week session, their work comes together in the form of a stage performance, film screening and gallery opening.

For registration and more information, visit http://summer.colum.edu/

Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts for more than 10,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit www.colum.edu.

###

Media Contacts:
Steve Kauffman, 312.369.7383, skauffman@colum.edu
Cara Birch, 312.369.8695, cbirch@colum.edu

Posted on Mar 3, 2014

Post by Media Relations Assistant

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March 24, 2014

By Anthony Filomena

Sprite Photo 1

Cinema Art + Science MFA student Robert Forney

Are you thirsty enough? Thirsty enough to win, as Columbia College Cinema Art + Science MFA student Robert Forney represents the college as a finalist in the Sprite Films™ competition. While the grand prize is awarded by industry professionals, the Fan Favorite award is presented to the film that receives the most online votes. Fans based in the United States age 13 and above can vote for their favorite short film every day, up to five times per day, from March 24 – May 15.

Forney’s “They Just Weren’t Thirsty Enough,” short debuted as one of six winning scripts-to-screen adaptation on March 24 at CinemaCon in Las Vegas – the annual gathering of the motion picture theater community – marking the official launch of the online voting for Fan Favorite.

“Just like America’s Got Talent or American Idol, it’s a chance for people to decide which creative voices they actually want to see and hear in their media saturated world. If they see our potential and want to get more content from us they have the opportunity to take us to that next level,” said Forney.

A group of film industry experts will crown the Green Ribbon Panel winner in August, providing them the opportunity to work on a Sprite brand project with an agency that does business with its parent, The Coca-Cola Company. The Green Ribbon Panel winner will also see their winning short film debut in select theaters across the country in August 2014.

Sprite Photo 2

Producer & Cinema Art + Science student Mark Winters (left) on “Thirsty Enough” production set

To help drive traffic and awareness, Marketing Communication students Natasha Ivanov, Nya Jones, Emily Block, Monica Chapman, Mikayla Bump, Jannarie Gaston and KaDee Ellis are spearheading the project’s marketing campaign to gain momentum with the general public for the short.

To track the progress and get a behind the scenes look of “Thirsty Enough” fans can follow the short on social media through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and by searching the hashtag #ThirstyEnough.

To arrive as part of the six finalists, students belonging to the list of 23 participating schools, with notable film departments, needed to create a storyboard with a corresponding script for a Sprite branded 50-second short film. Entries were judged for creativity (30%), creative fit to theme and tone (40%) and entertainment factor (30%).

The goal of Sprite Films™ is to engage student filmmakers nationwide with real-life challenging opportunities to leverage their talents, ignite fresh thinking and realize their potential for greatness behind the camera and beyond. For Forney, this competition is the perfect opportunity to showcase his talents and be free to express himself.

Sprite Photo

Nearly 50 Columbia College students worked to
produce the short film “Thirsty Enough”

“The competition is a great outlet for new voices and new visions. Sprite is a brand that celebrates bold self-expression so why not look to the next generation of creative minds to find something truly fresh,” said Forney.

The “next generation of creative minds” that helped bring this vision to life includes producer and Cinema Art + Science student Mark Winters and nearly 50 students. A Cinema Art + Science editing class has created short content for the web, and the marketing department (under the supervision of Marketing Communication Associate Professor Laurence Minsky) is handling marketing and social media.

“We had four days from the end of shooting to deliver the first cut of the film to Sprite and without the participation of the entire college; we wouldn’t have been able to do it,” said Karen Loop, Cinema Art + Science assistant professor. “I think it speaks volumes of our faculty and curriculum that we are competing against the top media schools in the country and coming out on top.”

To officially support and vote for “They Just Weren’t Thirsty Enough,” visit Sprite.com/films.

 

Posted on Mar 3, 2014

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By Bethany Hexom

Pangratios Papacosta, Ph.D., professor of physics at Columbia College Chicago, is on a mission to “correct the injustice” of largely omitting astronomer Henrietta Leavitt from the annals of scientific history. Papacosta’s effort to correct this omission has resulted in a new 20-minute documentary, Henrietta Leavitt: Unsung Heroine in Science.

“Henrietta Leavitt made a monumental discovery that not many people know about,” says Papacosta. “She discovered a way of measuring long distances to stars and galaxies which was the key to understanding the universe.”

Papacosta has been advocating for the inclusion and recognition of Henrietta Leavitt’s (1868-1921) work since 2002. Through his research, Papacosta found that the mathematician Gösta Mittag-Leffler of the Swedish Academy of Sciences and Nobel Prize committee member, wanted to nominate Leavitt for the 1926 Nobel Prize in physics. However, Mittag-Leffler only found out about Leavitt’s work several years after her death, and the Nobel Prize does not get awarded posthumously. Mittag-Leffler was a strong advocate of women’s rights and it was due to his intervention on the Nobel Prize committee that led to the first award given to a woman, Marie Curie.

Henrietta Leavitt’s discovery

Henrietta Leavitt photo: courtesy American Association of Variable star Observers)

Henrietta Leavitt, courtesy American Association of Variable star Observers

While working at the Harvard College Observatory in 1908, Leavitt discovered the period-luminosity relation of Cepheid variables, which allowed scientists to determine distances to far away stars. Leavitt first observed that the period with which these stars pulsate is relative to how bright they are. She made her discovery while working for 25 cents per hour as a “computer” at the observatory, led by Edward Pickering.

Women were designated as computers back then as they were considered “very good at computing” stellar characteristics from photographic plates. Pickering actually was a physicist, not an astronomer, and he developed some of the first standard physics laboratories in the United States. As Owen Gingerich, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Astronomy and Science, Harvard University notes, “Pickering essentially became the first CEO of an astronomy factory.”

Although most women at the observatory performed their daily tasks in cataloguing stars, Leavitt went further with her observations. She started digging into photographs taken from a southern observatory in Peru and reviewed more than 2,000 variable stars, from which she identified the important correlation for two dozen of them, leading to her discovery.

“Leavitt’s discovery still informs astronomy today and is a foundational piece of data for pretty much all astronomical work done even until the present,” said Marvin Bolt, Ph.D., vice president for collections, Adler Planetarium. “This discovery is of such importance that you couldn’t do astronomy today without [it].”

Among such notable astronomers who benefited from Leavitt’s discovery was Edwin Hubble. In 1924, he used Henrietta Leavitt’s method to discover new galaxies and measured their distances. This discovery proved that the universe was not just the Milky Way galaxy but made of billions of other galaxies. Hubble used the same method to also prove that the universe was expanding. Yet, his only acknowledgement of Leavitt was a brief paragraph in his 1936 book, The Realm of the Nebulae.

The Mission Continues

Papacosta at Henrietta Leavitt’s grave, Old Cambridge cemetery.

Papacosta at Henrietta Leavitt’s grave, Old Cambridge cemetery.

Papacosta was recently invited to attend the International Conference on the History of Physics at Cambridge University, and although he cannot attend they have asked to show his documentary. He has also successfully lobbied for the re-naming of the period-luminosity relation to the Leavitt-Periodicity Law.

Papacosta’s publications on Leavitt include: “Key to our Universe: Henrietta Leavitt’s 1908 Discovery,” Issue No. 31, Institute of Physics’ History of Physics Group Newsletter, Dec. 2013; and “Nobel Prize for a ‘Computer’ named Henrietta Leavitt,” STATUS/American Astronomical Society Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy, Jan. 2005.

Henrietta Leavitt: Unsung Heroine in Science was produced by Papacosta and Columbia College’s Cinema Art + Science team, including: Paul Hettel, associate professor; Larry Kapson, production audio coordinator; Chris Peppey, independent filmmaker and former Columbia College faculty member; and Elise J. Motzny, Columbia College Interactive Arts and Media alumna.

Posted on Mar 3, 2014

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samantha-hillWhat would a wedding be like with 100 strangers? Does Alderman Harry Osterman and the residents of the 48th ward hold a secret to happiness? Can one make voices “visible” on the subject of gun violence in Chicago?

These are only a few of the questions considered and explored in Columbia College Chicago’s ambitious city-wide exhibition, RISK: Empathy, Art and Social Practice, running Feb. 10 – April 26. Featuring more than 60 artworks and performances by established and emerging artists engaging in various political and social issues in Chicago, RISK also reveals for the first time ever, the vast network of social practice projects embedded throughout the city.

Co-curated by Columbia College’s Neysa Page-Lieberman, director of exhibition and performance spaces and Amy M. Mooney, associate professor in Art + Design, RISK grew into an expansive survey of Chicago social practice art by including artist networks and collaboration with numerous organizational partners. With additional support from the Joyce Foundation—which provided a $25,000 grant for the exhibition—RISKdistinguishes itself as the most diverse exhibition/program of social practice art to date.

“Chicago is renowned for being on the cutting edge of socially engaged art, and the artists involved in this exhibition are profoundly diverse in their practice and subjects,” said Page-Lieberman. “This has been an exciting challenge to present all together, but with the collaboration and support of partners across the city, RISK showcases some of the most influential artists working in this art form today.”

faheem-majeedThe exhibition involves an unprecedented activation of more than 25 museums, galleries, schools, community centers, businesses and other non-traditional art spaces across Chicago, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, 6018North, Hyde Park Art Center, the Rebuild Foundation, and other organizations and institutions. In these settings, RISK asks artists and audiences alike to engage in a city-wide experience of dialogue and social cooperation exploring topics ranging from Chicago’s gun violence to defining “happiness” in the 48th ward.

RISK presents artwork at the vanguard of the social practice art movement and encompasses a wide breadth of contemporary issues. The recent rise of the movement can trace its roots back to the 1960s, yet today’s artworks are largely influenced by post-9/11, Occupy Wall Street, the Great Recession, the fight for marriage equality, immigration and other contemporary social issues.

“Social practice art challenges conventional notions of art ownership and the expectations of an object-oriented experience,” said Mooney. “This exhibition invites viewer participation that reveals the reciprocal nature of the artistic process, hopefully leaving audiences with indelible marks on civic consciousness and political enfranchisement.”

The exchange between artist and audience, and the unique storytelling projects that sometimes spend years in development, like Kirsten Leenar’s Not In Another Place, But This Place… (Happiness) has presented an ongoing challenge for some institutions presenting art conceived outside of traditional formats* (New York Times, Mar. 20, 2013). Yet, Columbia College doesn’t shy from non-traditional formats.

The divergent practices of the artists in the exhibition also reflect the significant role that risk and empathy play in their work, encouraging audiences to take action in ways they may have never considered before. RISK is highly experimental, with uncertain outcomes on any given topic. For some artists, their installation could take an entirely different direction between the opening and closing of the show, all depending on the input and participation of audience.

In order to cover the breadth of issues the artists explore, the exhibition weaves together installations and performances throughout the city—from Hyde Park, Bronzeville and the South Loop to Albany Park, Edgewater and more.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • alberto-aguilarAlberto Aguilar’s Lunch Room Expanse and A Personal Dinner Invitation: A Wedding to an Unknown Couple, the latter of which invites a real-life couple who responds to a Craigslist ad to have a wedding ceremony and celebration with 100 strangers invited by the artist.
  • Samantha Hill’s Topographical Depictions of the Bronzeville Renaissance, which documents past and current stories from the Great Migration to the current arts and cultural resurgence at multiple installations at Hyde Park Art Center, Blanc Gallery and Glass Curtain Gallery and performances at Parkway Ballroom and Sacred Keepers Youth Garden.
  • Kirsten Leenaar’s Not In Another Place, But This Place… (Happiness) a three-channel video installation, whose cast members include police officers, students, community activists from the 48th ward, and Alderman Harry Osterman, who ask: who is responsible for happiness? A live screening and performance will be featured at 6018North.
  • Faheem Majeed’s Shacks and Shanties which serves as a temporary home and collaborative platform for artist interventions, performances and community engagement.
  • Cheryl Pope’s Just Yell continues the artist’s exploration of ways to visualize the voices of Chicago youth who are impacted by gun violence. Pope and students from ChiArts and the MCA Creative Teen Agency will stage a series of performances and events including a memorial parade called Silence the Silence.

For more information on the exhibition and related programs, visit www.colum.edu/RISK.

*Source: Randy Kennedy, New York Times, Mar. 20, 2013

kirsten-leenaars

Images from top:
Samantha Hill
Great Migration, 2012
Installation in Faheem Majeed’s How to Build A Shack
Photo by Tony Smith

Faheem Majeed
Shacks and Shanties (Sacred Keepers Youth Garden), 2013
Installation in Bronzeville

Alberto Aguilar
Tabletop Silhouette Theater Entertainment at A Personal Dinner Invitation, 2012
Performance by Bryan Saner and Teresa Pankratz at SHoP in Hyde Park
Photo by Michael Metts

Kirsten Leenaars
Not In Another Place, But This Place… (Happiness), 2013
Video stills from 3-channel video
Videographer: Paul Deuth and Will Goss

Posted on Mar 3, 2014

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