The University Record, September 10, 1997

Arts, humanities symposium features scholarly, historical, artistic and performance presentations

By Jane R. Elgass

"Turning a New Leaf," the afternoon symposium on inauguration day, is a program that both celebrates the inauguration of President Lee C. Bollinger and uses the occasion of his installation to inaugurate YoHA (Year of Humanities and Arts) at the University, according to Julie Ellison, associate vice president for research, professor of English, a member of the Inauguration Planning Committee and YoHA director.

The symposium title, Ellison notes, "evokes both turning the page of a book and a change of season. The idea of the leaf as a page turned by a reader is particularly appropriate, since faculty artist Ted Ramsay is creating hand-make inaugural books."

The symposium features scholarly, historical, artistic and performance presentations celebrating the richness of intellect and creativity at the University. According to Ellison "faculty presentations, a series of 'vignettes' of faculty work, will be alternated with brief introductions to YoHA programs, so that by the end of the program the University's wealth of talent in the area of the arts and humanities and the experimental new programs being tried in the arts and humanities this year will all have been previewed."

"Emerson has a word for what eloquence should be," she adds. "He calls it a 'panharmonicon,' so I think of this program as a 'panharmonicon' of what is possible in the arts and humanities. Indeed, YoHA itself is kind of a 'panharmonicon' of collaborations."

Faculty presenters are:

 

Kenrick Ian Grandison, assistant professor, School of Natural Resources and Environment, who will discuss his study of land use and campus design at historically Black colleges, focusing on Tuskegee Institute.

 

Yau Ching, a lecturer in the Program in Film and Video Studies and video artist, who will present a new work, a personal meditation on language and identity during the turnover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China.

 

June Howard, associate professor of English, of American culture and of women's studies, who will discuss American literary markets and "publishing the family" at the turn of the century.

 

Michael Daugherty, association professor of music-composition, who will present and discuss selections from his opera, "Jackie O."

 

James Cogswell and Peter Sparling will present a video on and discuss their collaborative dance and multimedia performance "Enigmas" project, which is being presented Sept. 13 at the Power Center. Cogswell is associate professor, School of Art and Design. Sparling is associate professor of dance and of music and chair of the Department of Dance.

Among the YoHA programs to be highlighted during the symposium are:

 

The YoHA Celebration Minigrant Program makes grants available to existing student organizations and to groups of students that form around new projects in the arts and humanities. Funds will support student-initiated publications, art works, panel discussions and performances that take shape outside the classroom.

 

A special subscriptions series, "Spacing Out," co-sponsored by the University Musical Society. Each performance in the series, Ellison says, "will be part of what we call a 'surround sound' experience-sound surrounded by art exhibits, lectures and symposia, films and other participatory programs."

 

The YoHA Course Community, supported by funds from the Office of the President, makes minigrants available to faculty who incorporate arts and humanities content in their courses. Some 20 courses are being supported in such fields as art history, photography, mathematics, Asian languages, nursing, medicine, physics and theater.

YoHA, which is formally sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, is as much an organizing tool as it is a series of events. Its goals include celebrating scholarship, performance and creativity in the humanities and arts; encouraging new partnerships among faculty and students working in these fields; and strengthening the community of learners in the arts and humanities.


Yau Ching, lecturer in the Program in Film and Video Studies, was born in Hong Kong and studies comparative literature and philosophy at the University of Hong Kong, media studies at the New School for Social Research in New York, and has worked internationally as a film/video-maker, writer and educator. She has taught at the University of California, San Diego; University of California, Irvine; California Institute of the Arts, the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her past film/video works include Flow, The Ideal/Narrration, Video Letters 1-3 and Is There Anything Specific You Want Me to Tell You About? Her book, Building a New Stove (Hong Kong 1996) is a collection of her critical writings and fiction. Her U-M honors have included a Faculty Award for Research Projects, Office of the Vice Provost; Lecturers' Professional Development Award; and a Faculty Award for Research and Creative Projects from the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic and Multicultural Affairs.

James A. Cogswell Jr., associate professor of art, was born and raised in Japan as the child of missionary parents. He graduated in English literature from Rhodes College and holds an M.F.A. from the University of New Mexico. He also studied at the University of Hong Kong. He became seriously involved in the daily practice of painting in 1971 in Japan. His work has celebrated the form and language of the human body in a variety of media. Recent prints, drawings and paintings of an anthropomorphic alphabet have adapted his figurative interests to phonetic signs. As sets of images, these works have fed his interest in the sequential structures and gridded visual fields that are at the heart of the Enigmas Project. He was the Charles P. Brauer Faculty Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities in 1992-93. He has received grants from the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and twice received Research Partnership grants for collaborative projects working with graduate printmakers. His work has been exhibited by commercial galleries in Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Denver, Jacksonville and Detroit.

Michael Daugherty, associate professor of music-composition, has created a niche in the music world that is uniquely his own, composing concert music inspired by American popular culture. His compositions include the Metropolis Symphony and Bizarro, a homage to the Superman comics, recorded by David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. His American icon series includes Le Tombeau de Liberace, a piano concertino; Dead Elvis, a chamber ensemble work; and Desi, for symphonic winds . His music has been performed by prominent orchestras and ensembles in the United States and abroad, including performances of the BBC and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, the Philharmonia Orchestra (London), the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, the Ensemble InterContemporain, London Sinfonietta and the Netherlands Wind Ensemble. He has received awards and recognition from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Kenrick Ian Grandison, assistant professor of landscape architecture, has published several articles examining how the built environment of historically Black colleges and universities in America reflects the historical relationship between race and the landscape. They have appeared in such venues as Landscape Journal and in The Geography of Identity, the fifth volume of the Institute for the Humanities Ratio series. He currently is working on a book titled Landscapes from the Bottoms: The Black College Campus as Cultural History. Related to his research, since 1996 he has been helping the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site on the Tuskegee University campus to develop an interpretative program. He holds a master's in landscape architecture from the U-M.

June Howard is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, recognizing outstanding contributions to undergraduate education, and associate professor of English, of women's studies and of American culture. She joined the U-M in 1979 after teaching at the University of California, San Diego. Her research and teaching interests focus on late 19th- and early 20th-century literature and culture in the United States, literary genres, cultural theory, American studies and women's studies. Her work-in-progress includes a manuscript titled "Publishing the Family" and "What Is Sentimentality? And The Nature of Interdisciplinarity: Notes by a Disestablishmentarian." She currently is a member of the Department of English Executive Committee, chair of the American Culture Graduate Committee and a member of the Executive Committee of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. Her U-M honors include the Faculty Recognition Award, LS&A Excellence in Education Award, Humanities Institute Faculty Fellowship, U-M Collegiate Fellowship and Amoco Foundation Good Teaching Award.

Peter Sparling, professor of dance and artistic director of Dance Gallery/Peter Sparling & Co., an Ann Arbor-based dance company, is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and the Juilliard School. He was a member of the Jose Limon Dance Company and a principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company for 12 years. Between 1979 and 1983, he presented Solo Flight and Peter Sparling Dance Company for five successive seasons at New Your City's Riverside Dance Festival. He has held residencies at numerous American universities and at the London Contemporary Dance Theatre, Australia's Victorian College of the Arts, Portugal's Ballet Gulbenkian, Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, the Bat-Dor Summer Dance Workshop and at the American Dance Festival. He has received awards from, among others, the National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Arts Foundation of Michigan and the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. He was a 1996-97 Faculty Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities.


The YoHA symposium also will feature the launching of "The Arts of Citizenship," an innovative collaborative program of the U-M and city of Ann Arbor that includes a lecture series, a design project and an emerging collaboration with teachers at Mack Elementary and Community High schools. Mayor Ingrid Sheldon, who is an honorary co-chair of the YoHA Community Advisory Board, will make brief remarks at the start of the symposium. David Scobey, assistant professor of history and of American culture, is director of "The Arts of Citizenship" initiative.

The lecture series will present speakers on public culture, public history and public design. The speakers, says YoHA director Julie Ellison, "will be informants, inspirers and conversational partners in helping us think together about issues of cultural growth and urban change in Ann Arbor." Confirmed speakers include Dwight Pitcaithley, chief historian of the National Park Service, and former poet laureate Robert Hass.

The focus of the design project, "The Broadway Bridges Project: Cultural Programs for a Changing City," was suggested by Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon. A team led by Scobey that is participating in the project, which incorporates the areas near the planned reconstruction of the Broadway Bridges. The group hopes to work with city comittee and other community partners to suggest ways of dramatizing the rich historical and cultural geography of this complex intersection of river, parks, paths, streets, railroads, businesses, industries and homes. The team also sees its role as that of imagining the cultural programs that could occur on or near this location and of encouraging design choices that will make those programs feasible."

Planning is under way for a one-week summer seminar, "Students on Site," involving U-M faculty and Ann Arbor public school teachers. The group will seek to identify a workable series of writing-intensive and humanities projects linked to the Broadway Bridges site, to be done by public school students. The projects "will address the development of primary-school writing skills through the historical exploration of a specific locale," Ellison says. Collaborating faculty and teachers will try to find ways for high school students to serve as field trip partners, co-authors and researchers.

"When the bridges have been reconstructed and the site is available for cultural programming, student projects might take the form of historical exhibits, storytelling and murals incorporating texts and images," she adds.