September 25, 2013

Grunwald Gallery: Interview with Betsy Stirratt

Betsy Stirratt, Director of the Grunwald Gallery of Art, discusses two Themester-related exhibits currently showing in the gallery: Geist und Form: Ten Painters from Berlin and Imag(in)ing Science.

Entrance to Geist und Form.
Photo Credit: Geist und Form
1) How do these exhibits engage "Connectedness: Networks in a Complex World"? What does the work suggest about connection and networks?

Imag(in)ing Science includes work made by teams of scientists and artists. Faculty members at IU have collaborated to make pieces that would not have been possible without their connectedness. Each of the artist-scientist teams was created by knowing and becoming familiar with the work of the other person, so that the teams were developed by both social connectedness as well as connections in a professional and academic realm.

Geist und Form contains work by ten artists who have emigrated from other countries to Berlin. They traveled to Berlin because it is an art center at this time, and many visual artists from all over the world have found success and connections there.

An interactive piece featured in Imag(in)ing Science.
Photo credit: Alex Hughes
2) Imag(in)ing Science achieves one of Themester's greatest goals: to combine disciplines. Can you say more about this marriage of science and art? Its challenges and successes?

The most successful of the collaborations utilize research from both parties to create an entirely new final product. These works are visually successful, engaging the viewer to try to find out more about the work, and scientifically successful by imparting information about the science behind the final work.

3) Geist und Form is the product of a strong artistic network. How does such a network become a "cultural center" like Berlin?

Many factors came into play to make Berlin one of the visual art capitals of Europe. After the wall came down, artists were drawn to the city because it was inexpensive to live there and there was a pioneering spirit that existed. The city was being rebuilt and repopulated, and anything was possible. This is the kind of environment that artists have been drawn to for a long time, because space for working is available, and they could exist financially without too much worry. As more and more artists moved there, a momentum was created that drew artists and galleries from all over the world.

Panel discussion with five artists featured in Geist und Form.
Photo credit: Sarah Boyum

Both exhibits will continue to show through October 11.
Gallery hours are from 12-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.
(Closed on Sundays and Mondays).

Grunwald Gallery will also host four more discussions about Imag(in)ing Science.
For dates and times, refer to Themester's event calendar.

Amber Hendricks
Themester 2013 Intern

September 12, 2013

Lord of the Flies: Interview with Ellen MacKay

Ellen MacKay, an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the English Department , discusses Cardinal Stage Company's upcoming production of Lord of the Flies. MacKay served as the production's dramaturg.

Nathan Robbins (Jack) and Nat Zegree (Ralph).
Provided by Cardinal Stage Company.

How does this play contribute to Themester's discussion on networks and connection?

Lord of the Flies is about remaking the social fabric from the ground up. I don't think I am giving away anything by saying that it's an experiment that doesn't go well. But in keeping with the grand tradition of utopian and dystopian writing, Lord of the Flies is a meditation on the ties that bind us together, their fragility, and the horrors that result in their absence.

Is there a loss of connection in this play? If so, what sort of connection is lost?

Well, the Island is a unique social environment in that it lacks the diversity of our global, multicultural world. In fact, it lacks every social type aside from school-aged, middle class, British boys. There are no adults. There are no women. There are no girls. There are no families, schools, churches, or social structures. So many of the connections that would suture the social fabric together are cut. Yet the boys find a way of organizing themselves, and they police that system ferociously. The chaos that results is not just the effect of cut connections, but also the effect of this strangely homogenous and too-tightly bound society.
Provided by Cardinal Stage Company.

Does the network developed between the boys in this play fail completely or run a natural course?

Any answer would depend on what you take to be humankind's natural condition. If the play follows the course of nature, then it's the nature that Thomas Hobbes describes, in which life is nasty, brutish, and short. According to John Locke, the human state of nature is a peaceable, sociable one. He would say that the disaster of Lord of the Flies is the effect of a corruption of nature and not natural at all.

To purchase tickets for Lord of the Flies, visit the Cardinal website:

Buskirk-Chumley Theatre

Wednesday 7:30 p.m. (preview)
Thursday 7:00 p.m.
Friday 7:00 p.m.
Saturday 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Sunday 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Amber Hendricks
Themester 2013 Intern