A stunning display of cultural fusion
Red spotlights hit the stage of the Palace Theater, illuminating Dao Anh Khanh’s silhouette behind an opaque sheet. As the performance artist began to move, his calculated motions were synchronized with alternating colored lights, powerful noise, musical harmonies, video, and smoke. The overall effect was like moving art.

Accompanied by Colgate Vietnam Society members, Dao Anh Khanh (foreground, left) created moving art. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

    In its second year as a campus organization, the Colgate Vietnam Society (CVS) presented Khanh’s show, “East Meets West,” in early April. An internationally known performance artist from Vietnam, Khanh is inspired by both Western and traditional Eastern art. His Colgate visit — only his sixth time in the United States — gave students the opportunity to see an innovative interpretation of Vietnamese performance art. Joining Khanh were five Colgate student dancers whom he had personally trained in preparation for the show. Executing a unique array of dancelike motions, including some impressive acrobatics, Khanh and the student dancers performed harmoniously, feeding off of each other’s energy.     
    One of the dancers was Khanh’s daughter, Jenny Tho Dao ’12, a CVS member who helped the group organize his visit. “All the dancers were fascinated with this kind of experimental art,” she said. “And it was a cool experience to be able to rehearse with my dad for this performance.”
    Tue Nguyen ’14, also a CVS member, said, “[Khanh’s] use of light and darkness was really interesting, especially at the point of the show when his silhouette was intertwining with the other shadows — that was amazing.”
    Khanh, whose work is about crossing lines culturally and politically, explained his inspiration: “It’s the life of people, from the people of Vietnam, America, and the people of the world. It’s about distance, culture, life, all coming together more and more.”
— Natalie Sportelli ’15

Three Gods Walk Into a Bar…

“Leave your powers at the door” read a sign on the coatrack in Dionysus’s bar in the Masque and Triangle production of Three Gods Walk Into a Bar. Directed by Jessica Hall ’14, and featuring an ensemble cast of new and veteran actors, the play was staged April 12 through 14 in Brehmer Theater.

The Masque and Triangle production of Three Gods Walk Into a Bar
(photo by Ashlee Eve ’14)

    Playwright Ross Brooks wrote the comedy based on the idea that the Greek gods are losing their “jobs” to the new game in town, Jesus and the Christian God. During a visit to campus, Brooks worked with the cast and crew, and led two discussions about the play and its implications. For Hall, a member of the Educational Outreach Board of Masque and Triangle, the opportunity to direct the play and solicit feedback from the playwright himself was a dream come true. Hall had been interested in Greek mythology ever since she took Core 151: Legacies of the Ancient World with Professor Matt Leone. Then, last year, Hall came upon Brooks’s script when her family raved about the play after seeing it in her hometown of Nashville (where Brooks is also from). It was like a sign from the gods; Hall knew she wanted to produce the play at Colgate.
    While a lot of humor is injected into the play — the gods, Hera, Zeus, Dionysus, and Hermes, are constantly punning on their godliness — the concept behind it is more serious. Calling into question the whole idea of religion, the play not only entertained, but also posed important questions for the audience, including students in the classics and religion departments as well as Core 151. As Dionysus (played by Dan Kwartler ’15) said, the humans “give us shape, form, and function,” and therefore, the gods are at the mercy of the mortals and their wishes. With the entrance of Jesus Christ (Chris Donnelly ’15) in white overalls and a plaid shirt, Zeus (Dan Levy ’12), Hera (Alex Magnaud ’12), Hermes (Eric Bryden ’14), and Dionysus are sent into a tailspin listening to his new ideas about how to be a deity. Hermes chooses to join Jesus’s new group of deities, under pressure from Michael (Will Reisinger ’15), who serves them their unemployment papers and is not-so-subtly representative of Michael the Archangel. The rest of the gods decide to float into legend. Closing with Jesus, Michael, and the Greek gods happily grabbing a drink at Dionysus’s bar, there was time for one final joke: before the curtain fell, the cast froze into an imitation of da Vinci’s Last Supper.
— Katie Rice ’13

Art, audio, and admiration
Memories, laughter, and emotions were wordlessly captured in the exhibition 15 Minutes: Homage to Andy Warhol, on view in Case Library throughout April and May. Each small, square print in the collection is a snapshot of history. One is a photograph of him and Bob Dylan admiring Warhol’s famous Elvis painting. In another, Warhol is coyly kissing John Lennon on the cheek at a party. A silk-screen print features a play on Warhol’s Brillo boxes; this is the work of audio producer and artist Jeff Gordon, who put the collection together.

Artist Jeff Gordon (photo by Janna Minehart ’13)
    Accompanied by abstract painter Path Soong, Gordon came to campus in early April to introduce his exhibition of 17 prints that are visual representations of recorded MP3 audio tracks. Famous singers, poets, and artists — including Dylan, Ultra Violet, Patti Smith, and Billy Name — recorded their memories, songs, and poems to profess their veneration for their late friend. The contributors then created individual “album covers” to complement their MP3s. In order to get the full experience of the exhibition, visitors could listen to the tracks while viewing the corresponding prints.
    Several art students and art history classes dropped by the exhibition as part of their learning outside of the classroom. Upon hearing about Gordon’s personal connection to Warhol and his work with the icons who contributed to the project, one art student commented, “It’s really cool to be able to hear a person who was so close to someone as famous as Andy Warhol speak to us. It’s like listening to history.”
    Reflecting on his multilayered career as an audio producer, artist, and innovator, Gordon said: “I blur lines and destroy borders in my work.”
    The exhibition made its Colgate stop before traveling to New York City, Turkey, China, and other locations worldwide.
— Natalie Sportelli ’15

Bouk belts it out
Elizabeth Bouk, a voice instructor at Colgate, has been displaying her full-scale talent through various roles with local operas. Most recently, the mezzo-soprano portrayed Kate Pinkerton in the Syracuse Opera’s April production of Madama Butterfly.
    Bouk made her Syracuse Opera debut as Flora in La Traviata last October. Colgate Italian Club members, Professor Anne Beggs’s Global Theater through the Ages class, and voice and choral students attended.
    Then, in November, Bouk sang the part of Dorabella in Oswego Opera’s production of Cosi fan Tutte — a role she’s played several times. “Elizabeth Bouk’s raving Dorabella was another winner, sung with a milky, luscious mezzo,” Sam Perwin of Opera News Online wrote of her 2009 New York City performance.
    The songstress said that her biggest thrill is singing with an orchestra. “I get to fit in with so many different and complex timbres and rhythms, but I also have a special place in that mix,” explained Bouk, who has been singing seriously since she was in eighth grade.
    In addition to singing opera, Bouk recently performed in the Empire State Lyric Theater’s production of Beauty and the Beast in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y. Also, in May, she was featured as the alto soloist in Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Sacket’s Harbor Vocal Arts Ensemble and in Handel’s Messiah with The Catskill Choral Society.
    Bouk entertains on a smaller stage several times a year when she performs with pianist Dianne McDowell at The Barge Canal Coffee Co. in Hamilton. Her favorite tunes are from the Golden Age of musical theater, so the duo performs music by Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Kurt Weill.
    Reflecting on her multifaceted career, Bouk said, “It is wonderful to have a job that brings me such joy.”

Out of the mouths of babes
As Casey Macaulay ’12 was doing research about the play Spring Awakening — Frank Wedekind’s late–19th century shocker — she experienced an awakening of her own.
    It was Macaulay’s final semester at Colgate, and her first time as a dramaturge. In that role, she was researching the play’s historical context and production history for University Theater’s modern adaptation of it for their spring production. The research also became part of Macaulay’s senior capstone project.

Colgate University Theater presented author Jonathan Franzen’s translated version of Spring Awakening. (Photo by Ashlee Eve ’14)

    Spring Awakening was originally published in 1891 in Germany, but the premiere was delayed until 1906 due to its scandalous content about adolescent sexuality. Over the next century, several censored versions were staged. The Broadway musical version gained wide appeal in 2007, earning eight Tony Awards including Best Musical.
    Because Macaulay, a theater and political science double major, is from Starnberg, Germany, her command of German helped her to compare different translations of the play, including the version by Jonathan Franzen (author of the acclaimed novel The Corrections) used for Colgate’s production. “Spring Awakening’s frank portrayal of coming-of-age pays tribute to the honesty inherent in the German language and is a clear prelude to expressionism,” she wrote in the program notes.
    “The process enabled me to understand the text’s many layers and the playwright’s intention behind them,” said Macaulay, who also researched Wedekind as part of her role as dramaturge. She found the experience so powerful that it reinforced her decision to apply to dramaturgy and literary management fellowships for next year.
    And the insights she gained drew the audience more deeply into the performance, which was directed by Adrian Giurgea, professor of English and director of University Theater.
    “The world in which we live now is markedly different from when the play was written; the rise of media and technology have made sexual ignorance almost impossible,” she wrote. “Adults have contrastingly been afforded a facelift of youth. Children, cursed to mature faster biologically, are prodded to remain forever young externally.”
    No wonder the play hasn’t gone out of style.

Breughel lends Picker a new landscape
At about the same time the Pilgrims were scraping up against Plymouth Rock, Pieter Breughel the Younger was putting the finishing touches on a lively painting in his bustling workshop in Antwerp, Belgium.
    Four centuries after the signing of the Mayflower Compact, Colgate has received Breughel’s Winter Landscape with Skaters, a gift from Donald ’46 and Renate Schaefer to the Picker Art Gallery’s permanent collection. The panel, which depicts village life along an ice-covered Flemish river, was unveiled during a reception at the gallery on April 14.

Donald Schaefer ’46 tells the story of how Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s painting Winter Landscape with Skaters made its odyssey to Colgate. (Photo by Andrew Daddio)

    Mrs. Schaefer inherited the artwork in 1961 from her uncle, Max Oberlander, who purchased it in 1920s Vienna. In preparation for the transfer, Mr. Schaefer flew the painting — first class — to Germany, where it was authenticated by Breughel expert Klaus Ertz. When Winter Landscape was returned to sender, Colgate’s own ancient and medieval art expert, Judith Oliver, began digging into the history of its creator.
    Breughel the Younger, Oliver told reception guests, was the son of one of Renaissance Europe’s most famous artists, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, whose paintings hung in royal houses across the continent. Pieter Bruegel Jr. inherited his father’s sketches and workshop at a young age and produced copies of those high-end masterpieces for the middle-class market – and added an ‘h’ to his name.
    But Winter Landscape is a unique page in Brueghel the Younger’s portfolio. It is one of the few paintings not derived from his father’s works — rather, it was part of a commission that his father began but was unable to complete before his death in 1569. It is also one of the first that he signed with yet another spelling, Breughel, perhaps to differentiate himself further from his celebrated parent.
    These aspects of the painting, along with its charming iconography and social commentary, make it a welcome addition to the Picker collection. “It’s a tremendous gift,” said President Jeffrey Herbst. “We understand the responsibility we have to preserve it and to make sure that generations of students, alumni, parents, and friends are able to see it.”

2012 Senior art projects: selections

Histoire (Acrylic on canvas; latex on masonite) by Elizabeth Murphy Kean ’12 is a series of portraits that reflect her family history and mimic the details characteristic of old photographs. Through archives of personal letters and other written documents, as well as conversations with relatives, Kean collected secrets and quirky facts pertaining to her family’s history. The panel below the portraits exhibits some of these secrets.

Coalescence of Geometric Dimensions (latex on wood) by Kimberly Sass ’12 stems from her previous interest in painting three dimensional, architectural elements on a two-dimensional canvas. “I continue to examine spatial dimensions, perception, collage, and the boundary between painting and sculpture,” Sass explained. “Painting a two-dimensional, geometric pattern on an uneven, three-dimensional wood surface, there is a certain duality achieved. This piece was intended for the image to unfold in multiple ways.”

The User (video still, 2011/2012, 59:42) is “a metaphor for the many bad people in this world,” explained Alexander Coco ’12. “During the process of filmmaking, I continually reflect and deal with the issues that concern me. I don’t try to force the film … I let it become what it wants to become. I go along with the process: trying to be a step ahead, but still allowing it to surprise me.”

Photos by Mark Williams

Art students present: What Museums Collect

This past semester, students played the roles of both art historians and curators in the Museums in Theory and Practice course taught by Judith Oliver, professor of art and art history and medieval and Renaissance studies. The culmination of the class was What Museums Collect: From the Cabinet of Curiosities to Modern Curatorial Challenges, an exhibition in Colgate’s Picker Art Gallery from May 10 until June 15.

Indian metalwork of Shiva, part of the What Museums Collect exhibition (photo by Mark Williams)
     The students were responsible for conducting research, creating gallery labels, and installing the art, as part of Oliver’s ambitious assignment that took the class outside the lecture hall and into a museum of their own creation.  
    Oliver first asked her students to write term papers addressing current challenges that museums face. Their topics — which included the looting of antiquities, the detection of forgeries, objects of religious veneration, and offensive art — became the themes for their individual exhibitions.
    Working closely with Sarisha Guarneiri, the Picker gallery’s registrar, students chose objects that aesthetically embodied the focus of their research. They selected pieces ranging from 1930s photography to Indian ironwork sculpture to Australian aboriginal bark paintings.
    Students hung the colorful and eclectic pieces themselves, showing off objects in their collections in regal glass cases. Based on their research, they wrote professional wall labels to accompany the art.
    Megan Reinhart ’12, an art history major, wrote her senior thesis on the detection of forgeries as a modern museum challenge. “Mine focused on how artwork may not always be what it seems,” Reinhart explained. Her collection includes paintings that might be forgeries, but, as she wrote in her labels, the art world cannot be certain if the pieces are actually fakes.
    Brooke Weinstein ’12 created her own “Cabinet of Curiosities,” symbolic of the assortment of exotic items collected by the Italian Medici family, which art historians now view as the first museum. Weinstein’s cabinet featured items like stuffed birds in flight from the biology department’s Natural History Museum of the Chenango Valley and gems borrowed from the geology department’s Robert M. Linsley Museum.
    Oliver said she “hoped the exhibition would give [her students] a sense of all the many practical elements that go into creating an exhibition, as well as a taste of how interesting life is behind the scenes and the many ethical challenges museums face.”
    Grace Goodwin ’13 said she “learned that there is so much behind an art exhibition — much more than meets the eye.” Goodwin added, “It’s not as simple as just hanging paintings on the wall.”
— Natalie Sportelli ’15


Escher String Quartet
September 16, 2012,
    3:30 p.m.
Colgate Memorial Chapel
Music of Purcell, Britten, Gesualdo, and Mozart
Free and open to the public

This ensemble — Adam Barnett-Hart and Wu Jie, violin; Pierre Lapointe, viola; and Dane Johansen, cello — has received acclaim for its individual sound, unparalleled artistry, and unique cohesiveness.
    With performances at major venues across the United States and abroad, including Carnegie Hall, Dallas Chamber Music Society, the Kennedy Center, the Louvre, China’s Hangzhou Grand Theatre, and the Ravinia, Gold Coast, Caramoor, and City of London Festivals, they are one of the BBC’s prestigious New Generation Artists. Recent residents in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s “CMS Two” program, they have collaborated with such eminent artists as Andrés Díaz, Leon Fleisher, Lynn Harrell, Wu Han, David Shifrin, pop folk singer-songwriter Luke Temple, and Pinchas Zukerman.
    While on campus, the quartet will also offer a workshop with student instrumentalists.

For information on other campus arts events, visit www.colgate.edu/arts