Beck welcomed Lawrence-style

Cory Robertson & Paul Karner

The inauguration weekend included a substantial dose of the arts from every corner of the University. Students and faculty from all different disciplines took part in welcoming Jill Beck into the long legacy of arts education at Lawrence.
The weekend commenced with a Wriston Art Center dedication on Thursday, May 5. Art professor Rob Neilson welcomed everyone to the Science Hall atrium for the dedication of the installation, entitled “Cellular Automata,” created by artist Rob Smart, class of ’96. Kristy Sandven, a sophomore art history major, gave a brief speech on the significance and the construction of the piece. “Cellular Automata” is an array of stainless steel-enclosed glass panels etched with images of natural growth structures, lit with slowly changing LED lights inside the panels. The piece stood boldly in front of the audience as a glowing testament to the interdisciplinary study of liberal arts education.
The ArtsBridge program, introduced to Lawrence this year by President Beck, has proven to be a great success. The resulting performances, delivered Friday morning, were colorful and inspiring. ArtsBridge scholar Scott Palmer led a seventh grade class in drumming and chants inspired by the cultures and histories of Cuba, Brazil, and various African countries. Other presentations included an endearing rendition of “What a Wonderful World” by a group of kindergarteners conducted by Erin Sullivan, and the performance by Charlie Christenson, Karl McComas-Reichl, and Nick Kraus of several musical works, such as “The Bully Blues” and “The Cavity Blues,” by third graders at Clovis Grove Elementary. Also showcased by ArtsBridge was the Quilt Project, on display in the library, and “Picturing Peace,” a collection of artistic photography on display in the Music-Drama Center.
Another valuable facet of the weekend was a poetry reading by three Lawrence seniors from Professor Barrett’s advanced poetry-writing class. Michael Morse’s poetry and presentation, characterized by a surprising degree of frankness and humor, went so far into self-deprecation as to include an angry poem written to him by an ex-girlfriend. Aubree Bojko, on the other hand, invoked images of classical antiquity and literature in order to create her own elegant and witty style. Joshua Musikantow seemed to lie somewhere between the two, using a mixture of realism and fantasy that culminated in his self-titled poem “Superluminal Man.” When asked why the inclusion of poetry in the inaugural celebration of the arts was important, Musikantow remarked that “there are a lot of students who do write poetry on campus, but there’s not a lot of outlet for it.”
Conservatory students Sam Martin, violin, Jesse Dochnahl, soprano saxophone, and Myer Nore, piano, formed an unusual and dynamic trio, performing “The Klezmer’s Wedding,” by Srul Irving Glick. The same trio, but with Jacob Teichroew on alto saxophone, played “Come Down Heavy,” by Evan Chambers. The evening concert by conservatory faculty featured performances by professors of piano, voice, and strings. Freshman Ben Growth said that what most excited him about the concert was the chance to see a “diverse array of faculty perform.” The musical selection was also diverse, including such composers as Astor Piazzolla, Debussy, and Arthur S. Sullivan.
The theatre arts department was well represented, with scenes performed by advanced acting students and the cast of the upcoming play “First Lady.” The art department had several gallery displays open – “The Modern City” in Leech Gallery, “Guys and Dolls” in Hoffmaster Gallery, and an installation by Mark Klassen in Kohler Gallery.
The arts events throughout the weekend proved a fitting start for Jill Beck’s term as president.