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This content was published: February 14, 2021. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Wellspring: Humanities and Arts During Covid-19, Issue 11

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“A people also perish when they fail to keep alive the values that make them human, the wellsprings of their sanity.”  —Ben Okri

Dear Colleagues:

We hope that you and your loved ones are well, that you were able to take a deep breath after the election, and that you have even been able to enjoy some of the beautiful fall weather.

Our late fall newsletter highlights faculty art exhibits and publications, arts and humanities events at PCC and beyond, and a great reading about the possibilities for literature to transform our sense of ourselves and the world around us.

PCC Humanities and Arts Highlights

  • Even as they have been busy adapting classes to a remote learning environment, our talented PCC faculty have been busy working on their own creative pursuits, a number of which we would like to highlight here:
    • Southeast English faculty and HARTS Council member, Billy Merck, a former professional soccer player, published this richly researched and fascinating article in Howler about the history and implications of the 35-yard-shootout in American soccer.
    • Amy Bay, who teaches Drawing I & II, Painting I & II and Understanding New Media Arts at Rock Creek Campus, has her work exhibited as part of a group exhibition Eartha. From the website: “Using painting as a common language, the artists included in Eartha examine the concept of the natural world and their relationship to it. Together, the works offer a different way of being in the world, one that is personal, interconnected, and spiritual, while raising questions of representation, politics, gender and pleasure.”
    • Matt Chelf, Writing faculty from Sylvania Campus, recently had his short story, titled, “Cans,” published in the Random Sampler Review.
    • James Pepe, Writing faculty from Cascade Campus, will have his latest short story, “The Key, the Gate – His Peacock Tongue,” appear in Lovecraft in the Time of Madness, an anthology of cosmic horror by Sentinel Creatives (Expected release date: February 2021)
    • Finally, Daniel Duford, who teaches art at Rock Creek, has recently had two exhibits, one at the Schneider Museum of Art at Southern Oregon University. The other exhibit at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU focuses on mythology and storytelling in narrative figure painting with radical abolitionist John Brown as the central figure. Both exhibits were supported by a 2019 Guggenheim grant. Congratulations to all!
  • In other news, The Experience Music Series, presented by PCC Music – Rock Creek Campus, will continue its series of virtual live concerts for the Portland community with a performance by classical pianist Lee Alan Nolan on November 10 at 1:30 pm. Mr. Nolan will perform a French inspired program titled Sacré Bleu, featuring works by Debussy, Satie, Ravel, and Chopin. The concert may be accessed by going to expmusicseries.com/youtube and will also feature our popular question and answer session with the artist after the performance. The concert will be available online until November 17. There is no charge to view the concert, but donations to the series are gratefully accepted.
  • Demonstrating the broad reach of our faculty into the community, Ethnic Studies Faculty Gabriel Higuera from Rock Creek Campus has helped organize this special Ethnic Studies youth conference on December 4th, hosted by PCC and Five Oaks Museum as archival partner. The conference centers the art, research, and voices of students in elementary, middle, and high schools in Oregon. Educators, family, and youth workers are encouraged to make this opportunity available for the communities they serve. Youth are invited to share critical work associated with ethnic studies including environmental justice, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, anti-racism and white supremacy, immigration, migration and refugee rights, economic justice, health and healthcare, art, and counter-narratives. Youth panels will be organized by theme and moderated by scholars and community leaders. “Our goal is to offer young people a platform to share their critical hope and concerns, and to connect with peers and advocates committed to a more just and humane world.”
  • Finally, Two Deep Breaths, the weekly poetry selection curated by Cascade English faculty Justin Rigamonti, continues. View the latest poem.

Local Humanities and Arts Highlights

  • The Metropolitan Youth Orchestra, under the direction of their music director, Raul Gomez, will have a free fall concert on Nov 21st (virtual). Besides a few traditional pieces by Beethoven and Grieg, they’ll be highlighting the African American classical composers Florence Price and William Grant Hill. Their jazz ensemble will be playing John Coltrane’s civil rights elegy “Alabama.”
  • The Portland Institute for Contemporary Art will be hosting We Got Each Other’s Back through February 7, 2021. Part of a long-term documentary project by interdisciplinary artist Carlos Motta— in collaboration with artists Heldáy de la Cruz, Julio Salgado, and Edna Vázquez– this is a three-part, multi-channel video installation featuring portraits of queer artists and activists in the United States who are or have been openly undocumented, and who are producing work to denounce historic and present-day broken US immigration policies. The project demonstrates how the intersections of sexuality, gender, ethnicity, race, and economic background define the environment of marginalization and discrimination to which immigrants are subjected, while challenging mainstream media narratives of immigration and sexuality by presenting nuanced, real-life stories of living at the margins of the legal system. We Got Each Other’s Back also includes live and online events and public programs that engage the challenges faced by undocumented migrants.
  • The 2020 Portland Book Festival, hosted by Oregon Literary Arts, began on Thursday, November 5 at noon and runs through Saturday November 21. With more than 100 authors and 50 FREE events over two and a half weeks, “readers of all ages can find their story at this year’s Festival.”
  • On Monday November 16th, Edward Norton, who wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a film adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, will perform a dramatic reading of Lethem’s newest novel The Arrest, which takes place in a post-technology world soon disturbed by a new invention. The author will be joined in conversation by Hugo Award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson (New York 2140) after the performance. The event is hosted by the Center for Fiction.
  • Finally, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will offer a free virtual season of works starting this December. The theater company will offer several works paying homage to six decades of Ailey’s Revelations. New pieces presented include Testament, a modern-day approach to Revelations, curated by Associate Artistic Director Matthew Rushing alongside Clifton Brown, Yusha-Marie Sorzano and Damien Sneed on scoring. You can read more about the season or visit the Alvin Ailey All Access page.

Humanities and Arts Essential Readings

  • The Washington Post recently published a wonderful article titled, “The Meaning of a College Literature Class — During a Pandemic and Always” by Carlo Rotella, a professor of English, American studies and journalism at Boston College, who wonders if” the eternal lessons of great books ever mattered more.” In the article, he discusses the value of small class discussions and demystifies literary analysis: “Think of it as an exercise in pattern recognition. You notice things — word choices, imagery, details of setting, references to other works and to events and ideas outside the text, the narrator’s point of view, the sequence in which the story unfolds, echoes and variations, and so on — and you try to discern some ordering logic that emerges from those patterns. I think of interpretation as a creative act in which we go into the text to gather the materials to make something: a persuasive argument about what meanings we find there. I’m agnostic about what particular meanings the students might want to argue for; I just want them to do it well.” At the end of the article he articulates a question and answer that many faculty can relate to: “Are the students more prepared for meaningful employment, citizenship, difficulty and joy because they’ve arrived at a deeper understanding of the struggles of Dybek’s neighborhood kids navigating the passage to the wider world, Wharton’s warrior-waterplant or Diaz’s doomed nerd idealist and his toxic amanuensis? I think so. I hope so.”

We hope this newsletter opens creative avenues for you this week and reminds you of the rich possibilities of the arts and humanities at PCC. To learn more about HARTS, please visit our website. If you have announcements, news, student or faculty work that you’d like considered for future, please write directly to harts@pcc.edu.