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Opening up 'Banned Books'

Celebrate Banned Books Week at ASU with events, displays at Hayden Library.
September 25, 2017

ASU Library highlights Banned Books Week with a growing display of censored texts, a scavenger hunt and a button-making station

When students at Arizona State University enter the library this week, they will be greeted by an unusual sign: “Don’t read these books.”

The sign, directing students to a display of books that have been banned or challenged throughout history, is intended to mentally jolt — cue the record scratch — even the most distracted Sun Devils.

This is the tongue-in-cheek tradition of Banned Books Week, an annual, cautious celebration of books and our right to read them.

“Banned Books Week is probably one of the most important events in the literary profession,” said Ashley Gohr, a First Year Experience librarian with ASU Library. “It’s a week when librarians, publishers, teachers and writers help to educate our communities by inviting deeper conversations about censorship and the power of words and storytelling, especially for marginalized communities.”

ASU Library is looking to open up the event this year to an even larger audience through social media, book displays and other activities that encourage thinking around free speech and about books as a powerful technology.

Gohr said that although the practice of banning books is very serious and concerning, the ASU Library events this week will offer “small acts of creative defiance” that are not only educational but fun too.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now


Language, sex and race

Books get banned, restricted or challenged for a variety of reasons, Gohr said, but offensive language, sexual content and racism are among the most common.

Just last year, more than 300 challenges to books were recorded by the American Library Association (ALA), a figure that does not include all the censorship attempts made to films, exhibits, newspapers, magazines, broadcasts, plays and performances.

Famously banned books include “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain (language, racism), “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie (language, violence, sexual content) and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston (sexual content).

Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” was once described as “filthy” by some mid-19th-century booksellers.

The impulse to censor, Gohr said, is a direct response to the inherent power ideas hold and the strength of books to spread them.

“Books are thought of as dangerous, and they are! They contain ideas and stories that can change minds and lives,” she said.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now



#WordsHavePower is the tagline for this year’s Banned Books Week, an ALA-sponsored event that ASU Library plans to highlight with increasing force each year.

Plans to grow the annual event include a speaker series, a reading flash mob and public readings of censored work on all of ASU’s campuses.

This year, Gohr and fellow ASU Library staffer Ashley Barckett have been busy pulling books from library shelves — “as many as we can fit,” they said — to include in the Hayden Library banned-book display.

The ragtag collection includes such classics as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Beloved” and sits alongside a reading nook where the ASU community is encouraged to linger, interact and explore the books “in question.”

Additionally, Gohr and Barckett have put together a banned-book scavenger hunt and set up a button-making station in the Hayden Library mkrspace, for those #RebelReaders who want to wear their Toni Morrisons and Ralph Ellisons on their sleeve.

There will also be displays at the libraries on the West, Polytechnic and Downtown Phoenix campuses.

“This is a great opportunity to celebrate the library as a place of access, discovery and inclusion — particularly at an institution like ASU,” said Barckett, a library information specialist. “Many of our international students come from countries that have different views on censorship, and books are still challenged and banned regularly in the U.S. This event is as relevant as ever.”

Barckett and Gohr said they will be wearing buttons and T-shirts throughout the week that signify banned authors and books, such as “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and the book-burning “Fahrenheit 451,” which, Gohr said, might be the most ironic banned book of all.

"It's about banning books," she said.


Top photo: ASU librarian Ashley Gohr holds up cards that list the reasons why specific books were banned, in anticipation of a display for banned books at Hayden Library. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Britt Lewis

Interim Communications Director , ASU Library

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Prized costume designer's collection at ASU to become accessible online.
September 20, 2017

Archives of costume innovator Irene Corey — who created looks from Barney to biblical characters — to feature searchable listing

Arizona State University’s Child Drama Collection is the largest, most utilized and internationally renowned youth-theater repository in the world, according to university officials.

It lures scholars, playwrights, performers and students from around the world to study its costumes, scripts, designs and ephemera — but the reach for one of its most prized portions has been limited to those who could journey to Hayden Library in Tempe.

By the end of the year, however, a listing of the contents of the Irene Corey Collection will become accessible to everyone online. Then, Katherine Krzys believes, “people will be coming in throngs.”

“Irene Corey literally changed the face of costume and makeup design,” said Krzys, who, among other roles — archivist, actress, director, author and historian — is the curator of the Child Drama Collection.

“All those innovations are documented visually and in print in her archive for scholars and artists to discover. It’s a one-of-a-kind source that will inspire generations of new theatrical artists.”

Irene Corey and Barney, one of her most famous creations.

For over a half-century Corey designed costumes, sets and makeup for shows as varied as theater classics and theme-park characters. Corey first became nationally known for the “Book of Job” in the 1950s, which had 22-year run throughout the world.

She also designed the costumes for the television show “Barney and Friends” (including the friendly dinosaur's trademark purple color) and helped create the first Chick-fil-A cows and Half Price Books’ Bookworm. Many in the field also believe without Corey’s visionary work audiences would not have seen “Cats” or “Lion King” on Broadway.

Among the collection's items are Corey’s innovative costumes for “The Tempest” and “The Book of Job,” animal makeup renderings, production photographs, costume renderings and her historical and cultural research files.

“Irene was really into process, and when you look at this collection, you’re going to see little ideas on the back of menus, on the back of envelopes,” Krzys said. “Her process is the most important thing the collection can tell you.”

It can also tell you that Corey’s life’s work is worth a pretty pennyCorey died of Parkinson’s disease in 2010. She was 84.. Originally valued at $200,000 at the time it was donated in 1995, today it's possible the collection is worth millions said Lynda Xepoleas, an art history major at ASU’s School of ArtThe School of Art is a unit within the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. and aide in the ASU Library conservation lab.

“I once worked on a Marc Chagall costume exhibit, and he and Irene Corey were top artists in their respective fields,” said Xepoleas, who is working with Krzys to preserve the costume portion of the collection. “The things I see in Irene’s collection are just as impressive as what I saw in his exhibit.”

For the past few months Xepoleas has been creating hanging and boxed storage for costumes, props, masks, wands, headpieces, belts and gloves. She said working with these items has given her an insight into Corey’s creative process.

“She wanted these costumes and props to be seen from a distance rather than be functional,” Xepoleas said. “To witness history up close has been very rewarding for me.”

Krzys said it took over a decade to convince Corey to donate her papers to ASU.

“I went personally to pack up her papers at her art-filled house in Dallas — finding costumes in the dirt crawl space of her outdoor studio, renderings under the sideboard in her dining room — wherever she had space,” Krzys said. “The process was filled with laughter, amazing stories, advice for designers and a lifelong friendship.”

The Irene Corey Collection is a part of the Child Drama Collection, the largest compilation in the world documenting the international history of children's theater back to the 16th century.

It was established at ASU in 1979 by librarian Marilyn Wurzburger, head of Special Collections, and by Lin Wright, chair of the ASU Department of Theatre. They jointly recommended the development of a Child Drama Collection in response to the academic needs of youth-theater students and faculty at ASU and the research needs of professional artists and educators throughout the world.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

The first collection donated to the university, Wurzburger said, came from Rita Criste, a children’s theater professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who donated her papers and books to ASU.

“Every university library likes to distinguish themselves because they know it will give them a certain prestige. They know people will come from around the world to look at a collection,” said Wurzburger, who started at ASU in 1960 and retired in 2009.

Those people include John Newman, a theater professor at Utah Valley University who brought four theater students with him in July to view the collection. The students recently received a grant to research and develop a new play for the Utah Children’s Theatre called “Builders of America,” based on several historic American characters.

“The students were so engaged in research that it was hard to pull them away from the process,” Newman said. “We were greeted by the character Job, who was in an original Irene Corey costume, and it was a great introduction to the collection.”

Newman added that the collection captured the imagination of each of his students — a designer, a playwright, a director and a dramaturgeA dramaturge is a professional writer/editor within a theater or opera company who deals mainly with research and development of plays or operas..

“Kathy was able to find something that appealed to their individual or found a tangent that extended their interest,” Newman said. “It was an exceptional experience.”

Ashley Laverty, an MFA graduate from the School of Film, Dance and Theatre’s Theatre for Youth program in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, said she spent a good portion of her academic career perusing through the collection, drawing inspiration for her work.

“I used the collection pretty steadily all three years I was in grad school at ASU, and it was a huge resource for me,” said Laverty, who now works for the Rose Theater, a premiere performing-arts venue in Omaha, Nebraska. “I’m lucky to have been in a program where I could literally ask Kathy about a play and she knows how to get it.”

Wurzburger said once a university starts building a collection, others begin to notice.

“People start to think, ‘I’d like my papers to sit beside those,’” Wurzburger said. “When you get a good start, there’s hope you can build on that.”

Wurzburger was able to build on the collection through a key recruit she made in 1985 by enlisting the help of Krzys, who was then a graduate research assistant in the ASU MFA Theatre for Youth Program. Krzys said she had a job lined up at a children’s theater in San Francisco once she had obtained her master’s degree. She said she was required to write a research-methods paper and had stumbled upon the Child Drama Collection.

It was Krzys who oversaw the transfer of the collection from typewriter-generated finding aids into computer searchable lists of contents. The collection started with 132 books and 100 linear feet of archival collections. Today it contains more than 9,200 books, 294 periodical titles, more than 2,000 audio-visual media, and almost 5,000 linear feet of manuscript collections, documenting professional theater for young audiences, youth theater and toddler-through-high-school theater education.

Other highlights of the Child Drama Collection include:

Jonathan Levy Collection: Donated in 1999, it contains more than 350 books with copyrights from the 17th through 20th centuries, and manuscripts chronicling Levy's academic and professional career. Prior to getting this archive, the Child Drama Collection had documented the history of the field only from 1900 onward. The Levy collection expanded research possibilities back to the 16th centuryJonathan Levy also did research into what was happening in children’s theater in the 16th century; his personal research is included in the manuscripts he donated along with his library. In addition, books from the 17th century covered 16th-century events. and made the Child Drama Collection the largest repository of materials on youth theater in the world.

Lowell and Nancy Swortzell Theatre Arts Collection: The award-winning Swortzells, who created the Educational Theatre Program at New York University, saved every scrap of paper — every letter, photo and class note — and started donating them to the Child Drama Collection so that their scholarship and teaching methods could be shared by scholars. This was the largest single donation of books and manuscripts to the Child Drama Collection.

The David, Sonja and Benjamin Saar Yellow Boat Collection: It contains framed drawings, posters, correspondence from audience members, letters and drawings from schoolchildren, photographs, press releases and other materials documenting the writing and production of “The Yellow Boat,” a play Saar wrote for his son Benjamin, a hemophiliac who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion and was asked to leave his private school.

Childsplay Records: ASU not only collaborates frequently with Tempe-based Childsplay Theatre but houses its archives. It includes video cassette tapes and DVDs from productions, scripts, posters, workshop and planning materials, and set models.

Krzys, who had once envisioned a life directing children’s theater only to spend the next three decades at ASU, says her life ended up having more purpose because of the power, reach and influence of the collection.

“I would have never thought I’d be a librarian for more than 30 years, but I stayed for a variety of reasons. I’m a big believer in fate,” Krzys said.

“I’ve been all around the world. I’ve met amazing people. And I don’t regret a single moment of my career.”


Top photo: Special collections preservationist Lynda Xepoleas presents two masks from the Irene Corey Collection at Hayden Library on Sept. 6 in Tempe. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now


ASU assistant professor to share digital music research at Loop 2017

September 19, 2017

Lauren Hayes takes the idea of “feeling the music” to a literal level. Hayes, assistant professor in Arizona State University's School of Arts, Media and Engineering, a transdisciplinary unit formed between the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, works with haptic technology, or touch-based technology. Haptic feedback allows composers and performers like Hayes to deeply understand new and self-built digital instruments and to know how the music actually feels, which influences the musical outcomes both in composing and in the live performance.

But Hayes is more than a composer and performer. She also sees the benefits of researching haptics and of expanding education in electronic music. ASU faculty Lauren Hayes Lauren Hayes, assistant professor in the ASU School of Arts, Media and Engineering, will present her research on education for digital music and haptic technologies at Ableton’s Loop 2017 conference. Download Full Image

“My current research in this area involves a Herberger Institute-funded research project in collaboration with ASU Speech and Hearing Science examining the benefits of using haptic feedback for music perception in cochlear implant users,” Hayes said.

Throughout her career she has given multisensory workshops that use vibration and music to explore the links between sound and touch. These workshops included working with several groups, from those with sensory impairment to students with learning difficulties to people with autism.

Earlier this year she spoke with Cycling ’74, a company that creates software for artists, about a large-scale project she worked on called Sound, Electronics and Music. The project provided education on various topics related to sound and music technology to around 900 school children in Scotland.

“A particular emphasis was placed on providing a form of music education that would engender creative practice that was available to all, regardless of both musical ability and background,” Hayes said in the interview. “The findings and outcomes of the project suggest that we should not be restricting the discussion of how to continue to educate future generations in the practices surrounding computer music to the university level. We may be failing to engage an age group that is growing readily familiar with the skills and vocabulary surrounding new technologies.”

Hayes hopes expanding electronic music education will bring more people to the art form. Her research on this project won her the Best Paper Award at the International Computer Music Conference in 2016.

“If we do the hard work surrounding how we present and teach music technology, and to whom, we might have a much richer diversity of people making electronic music, which, of course, can only lead to better art and better music,” she said.

In November, Hayes will present her research on education for digital music and her research on haptic technologies at Ableton’s Loop 2017, a three-day summit for music makers to exchange ideas at the cutting edge of music, technology and creative practice. Digital culture students in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering use Ableton's Live software tool, which allows electronic musicians to easily take their work out into the world and onto the stage.

“I'm particularly excited by Ableton's approach to diversity within its programming, sensitively curated with a 'Don't say: Do!' approach,” Hayes said. “Looking at the other participants it's a hugely inspiring collection of musicians, technologists and educators working at the forefront of creative music technology, with whom I hope to exchange ideas and foster new collaborations.”

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See what these ASU students carry in their backpacks to help them with their day
September 7, 2017

From biology to photography, 4 ASU students share what they carry around campus to get through their day and their classwork done

Polluted beach samples from Japan, whale poop stickers and bamboo cutlery. No, this isn’t something out of a marine biology trip; these are just some of the items biology doctoral student Charles Rolsky carries around campus to help him with his day.

We peeked into the backpacks of four Arizona State University students to uncover the tools of their trades. From camera lenses to rubber molds, the contents of each bag are as unique as their owner and provide a glimpse into what it's like to study their particular major.

Charles Rolsky, doctoral student, biology

Top row, left to right: Reusable straw, reusable cutlery, red reusable shopping bag, Plastic Pollution Coalition pamphlet, wallet, earbuds, beach sand sample, tweezers, keys. Middle row, left to right: Whale poop stickers, binoculars, notebooks, pens, beach sand sample, business cards, plastic samples, bottle and vial for lab testing, water bottle. Bottom row, left to right: Sun Card, Tums. 

A doctoral student and teaching assistant in biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Charles Rolsky works with the help of the public to collect beach sand saturated with microplastics from around the world (the samples pictured here are from Japan and San Francisco).

“I enlist the help of the public to collect beach sand saturated with microplastics around the world,” Rolsky said. “I then analyze these better to understand the impact plastic pollution has on humans and the environment.”

Because he researches plastics, he makes a point to be as sustainable as possible, using a reusable water bootle, cutlery and shopping bags. His mini binoculars have been with him since age 6, a gift from his grandmother.

Anya Manguson, sophomore, journalism

First column, top to bottom: Camera, wallet, carrying bag for flash drives, charger, memory cards and sticks. Second column, top to bottom: Extra shirt, notebooks, laptop, pens and scissors. Third column, top to bottom: Media badge, two camera lenses. Fourth column, top to bottom: Makeup bag, sunglasses, flashcard reader, UPass, Sun Card and keys.

Anya Magnuson, a journalism sophomore in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, also works at ASU as a photographer. In her backpack she carries an athletics press badge, Canon 5D Mark iii, Canon 24-70 f2.8, Canon 70-200 f2.8, SD cards, compact flash cards, a compact flash card reader, a bag of flash drives and of course her U-pass and a "life bag" that includes a toothbrush, makeup and deodorant. Forgetting her Upass, camera or the card reader would make the day pretty bad, Manguson said. 

Makayla Menges, senior, digital culture

Top row: Pencils, colored pencils, pens, Sharpies and a Pokemon bag. Middle row: Chargers, lotions, keys, notebooks. Bottom row: charger, earbuds, keys, water bottle, textbook, wallet.

Makayla Menges, a digital culture media processing senior in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, keeps it simple in her bag. She carries a variety of colored pencils and pens for drawing.

“I actually don’t know why I enjoy drawing. It’s actually really frustrating to me,” Menges said. “It’s almost like a challenge, I like challenges and it's something for my brain to do.” 

She also carries lotion, a spare phone charger, water bottle, her LSAT book as she prepares for the test on Dec. 2 and finally her blue notebook, in which she draws, takes notes in class and writes down her thoughts on the different video games she plays. 

Alvin Huff, graduate student, art 

First column, top to bottom: Rasps and utility knives for sculpting, wrist cuff, laptop. Second column, top to bottom: VGA adaptor, X-Acto knife blades, sunglasses holder. Third column: Flash drives, pens, tokens from a brewery conference. Fourth column, top to bottom: Charger, receipts. 

Graduate metal sculptor Alvin Huff, from the Herbeger Institute for Design and the Arts, keeps small tools to file plaster mold edges and razors to separate the rubber molds he’ll use for lost wax casting.  

“I’ll turn that around and put that in another ceramic shell and then melt out the wax and then fill the void with aluminum," Huff said.

He also has receipts from Home Depot and machine shops, and tokens from a brewery conference in Las Vegas, as he is a part-time beer brewer. Huff also works in IT at ASU, so he carries around items such as a VGA adapter and flash drives. 

Deanna Dent

Photographer , ASU Now


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ASU's Pyracantha Press publishes fine books and special limited editions.
Among Pyracantha creations: Bill of Rights printed on pulp containing US flags.
September 7, 2017

Pyracantha Press uses collection of metal machines and moveable type to produce expressive, limited-edition works of art

There are thousands of printers, tablets and computers on the campuses of the nation's most innovative university.

But tucked away inside an underground classroom on Arizona State University's Tempe campus sits a relic that has its roots in Gutenberg.

It’s a breadth of heavy metal presses and moveable type, collectively weighing in at an estimated 30 tons. It occupies 2,000 square feet of space fanned out over two locations, and includes 3,000 cases of metal and wood type — enough to fill several semi-trucks.

“This collection gives students and academics an incredible resource for teaching and creative research,” said Daniel Mayer, director of Pyracantha Press in ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

“The work we do here is super labor-intensive, and every project is unique and a work of art.”

Most of the book projects are by invitation only, and each production can range from one to five years. Print runs can vary from 10 to 200 copies, depending on project complexity, handwork and duration.

“A lot of the projects we choose are culturally significant and interdisciplinary,” Mayer said. “We are very selective in our choice, often picking subjects that might otherwise not see the light of day.” 

printed pages of paper made with clothing fibers

These pieces were created from paper 
made from clothing that refugees were
wearing when they fled their homelands.

Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now


Pyracantha has produced approximately 30 original books for national and international poets, artists, musicians, ceramists, historians and historical figures. They’ve also re-created works by William Shakespeare, James Dickey, Rita Dove and ASU’s own Alberto Rios, Arizona's poet laureate. 

Kurt Weiser, ASU art professor and ceramist, is Pyracantha’s newest author. He’s excited about a special limited-edition book of his work, which Mayer said will be published later this year.

“It’s different than ceramics. I don’t have to fire it. It doesn’t shrink. It doesn’t crack, and it doesn’t peel off,” Weiser said. “What you see is what you get. There’s certainly a craft to the printing process, and right now I’m just watching and listening.”

The two have been collaborating on the project since February, which includes dialogue, proofing sessions, prototyping, cutting, folding and constant trouble shooting, according to Mayer.

“It has to be precise,” Mayer said. “Everything is hand-produced and hand-built. That’s what makes our books special.”

Originally established as a letterpress shop in 1981 inside of the Art Building, Pyracantha Press publishes fine books and special limited editions for individuals, collectors and special collections, including the Getty Center, Yale University, Klingspor Museum in Germany, the Library of Congress and others. The press is self-supporting and receives sustaining gifts from the Hatchfund and the Philip C. Curtis Charitable Trust.

In 2016, ASU was gifted the Adam Repan Petko Type Collection, making ASU’s type collection the largest at any institution of higher education in North America. Twenty years prior, he donated 10 tons of type to the book arts program and Pyracantha Press.

Despite its massive size and weight, the press is capable of producing expressive works of art, said Professor Emeritus John Risseeuw, who came to ASU in 1980 to establish a book arts program within the printmaking area of the School of Art in what was then known as the Herberger College of the Arts.  

“In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, this equipment was being offloaded by the industry as equipment was upgraded, so people like us, collectors, took it in so it wouldn’t be put in the trash and started making art with it,” Risseeuw said.

Risseeuw added that this type of press is expanding commercially and gaining popularity with universities nationwide. He says the fascination remains because of the sentimentality factor and continues to be "a medium of expression."

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Some of the titles in the Pyracantha catalog have been spectacular. They include:

  • Venus and Adonis” — a 1984 edited version of William Shakespeare’s narrative poem. Includes an introduction by John Doebler, with two lithographs by Leonard Lehrer. Bound in leather and maroon linen.
  • The Bill of Rights — a five-color broadside of the text of the Bill of Rights to commemorate the bicentennial of the document on Dec. 15, 1991. It was printed on 100 percent rag handmade paper from pulp containing cotton American flags.
  • PETRIfied forEAST” — a 1994 collaboration with three poets and artists from Budapest and Hungary on the theme of freedom and oppression.
  • Eco Songs” — a song cycle based on poetic works by Chief Dan George, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Stevie Smith, Alfonsina Storni, Li Po and the Book of Job. Published in 2000, it includes an artist’s book constructed of plant fibers from around the world, a CD of music and a colophon about the making of the book.

Pyracantha will remain in good hands, said Mayer, now in his 30th year at ASU. Part of his charge is to continue the tradition by training the next generation of printers — people like design major Hailey Tang, who has a passion for books.

The 21-year-old Herberger Institute junior is not only being mentored by Mayer but is the president of A Buncha Book Artists, an ASU student-run organization of interdisciplinary artists and writers working in the contemporary artist book movement.

Tang said their generation has transitioned into a digital lifestyle where many believe books have become obsolete. Tang said, however, that book and printmaking can never be fully replaced by the digital medium.

“I find that as a designer and artist that books are a huge part of how I tell other peoples’ stories and communicating ideas,” Tang said. “I hope that I can keep the book arts alive in the future and make others realize how it is needed.”


Top photo: The basement press room of the ASU Art Building houses Pyracantha Press and contains more than 30 tons of metal- and wood-type for use on its several presses. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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Herberger Institute makes community part of the fabric of new fashion program

September 3, 2017

Phoenix Art Museum fashion design curator Dennita Sewell sees ASU program as opportunity to keep fashion talent in state

Dennita Sewell, director of Arizona State University’s fashion program, stood at the front of her global fashion industry class, impeccably dressed — as one might expect of someone whose career has been dedicated to fashion.

In addition to helming the brand-new fashion program at ASU, Sewell also serves as curator of fashion design at the Phoenix Art MuseumDennita Sewell received her master's in costume design from Yale and worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a collection curator prior to coming to the Phoenix Art Museum., where she oversees one of the premier collections of fashion in the country. For her, fashion has been a lifelong pursuit.

“I started sewing before I could read,” Sewell said. “It was going on in our house and it was part of what we did, so it was in me like a language from very early.”

She hopes to pass the patience and influence of her mother and her mentors on to the 85 students enrolled in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts program.


During the first week of classes she lectured some of those students on the consumer cycle and took time to ask what their career aspirations are.

Journalism junior Leah Goldberg quickly shared her interest in the coverage of fashion and her hopes that the fashion-design courses will be an area of focus alongside her journalism degree.

“News got out that (Sewell) was going to be the head of the fashion program at ASU,” Goldberg said. “So I decided to interview her for a podcast, and we got to talking and I was like, ‘This is something that I’d definitely be interested in.’ ”

Epicenter for Phoenix fashion industry

For Herberger Institute Dean Steven Tepper, the question was how to build a program that students were requesting that could also be co-created with the talent of the Valley.

“We want to build this with our community from the beginning. We want to be an epicenter for fashion in Phoenix, for people in the fashion industry to connect through and with our students and to drive the fashion scene in this city,” Tepper said.

 teaches a class at ASU fashion program
Dennita Sewell

Until the fall 2017 semester, there was no four-year degree in fashion design offered at a state-university level in Arizona. Sewell saw a desire for the program from students and an opportunity to keep fashion talent in state.

“The way people are shopping is transitioning from brick-and-mortar to online and the rapid pace at which fashion is being created,” Sewell said. “Part of the curriculum that we’ve organized is seeing what new technologies are and keeping up or leading those changes and engaging these in our program.”

Sewell said she would like to see the program train graduates for a global industry that’s worth $698 billion worldwide, according to the World Bank 2010 report.

To that end, the degree path is organized into track specialization: sustainability, technology, marketing and merchandising, fabrics and fibers, management and leadership, costuming and business and entrepreneurship.

“It’s a wonderful time to be starting a program where we can really work with industry peoples,” Sewell said. “We can respond to that and provide students in Arizona with connections, with a curriculum that is really valid to the industry as it’s transitioning, I think we have high hopes for the expected impact of this program.”

Building from the basics

Visiting Assistant Professor Galina Mihaleva, who made the decision to return to ASU from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, equates fashion to the designing of a second skin. She said it begins with the basics like her apparel construction course.

“The aim of this program is to create very fundamental and very basic training and then give the opportunity to students to channel out to collaborate and to become more interdisciplinary,” said Mihaleva, who had worked for the dance department in the then-Herberger College and graduated from ASU with a master’s in fine arts.

During the first week of class she was already putting these fundamentals into practice, leading a class of 20 students in apparel construction and in their creation of individual “clothing construction bibles.” Students would sew nearly 50 different seams and keep them together in their “bibles.”

Patiently, Mihaleva walked students like junior fashion design major Richard Ware through the importance of a 5/8-inch seam allowance as they learned to use the industry-standard Juki sewing machines.

A teacher helps a student understand a seam in the ASU fashion program
Visiting Assistant Professor Galina Mihaleva talks fashion design junior Richard Ware through his first seam sewing assignment in her apparel construction class at the Tempe Center on August 29. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

“This is my first sewing class. I’ve done prerequisites, so this is my first everything!” Ware said excitedly.

Nearby, industrial engineering junior Mohamed Razouki ironed his fabric prior to sewing his first seams. He recognized the similarities between his own major and fashion design.

“You have to be precise when you construct material or break down equations or formulas,” Razouki said. “Also patience, because like in engineering there are certain problems that take a long time for you to solve, and the same thing with fashion — if you don’t have patience half of your things won’t come out.”

For Mihaleva, teaching goes both ways.

“I have a lot learn from them,” she said. “I’m looking forward to our students at ASU. To learn from them and to inspire them.”

Deanna Dent

Photographer , ASU Now


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ASU engineer's art exhibit explores how science can be used to illuminate art.
August 28, 2017

ASU Art Museum exhibit 'Material Beauty' is just the latest artistic endeavor for engineer-turned-curator Nathan Newman

Artists and scientists are not such strangers as one might think. An overarching curiosity drives both.

Arizona State University engineer Nathan Newman sees in his fellow scientists — and in many of his students — “an unbridled passion that dominates their life, just like the desire to create imagery that I find among artists.”

Newman himself has traversed both realms, contributing his expertise in physics and materials science to the art world over the years. His latest foray is as guest curator of an ASU Art Museum exhibit designed to explore how a scientific eye can illuminate aspects behind the creation of various works in the museum’s collection and the visual effects that enhance their aesthetic appeal.

“I like being around artists because they have the same appetite to create art as I do to understand science and the world around us,” said Newman, the Lamonte H. Lawrence Professor in Solid State Science in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Titled “Material Beauty,” the exhibit focuses on artworks that examine:

• The connections between chemistry and the ways the human brain discerns color. This involves wavelengths of light and energy absorption, along with the interplay of oscillating electrons and positive ions, among other things happening at the atomic level.

• Explanations of how neurological factors and certain brain functions play a role in our facial recognition ability — or the lack of it — and how these things shape the work of artist Chuck Close, whose work is in the museum’s collection.

• The “mathematics of geometric perspective” and how it allows two-dimensional paintings and drawings to depict three-dimensional images, enabling them to replicate the way the human eye visualizes the natural world within its sight horizon.

Piece of art from Material Beauty exhibit
Works in the exhibit provide examples of the ways in which artists’ images reflect how human neurological factors and geometric perspective can shape our visual experience of objects. Photo by Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU

“The show is part of our ‘Encounter’ series, for which we invite outsiders to put their own spin on our collection,” said Brittany Corrales, curatorial coordinator at ASU Art Museum and co-organizer of the exhibition.

“We invited Nate to be a curator because he has a curiosity about artists and art materials and offers the unique perspective of an expert on physics and materials science.

“The collaboration is a great way to welcome new audiences from science-based disciplines into the museum space to engage with art.” 

A frequent arts collaborator

It’s not Newman’s first time offering a scientific expertise to the art world.

A few years ago, he performed scientific analysis to aid an investigation that determined a painting owned by the ASU Art Museum titled “The Pioneer and Indian,” purported to be an original by American artist Frederic Remington, was in fact a forgery.

The detective work for the Danish artist collective SUPERFLEX included producing infrared images to reveal graphite underdrawings on the “The Pioneer and Indian” painting’s canvas and teaming with Dana Tepper, the museum’s chief conservator, to analyze the materials used in the painting at the atomic and microscopic levels.

In 2016, Newman and Fulton Schools Assistant Research Professor Shery Chang at the LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science collaborated with two artists from Argentina — Guillermo Faivovich and Nicolás Goldberg — for research on small fragments of the 4,000-year-old Campo del Cielo meteorites. 

Employing petrographic electron microscopy and microphotography, they produced ultrahigh-magnification images to observe the atoms in the iron that made up the meteorites, capturing images of their brilliant silicate inclusions — which are solids, gases or liquids enclosed within the mass of a mineral.

Painting of people on horses
Newman's scientific analysis helped reveal that "Pioneer and the Indian" was in fact not an original by American artist Frederic Remington. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

The images that came out of this research have since become part of exhibits in a number of shows at reputable museums and galleries.

“I’m pleased that I played a small contributing role in that,” Newman said.

All in the family

Newman’s entry in the arts community comes by way of his wife, Penny, who is a figurative oil painter. She is the reason, he said, “I spend almost all of my vacations in art museums.”

He met the director and staff members of the ASU Art Museum through his wife’s fundraising efforts there. That led to the investigation of the forged painting and the research on the meteorites, and eventually to the invitation to be a guest curator.

Newman decided to take on the curator role because he thought it would be fun.

“I also thought that my wife would either get involved or at least be impressed,” Newman said. “She did not get involved, nor can I tell whether she is impressed.”

He adds: “I do know that she is befuddled that I have been involved in the creation of some very well received exhibits without any formal training in art. I must be a natural at this or a very good fake.” 


‘Material Beauty: Encounter with Nathan Newman’

What: Artworks chosen by ASU engineer Nathan Newman that engage with the chemistry of color, the neurology of facial recognition and the mathematics of perspective. 

When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, till 8 p.m. Thursdays. Through Dec. 9.

Where: ASU Art Museum, 51 E. 10th St., Tempe campus.

Admission: Free.

Details: 480-965-2787,


Top photo: Nathan Newman curated the ASU Art Museum exhibit “Material Beauty,” which explores how a scientific eye can illuminate revealing aspects about the creation of artworks. Photo by Marco-Alexis Chaira/ASU

Joe Kullman

Science writer , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering


ASU professor co-edits Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education

August 22, 2017

Roger Mantie, associate professor of music education in the School of Music, co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education, which was published Aug. 8.

Mantie worked on the 700-page volume with contributions from 42 authors in collaboration with Alex Ruthmann, associate professor of music education and music technology at New York University. Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education Download Full Image

Oxford University Press writes, “The Oxford Handbook of Technology and Music Education critically situates technology in relation to music education from a variety of perspectives.”

The edited volume includes two chapters written by Mantie, “Thinking about Music and Technology” and “Thinking and Talking about Change in Music Education.” It also includes contributions from other ASU faculty and a current PhD student. Evan Tobias, associate professor of music education, wrote the chapters “Locating Technology within Music Education” and “Augmenting Music Teaching and Learning with Technology and Digital Media,” and Sandra Stauffer, professor of music education, wrote a chapter called “Technology, Sound, and the Tuning of Place.” Ryan Bledsoe, a PhD student in the School of Music, contributed a chapter on “Pedagogical Decision Making.”

An interactive companion website will launch soon.

ASU Art Museum announces Miki Garcia as new director

August 21, 2017

Former Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB) Miki Garcia is joining Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts as the new director of the ASU Art Museum.

“Miki is a great choice for ASU,” said Arizona State University Herberger Institute Dean Steven J. Tepper. “She is a seasoned museum director with extensive experience growing her institution, building her board, securing investments and creating powerful programming.” woman's portrait in art gallery Download Full Image

Garcia, who will officially begin at the ASU Art Museum on Dec. 1, has been the leader of MCASB since 2005. Under her direction, MCASB grew from a grassroots alternative arts space to a financially sustainable, internationally recognized contemporary art museum.

As chief curator, she oversaw curatorial and public strategies that received significant accolades from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Getty Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation, among others. This September, MCASB will open the first in-depth exhibition of Guatemalan art from the late 20th and early 21st centuries as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time initiative.

“One of my passions is reimagining the potential of art and museums to impact the lives of all people in the spirit of inclusivity, equity and diversity,” Garcia said. “I am fiercely committed to the future of the museum and the role of arts in society. I am so excited to join the Arizona State University Art Museum, a museum within one of the most innovative public research universities in the country dedicated to inclusion; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.”

Earlier in her arts career, Garcia was project coordinator at the Public Art Fund in New York City and curatorial associate at Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. She has served as a curatorial representative to the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the Getty Foundation and has been a juror for the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Capital Visual Arts Awards, Art Matters Foundation and more. She has her MA in art history from University of Texas, Austin and specializes in Latin American and Latinx Art. 

Phoenix seemed like a natural fit to Garcia.

“It’s the fifth-largest city in the United States, and it’s going to experience so much demographic growth and change in the next decade. I am thrilled to be a part of that,” Garcia said. “I think people across the country will be looking to Arizona in the next couple of years as a case study in change.”

“ASU Art Museum has been recognized as among the most important contemporary art museums in the region, with exhibitions and programming that have attracted global attention,” Tepper added. “Miki will help us leverage this reputation and the talent of our team to have even greater impact on campus and beyond. Importantly, she believes deeply in ASU’s potential to transform our region and to advance a new model of a 21st-century university art museum that advances art at the intersections of every important issue of our day.”

Communications Program Coordinator, ASU Art Museum


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Herberger Institute season provides opportunities for ASU students.
August 16, 2017

2017–18 season of events gives students opportunity to become better designers and artists

Her sophomore year, Anissa Griego served as the assistant director and choreographer for the Lyric Opera Theatre student production of “Grease.” It was one of the greatest challenges of her life, onstage or off.

“I personally struggled through the process and battled with disappointment in myself,” said Greigo, a senior musical theater student in Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

But then she ran into someone who had seen the show. 

“She told me she never particularly liked ‘Grease’ as a show, but she had so much fun with our specific production, the actors and everything, that she really enjoyed it,” Griego said. “That meant so much to me. The real heart of our show was the blood, sweat and tears our crew put in, the patience and talent of our actors, and just simply, the love for what we do. It was reassuring to know that an audience member could leave with that, and they had so much fun nothing else mattered.”

Not only did Griego  play a part in providing a unique cultural experience for this audience member, but she also learned a lot from that production — something she wouldn’t have been able to do without an audience.

Attending a performance or an exhibition at the Herberger Institute is more than just seeing a show — it's helping students become better designers and artists, and preparing them to be the changemakers and cultural catalyst of tomorrow. For Herberger Institute students, practicing their craft in a laboratory environment and performing and sharing their work with an audience in the world-class venues at ASU is part of their educational experience, and the audience members are participating in that education every time they attend a show or visit an exhibition.

This fall the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts launches another season and, with it, the chance for the surrounding community to play a critical role in the lives of young designers and artists. 

Lily Montgomery says that as an art student at ASU, the opportunity to exhibit work in ASU art galleries gives her an advantage.

“I know plenty of well-known art schools where graduating MFA students don't get a solo show because they don't have the space,” Montgomery said. “It's an incredible advantage. As a post-MFA student, applying for any high-profile residency or research opportunity requires you to have an impressive CV of both solo and group shows. It puts ASU students ahead of the game if they use the opportunities wisely.”

Montgomery also finds the School of Art exhibitions valuable to her education because they provide her the chance to flex her curatorial skills.

“Curating is a skill that, like any profession, you have to learn,” she said. Montgomery has curated two shows in ASU galleries, including “Good Wonder,” which is part of the Herberger Institute’s 2017–18 season of events and opens later this month in Gallery 100.

“This showcasing and sharing is central to our pedagogical philosophy,” said Kimberlee Swisher, a lecturer in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering.

Swisher says when digital culture students present their projects at the end of each semester during the Digital Cultural Showcase, feedback from the community of people who could be using that work in the future is critical. And that’s not the only benefit students get from sharing their work.

“There is another more hidden benefit, too,” she said. “When students know they are going to share their work, they are compelled during the creation process to think about their work from multiple perspectives other than their own. This means that their perspective is shifted during the development process towards thinking about how they will present and describe their work to the audience at the showcase.”

For students involved with performing arts events, including musicians, actors, dancers and those working behind the scenes, the Herberger Institute’s concerts, theater productions and dance showcases allow them to hone their skills.

“It's a way of having a fresh perspective, and almost like a chance to test out and put forward everything that has been polished in classes with professors,” Griego said. “Getting to have an audience not only puts my education and studies to the test, but clarifies that this is what I want and am meant to be doing.”

Visit for a full listing of season events, and create your own season from the hundreds of events on offer. Patrons who buy tickets to three or more performing arts events before Sept. 15 save 25 percent on the total price.


Top photo: “Distance // Cloudlight” is a piece created by School of Art graduate student Lily Montgomery. Montgomery has curated an art show for the Herberger Institute’s 2017–18 season of events. (Courtesy photo)

Sarah A. McCarty

Communications and marketing coordinator , School and Film, Dance and Theatre, Herberger Institute