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May 4, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

Herberger Institute grad student Jericho Joseph Thomas was born in a “red state,” identifies himself as a Christian and writes about race, sex and faith.

“I like things that are messy,” said the 2017 MFA Dramatic Writing candidate who will graduate from Arizona State University's School of Film, Dance and TheatreThe School of Film, Dance and Theatre is a unit of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. this month. “I think messy and honest are synonyms. I’m always chasing the drama.”

He isn’t exaggerating. His artist statement declares that he “loves to write inside the threat of what could happen.” Given that type of scope and sphere, Thomas’ work goes to some interesting places.

March saw the debut of “Writes,” an original play on narrative ownership, misrepresentation of blacks in fiction and the loss of white privilege. On May 13 he’ll debut “Racy,” at Phoenix Theatre during the Caleb Reese Festival of New Plays and Musicals. The new work explores the crossroads of race and sexuality.

And he recently finished a screenplay called "NevaehHeaven spelled backwards.," which teams the son of an prominent television evangelist with a black female atheist in order to "Robin Hood the Christian right."

The 32-year-old credits ASU for giving him the latitude and encouragement to be creative.

“Traditional is a bad word around here, which I dig,” Thomas said. “Traditional is a place to start but not a place to perpetuate.”

When Thomas graduates on May 8, he plans on a new start. He is awaiting word on a two-year fellowship in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, working with local artists at the grass-roots level. If that falls through, he said he’s heading to Hollywood to chase the drama once more — this time in television.

“Netflix and Amazon have created a new golden era of television,” Thomas said. “They have demonstrated time and again they are not afraid of hiring playwrights.” 

Before Thomas hits the road, he answered some questions about his experience at ASU. 

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the arts?

Answer: Writing and self-producing my first play in New York. It was hard and electric and scary and emotionally fulfilling all at once. Actors and audiences alike were moved by it, and I remember thinking, "Yeah, I could do this forever."

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU?

A: There is always more to learn about something. Context is key. I have to look at and around and beside and through and behind and ahead of something to understand it.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Their dramatic writing didn't force me to choose playwriting or screenwriting, but instead allowed me to move fluidly between disciplines. ASU affirmed and fueled the exciting fact that I am more than one kind of artist.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Show up. Classes, events, meetings, commitments, whatever. And always ask for help. Don't stop asking until you get it.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus?

A: The Nelson Fine Arts Center. I learned and created so much in those rooms.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Pursuing a career in television writing.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: You know what's depressing? Every global problem I can think of tackling needs light-years more money than $40 million. But I'll still answer and say racial justice.


Top photo: Herberger Institute MFA Dramatic Writing candidate Jericho Joseph Thomas will graduate May 8. Photo courtesy of Ian Shelanskey

Reporter , ASU Now


‘Never too late’: ASU student earns degree, turns 50 same week

May 2, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

Hailing from Salcha, Alaska, 40 miles south of Fairbanks (“very cold!” she says), Karol Pomplin is currently living in New Iberia, Louisiana, about two hours west of New Orleans (“very Cajun!”). Moving frequently with her family (her husband works in the oil industry), Pomplin thought she’d have to put off completing her college degree indefinitely. Karol Pomplin / Courtesy photo Graduating ASU student Karol Pomplin has advice for those struggling to complete a degree: "When you take time away from school, it’s not always easy to find your way back, but it’s never too late. I am graduating from college and turning 50 within the same week. I often tell my son, who is currently serving in the military, as well as my fellow baristas, always accept every opportunity to learn and further your education." Download Full Image

Then she heard about Starbucks’ partnership with Arizona State University, and applied to Starbucks as a barista. Her application to ASU soon followed.

For the past two years, when not serving up Frappuccinos, Pomplin has been immersed in reading and writing for her online bachelor's in English. Among her favorite literary works? Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” “My reading tastes tend to lean toward the macabre,” she says. After she graduates this spring, Pomplin looks forward to “tackling” some Toni Morrison titles as well.

We caught up with her to find out what else is on the horizon.

Question: What was your "aha" moment, when you realized you wanted to study in your field? (Might be while you were at ASU or earlier.)

Answer: When I was in high school, and teachers would ask about my life goals, I had a stock answer. I wanted to be a writer. I nearly finished college in my early twenties, but life happened. I detoured through parenthood, but my dream of finishing college persisted. Today, my stock answer is the same.

I want to be a writer.

Q: What's something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: Learning a foreign language online is challenging. The classes were very time-consuming and demanding, but I’m grateful for this experience. Even after two years of study in Spanish, I am far from fluent. However, it provided me with an enriched appreciation for how difficult it must be for those living in a country that does not speak their first language. I had always considered myself sensitive to this issue, but had no way to grasp the level of difficulty in learning a second language.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: We move a fair amount due to my husband’s career. It made it difficult to establish residency in one state and reside there long enough to finish. I heard of the college achievement plant through Starbucks and applied as a barista. I’m very thankful. I consider the opportunity to finish college a true blessing.

Q: What's the best piece of advice you'd give to those still in school?

A: Never give up and try not to delay. When you take time away from school, it’s not always easy to find your way back, but it’s never too late. I am graduating from college and turning 50 within the same week. I often tell my son, who is currently serving in the military, as well as my fellow baristas, always accept every opportunity to learn and further your education.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I’m an online student and have never actually been on campus. I did drive through Arizona once when I was 15, does that count?

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: This fall, I plan to take a few classes pertaining to editing. Learning more about this skill will help to improve my own writing. I would also like help other writers achieve their dreams to see their work published. I also hope to volunteer to help tutor students working to obtain their GED.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: It’s a difficult choice. As a parent, I always want to fix everything. However, base needs of survival would take priority for me. Poverty and hunger are such critical issues in our world today. No one should ever have to go without a meal. It’s such a basic need that most of take for granted.

Kristen LaRue

communications specialist, Department of English


ASU Herberger Institute grad discovers a passion for Latin American art

May 2, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

During her undergraduate career, 22-year-old Angelica Fox worked with an array of arts organizations across the Valley; she spent one semester with City of Tempe Public Art, three months with the Phoenix Art Museum and eighteen months with the ASU Art Museum.  Photo by Eunice Beck Photography Angelica Fox is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Bachelor of Arts in Museum Studies from the ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Photo by Unice Beck Photography Download Full Image

But she didn’t always envision herself working in the arts.

An internship in the digital media department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City really sparked her interest, she says. The Met was interested in Fox, too — she was invited back to continue the internship a second summer to help with their Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, which recently won a 2017 Webby Award for best art website.

Now, she says, she’s hooked and plans to continue pursuing a career as a curator or art history academic. After working closely with curators Julio Cesar Morales and Heather Sealy Lineberry at the ASU Art Museum on the exhibition “Energy Charge: Connecting to Ana Mendieta,” her newfound passion is Latin American art. Fox is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Bachelor of Arts in Museum Studies from the ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I came into ASU as a Mary Lou Fulton [education] student. After a few weeks, I realized teaching was not for me and quickly transferred into studying history. I enjoyed this path more but felt something was still missing. After a rewarding internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the summer after my freshman year, I realized art was my real passion. After that summer, I switched my major to art history and have been extremely happy ever since.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective? 

A: The ASU Art Museum's fall 2016 exhibition "Energy Charge: Connecting to Ana Mendieta" introduced me to sixinfluential artists that changed my perspective on identity, feminism and the body discourse that inspired both my honors thesis and desire to study the art of Latin America in graduate school.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I have lived in Tempe, Arizona my entire life and come from a family full of ASU graduates. I decided to go to ASU when I was accepted into both the prestigious Barrett, The Honors College, and Leadership Scholarship Program. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: I truly believe you need to invest time in your classes in order to get the most out of a college education. Yes, buy the books and read!

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I loved (in no particular order): the Design Library, the ASU Art Museum, the Secret Garden and the Architecture Studio Spaces. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I will continue to a Master of Arts program in modern and contemporary art history, theory and criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I wish $40 million would be enough to solve issues like climate change, pollution or cancer. More realistically, I would use the money to help the International Center for the Arts of the Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, with the documentation of twentieth-century art in Latin American and among Latino populations in the United States.

Communications Program Coordinator, ASU Art Museum


ASU music students see success in top national chamber music competitions

May 2, 2017

Six School of Music students in Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts are finding success by coming together as the Eos Sextet.

The group was selected to compete in the semi-finals in the M-Prize Senior Winds Competition and the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, both top chamber music competitions in the world, according to Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. Earlier this year the group won the MTNA National Chamber Music Wind Competition and was awarded first prize in the ENKOR Chamber Music Competition, Category B. Eos Sextet Eos Sextet Download Full Image

“Being exposed to the high level of musicianship that our competitors brought to the table each round inspired us to raise our own expectations for Eos,” said Andrew Lammly, a second-year graduate student in the group, about one of the group’s recent competitions.

In addition to Lammly, the Eos Sextet includes junior music education major Grace Chen, second-year graduate students Curren Myers and Fangyi Niu, and third-year doctoral students Sam Detweiler and Justin Rollefson.

"Throughout this process, I have learned a lot about the characteristics one needs to be a member of a happily functioning ensemble,” Chen said. “One of my favorite characteristics of our group is our ability to be extremely flexible and receptive to any adjustments suggested by any member of the group. We all work together collectively to make improvements based on the different things we each hear, and our different musical backgrounds and experiences give us a wide range of musical input. Our rehearsals are a lot more fun and effective than any other ensembles I’ve been in because everyone contributes.”

Other group members agree that working together is one of the keys to success, and Lammly encourages students who are interested in competing to record rehearsals and listen together as often as possible.

Rollefson said it’s also important to put in work outside of the ensemble.

"In order to be successful in national chamber competitions, you must be willing to put in a lot of hours rehearsing with one another as well as many hours preparing your individual part so that when the ensemble meets they can focus on making musical choices together as opposed to an individual struggling with their own part,” he said.

The group also credits its success to their coach, Christopher Creviston, associate professor of saxophone in the School of Music.

Chen called Creviston a “tremendous teacher and musical guide for this ensemble” and said he was crucial to the group’s development.

"Dr. Creviston gave us critical feedback that we needed in order to perform the music with excellence,” Detweiler said. “He coached us through our musical ideas and he helped us shape and reshape our group sound to be the best it could be."

While Eos enjoys its success, the members of the group said they gain much more than awards by participating in competitions and playing with the each other.

“There is something to be relished about being engrossed in the exact same musical moment as someone else and feeling the synergy of communication between six different voices,” Lammly said. “It is in this way that I learned more about myself as a chamber musician and how I can better communicate with my musical partners. I have never been in a chamber ensemble that musically communicates as well as Eos.” 

Sarah A. McCarty

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


Communication grad thrives in downtown Phoenix vibe

May 1, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.

ASU graduating senior Stephanie Carmen Krebs, a communication major in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, said she recently had an experience that left her feeling extremely close to her education. ASU communication graduate Stephanie Carmen Krebs enjoyed the vibrant Downtown Phoenix campus Internships in the fashion industry in New York City helped communication major Stephanie Carmen Krebs realize that the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus is where she wanted to be. Download Full Image

“I was in the middle seat on an airplane with two strangers next to me during a flight home to Phoenix from Los Angeles,” explained Krebs. “The captain alerted the flight attendants to prepare for takeoff, and the airplane began to accelerate. Suddenly, as we were near flight, I felt a tight grip on my hand. 

“It was the hand of the elderly Indian woman sitting in the window seat, and I quickly made eye contact with her, partially in shock,” Krebs continued. “As I learned in communication, specifically in semiotics, when people cross our personal boundaries, confusion ensues. However, when I made eye contact, she immediately communicated exactly how she was feeling. 

“She was terrified and unable to speak English, I realized,” said Krebs, a seasoned flyer whose father was a pilot. “Without telling me or asking me, I knew we would hold hands for a while. I was more than content to hold her hand, until the all-too-familiar ding, indicating that we had reached 10,000 feet, and she released me.” 

Krebs and her new friend were silent the rest of the flight, but Carmen helped the woman communicate and get water from the flight attendant.

“Then, with no confusion, she took my hand again as we began our descent,” said Krebs. “We landed safely and when the cabin lights turned on and we were exiting the plane, she took me by the shoulders and gave me the biggest embrace, smile, and a kiss on the cheek. 

“This made my degree feel so important and real,” she reflected. “Outside the confines of a classroom or a textbook, all we can hope for is a way to communicate well, especially with those who don't speak our language.”

Krebs, who also has earned a minor in media analysis in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, answered some questions about her ASU experience.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study what you’re studying?

Answer: When I started at ASU I was in W. P. Carey as a business communication major on Tempe campus. However, after my first two years I realized I was missing something: I had spent two summers taking internships in New York City in the fashion industry and found I loved being in a vibrant downtown community. When I returned from the second internship, I decided to tailor my ASU experience to what I had enjoyed about the city. I switched to the Downtown Phoenix campus and a communication major in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. My first day of class with 20 students, studying under Professor Jackie Martinez, I realized I was finally excited about my education and in an environment that suited me!

Q: What’s something you learned while studying at ASU that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A:  I took a class with Dr. Heather Curry on Language, Culture and Communication that really shifted my prospective on homelessness. In light of the current political climate, Dr. Curry made the focus of our class borders. We examined personal and public borders that are in place regarding homelessness. All opinions and experiences were considered and students spoke openly. Together we were able to unpack the idea of homelessness and, for some, reorient ourselves to it.

Q:  Did you have any favorite campus or other spots where you liked to study or spend time?

A:  The Downtown Phoenix campus is my favorite place to study and spend time with friends. I have been fortunate to cultivate a community of students and friends downtown that keep me busy with concerts, lectures, and coffee. We love to work on homework at the bevy of local coffee shops. It really is an excellent campus for nightlife and activities!

Q:  What are your plans after graduation?

A:  I am traveling right out of college. I’ll be spending time in my mother’s homeland of Peru and then will be onto various other countries in South America. I will be looking for a job in the arts.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would tackle the fashion industry. Not many people realize that fast fashion is the second- dirtiest industry in the world, next to big oil. It not only seriously cripples third-world countries with mountains of unwanted clothes being shipped to them from larger, more developed nations, but the sweatshops have horrible safety regulations and low wages. We need to critically evaluate the rate at which we consume clothing and the prices we want to pay for it. It is not the companies that are being undercut on price and taking the hit, it is people working for nothing to make the clothing people would rather pay $10 for than $30.

Maureen Roen

Editorial and communication coordinator, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


ASU Herberger Institute showcase provides platform for big ideas

Mike Curb Student IDEA Showcase gives students 2 minutes to pitch their ideas

April 29, 2017

The Office of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts announces its second annual Herberger Institute Mike Curb Student IDEA Showcase (Innovation in Design, Entertainment and Arts). Initiated as a forum for students to highlight their most creative and innovative ideas, the showcase gives each entrant two minutes — just 120 seconds — to share their story of creativity and innovation. 

This event will feature more than 20 current Herberger Institute students pitching to a panel of community leaders, which includes Carlton Turner, executive director of Alternate Roots and keynote speaker at the Fifth Biennial Pave Symposium the next day, as well as Julie Akerly, founder of Mesa-based [nueBOX] and a Pave Venture Incubator alum. Each of the Herberger Institute’s five schools will be represented at the event. First place will be awarded $500, and the audience choice winner will receive a $250 prize. Last year's IDEA Showcase Audience Choice Award winner, Marieke Davis, is flanked by Herberger Institute Dean Steven J. Tepper and Linda Essig, director of the Herberger Institute Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programs. Last year's IDEA Showcase Audience Choice Award winner, Marieke Davis, is flanked by Herberger Institute Dean Steven J. Tepper and Linda Essig, director of the Herberger Institute Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programs. Download Full Image

Read about one of last year's showcase winners. 

Join the Herberger Institute for this evening of networking, snacks and the lightning-fast sharing of Herberger Institute student ideas.

Herberger Institute Mike Curb Student IDEA Showcase

5-7 p.m. May 4 
Tempe Center Annex
699 S. Mill Ave., Ste. 108
Tempe, Arizona 

The showcase is free and open to the public. 

For more information or to RSVP, contact Nyomi Gruber at




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April 27, 2017

'Science Exposed' event at Biodesign Institute pairs scientists and artists to explore research; watch it here

An Arizona State University semesterlong fusion experiment that paired artists from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts with scientists from the Biodesign Institute culminated in a one-night-only performance of “Science Exposed: Bringing Science to Life through the Arts.”

Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now

The evening kicked off with a chamber musical alchemy from two compositions by graduate students Zachary Bush and Stephen Mitton, as they interpreted the daily struggles of Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers and the scientists searching for a cure.

With neuroscientists Paul Coleman and Diego Mastroeni serving as personal guides to visits to brain banks and research labs, Bush’s “Cycles” explored the research cycle, where according to Bush “months or years of methodical effort to try and prove a hypothesis” all too often result in setbacks. “However,” he said, “the experiments eventually are complete and the triumph of discovery prevails” — but for only a short time, when scientists must confront the next challenge and start the whole process once again. Listen to it below.

Mitton’s “Stages” captured “the daily struggles of Alzheimer’s sufferers and their caregivers as the disease progresses through various stages over time.” Mitton’s evocative work focused on the emotional and physical toll on all affected, with a 12-note theme, representing the personality of an Alzheimer’s victim, undergoing subtle variations over the course of the performance and ending on a bittersweet note. Listen to it below.

Next, Herberger Professor Liz Lerman’s “Animating Research” project combined contemporary movement, dance and theater into a multimedia, immersive extravaganza. A dozen artists were paired with molecular virologists, evolutionary biologists and engineers to create expressive pieces that utilized and fully explored the Biodesign building space for both the audience and performers. 

Lerman, a choreographer and MacArthur Fellow, led the group to create a dance collaboration, engaging tools of movement, performance and media with her students in her semesterlong “Animating Research” class. The expressive pieces evoked the science behind X-ray lasers and protein molecules, the role of cancer cells and our bodies, the spread of viruses throughout our ecosystem, the accumulation and environmental damage caused by microplastics, and using the leading cause of food poisoning, salmonella, as a “warrior” in the fight against cancer. Everything from classical ballet and modern hip-hop to interpretive dance and multimedia performance art installations were used in a creative expression to explain and engage the science.

The energy level and audience engagement steadily rose, and the evening culminated in an audience participatory dance, with groups acting out the roles of molecules to create an early diagnostic for cancer.

Written by Joe Caspermeyer/Biodesign Institute


Top photo: An "atom" dances around the circle as it goes through a "red laser" during the "Science Exposed" performance at the Biodesign Institute on Wednesday. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Between Japanese and Chinese, award-winning ASU professor highlights cultural intersection

April 26, 2017

Studying the culture of any country can occupy someone’s interest for years. At Arizona State University's School of International Letters and Cultures, award-winning Professor Will Hedberg remains captivated by two.

“My focus is the literature and culture of early-modern Japan,” Hedberg explained, “But I also have a background in Chinese studies, so my primary focus is the Japanese translation of Chinese language fiction and drama.” Will Hedberg Professor Will Hedberg has always been captivated by Asian languages, mastering forms of both Chinese and Japanese. Download Full Image

That may sound like a lot, but Hedberg identifies a lot of overlap between the two languages and enjoys exploring cultural interpretation. He focuses on the period between 1600 and 1900 when more texts and ideas were flowing from China to Japan.

“It leads to interesting new ways of thinking about language, of thinking about tribulation, thinking about international relations,” Hedberg said.

Hedberg wanted to studied Chinese since he was in high school and received his bachelor’s degree in the language. He became interested in Japanese later on and was immediately fascinated by the connections between the languages.

He credits his initial interest in Chinese to his grandmother, who taught philosophy at the University of New Mexico, with a special focus on Chinese philosophy. Hedberg still has some of her books in his office.

He is now fluent in Chinese and Japanese, as well as the classical versions of both languages, as “they’ve changed a lot of 2000 years.” He can even read Chinese written in Japanese.

“I got accepted to the east Asia program at Harvard where I was very lucky in my first year to not only have a very supportive advisor on the Chinese side but also to meet faculty who very much encouraged my interest in Japanese studies as well,” Hedberg said. “ I’ve done research in Japan, Taiwan, spent time studying, taking classes, researching.”

At the School of International Letters and Cultures, although he is part of the Japanese department, Hedberg has found an environment that favors collaboration across disciplines. This year, his research earned support from the Institute for Advance Study, a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and support from the Social Science Research Council.

“Looking down the road, there’s a lot of interest in transborder studies here at ASU, which I think ties into my own research,” Hedberg said. “I’m looking at the flow of texts and ideas across geographic borders, cultural borders, linguistic borders.”

Gabriel Sandler

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Q&A: How interior design and visions of hope intertwine in 'The Violence of Truth'

April 24, 2017

Herberger professor discusses inspiration behind exhibition at ASU Art Museum

Jose Bernardi, who spends much of his time researching contemporary design in Latin America, writes on the relationship between design and ideas in cultural settings. It’s no huge surprise, then, that for his latest project, he ventured into the adjacent field of contemporary Latin American art.

Jose Bernardi

Bernardi, an associate professor in The Design School at ASU and the program coordinator of the Interior Design program and the Master of Interior Architecture program, is the latest participant in ASU Art Museum’s Encounter series, where artists and scholars reimagine and recontextualize the museum’s collection to address larger issues related to the current social and culture climate in Arizona and the world at large.

Individuals who participate in the series work closely with a curator at the museum to select pieces to exhibit in ASU Art Museum’s main facility on the Tempe campus. They are also encouraged to create their own work for inclusion in the exhibition.

Here, Bernardi discusses his experience working with the museum’s collection and the intersections between art and design:

Question: How did you come to curate a show at the ASU Art Museum?

Answer: “The Violence of Truth” originated in the summer of 2016 when Julio Morales, curator at the ASU Art Museum, extended an invitation to curate an exhibit as part of the museum’s Encounter series. After initial conversations with Julio, several visits to explore the collection, and interactions with the museum’s professional staff, the theme and narrative slowly began to emerge as a response to the artwork selected, combined with my previous research and creative work. 

I saw this exhibit as a possibility to be part of our reality today and creatively contribute to the discourse by highlighting current topics that affect all of us.

Q: Does this exhibition relate to your research as a designer? How so?

A: My research is focused on modern and contemporary design in Latin America, how it adapted elements from other cultures and how it transformed and innovated those influences in response to particular situations in different areas and complex economic and social realities.

Now, I see this exhibit at the ASU Art Museum as an opportunity to reflect about issues impacting our communities. It is also an exercise in design. The visit is structured in a sequence of four interrelating distinct rooms, reinforcing spatial characteristics already existing in the configuration of the gallery.

Three basic design elements contribute to experiencing a different atmosphere in each room: the use of a few crucial thresholds and walls to transition between spaces, suggesting a distinct character for each area; the use of color on two walls to reinforce the meaning of a particular artwork and its relationship with other pieces; and finally, the use of light and shadows to heighten and differentiate the atmosphere of each room. The southern wall remains empty and silent through the exhibition, except at a critical, culminating moment.

Q: This exhibition is named after a short story by Borges — can you talk a little bit about why you chose the name The Violence of Truth” and what it signifies?

A: The larger topic of the exhibit reflects society’s search for certainty and order during a time in which we seem divided by conflicting and irreconcilable beliefs. The title of the exhibition references Jorge Luis Borges’s 1941 short story The Library of Babel.” In the story, the Library (a metaphor for the universe) is an orderly arranged place, where all knowledge is contained. In search of ultimate meaning, the Library’s inhabitants are divided between unrestrained joys and excruciating sadness; they turn to violence and fight amongst each other, destroying whole sections of the Library. In Borges’ story, the search for truth, instead of a collaborative quest, becomes a violent quarrel.  

Q: What was it like to work with the collection and the curators at the ASU Art Museum?

A: As a researcher and educator this was an enriching learning experience. The museum staff is a cohesive team of experts, focused, professional and friendly. Their technical help, from lighting to mounting the work to organizing the administrative details, made this process very fluid. I am particularly grateful to Julio Morales, who dived in through the storage rooms with me to find the pieces that would be part of the exhibit. His knowledge about the collection was crucial, and I tried to absorb as much as I could. This was really a collaborative work, with a group of individuals who enjoy what they do. Now I can transfer that experience into my design studios and apply it with my own students.

Q: Many of the artworks in this exhibition are from Latin America. Can you talk a little bit about why you focused on that region's artwork?

A: The museum holds a formidable collection from Latin American artists. The work selected here alludes to utopian visions, the daunting routines of every day, like the tensions between conflicting myths, the permanence of memory, and the expectations of moments to come. The exhibition advocates for the potential of critical thinking and the need for dialogue and empathy among opposites. 

The larger room is structured by the central wooden sculpture For Cuba,” an elongated and winding artwork that divides the room in two. The eastern wall offers daunting reflections on violence in its different manifestations, on the opposite side, Refloating of Utopia,” by Francesc Torres, and the larger piece of the exhibit, Eduardo Sarabia’s “City in the Clouds.”

Rufino Tamayo’s Figura en Rojo,” seen from the entrance, illuminates the transitional space leading to third room. This is the central space of the exhibition, charged with powerful contemporary themes, exploring the tension between conflicting ideals and myths. Dominating the narrative of the room, the central wall is painted with a Barragán pink color, full of strong allusions while holding the painting Northward Course of Immigration Makes Its Way.”

The last room evokes the quiet atmosphere of a chapel. It is the most intimate and withdrawn area in the exhibition, imbued with personal memories. Almost in shades, it contains a kneeling, emptied figure in silent dialogue with a vibrant terracotta Tree of Life, a symbol embraced by different cultures and religions through time. This is the only piece on the southern wall of the gallery. Full of energy, joy and hope, it transcends our differences and beliefs. Serenely, beyond our fears and misunderstandings, the Arbol de la Vida” remind us of our common human condition.

Q: Many of your collage works are featured in the exhibition. Have you always made art, and is it part of your design process?

Modeling using different media was part of my education. I continued using fragments, removing parts from its original context, employing them as letters of an alphabet to assemble a different story. Collage with raku is particularly challenging for its weight and fragility, and appropriate for my work, based on multiple iterations of few themes and metaphors. The material I use offers an opportunity to explore joints, connections, color and tectonics; they are all integral parts of designing interior places that exalt human experiences.

Q: What connections do you see between the disciplines of art and design?

A: The whole transformative experience of modernity was propelled by the uneasy relationship between the aesthetics of the avant-garde, revolutionary technological applications and utopian social aspirations. That creative tension and collaboration between design and the arts have been present since then. My research explores that relationship in the work — among others — of Le Corbusier, Luis Barragán or Alejandro Aravena. One of the important characteristics of their theoretical frameworks is the fluid connection between patient research, art and design.

At The Design School, we have the unique opportunity to teach all the disciplines of design, from the larger urban and landscape scale to the intimacy of the room and the human scale. Being part of the Heberger Institute opens multiple opportunities of collaboration between design and the arts. I hope this exhibit is one more example of that potential.

Top photo: Sandow Birk’s “Northward Course of Immigration Makes its Way,” 1999, hangs on a central wall painted with a Barragán pink color. Photo by Craig Smith

Communications Program Coordinator , ASU Art Museum


ASU entrepreneurship students to host Valley arts showcase and networking event

'No Vacancy' will be held Sunday, April 30, at the FOUND:RE Hotel in downtown Phoenix

April 24, 2017

Entrepreneurs within the arts will have the opportunity to engage with Valley artists during the one-night immersive event “No Vacancy.”

Herberger Arts and Design Entrepreneurship Students (HADES) designed the event as part of their work at ASU in entrepreneurial professional development through peer-to-peer mentoring, workshops and interaction. The FOUND:RE Hotel “No Vacancy” will be held Sunday, April 30, at the FOUND:RE Hotel in downtown Phoenix. Photo by The R2 Studio Download Full Image

“We value entrepreneurial thinking within the arts and hope that ‘No Vacancy’ will cultivate lasting relationships and opportunities for collaboration with local artists and members of the community,” said Nichole Perlberg, HADES president and a student studying performance and movement in ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre.

HADES has partnered with local artists and with the FOUND:RE Hotel in downtown Phoenix to produce the event, which offers a unique opportunity to experience art with the artist present.  

The interactive event features local art and artists in the fields of dance, music, spoken word, contemporary fine arts and performance. Artists include Dom Root (Dominique Flagg), H/\rvey (Meghan Harvey), Desert Rain (Rain Locker), YNOT (Anthony DeNaro), CONDER/dance (Carley Conder) and KAYUN (Carol Wong). Each artist has curated his or her own show within the hotel space. Guests will be led on a tour in small groups through a sequence of spaces including a poolside studio, an outdoor pool area featuring performance and live music and three hotel rooms. 

“This will allow the community to experience a more comprehensive creative process that they would not typically find in a museum or art show,” said Emily Ruff, an undergraduate art history student and HADES member. “After touring, we invite guests to stay, ask questions and become acquainted with some of the astounding artistic talent that exists within the metropolitan Phoenix area.”

The hotel will be providing access to a full-service bar and invites guests to experience globally inspired cuisine at their restaurant, Match.

Other sponsors that helped HADES create and produce “No Vacancy” include Blackhawk Wealth Management, Galvinize and Nuebox.

“No Vacancy” will be from 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday, April 30, at the FOUND:RE Hotel. Tickets may be purchased online at For more information and biographies of participating artists, visit the “No Vacancy” Facebook and Instagram pages.

The FOUND:RE Hotel is located at 1100 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix with direct access from the light rail. Ridesharing or public transportation is encouraged as parking will be limited. The event is for age 18 and older.

Sarah A. McCarty

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