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Calling all nature lovers: ASU student design contest offers scholarship prizes

September 13, 2016

Arizona State University is hosting a design contest for students that will offer more than $4,000 in scholarships for the winners, but access to a Latin dictionary might give entrants a leg up on the competition.

The office of University Sustainability Practices is accepting design proposals for its Biophilia Contest for the Tempe campus Memorial Union and the Sun Devil Fitness Centers across all campuses. nature decoration in office Biophilic design, which aims to incorporate nature into a built environment, has been shown to increase productivity and reduce stress in various studies. Photo courtesy Sonja Bochart Download Full Image

Biophilic design, which aims to incorporate nature into a built environment, has been shown to increase productivity and reduce stress in various studies. The concept is all inclusive, as just adding a plant or an aquarium to a small room can enhance mood and creativity. 

“This is an emerging design field, and the [Memorial Union] and the fitness centers are leaders in a lot of ways, they innovate in a lot of ways, so I think our students are the perfect group to work on it,” said Lesley Forst, program coordinator for the office of University Sustainability Practices.

Biophilia, or “love for humanity and nature,” is a concept first theorized by German psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm and expanded on in the 1984 book “The Biophilia Hypothesis,” edited by Stephen Kellert and Edward Wilson. The book theorizes that humans have an evolutionary preference to preserve and appreciate nature, exemplified by our general attraction to the facial features of baby mammals and other species, as well as a continued history of care for flora and fauna across the world.

The practice differs from biomimicry, which attempts to emulate and mirror nature in design, but shares some of the same core principles in appreciation of nature and life as a whole.

Design teams made up of current ASU students have until Dec. 1 to submit their proposals to an 11-judge panel of green building design professionals and ASU building and activities administrators. 

Semifinalist proposals will be open for online voting by the entire student body. The first-place team will receive a $3,000 scholarship, with second and third place earning $1,000 and $500, respectively.

The winning proposal has the potential to be installed on campus, and with renovations to the fitness centers and the Memorial Union on the horizon, Forst and the judging panel are hoping to see design teams from different program specialties working together to come up with unique and creative proposals. 

However, the contest is not restricted to the Memorial Union and fitness centers, and design teams are allowed to submit proposals for any building across the ASU campuses.

“I think it’s the first time in design history that [biophilic design’s] had such a broad offering,” said judging panel member Sonja Bochart, a Tempe-based interior designer and Herberger Institute adjunct faculty member. “I am very drawn to the interdisciplinary perspective for biophilic design — you can bring together so many different disciplines and people with different backgrounds in creating solutions for both the human experience in the built environment and also ecological considerations.”

Visit for a complete list of rules and applications.

Reporter, ASU Now

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'Performance in the Borderlands' enters 13th season with focus on women's rights
ASU Now will follow project's installments, plays, discussions through May
September 13, 2016

Artists say work engages community, has potential to drive social change

In the coming weeks and months, desolate sections near the U.S.-Mexico line will transform into arthouses, theaters and classrooms as Arizona State University brings together a collection of artists to focus their talents on borderland issues.

An initiative of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts’ School of Film, Dance and Theatre, the 13th season of “Performance in the Borderlands” got underway Tuesday with a panel of prominent artists discussing the works’ scope, impact and potential to drive social and political change.

The planned plays, installations and workshops are part of ASU’s cross-disciplinary approach to expanding access, addressing problems and taking responsibility for the well-being of the communities it serves. ASU Now will follow the initiative to document the ways it engages the region and its people.

“We think of borders not just in terms of the physical demographic of a wall in southern Arizona, but in terms of these complicated identity issues and structures,” said Mary Stephens, producing director for “Performance in the Borderlands.”

“Our approach is to think of the borderlands as a conceptual space where people are meeting, ideas are exchanged and as a methodology for life. Really good art takes your everyday perceptions and kind of twists it so that you can see it in a different way.”

As it has done since 2003, the art series will bring together local, national and international artists, ensembles and theater groups. Past invitees have been from Arizona, California, Mexico, Peru and Argentina, and their work has explored topics including immigration, social justice, race, religion, sexual orientation and women’s rights.

Memorable borderlands installations have included a play in the Desert Valley Rock Center reserve, a queer Chicana monologue on body image and politics, and a mural that momentarily erased the border in Douglas, Arizona.

"We've had so much positive response," Stephens said. She said the project aims to support the work of artists and and leaders in the communities they serve, adding "It's not only been positive, but catalytic because ASU is able to fund artists that these small communities could not normally afford and work with these communities, so they're able to produce an event with an incredible artist of great caliber."  

This year’s theme, “Voices of Power,” examines the role of women of color in the arts and social justice. “My job as curator is to give these amazing women visibility because they’re not just part of, but leading the arts movement in Arizona,” Stephens said.

Martha Gonzalez, a Grammy-winning artist, activist, scholar and the current ASU Gammage guest residency artist, is contributing to the borderlands project as a featured speaker at the introductory discussion.   

Martha Gonzalez


She sees the connection between art and social consciousness as inextricable. Through workshops and her Mexican folk band, Quetzal, Gonzalez has engaged communities in critical thought through music. At the same time, she has increased access to health care and educational programs for underserved populations in the Los Angeles area.

“With hypercapitalism as the way we understand it, we tend to think of art as something separate from community and something we buy and sell,” Gonzales said. “Art has always been meant to document and instigate critical thought and bring communities together.”

This year’s borderlands project will include close to 20 activities that will run through May.

The first event of the season included ASU professors Marlon Bailey and Liz Lerman along with Gonzalez. Speakers discussed the creative process, community representation and — as Gonzalez put it — developing a sense of "convivencia," or coexistence.


"It means to be with each other," Gonzalez said, "deliberate presence to each other, commitment to each other, dialogue through this art and music. I think that it's extremely important for us as well to instill a sense of 'convivencia' through music and our practices."


The rest of the season's lineup features Arizona artists Raji Ganesan, Rashaad Thomas, Leah Marche and Liliana Gomez.

Projects are expected to include an on-site installation and performance at the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area in Phoenix; a DJ scholarship and music activism lecture with Lynee Denise and a bi-national arts residency with solo performance artist Yadira de la Riva, who will travel through Arizona, northern Mexico, the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Sonoran Desert.

“I feel this is our strongest year because we’ll be working with and reaching many communities, especially women,” Stephens said.  

For a list of complete listing of the 2016-2017 season, go here.


Top photo: Last year's "Performance in the Borderlands" included painting the U.S.-Mexico border fence to match the sky. Project leaders said it removed an oppressive visual barrier to help create optimism. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now


Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU prof's projects involve robots, Earth's interior, NASA-designed satellite.
September 6, 2016

Herberger Institute professor Lance Gharavi advances research through performances that explore the wonders of the universe

Arizona State University professor Lance Gharavi is an experimental artist and scholar who has a knack for linking with interdisciplinary teams to explore difficult subjects through multimedia performances.

Gharavi is an actor, director, performance artist, writer, designer and early pioneer in the field of digital performance. Yet he’s most comfortable at the intersection of art, science and technology, where he and others can collaborate on projects that advance ASU research.

His most recent projects have involved research robots and artificial intelligence, planetarium systems, the interior structure of Earth, and currently he’s involved with a research project for a NASA-designed satellite that will measure Phoenix’s urban heat islands — unlikely topics for stage and screen.

Gharavi, associate professor and artistic director in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, recently discussed his wide-ranging work and the wonders of the universe:

Question: How do you view yourself given that your work cuts across so many disciplines?

Answer: I am absolutely an artist first and foremost. I am by no means a scientist. All of my training is in the arts. I have three advanced degrees, all in the theater. I am, however, an appreciator of science. I am a booster of science. I think science is already interesting. It’s already compelling and fascinating. I just put it through the filter of my own sensibilities, the sensibilities of the other artists I work with and we channel it into the medium of live performance. Scientists and artists are great storytellers, but sometimes we use different language to tell the same story. The most exciting thing is that when artists and scientists come together, we can produce new knowledge and advance the science.

Q: You have a clever way of presenting science in a way that’s entertaining and useful to an outside audience.

A: Maybe, sure. Science is all around us. Science is the best method we’ve found to discover what is actually the case for what we call “the natural world.” I’m interested in stories. Big stories. I’m interested in ideas. Big ideas. Science is one of the few places where we keep our biggest stories, and our biggest, grandest, most useful ideas. When you simply tell those stories, communicate those ideas, it’s not that difficult to make those ideas compelling. It’s already compelling. It’s already wondrous and magical. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being the finger pointing at the moon.

Q: I saw a sneak preview of “Beneath” last year, your multimedia production that explores the Earth’s core. How did that project come to fruition?

A: I had recently completed a project with the School of Earth and Space Exploration based on Stephen Hawking’s book, “A Brief History of Time.” It was a one-man show in the Marston Exploration Theater. I launched it there because I wanted to see what I could do with that space and the set of marvelous technologies it has available. A year later, Edward Garnero, a geophysicist, approached Herberger associate dean Jake Pinholster and me and said, “I’ve got this great idea. I want to bring art and science together to make a show.”

I said, “Great. That’s our shtick. What’s on your mind?”

He said, “Beneath our feet there, thousands of miles below the surface, there are enormous, continent-sized amorphous blobs, and scientists don’t know what they are.”

That’s crazy! We know the mass of the moon and Jupiter, we know what the center of our galaxy smells like, but we don’t know what these blobs are just a couple of thousand miles beneath us? It blows my mind and, frankly, scares the crap out of me. It could be anything.

This project started pretty much how every other project starts — me being astonished, amazed and a little creeped out. We plan on turning “Beneath” into a 60- to 90-minute presentation in 2017. Our hope is to take it to space museums and planetariums around the United States.

Q: You are also involved in NASA’s "Phoenix" CubeSat project, a small satellite about the size of a loaf of bread that will measure Phoenix’s urban heat islands. I’m curious as to how an artist got linked to this.

A: ASU received a $200,000 NASA grant last May to assemble a team of undergraduates to design, build and operate CubeSat, which is a small, functional satellite. The key here is that the 25-member team is entirely composed of undergraduates from engineering, science, journalism, sustainability and the arts. The faculty is strictly in a mentorship role. Jake Pinholster and me recruited students from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and from the School of Film, Dance and Theatre who we thought would be interested in a very interdisciplinary project like this and put them on a team. They’ll be creating a website, a social-media site and a series of short videos about the project and the people involved. NASA’s going to cover the launch and flight costs. How cool is that?

Q: Your work with robotics and artificial intelligence is also noted. I saw a recent tweet of yours regarding the Dallas Police Department’s decision to use an armed robot to kill a sniper. It struck me that this bothered you.

A: It’s a big deal. Certain kinds of machines like drones have been used by the military to kill people before. But in this instance with the shooter in Dallas, it was the first time that police have used a robot to kill someone. So “Robocop” is here. It’s no longer science fiction. It’s creepy, right? A robot killing people … isn’t that what the premise of “The Terminator” was all about? Work that advances the science of robots is a little more of an awesome responsibility.

The work we’re doing will never bring about the robot revolution — knock on wood. But one of the things the most serious philosophers and futurists — people like Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Nick Bostrom — are really worried about is the impact of increasing automation through robotics and artificial intelligence on basic human life and causing unemployment. We might be facing a future, not too distant from now, where we could have up to 50, 60, 70 percent unemployment because of artificial intelligence, automation and robotics. That would require the radical rethinking of the social contract and likely cause mass disruption and political and social unrest. Beyond that, these very serious thinkers are concerned with artificial intelligence as a possible existential threat to our species or even enslavement.

So if that were the case, what use would we be to creatures like that? What would creatures like that do with us? The answer is, whatever they want. When you’re working with technologies that could someday cause disruption in economies and societies, or species extinction, or can kill people through the police, you take those things seriously. In order to be a responsible artist, you must take those things into account. 


Top photo of Lance Gharavi by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU Gammage art gallery features Mesa Art League's Fine Art Show

September 1, 2016

ASU Gammage will be featuring a variety of art pieces from the Mesa Art League's Fine Art Show Sept. 8 through Oct. 5. 

The walls of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed building will hold many different paintings in several different mediums; oil, water, mixed media and even wood.  "Haulin' Fuel" by Diana Kempton Download Full Image

You can visit the ASU Gammage Art Gallery any Monday from 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment by calling 480-965-6912 or 480-965-0458.

Some of the featured artists include:

• Chere McKinney with her work, "Immigration: Ellis Island Hospital." Chere states, “My adventure into the art world by working in color and acrylics for the past four years. Nature or anything unique seems to be where I go to get most of my inspiration. Using details and texture to create my art has been both challenging, frustrating and exciting. Art has become a fascinating and important part of my life.”´

• Carol Hartland's painting, “Cabbage” is from a photo taken in the children's garden in Inness Woods metro park near her home. “I began painting in watercolor about 10 years ago in Westerville Ohio. I had the honor of being accepted into the Central Ohio Watercolor Society, and joined the Westerville Art League, Worthington Area Art League and I was also a Member of the Serendip Art Gallery in Powell, Ohio. I love nature and find a great deal of joy in expressing that joy in my paintings”.

• Diana Kempton took her first course in photography at Phoenix College and has been hooked ever since. The experience of living in the shadow of The Wall in Cold War Berlin with the prosperous West juxtaposed against the East — one vibrant and colorful, one somber and gray — prompted Diana’s photographic exploration of reality and apparent reality from an early age. Favorite subjects are vintage glass patterns ablaze with various light and color sources; flowers, leaves and organic textures; old rusty trucks; and ancient ruins and architecture, where walls have both protected and divided us, providing comfort and also isolation. See her photo, “Haulin' Fuel.”

• Sandra Meissner, “When I was a child I would pretend that the glass doorknobs on my grandmothers thick wooden doors to her home were made out of precious diamonds and when the sun hit then porch door knob the rainbow reflection was made just for me.  I had many memories come back to me while painting this warped door and its classic old diamond.” Painting “From Grandma's House.”

• Rosalie Trulli Vaccaro, the exhibit coordinator, for the Mesa Art League, has been painting in oils for many years. She studied in New York, Florence, Italy and here at the Scottsdale Artists School. Her oil painting shown at ASU Gammage is “Old Fashioned Woman.” According to Rosale, “I am most interested in painting in a realistic, representational manor for figurative paintings and portraits. Primarily working in oils, my paintings are of men, woman and young adults in a specific environment. I hope to tell a story of a place and time, sometimes with a single heroic subject or the same subject in multiply panels."

Public relations manager, ASU Gammage


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ASU lecturer says new book of poetry 'traces the arc of an implosion'

Patricia Murphy will read from "Hemming Flames" at Changing Hands Bookstore.
Pulitzer-winning reviewer calls poetry collection "wonderfully disturbing."
August 31, 2016

Patricia Murphy's 'Hemming Flames' collects 20 years of work, draws from turbulent youth

Poet Patricia Murphy writes that she was 17 when her mother set herself on fire.

It was the summer of 1998, Murphy says, when her mother pulled her car to the side of the road, doused herself in gasoline and lit a match. She was saved by an off-duty police officer who spotted her and pulled her from the car. Doctors had to perform skin grafts on nearly a quarter of her body.

Soul-shaking moments such as this are peppered throughout Murphy’s first collection, “Hemming Flames.” Murphy, a principal lecturer in Arizona State University’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, will read selections from her newly published book at 7 p.m. Thursday at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe.  

“It’s a book about a suburban family and traces the arc of an implosion,” said Murphy, founding editor of Superstition Review, ASU’s online literary magazine. “Our family life went way beyond dysfunction. It was an implosion.”

The collection marks a culmination of 20 years of work for Murphy, who is writing publicly about her family. Her handling of the subject matter stood out, said Pulitzer winner Stephen Dunn.

“Here was someone whose artfulness transcended what otherwise could merely be confessional,” he said. “I never felt the motive behind it was therapeutic. Patricia Murphy is a maker of poems.”

Dunn selected “Hemming Flames” as the winner of the 2016 May Swenson Poetry Award, presented by Utah State University Press, which published the book this summer. Dunn, in a statement, called the book “wonderfully disturbing” and said the title comes from the collection’s final two lines, “Yesterday I invented fire / today I’m hemming flames.”

Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy, founding editor of Superstition Review, ASU’s online literary magazine, says her book of poetry, "Hemming Flames" is "about a suburban family and traces the arc of an implosion.” Photos by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Murphy said the work draws heavily on her turbulent youth and that it includes stories about her mother, describing her as a suicidal diagnosed schizophrenic who refused medication because she “loved the feeling of being manic.”

There were countless bizarre episodes, Murphy said, explaining that her mother had been hospitalized in more than 30 psychiatric wards and institutions in six countries.

In one instance, Murphy said, her mother made an impulsive trip to Russia, where she renounced her U.S. citizenship and attempted to emigrate as a communist. Her mother ended up spending a year and a half in a mental hospital where she was underfed and abused, Murphy said, adding that six of her mother’s teeth had been pulled and that she left the institution weighing just 95 pounds.

“Reading the work, you understand immediately that writing these poems required enormous bravery and deep emotional anguish,” said Maureen Roen, editorial and communications coordinator for the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. Murphy “really put it out there for all to see.”

Arizona’s inaugural poet laureate Alberto Rios called the work “searing reports from the far side of the human dimension.”

Patricia Murphy said her mother’s later years were lucid and drama-free. She moved to Las Vegas, took her medicine and maintained a job.  

Before her mother died, Murphy said, “we had a conversation, and I felt like she really listened when I told her what it was like for the rest of us. And she said to me, ‘I did the best that I could.’”

“I think about that a lot,” Murphy said. “It took everything she had to say it.” 

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU-led researchers uncover ancient Catholic texts

Rituals, devotional images could expand knowledge of women's religious lives.
Books uncovered in German monastery complex from 11th century.
Monastery to be closed; fate of the ancient library unclear.
August 25, 2016

Group seeks protection of dozens of books that could reshape modern understanding of Middle Ages, nuns' spiritual lives

An Arizona State University-led international research team is advocating for the protection of a newly uncovered trove of centuries-old Catholic texts that could greatly contribute to the world's collection of art and music from the Middle Ages.

The team discovered the previously unknown manuscripts, which date back to the 15th century, on the final stop of a tour of German monasteries late last year. The books include volumes adorned with gold leaf, and detail ancient rituals and devotional images that promise to expand what researchers can say about spiritual life for medieval women.

Professor Corine Schleif, who studies art history at ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, called the find at a monastery northwest of Munich “a sensational discovery.”

“I never expected in my lifetime to find this amount of unknown material,” she said.

Schleif and her colleagues immediately volunteered to catalog and digitize the collection, saying some of the books uniquely show how images and symbols were adopted by nuns of the Brigittine Order — the only group to compose liturgy for medieval women.

At the outset of conservation work in December, however, it was announced that the monastery was being permanently closed because few nuns remained there. The statement leaves the fate of the ancient library unclear and cuts off access for researchers.

“We hope,” Schleif said, “that by making the existence of this rare treasure known to the scholarly community and to the public at large, efforts will be made to continue the collection as an ensemble, to take any and all necessary measures to maintain and preserve the books and to ensure that the works are safe and accessible by placing them in an appropriate institutional library.”

Ideally, that would include digitizing the library’s most important books so they could be accessed anywhere — an undertaking Schleif and ASU visiting faculty Volker Schier, a musicologist working in the Institute for Humanities Research, completed with their earlier project “Opening the Geese Book,” a multisensory work for researchers, students and broader audiences to explore an illustrated, two-volume liturgical manuscript from 1510.

This time, they hope to build an immersive, virtual-reality platform called “Extraordinary Sensescapes” to provide insight into questions about the music, art, history, architecture and practices of the Brigittine nuns. Plans include a 3-D virtual model of a prototypical church and acoustic renditions of sounds in the space.

The team, also guided by Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) postdoctoral researcher Karin Strinnholm Lagergren, uncovered the texts after being invited into the library at Birgittenkloster Altomünster, a vast 11th-century monastic complex for the Catholic order of Benedictine Sisters and later occupied by nuns from the Brigittine Order. The complex is the oldest continuously inhabited community of its kind, as many such monasteries were dissolved following the Protestant Reformation, destroyed in central Europe’s Thirty Years’ War or shuttered during the early 19th-century secularization of Germany.

The invitation came as a surprise, since the collection had been traditionally off-limits to visitors.

With the monastery shuttered, there is concern that the dozens of books could be sold to private dealers. However, representatives from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, the state library of Bavaria and one of the largest in the world, plan to investigate each object to determine if it can be claimed by Germany and brought to the library's special collections.


Top image: Shelves with manuscripts in the library of the Brigittine monastery at Altomünster, Germany. Courtesy of Eva Lindqvist Sandgren.

Beth Giudicessi

Director , Media Relations and Strategic Communications


Learning from the masters: Visiting artists come to ASU Herberger Institute

Herberger Institute's 2016-2017 season underway, features opportunities to learn from visiting artists

August 24, 2016

Arizona State University music professor Carole FitzPatrick remembers when it all clicked.

She was a grad student when she heard a professional opera singer express her style, command and passion — up close. Alexandra Ncube master class ASU alumna Alexandra Ncube, star of the Broadway hit “The Book of Mormon,” talks to students during a master class last year. Photo by Tim Trumble. Download Full Image

“It was a life-changing experience — a recital of incredible beauty, elegance and joy and utterly compelling,” she said.

Today, FitzPatrick, as an associate professor of voice for the ASU School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, is providing the opportunity for her students to have a similarly transformative experience by bringing mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade to ASU next month for a master class.

Von Stade’s scheduled appearance signals the arrival of a new season of cultural events from the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. It marks the continuance of an emerging tradition that allows students, faculty and the general public to work closely with professionals from various creative disciplines as part of master classes and workshops lead by industry professionals and short-term artist residencies, which all dovetail with the Herberger Institute’s cultural offerings: concerts; plays and readings; design and art exhibitions; lectures and workshops; dance performances and musical theatre.   

“A key part of our mission at the ASU Herberger Institute is ensuring that our students engage with successful working artists and designers who can serve as shining examples of what a life in design and the arts can look like,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “It’s one thing to watch a singer onstage or to see a video in a museum. It’s another thing entirely to have the opportunity to interact with professional artists and designers and learn from them about how and why they do what they do. That interaction can provide the impetus for a truly rewarding career in the arts.”

Von Stade’s interaction includes students selected by audition to sing for her and receive vocal-technical and stylistic advice. Also, the class will be open to the community to watch.

“For our students to get to work with — or even watch someone else work with — this amazing artist is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” FitzPatrick said. “They'll never forget it.”

Estrella Peyton, who runs the International Artist Residency program at the Herberger Institute’s ASU Art Museum, was a graduate student in the ASU School of Art last year. She says that as a student, she had “direct access to amazing, world-renowned artists” through the residency. She was able to see professional projects realized even as a student and had access to the artists “in such a natural way. It’s such an organic experience that will probably take years to really sink in, how important these interactions have been.”

This fall, dance students will have the opportunity to work with award-winning choreographer Kyle Abraham. He will teach master classes and engage in a residency with the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre that will involve remounting one of his previous pieces with the students.  

Abraham, a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, “is a superstar in the dance world,” said Mary Fitzgerald, assistant director and associate professor for the School of Film, Dance and Theatre. “Stylistically, he fuses postmodern dance with urban styles.”

Abraham’s work will extend beyond the classroom when he returns in the spring for ASU Gammage’s BEYOND series, which offers additional access to visiting artists.

Artists involved in the BEYOND series do work both on- and off-campus, said Michael Reed, senior director of programs and organizational initiatives at ASU Gammage.

“We’re able to bring something to the table for students that is very much of the professional working world so that it becomes a very real part of their experience at ASU,” he said.

In Abraham’s case, his company Abraham.In.Motion will perform a new dance work based on the meaning of love and loss across multiple communities and perspectives. Ahead of the ASU Gammage performance in April, he will interview people in the community about what love means to them and incorporate their perspectives into the piece.

Other artists visiting ASU as part of the Herberger Institute’s 2016-2017 season include the Ying Quartet, the New York-based theatre company 600 Highwaymen and urban dance artist Teena Marie Custer.

These opportunities are just one facet of the season. Students take what they learn from the artists and put it into their own performances and art work that is part of every season. This year, they’ll be performing operas such as “The Magic Flute,” acting in the student-written play “Haboob,” presenting personal dance pieces, mounting exhibitions, premiering short films and participating in choral concerts. Eventually, some students return to ASU as visiting artists themselves.

Last year, one of the most popular master classes was taught by Alexandra Ncube, star of the Broadway hit “The Book of Mormon.” Ncube, who graduated from ASU with a degree in theatre, made sure to carve out time to work with students when she was in Tempe touring at ASU Gammage.

“During the master class, she laid out the unique path she took to pursue performing, and reinforced the idea within each of us that our dreams were absolutely possible,” said Erin Kong, a sophomore studying musical theatre. “Pursuing any career in the arts is often deemed unrealistic, yet the master class with Alexandra proved the very opposite. Our dreams were realistic – she was living proof.”

To find a listing of the Herberger Institute’s season events, which include many free events, and to buy tickets, visit

For more information on ASU Gammage’s BEYOND series, visit

Sarah A. McCarty

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


ASU students to premiere plays during ASU MainStage season

August 10, 2016

The ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre has officially announced its 2016-17 MainStage season, which features two world-premieres of plays created by Arizona State University students as well as five dance concerts, two film screenings and theatre productions featuring boats, food and a strange creature.

The annual "Fall Forward!" dance concert kicks off the MainStage season, the official performing arts season of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, at the end of September. The concert features new works by ASU faculty and guests. The ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre's 2016-17 MainStage season Download Full Image

The first theater production of the season is new work written by the MFA theater cohort and directed by Kyra Jackson, Wyatt Kent and Phil Weaver-Stoesz. “Out of Many” examines what it means to call people “American” and how to find unity in a nation divided. This play features stories, images and ideas torn from the American zeitgeist.

Horror comedy “Feathers and Teeth,” which features a mysterious creature, will premiere just in time for Halloween, followed by the Emerging Artists dance series and the Fall Film Capstone Showcase.

In the spring, BFA dance candidates will present diverse pieces in two separate evenings of Transitions Projects.

The theater season will return to Shakespeare for the first time in a decade with “Titus Andronicus.” Director Kristin Hunt will use food to help tell this tale of revenge, betrayal, violence and one very disturbing pie.

In March, audiences will take a trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon with “Men on Boats.” Playwright Jaclyn Backhaus retells the raucous adventure of Captain John Wesely Powell and his crew’s expedition. “Men on Boats” features 13 male characters, none of which are played by cisgender male actors. 

The last theater production of the season features another piece written by a student. MFA playwright Marvin González De León’s “Haboob” is a work of magical realism that follows its characters into the desert as they hunt for and fight over a buried inheritance.

The annual “SpringDanceFest” concert will highlight some of the best hits of the dance season alongside new work, and the Spring Film Capstone Showcase will close out the MainStage season with screenings of work by senior film students.

For more information on each event and to purchase tickets, visit or

Sarah A. McCarty

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


The Northlight Gallery presents Louis Carlos Bernal: Barrios

August 9, 2016

The ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts presents the work of Louis Carlos Bernal.

The ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts presents Louis Carlos Bernal: Barrios, Sept. 14 – Oct. 23 at the Northlight Gallery on the ASU Tempe campus. Albert y Lynn Morales, Silver City, New Mexico, 1978. See this work and others by Louis Carlos Bernal from Sept. 14 – Oct. 23 at the Northlight Gallery on the ASU Tempe campus. Photo by Louis Carlos Bernal Download Full Image

In Barrios Bernal portrays common Latino cultural events including “quinceañeras” and religious traditions, revealing the intimate lives of American Chicanos in the barrios of Tucson, Texas and New Mexico. The Louis Carlos Bernal: Barrios retrospective was organized after his death in 1993. Prior to his death, Bernal gained international recognition as a photographer who captured the essence of Mexican-American life. Formally a teacher at Pima Community College (PCC) in Tucson, Ariz., Bernal influenced a generation of young photographers. In 2002, PCC dedicated the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery to honor his contribution to the college and the community.

The Louis Carlos Bernal: Barrios retrospective is the first exhibition in a series that features the work of artists focusing their attention on the communities and desert regions of the American Southwest and Mexico. The artists’ images contribute to a continuing exchange, rich with blended cultural traditions, where in recent months social struggle and political wrangling have sparked the attention of the international community.

To learn more about upcoming Northlight Gallery exhibitions, visit:

The Northlight Gallery is located in room 101 in Matthews Hall on the southeast corner of Tyler and Forest Malls on the ASU Tempe campus.

Northlight Gallery hours: Tuesday: 12:30 - 8:30 p.m.; Wednesday - Saturday: 12:30 - 4:30 p.m.; Closed: Sundays, Mondays, major holidays and summer session.

Exhibition: Sept. 14 – Oct. 23
Opening Public Reception: Sept. 14, 6 – 8:30 p.m.

All activities are free and open to the public.

Public Contact
Liz Allen
ASU School of Art
Northlight Gallery director

The School of Art is a division of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Its printmaking, photography and art education programs are nationally ranked in the top 10, and its Master of Fine Arts program is ranked eighth among public institutions by U.S.News & World Report. The school includes four student galleries for solo and group shows by graduate and undergraduate art and photography students: Gallery 100, Harry Wood, Northlight and Step. To learn more about the School of Art, visit

Media Contact:
Liz Allen
ASU School of Art
Northlight Gallery director


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Stroke of genius: Solving problems with artistic flair

100&Change competition from MacArthur Foundation addresses critical problem.
Foundation behind 'genius grants' to award $100 million to winning idea.
August 2, 2016

Steven Tepper, dean of ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and Arts, joins judges panel of influential philanthropic competition

For years, Steven J. Tepper has advanced the notion that artists can change the world as profoundly as scientists or engineers.

So when he learned the MacArthur Foundation had plans to award a whopping $100 million grant to help solve “a critical problem affecting people, places or the planet,” he wanted to be sure artists and designers were engaged in a meaningful way — as judges, project team leaders and collaborators. He wrote to colleagues at MacArthur, to deans and researchers across ASU and to arts leaders across the U.S.

Now, Tepper, dean of Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and Arts, has been appointed to the panel of judges who will decide which organization will win the 100&Change competition. Tepper’s addition underscores the value of his work to make sure artists and designers are viewed as critical partners in a range of fields. 

“Artists and designers have a way of asking questions, expanding our imagination and exploring opportunities,” Tepper said recently. “Their ideas and methods provide a powerful lens to address critical issues facing our communities, and they should be fully integrated into public life rather than seen as extra or special or something apart from everyday life.”

Dean Steven Tepper

Steven J. Tepper, dean of Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now


Under his guidance, the concept of art as a change agent has helped trigger more than $1 million in donations to Herberger Institute initiatives this year, and school staffers are working on plans that include an art-and-design project to address sexual violence, a mission to activate hundreds of students every year to work with community partners to improve greater Phoenix and a suite of plans — collectively called “Projecting All Voices” — to get more minorities and first-generation students into arts-and-entertainment careers.

“Projecting All Voices,” which includes scholarships, mentoring, fellowships, internships and guest artist residencies, helps address the frustration that triggered the grassroots social media campaign #OscarsSoWhite, which mocked the lack of diversity in Hollywood, said Jake Pinholster, Herberger Institute associate dean for policy and initiatives. Similar issues of representation, he said, show up across many areas of arts and entertainment, including fine arts, classical music and architecture. 

“There's a breath between graduation and first opportunity,” Pinholster said, explaining that in the time it takes to land a decent job, graduates from underrepresented communities often leave the their field to secure a more immediate steady paycheck.

“We need to give them that first opportunity," Pinholster said. He added, “Our goal is to create a pipeline — and an expansive and deep reservoir at the end of that pipeline.”

Pinholster also highlighted a series of other projects that have already begun to reshape greater Phoenix. He mentioned mural projects that grew from “respect and bi-directional communication,” rather than directives from outsiders; a musical concert series that turns empty lots into community gathering spaces; and efforts to plant sunflowers in blighted areas as reminders of hope and sources of bio-fuel.

The work, Pinholster said, reflects the “credibility and excitement” that Tepper generates by helping neighborhoods reshape themselves through art. The approach helps “communities see benefit without negatives of gentrification or imposition,” he said.

Tepper’s involvement in 100&Change means his views on art’s usefulness and utility will expand to an organization that has said it’s seeking to solve “society’s most pressing problems.”

Competition organizers said they will consider proposals from any organization from around the world. The work could address any issue from any field of interest. Hundreds of submissions are expected and the field of judges, which now includes Tepper, will start narrowing the field this fall.

Herberger Institute professor Liz Lerman, a choreographer and author, has a unique perspective. She won one of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grants” in 2002, and Tepper recruited her to ASU this year. She believes in his vision.

“Steven has a deep awareness of the value of art making and art makers to problem-solve,” Lerman said, adding that artists “help us see ourselves in new ways.”

Pinholster raised a similar point, using sustainability as an example. “We have the data and technology” to solve the problems, but the issues persist, he said.

Artists, Pinholster said, can “change the cultural narrative, get people to believe in a different story and change collective decision making.”

Art, he added, can get people to “think more about 10,000 years, not just five years.”  

Tepper is optimistic about the competition’s potential to create “human-centered solutions.” Contributors from his field, he said, could “perhaps make some analogical connection that moves us past whatever our existing approaches have been. And that’s the way artists and designers think.”

He acknowledges that the MacArthur Foundation is taking a gamble, but he said it’s worth it.

“It’s riskier to give out a single, large grant of this size,” he said, “but imagine if we’re truly able to see a transformative outcome.”



Reporter , ASU Now