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ASU Gammage presents Operation Date Night

Military couples treated to a night out with dinner, Broadway show

March 9, 2016

ASU Gammage is hosting a night out for military couples with Operation Date Night. More than 50 couples have been selected to experience the toe-tapping classic "42nd Street" on Wednesday, April 6, for free.  

ASU Gammage created the program to celebrate and honor the members of the U.S. military. Its mission is to allow them and their spouses/partners a night away from the day-to-day stresses to enjoy a special date with one another. As part of the evening, participants will receive a pair of tickets to the show as well as a gift card to a local restaurant at no cost. performance scene from "42nd Street" More than 50 military couples have been selected to experience the toe-tapping classic "42nd Street" on Wednesday, April 6, for free at ASU Gammage. Download Full Image

Operation Date Night is part of the ASU Gammage Salute supporting military programs, which include the Military Ticket Fund, Military Family First Night and Heroes Night. The ASU Gammage Salute allows for our nation’s heroes and their families to see the best of Broadway each season.  

Operation Date Night is made possible with funding from APS and Veterans Ticket Foundation.

The backstage musical-comedy classic "42nd Street" is the song and dance fable of Broadway with an American Dream story and includes songs such as “We’re in the Money,” Lullaby of Broadway,” Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” “Dames,” “I Only Have Eyes for You” and of course “42nd Street.”

Based on a novel by Bradford Ropers and Busby Berkeley’s 1933 movie, 42nd Street tells the story of a starry-eyed young dancer named Peggy Sawyer who leaves her Allentown home and comes to New York to audition for the new Broadway musical Pretty Lade. When the star breaks her ankle, Peggy takes over and becomes a star. It features a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble and choreographed by Randy Skinner, the team who staged the 2011 Tony Award-winning Best Musical Revival.

"42nd Street" runs April 5-10 at ASU Gammage. Tickets are on sale at

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ASU MFA student creates Kerfuffle, a theater for young children.
What is with the "Caterpillar's Footprint"? Lots of kid-friendly fun.
March 8, 2016

ASU MFA student creates theater company for very young children

Ashley Laverty doesn’t mind when her shows have an element of chaos.

In fact, she encourages it.

It’s also the reason why the Arizona State University student has named her theater company Kerfuffle, which means a commotion or fuss. The company produces interactive performances for children age 5 and younger.

“There have been a lot of chaotic moments during our shows, but we try to embrace them and remember chaos is not a bad thing,” said Laverty, who is an MFA student in the School of Film, Dance and TheaterThe School of Film, Dance and Theater is in ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts..

“Obviously things will always go wrong in a production and that is OK. We don’t try and fix it. This is a show for children under 5, and we want them to behave like they’re under 5. They don’t have to sit still if they don’t want to.”

Laverty’s words come on the eve of her first production, “The Caterpillar’s Footprint,” which began an 18-show engagement at Mesa’s i.d.e.a. Museum on Tuesday. It runs through March 13.

A unique theater production.

Actor Amanda Pintore (center) emerges
as a butterfly near the end of a dress
rehearsal of "The Caterpillar's Footprint"
at the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa on
March 7.

Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

The 30-minute magical show takes the audience on a journey through a fantasy forest where a bear, a dinosaur and a fox meet a caterpillar. Featuring music and puppets inside a 14-foot dome with mushroom-cap seats, it’s designed to engage very young audiences.

A recent dress rehearsal started when the bear and the dinosaur chummed up Owyn and Joel Gramp — ages 6 and 3, respectively — in an outside play area. Once the Gramps became familiar with the characters, they were invited into a “forest,” which included rugs, logs, pillows and flowerpots. After a few minutes, the flap of the Kerfuffle tent was opened and the two were treated to the performance. The boys smiled, giggled and laughed aloud at times. Their eyes also revealed a few lightbulb moments.

“I saw a need for this type of theater because it just doesn’t exist in Arizona,” Laverty said of targeting very young children. “This is a way for young children to sit and watch theater that fosters their imagination, helps develop their brains and to be engaged with the characters.”

The inspiration for “The Caterpillar’s Footprint” came after Kerfuffle’s team, which includes fellow MFA students Amanda Pintore and Andy Waldron, spent time with children attending Mesa’s Good Earth Montessori School and Bright Horizons at ASU.

“There are lots of moments during the show where we interact with each individual in the audience and they have the option to speak, laugh, react or not even go into the tent,” said Pintore, who plays the part of the curious caterpillar. “We’re not going to tell them, ‘No,’ or how to react or behave as long as they are safe. We don’t have traditional expectations of our audience.”

Waldron, who plays the part of the bear and the fox, said “The Caterpillar’s Footprint” is special because it’s reactive to each individual child.

“As a performer there is a certain structure, but we improvise based on what they give us,” Waldron said. “We greet each child and realize their ideas and creativity in real time.”

The show is also Laverty’s culminating applied project for completion in the Masters of Fine Arts Theatre for Youth program at ASU. It is also a Pave Arts Venture IncubatorThe Pave Arts Venture Incubator is part of the Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship, which supports arts entrepreneurship education and undertaking entrepreneurial activities and research. 2015 grant recipient.

Laverty, a former children’s theater actress in New York City, playwright and artist in residence at Lowell Elementary School in Mesa, said starting Kerfuffle has been challenging at times but ultimately rewarding.

“I’ve never started a theater company before and I’ve never written a thesis before, so combining these two elements for my applied project has been stressful,” Laverty said. “But I must say to see these young children so engaged and affected has been amazing, which makes it all worth it. It’s really been special.”


“The Caterpillar’s Footprint”

When: March 8-13

Where: i.d.e.a. Museum, 150 W. Pepper Place, Mesa

Details: For performance times, tickets and additional details, visit this page.


Top photo: Actor Amanda Pintore, as a caterpillar, allows 3-year-old Joel Gramp to touch her head in the dress rehearsal of Kerfuffle production of "The Caterpillar's Footprint" at the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa, on March 7. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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Artist exhibits Wikipedia entries at ASU's Hayden Library.
Printing out the digital age: Artist exhibits "Print Wikipedia" at ASU.
February 24, 2016

New York artist brings 'Print Wikipedia' to ASU library

Interdisciplinary artist Michael Mandiberg is interested in how modern life is defined by information.

To help visualize what he calls the “largest accumulation of human knowledge,” Mandiberg wrote software to transform the entirety of the English-language Wikipedia database as it existed on April 7, 2015, into 7,473 printed volumes — each consisting of 700 pages ready to be printed on demand.

Print Wikipedia,” an exhibition of Mandiberg’s project, opened at the Denny Gallery in New York City in July 2015 to widespread and international media attention. Now, a selection of “Print Wikipedia” volumes has been acquired for the permanent collection and is being shown at Arizona State University’s Hayden Library. It is the first time they have been displayed outside of an art space setting.

ASU Now spoke with Mandiberg, who with two undergraduate students was working to install the forthcoming exhibit, which will run from Feb. 24 through May 21 on the library’s upper concourse and first-floor atrium — opposite stacks holding reference materials including the World Book and Encyclopaedia Britannica. Mandiberg offered his thoughts on a range of topics, including the role of libraries, the importance of archiving and cataloguing information and what it was like to come to Arizona from frigid New York.

Question: Can you summarize what you’re working on at ASU?

Answer: I’m installing “Print Wikipedia” as a joint project between the library and the art museum. I think it is really important because of the ways in which this work speaks to both contexts. It’s been installed in three art spaces — first in Denny Gallery in New York, then in a gallery at Ohio State and then most recently in an art fair in Munich. I’m really excited about it being in a library because it involves aspects of information, organization, databases, reference, librarianship, information and information literacy, but it’s also deeply steeped in art historical practices of appropriation and conceptual art and aesthetics.

Q: There was a New Yorker article about a year ago asking if the Internet can be archived. What are your thoughts about libraries and their role in creating and storing knowledge?

A: These are some of the exact questions that I know [University Librarian] Jim O’Donnell wanted to raise by bringing this project here. These are the questions that libraries are facing. I happened to be in Nova Scotia when we were having some of these early conversations, and in Halifax they just put in a new public library. It’s been winning architectural awards — not just because it’s a really interesting building, but because of the way it completely reconceives what a library is as kind of a town center. There’s a coffee shop in the library. There are books, but not that many because they recognize that so much information that we consume and produce takes place electronically, yet we still need that kind of world-making function that the physical library provides.

But the real question then is about archiving — where does it live and who preserves it? [With Facebook and Twitter] our personal media production ends up being something very disposable.

Q: How did the conversations with Jim O’Donnell go, and how did this project come about?

A: He emailed me. It was in the middle of the most crazy art week I’ve ever had in my life. The show had just gone up. It was on the front page of the New York Times’ art section the day before it launched. There were dozens of press requests, plus we hadn’t finished the work … and then the code broke because that’s what code does. So it was in a big blur. Then we came back to it several times and figured out the right way for it to work and I was really excited about it.

Q: In a way, does this exhibit help usher in a re-envisioned Hayden Library, for which renovation plans are in the works?

A: The vision for this was a conversation about the future of information, about the future of what libraries are. What does a library look like? What’s the difference between a public library and what’s been done in Halifax versus a university library? What’s the role of a university library? How is that different from a public library?

I mean, realistically, librarianship and the MLS degree, in particular, is one of the most important degrees of the 21st century because it’s all about organizing information.

Q: Do you use Wikipedia when you teach [at the City University of New York]?

A: I teach with Wikipedia. I assign my students to write articles on Wikipedia as their term papers or as midterm papers. I have them do that for a variety of reasons, one of which is to make their knowledge public.

Q: What about Wikipedia and historical revisionists that might promote a certain viewpoint?

A: Yes, that is a problem. But it is a problem in every context. Isn’t it also a problem in history books? Is it not also a problem on the nightly news?

In 2005, there was an article in Nature, which is the peer-reviewed science journal, which said that Wikipedia had more or less equivalent — if not sometimes less — errors than Britannica. Then it pointed out all the errors in those articles. Then the Wikipedians went and corrected all those errors. Ten years later, it’s much more robust. No one has gone back and redone that study, which is disappointing because it would be just such a slam dunk.

Q: Can you talk about what your experience has been like working in Arizona this week?

A: I love the sun. I came from New York. Two days before I left, it was one degree out, with a wind-chill of about –20.

I had some really great studio visits with some grad students. I’ve met some really nice people. Everyone here is so friendly.


Michael Mandiberg’s exhibit, “In the Stacks: Print Wikipedia,” is a partnership between ASU Libraries, the ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the ASU Art Museum and Denny Gallery. Full details about the exhibition’s grand opening and related events and lectures can be found at

Beth Giudicessi

Director , Media Relations and Strategic Communications


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Lunar images from ASU team combine an artistic eye with precision science.
It's time to send people back to the moon, ASU professor Mark Robinson says.
Smithsonian Air and Space exhibit will feature 61 images from ASU-based team.
February 24, 2016

ASU professor hopes Smithsonian exhibition of LROC team's striking images gets people excited about returning to the moon

Sometimes you get the party started by accidentally crashing someone else’s.

Mark Robinson, a professor in Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space ExplorationThe School of Earth and Space Exploration is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences., was enjoying a First Fridays art walk in downtown Phoenix during the summer of 2012 when he wandered into monOrchid gallery on Roosevelt. Only the gallery wasn’t open to the public that evening.

“I realized I had just crashed someone’s private party,” Robinson said.

He spoke with someone on the edge of the crowd, who turned out to be the gallery’s owner. Robinson — principal investigator for the ASU-operated cameras aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) — introduced himself and the mission’s photographs, saying he thought they’d make for a great exhibit.

“He was polite, but I think he kind of thought I was … kind of wacko,” Robinson said.

But when he brought in photographs to show the owner and unrolled a 12-foot-long, high-res version of the Tycho crater’s central peak, Robinson recalled, “All he said was, ‘Do you want to do this in October or November?’ ”

That exhibit, which drew thousands of visitors, was the first step on a journey leading to this Friday’s opening of “A New Moon Rises,” an exhibit of 61 images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Robinson hopes it gets people excited about the moon again, in an age when many eyes are turned toward Mars and the thought of manned flights there.

“The moon is this beautiful little world,” Robinson said. “It’s not just a romantic silver disc you see in the sky at night; it’s a world in its own right. And it’s somewhere we should be going back to.”

Small crater on rim of Chaplygin crater on the moon.

Though it might appear a
bit like the Eye of Sauron,
this LROC image is of a
small crater on the rim
of Chaplygin crater.

Photo by NASA/GSFC/
Arizona State University

The LROC’s thousands of images — curated on the team’s website — are often a blend of science and artistry. Tom Watters, senior scientist at the museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies and curator of the exhibit, said one of goals of the Smithsonian event is to “captivate the visitor with the sheer beauty of the landscape of the moon.”

“If it’s lit in a certain way from the high sun angles, you get these wonderful variations in the brightness of the materials, and those can be very surreal-looking,” Watters said. “And if you have the dusk-to-dawn lighting, with the low sun angles with the shadows being cast, the incredible details in the landscape come out.”

He credits all those on the LRO team — the sheer amount of work involved often isn’t obvious to the general public — but said Robinson deserves a large portion of that praise.

“If it wouldn’t embarrass him, he really is the Rembrandt of capturing just the right kind of lighting,” Watters said. “He’s the maestro, the master of doing that.”

The artistry makes sense with Robinson’s background — he didn’t originally intend a career in space. His first college degree was a double major in political science and fine-art photography.

But luckily for the scientific community, that original career path didn’t result in any real jobs. “I was always interested in science,” he said. “… I somehow got into college and did the wrong thing.”

A chance conversation with a friend at a summer construction job led Robinson to Alaska, where he worked with geologists and discovered the field that would take him, metaphorically at least, into the heavens.

A man stands in front of monitors showing moon images.

ASU professor Mark Robinson in the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Science Operations Center, on the ASU Tempe campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now


His association with the Smithsonian goes back decades, but this is his first exhibit there.

“My hope is that we’re going to get millions of people — maybe I’m being a little optimistic — totally excited about the moon,” Robinson said. “The moon will be a new place. They will realize the moon is a magnificent world in its own right. It’s a world in change right now.”

More than 200 new craters have been imaged since the LRO started orbiting, Robinson said. Another surprise to scientists has been evidence of very young volcanism there, changing the previously assumed timeline that lunar volcanism ended 1 billion to 2 billion years ago.

“It really transforms the moon in my mind,” Watters said. “ … The moon is still alive. There’s still a lot going on there. It’s not a dead object at all.”

The LRO cameras, which were fabricated by Malin Space Science Systems, send back 450 gigabits (about 56 gigabytes) of science data every day and have been doing so for six and a half years. It’s more than all other NASA planetary missions throughout history combined, Robinson said.

About 90 percent of the data flow is automated, both the uplink and the processing. “We couldn’t keep up with it otherwise. It would be like trying to catch Niagara Falls with a 5-gallon bucket,” he said.

Even with that automation, it takes a team of 30 people, including about a dozen undergraduate students, to keep the project humming. Each image must be planned — not only the location for visual or scientific purposes and what the lighting will be, but even down to what the temperature will be at the moment the image is captured, as that can affect other components. The oblique images’ composition especially receives an extra level of review.

Antoniadi crater wall on the moon.

In this oblique view, the 4,000-meter-tall cliff in the background is the east wall of Antoniadi crater, which is 140 kilometers in diameter. The bottom of the small bowl-shaped crater tucked behind peaks in the center ground is the lowest point on the moon, more than 9 kilometers below the mean radius (comparable to sea level on Earth). Photo by NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University


The images are incredibly crisp, especially considering that the spacecraft is moving at 1,600 meters per second — more than 3,500 miles per hour. The team needed an effective exposure time of 0.3 milliseconds, three times shorter than the fastest of cameras available.

They achieved that, and the result is photographs of incredible depth and variation in tone. Shadows and highlights reveal detail, and some of the images appear more like modern art than science resource.

The exhibit, which will run at least through December, will include a state-of-the-art laser projector showing the latest LROC images, a large 3-D model of a lunar crater and an interactive kiosk that allows visitors to explore more of the LROC data. A similar one stands in the visitor center in Interdisciplinary A on the Tempe campus.

Robinson hopes the beauty of the images draws visitors in, and that the delight in seeing LROC images that show the human and rover tracks from Apollo missions sparks questions as to why we aren’t returning there.

“How do you really top human beings for the first time walking on another world?” Robinson said. “But now that’s 47 years ago. It’s time to go back in a different manner, a more measured manner. …

“The time is right now to start heading back, not to plant a flag and pick up a few rocks, but this time for sustained exploration and sustained science. And that will enable us to go to Mars and even farther out into the solar system.”

Top photo: In this view of the moon, the South Pole is at the center. The colors represent different elevations. The large, roughly circular, low-lying area (deep blue and purple) is the South Pole–Aitken Basin, the largest and deepest impact feature on the moon. Photo by NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

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Aspiring museum curators get real world experience at ASU Art Museum.
This is how you learn to install an art exhibit.
February 23, 2016

Curatorial interns facilitate ASU Art Museum exhibits from conception to opening reception

In mid-January, the Arizona State University Art Museum premiered “Participant,” an exhibition chronicling 25 years of Spencer Tunick’s large-scale, conceptual nude photography.

Guests at the opening were met with a retrospective, on loan from local collector Stéphane Janssen. Both the artist and collector were present as patrons examined more than 20 images of volunteers staged in public venues across the world, studied their interpretive panels and discussed issues of nudity, privacy and performance. The most observant attendees took note that some 15 years into the series, Janssen began appearing as a subject in Tunick’s installations.

Months earlier, Angelica Fox was similarly enlightened.

Fox, an undergraduate studying art history and museum studies in Barrett, the Honors College, had just begun her role as one of the museum’s four curatorial interns.

The program, now in its 14th year of sponsorship by the Windgate Charitable Foundation, provides rigorous, paid training for ASU students hoping to become curators. Windgate — which has also provided grants for ASU Art Museum artist residencies, ceramics research and wood and fiber craft fellowships — recently increased its support to extend and enhance the university’s curatorial intern experience.

In her role, Fox was tasked with assisting senior curator and associate director Heather Sealy Lineberry to create a show, from scratch, that not only displayed Tunick’s work, but explored his ongoing connection with its collector — a rarity in art history.

“The first thing I did was Google it,” said Fox, who was previously unfamiliar with the photographer. “The show was so wonderful to work on. Not only did I get to learn about an artist I hadn’t heard of, I got to talk to Spencer personally and see what his practice was and his process was. It was just great to work on it from beginning to end and to see how many people come together to create one show.”

“One of the most important things we do is show students all that is involved in curatorial practice,” Sealy Lineberry said. “There’s project management, there’s fundraising, there’s human resources work because you’re managing a team, and in contemporary art you collaborate very actively with artists, community members and scholars. There’s a great deal beyond what you see on the surface, which is picking the art, putting it up and talking about it.”

In addition to helping select, display and speak about art, ASU’s student curators are involved with accessioning and deaccessioning works in the permanent collection, examining and documenting their condition, researching artists and how they fit into the museum’s curatorial strategy and helping welcome, educate and develop engagement programs for the public.

Because ASU’s is a contemporary art museum located within a comprehensive research institution, that often means making decisions collaboratively with artists and working with scholars from a variety of disciplines to involve community members in exhibitions and to find new ways to make the work relevant and powerful.

Curatorial intern Kev Nemelka, a master’s student in art history at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, helped prepare “Watertight,” a gallery of video animations and sculptures by Cuban artists Sandra Ramos. Nemelka worked with Ramos to collect information about her symbols and motifs – many which explore themes of immigration, international borders and containment. His research informed decisions about which artworks to include in the show, and which best addressed topics of interest for the ASU and greater Phoenix communities.

He described how thoughtful curating can offer museum visitors a more profound encounter than they may get when viewing a prefabricated or travelling exhibition. He also clarified how professional curating differs from others common uses of the term.

“I think about this idea of cultural appropriation of the word ‘curatorial,’ ‘curate,’ etc. I think it’s important to have professional training,” Nemelka said. “Curators show a social reality. I think ASU does a good job of addressing real issues of where we live.”

Both Nemelka and Fox hope to work in museums after completing their studies.

“I look to every single curator I’ve met and if there’s anything I could do, I would love to be like some of those role models,” Fox said.

Recent alumni of the internship program have gone on to work at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boise Art Museum and the ASU Art Museum, but Sealy Lineberry says their contributions are felt immediately.

“The Windgate curatorial interns bring their own perspectives, and they bring new and fresh ideas,” she said. “They have a tremendous impact in what we do here at the museum and how we present powerful, relevant exhibitions and programs of contemporary art.”

Just ask Spencer Tunick.

When Fox understood how much his photographs affected its participants and viewers, she put together a book of reflections from admirers of his work.

Little did she know Tunick would be so admiring of hers — when he saw the book on opening night, he loved it so much he asked to take it home.



Top photo: Art history and painting senior Ariana Enriquez takes measurements of recently donated "Portrait #2, 2000" by Patti Warashina, at the ASU Art Museum. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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Sojourn Theatre founder Michael Rohd to join ASU faculty

Sojourn Theatre founder Michael Rohd to join ASU.
February 22, 2016

Rohd, founding director of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, to co-lead Ensemble Lab

Michael Rohd, founding director of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP) and the Sojourn Theatre company, will join Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts as Institute Professor, starting in fall 2016.

Rohd has worked around the nation to design and lead theatre-based community engaged, participatory projects and processes focused on social practice, civic practice and local capacity-building. He is a former faculty member at Northwestern University and held the Doris Duke artist residency at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theater Company.

Michael Rohd

Rohd, pictured at left, is the Herberger Institute’s second Institute Professor, and joins Liz Lerman whose was appointed to ASU’s faculty in spring 2016.  As Institute Professor, Rohd will teach and work with Lerman and others as part of the “ensemble lab” — a think tank and platform for experimenting and collaborating with artists, scholars and community leaders from around the world to creatively address issues within and beyond the arts and the academy.

“I am delighted that Michael is coming to ASU as he brings deep insight into the way we understand community and social practice in the arts,” said Lerman. “He is a wonderful teacher and collaborator. I look forward to being challenged by his ideas and to work alongside him as joins the visionary work of the Herberger Institute faculty, staff and students who are forging such a new and dedicated path for the arts in civic life.”

In addition to his time on campus and developing ASU initiatives in the Phoenix area, Rohd will continue his work through the independent, nationally-focused, non-profit CPCP, which houses the award-winning Sojourn Theatre, pictured above. Both programs will be based at — and in frequent partnership with — ASU and the Herberger Institute. Under Rohd’s direction, the center and university will explore opportunities to continue their ongoing work to create arts-based, cross-sector civic practice programs.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to be a part of the expansive vision ASU President Michael Crow and Herberger Institute Dean Steven Tepper are articulating in Arizona,” said Rohd. “It is a vision aligned with CPCP’s core values and existing programs.”

Top photo: Sojourn Theatre's "On the Table" presentation, which took place in Portland, Oregon. Photo courtesy Sojourn Theatre

Beth Giudicessi

Director , Media Relations and Strategic Communications


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Phoenix Art Museum curator Dennita Sewell bringing fashion to ASU.
Forget "Project Runway" — ASU can help you find the style.
ASU fashioning a new degree program with Phoenix Art Museum curator at the head.
February 22, 2016

Phoenix Art Museum curator Dennita Sewell to help develop new fashion degree program in School of Art

Dennita Sewell, curator of fashion design at Phoenix Art Museum, currently oversees one of the premier collections of fashion in the country with more than 7,000 pieces dating from the 18th century to the present.

Soon, she will be sharing her expertise in fashion with Arizona State University students as well.

Sewell (pictured above), who earned an MFA in costume design from Yale University and worked in collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before taking on her current role at Phoenix Art Museum in 2000, is taking on an additional title as the head of the brand-new bachelor's in fashion program in the ASU School of ArtThe School of Art is part of ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts..

Beginning in fall 2017, ASU students will be able to major in fashion through the School of Art by taking classes across the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts on topics ranging from fibers to wearable technology to interior design.

“We are thrilled to have Dennita Sewell as the head of our Bachelor of Arts in fashion program,” said Adriene Jenik, director of the School of Art. “Her commitment to excellence, innovation and education have been evident throughout her career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Phoenix Art Museum. I can't imagine a better person to lead our program and help our students imagine, design and create the future of fashion as they engage across the Herberger Institute and other research units at ASU.”

The degree program is still in development, but the future looks bright with Sewell on board. During her career, she has taught fashion classes at Pratt Institute, presented lectures around the world and put together exhibitions that have garnered international attention.

As head of the bachelor's in fashion, Sewell will bring an art historical context and global framework to help forge connections to fashion industry professionals and experts in the field.

“The appreciation of fashion has been a lifelong passion for me,” said Sewell. “I am excited to be a part of engaging Arizona State University’s new fashion program with the extraordinary resources of Phoenix Art Museum’s Fashion Design collection and its active program of lectures by fashion industry professionals. My goal is to expose students to the broadest range of ideas and career paths while fostering a discerning understanding of fashion.”

“We are building a truly unique fashion degree program that will tap into the resources and knowledge of a global research university and a national museum with strong leadership in this area,” said Steven Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “Our students will be exposed to the leading edge of fashion — from the science of materials, to fabrication, history, business, industry and design. We are lucky to have Dennita Sewell’s expertise as we grow this popular degree. Fashion is a $1.2 billion global industry, and the number of fashion professionals has grown more than 50 percent in the past 10 years. We are eager to prepare students for this growing part of our economy.”    

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The role of art in the Black Lives Matter movement.
February 22, 2016

ASU professors spearhead community event highlighting the role of art in social justice

The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013 when the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin prompted an international outcry on social media under the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Since then, the movement has expanded physically — there are currently at least 23 Black Lives Matter chapters in the U.S., Canada and Ghana — and diversified its tactics for combatting injustice.

This month Nia Witherspoon, an assistant professor of theater in the ASU School of Film, Dance and TheatreThe School of Film, Dance and Theatre is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts., is highlighting the role of the arts as a necessary component of the Black Lives Matter movement and movements for social justice more generally. 

“We have to reconceptualize what we think of as art when we’re talking about black art,” said Witherspoon (pictured above). “Black art is absolutely fundamental and essential to black life.” 

In conjunction with Mary Stephens, producing director of ASU’s Performance in the BorderlandsPerformance in the Borderlands is an initiative of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre at Arizona State University., Witherspoon has staged a series of workshops, performances and other events under the banner BlackARTSMatter, which will take place Feb. 19–28 throughout the Valley. 

Mesa Arts Center, Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Black Theatre Troupe and South Mountain Community College are also involved, making BlackARTSMatter a community-driven event.

Check out the full event listing here or visit the Facebook event page.

Communications Program Coordinator , ASU Art Museum


ASU In the News

ASU alum combines electronics, music and Mason jars

Herberger Institute grad Cristóbal Martínez (BA, Studio Art, 2002; BFA, Painting, 2002; MA, Media Arts & Sciences, 2011) plans to use a $5,000 artist research and development grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts to expand and reinvent the artists’ collective he directs at the Pueblo Grande Museum.

Two other Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts alums also received artist research and development grants for 2016 from the commission: Carla Keaton (BFA, Painting, 2009) and M. Jenea Sanchez (BFA, Intermedia Art, 2007; MFA, Intermedia Art 2011). Download Full Image

A digital media artist who lives in Mesa, Martínez leads Radio Healer. He describes it as an indigenous electro-acoustic performance of experimental music composed for, and played on, traditional and electronic indigenous instruments.

Radio Healer’s members are all Chicano or Native American artists.

Martínez is also a member of the Indigenous interdisciplinary arts collective Postcommodity, which has collaborated with the ASU Art Museum several times, most recently in the fall of 2015, when Postcommodity erected a two-mile “repellent fence” of tethered balloons that bisected Arizona’s border with Mexico.

Article Source: East Valley Tribune
Deborah Sussman Susser

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


ASU Art Museum hosts celebration of ceramics and Valley-wide studio tour, Feb. 20-21

February 9, 2016

The ASU Art Museum’s Ceramics Research Center is pleased to present the 15th annual Self-Guided Ceramic Studio Tour, held this year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 20-21. The tour is free and open to the public.

The tour is set to coincide with the return of the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center’s biennial gala, Ceram-A-Rama, which will be held Feb. 20 at the museum’s new Brickyard location on Mill Avenue and will feature food, music, dancing and the opportunity to bid on artwork donated by well-known local, national and international artists. There will also be a live auction featuring work by notable ceramic artists Jun Kaneko, Patti Warashina and Sergei Isupov, as well as renowned Southwestern artists Kurt Weiser, Virgil Ortiz, Max Lehman, Patricia Sannit and Christine Golden. Information on Ceram-A-Rama can be found at Download Full Image

The self-guided studio tour is a two-day, Valley-wide celebration of ceramic arts that features the work of more than 50 professional ceramic artists. It offers the public a rare opportunity to view working and living spaces of participating artists and view demonstrations of wheel-throwing, hand-building and glazing techniques. Participating artists have a wide range of both functional and sculptural artwork on exhibit and for sale.

As a recent transplant from the East Coast, ASU Art Museum Curator of Ceramics Garth Johnson is impressed by the Valley’s flourishing ceramic community.

“With the New York Times and other publications all declaring that ceramic art is ‘white hot,’ the Phoenix area has always been a hotbed of ceramic artists and enthusiasts,” Johnson said. “The Self-Guided Ceramic Studio Tour is one of the true hubs of the Valley’s ceramics community, as well as a destination for collectors across the country.”

In addition to the 13 studio locations throughout the Phoenix metro area that are hosting artists, the ASU Art Museum’s Brickyard location will be open throughout the tour weekend with extended hours to match the tour time. Printed brochures that include photos, directions to studios, maps and demonstration schedules are available for free at all ASU Art Museum locations or online as a downloadable pdf at

This year’s Ceram-A-Rama will honor Paul J. Smith, legendary curator and director emeritus of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. Over the course of his long career, Smith helped give shape to the studio craft movement as he worked with hundreds of artists who would come to define the field. When asked about Smith, Johnson said, “With his history of pushing boundaries and working tirelessly for craft, Smith has been a major influence for a new generation of scholars and curators.”

When he was working and traveling, Smith was always photographing artists in their studios and professional lives. The Ceramics Research Center’s current exhibition, “Paul J. Smith Portraits: A Journal of the Ceramics Community,” pairs 20 of Smith’s artist portraits with corresponding pieces from the ASU Art Museum’s unparalleled collection, including such notable artists as Toshiko Takaezu, Peter Voulkos, Maria Martinez and Beatrice Wood. For its Ceram-A-Rama celebration on Feb. 20, Smith will be in attendance to help celebrate the exhibition and Phoenix arts community.

Tickets for Ceram-A-Rama start at $25 and can be purchased at

The ASU Art Museum Ceramic Studio Tour is organized by the Ceramics Research Center Artist’s Advisory Committee.

To learn more about the ASU Art Museum, call 480-965-2787 or visit