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CENAS isn't just cooking, but a cooking experience, organizers say.
Incorporating cultural ties as well as health is key to cooking program's aim.
April 15, 2016

New ASU program combines cooking, theater to promote healthy behavior changes

In ASU’s teaching kitchens in downtown Phoenix, the din of cooking activity is peppered with the sounds of friendly conversation.

Just an hour ago, the white-aproned amateur chefs knew each other only casually. Now they are cooking shoulder-to-shoulder and sharing stories inspired by the food, such as eating nopalesNopal is a common name in Mexican Spanish for Opuntia cacti, as well as for its pads. and making tortillas with their grandmothers. They also discuss their roles in the cooking show they will record. As the group cooks, shares and later crafts a theater piece together, they are also promoting behavior that will help prevent type 2 diabetes.

A tall white chef’s hat bobs energetically about the room as the lead chef demonstrates tortilla-making techniques or asks someone to elaborate on a meal or recipe they remember. The man beneath the hat calls himself Mero Cocinero, the People’s Cook. Periodically he gestures broadly with a wooden cooking spoon or praises the participants in a booming voice.

The role of Mero Cocinero is played by Robert Karimi, a chef and performance artist. He joined faculty from ASU’s School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the School of Transborder Studies to create Cultural Engagements in Nutrition, Arts and Sciences (CENAS, which is the Spanish word for “dinners”). CENAS combines theater-making and cooking to promote behavior changes linked to healthy eating and type 2 diabetes prevention in populations at risk for the disease. At the same time, the program honors the cultural food pathways each participant brings to the table.

That theater-making can take the form of role-playing, but sometimes includes actually filming a cooking show. It's not just cooking, but a cooking experience, organizers said.

Tamara Underiner is associate dean for research in ASU’s Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. She leads CENAS with colleagues Seline Szkupinski-Quiroga, faculty research affiliate with the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center; and Stephani Etheridge Woodson, associate professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre. The research is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and by ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research.

The team designed the research methods and cooking curriculum for CENAS to evaluate the impact of a series of lively, immersive cooking experiences on the attitudes and behavior of participants. Over a three-week period, students, community leaders and professionals in south Phoenix donned aprons and began to mix, mince and marinate under the direction of Mero Cocinero.

Mero Cocinero enthusiastically guided participants to put on cooking shows, role-play as farmers or chefs or learn a new skill in the kitchen. With encouragement from Karimi and trained ASU students, participants shared stories about the recipes their grandmothers made, favorite holiday foods and memories of a childhood garden.

“Making theater together, honoring the stories your grandmother told while she was cooking the beans over the cookstove, those are the kinds of things that help people move to a position of strength to honor who they are and where they came from and to continue to cook together for the whole family's benefit,” said Underiner.

The CENAS team introduced ways to incorporate traditional foods into meals using the American Diabetes Association’s “plate method” of eating, which recommends filling half a plate with vegetables, one-quarter with starches and one-quarter with protein. Karimi emphasizes that eating culturally important foods is not inherently unhealthy, contradicting a message that some of the participants unfortunately have received, even from medical doctors. Instead, he explains, returning to the recipes and foods cooked by older generations and based in ethnic cuisine can be both healthy and empowering.

“This is the place to do this kind of work. If you have a good idea you can do it here.”
— Tamara Underiner, associate dean for research in ASU’s Herberger Institute of Design and the Art

“Food is the beginning, not the end. Food is both educational and is bringing the community together through food culture and joy,” said Karimi.

After the cooking experiences, participants reported eating more fruits and vegetables and having a more open attitude towards healthy eating. Importantly, participants also reported viewing healthy eating as a practice they could embrace and one that made them feel empowered.

Quantifying the effects of theater-making on behavior change and healthy eating is novel in the field of medicine. The results of this study are now being used to design broader intervention research that will comply with National Institutes of Health standards.

Karimi likens ASU’s transdisciplinary culture to the comedy improvisation rule of “yes, and,” which commands actors to consider unexpected outcomes and to collaborate with other performers.

The CENAS project would not be possible anywhere but ASU, said Underiner, because of the “yes, and” willingness of faculty to collaborate across academic disciplines and the support from university leadership to try something new.

“This is the place to do this kind of work,” said Underiner. “If you have a good idea you can do it here.”


Top photo by Lyn Belisle/

Kelsey Wharton

Science writer , Knowledge Enterprise Development


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Know why capital letters are called upper case? We have the answer.
Donation makes ASU’s type collection the largest at any higher-ed institution.
April 15, 2016

Petko donation makes ASU's type collection the largest in North American higher-education institutions

Most people can identify a loved one with a glimpse of an eye or mouth. For Daniel Mayer — printmaking instructor at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts’ School of Art — a single letter, comma or ligature can be adequate to identify one of the hundreds of typefaces that make up Arizona State University’s more than 3,000 cases of metal and wooden type.

The collection grew dramatically in early 2016 when ASU was gifted the Adam Repan Petko Type Collection, consisting of some 1,600 cases of type (enough to fill two semi trucks) and printing presses that include an ornate 1834 Columbian Press.

The collection — which is named for the donor’s father, a dermatologist interested in preserving printing technology — makes ASU’s type collection the largest at any institution of higher education in North America.

“The pristineDr. Petko collected what is referred to as “reproduction type.” The type composition was set “once” from the case, a reproduction proof impression was taken, and then it went into a photo-mechanical process for printing. The type that had one impression was put back into the case, leaving it pristine as the day it was cast. This makes up the majority of the collection. type was collected from commercial letterpress shops by Dr. Petko over many years as the print industry changed,” said Mayer, who is also director of Pyracantha Press, the School of Art’s production and research imprint. “We’re identifying it case by case.

“For example, there was a piece of type on the table, and it was a period in a diamond shape. The Goudy period was designed as a diamond. So you can pick up a letterform and identify it as Goudy, or Palatino. Selecting typefaces for a project is essential whether it’s for an artists’ book, broadside or ephemera as type has a voice.”

Metal print type is set in a curve.

Detail of the type used by visiting artist
Jessica Spring, along with ASU print experts,
to create a poster (below) celebrating
the Petko collection, using 35 fonts.

Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

ASU’s printmaking program, which was recently ranked fifth in the country by U.S. News and World Report, houses its letterforms, punctuation marks, spacers, composing sticks and presses in the Art Building, at Hayden Library and in a new glass-front pop-up studio in the Tempe Center building on the northeast corner of 10th Street and Mill Avenue so that community members can easily engage with ongoing printmaking projects.

The inaugural guest artist to work in the pop-up space was printmaker Jessica Spring. Spring, who lives in Tacoma, Washington, spent a week in March collaborating with Mayer to create a commemorative letterpress print celebrating the Petko donation and paying tribute to the 35th anniversary of the Pyracantha Press.

She also taught workshops to ASU students and visitors who traveled to campus from the Phoenix metro area, the University of Arizona, Prescott, Flagstaff and New Mexico.

Spring and Mayer’s print, “35 Faces of Dr. Petko,” features a vibrant yellow smiley face — a nod to Petko’s career in dermatology — circled by 35 adjectives. Each word is hand-set in a typeface from the Petko Collection that the artists thought best conveyed its meaning.

Spring, proprietor of Springtide Press, is perhaps best known for her collaborative broadsides series “The Dead Feminists.” She often works in a style she calls “daredevil letterpress,” which consists of novel ways to hand-set type in non-traditional curves, waves and other shapes.

Petko type collection poster.

“I do daredevil printing, and ASU is home of the Sun Devils, and it’s a big, sunshine face,” Spring said of the final product, noting that its headline features the 1960s typeface Eurostile, which aligns with when the bright, smiling icon became popular.

To determine which typefaces to use, Spring, Mayer and Creative Research graduate assistant Sofia Paz gathered word lists and acted out traits that came to mind for letterforms that would best represent what it meant to be “gleeful” or “jubilant.”

“We decided ‘satisfied’ needed a typewriter font, for instance,” said Paz, who is the first year of her MFA program in printmaking.

Paz, who did not have much background in letterpress before joining ASU, says working with movable type has changed the way she interacts with her computer.

She thinks differently about what it means to select a 12- or 14-point font, or to use an “upper case” letter (letterpress printers traditionally worked simultaneously from two cases; frequently accessed, non-capitalized letters were stored in the lower case and capital letters were placed in the upper, harder-to-reach case). She says she instinctively searches her word processer for her favorite typefaces from the Petko Collection, even if they don’t exist digitally.

“I’ve only been doing this for a semester now, and I feel like it’s already getting engrained in my psyche,” she said.

“It catches students, especially when they’re using typefaces on the computer. That’s virtual — but in the letterpress studio it’s very physical,” said Mayer. “They’re picking up a character letter by letter and making words, making sentences, making paragraphs that are composed in tandem with other graphic processes such as woodcuts, silkscreen and newer digital technologies. It makes you pay attention to what it is and how it’s been done, while respecting the history of the printed word.”

While “35 Faces of Dr. Petko” was made to shepherd the Adam Repan Petko Type Collection into its new home, working on it also put a smile on a different newcomer’s face.

“I’ve lived in Argentina, Switzerland, Colorado and Texas and I never felt like I found home, but I feel like I have at ASU,” Paz said. “I know it’s kind of cheesy, but when the day is over, I don’t want to leave. After cataloging type for five hours straight, I don’t want to go! I just want to be here with everyone. I feel so welcome and they support one other, and the connections you make are just invaluable.”


To view or purchase the inaugural letterpress print, or to visit the Adam Repan Petko Type Collection in the School of Art, please contact Daniel Mayer at

Additional public book-arts activities can be found through ASU’s student artists’ book collective:



Beth Giudicessi

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications


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ASU art alum named a USA fellow, one of contemporary art's highest honors.
April 14, 2016

ASU alum Kade Twist combines art, public policy in exploring indigenous issues

Art and public policy.

They might not sound like they go together, but Kade L. Twist is proof to the contrary.

The ASU School of Art alumnusMFA in Intermedia, 2012. The School of Art is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. works today as both a multidisciplinary artist and a public-affairs consultant.

“[Art and public policy] feed into each other,” said Twist (pictured above). “It’s really about connecting narratives of indigenous self-determination with the public sphere.”

He didn’t start out thinking that way. Growing up in Bakersfield, California, Twist figured he’d be a plumber, like his dad. “But I wasn’t good enough,” he said. “I’m the failed plumber of the family."

When he was about 18, he started writing. He went to community college in California for a year and a half (where, he jokes, he majored in surfing) and eventually ended up at the University of Oklahoma. He majored in economic development and public policy, within American Indian studies. Twist, a registered member of the Cherokee nation, started focusing on gaining “a better understanding of who we are as subjugated peoples.”

“No one is telling our story,” Twist said. “And the people that are telling our story are typically white educated males, using some kind of liberal narrative structure to reimagine what they think should be done.”

The path of the artist

Deciding that publishing was “too inefficient,” Twist switched from writing to art, because he said there’s more freedom and the medium is more immediate.

Kade Twist's video installation

"It’s Easy to Live With Promises If You Believe They Are Only Ideas" by Kade Twist (2012), a seven-channel video installation with sound. Photo courtesy Kade Twist


The most important experience of his development as an artist so far, he said, was being included in a 2006 group show at the ASU Art Museum titled “New American City: Artists Look Forward.”

Curated by Heather Sealy Lineberry  and John Spiak, “New American City” invited 23 artists from around Maricopa County to create “a platform for conversations about the possibilities and opportunities for the integration of art in the development of Phoenix.”

“That show helped me grow up,” Twist said. “It created a community of artists within a community of artists.We helped each other, we worked together, lent each other gear. The ‘New American City’ show brought people together.”

Through the show, Twist met Cristóbal Martínez, who later became a member of Postcommodity, the interdisciplinary indigenous arts collective Twist co-founded with artists Nathan Young and Steven J. YazzieYazzie, a renowned artist whose work is in the ASU Art Museum collection, received his BFA in Intermedia from the School of Art in 2014. Martinez is also an ASU alum; he received a doctorate in rhetoric, composition and linguistics from the ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, in 2015, after completing a master’s in media arts and science in the ASU School of Arts, Media and Engineering, in 2011 and bachelor’s degrees in studio art and painting in the School of Art., in 2002.

In 2009, Postcommodity had its first museum show, “Do You Remember When?” at the ASU Art Museum’s Ceramics Research Center. It would re-create the show three years later at the 18th Biennale of Sydney, in Australia. 

The installation involved removing a section of the ASU gallery’s concrete floor as well as incorporating elements of traditional indigenous ceremony into the exhibition. It mixed spiritual and intellectual in a powerful way.

“There’s something about working in installations that makes a lot of sense culturally,” said Twist, pointing out that the spaces are temporary, made for a specific purpose and — if the work is strong — transformative. “… Those are all the aspects of ceremony. Those installation environments become places of reimagined ceremony.”

Eyes in the sky

Last year, with support from the ASU Art Museum, Postcommodity produced “Repellent Fence,” an ambitious and powerful piece of land art that Twist thinks “will become (Postcommodity’s) most iconic work.”

On view for just three days in October, “Repellent Fence” consisted of 26 giant tethered “scare eye” balloons, like those used to frighten away birds, floating 50 feet above the desert in a 2-mile line that intersected the border. The Phoenix New Times called the piece “a bi-national suture, stitching the land and communities back together for a moment in time.”

To prepare, the group spent time in communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Twist said the experience was eye-opening.

“I think I learned more about what it means to be an indigenous person in this hemisphere in the 21st century working on (‘Repellent Fence’) than on any other work I’ve ever worked on before,” Twist said.

"Repellent Fence" weather-balloon art installation at the border

"Repellent Fence," a 2015 art installation
and community engagement. The
2-mile line of "scare eye" balloons
intersected the U.S.-Mexico border
near Douglas, Arizona.

Photo by Michael Lundgren/
Courtesy of Postcommodity

The project started out as “a very simple idea,” Twist recalls: looking at the experience of the Tohono O’odham tribe, whose land is divided by the U.S.–Mexico border, and thinking about what that division means.

But in the course of planning their project, the artists learned that “there’s a lot more to that division than just the border dividing the tribe. There’s more legitimacy if you’re American Indian than if you’re an Indian from Mexico. American Indian people, for whatever reason, see themselves as more indigenous, more authentic.”

The experience revealed an issue that Twist calls “incredibly complex.” They realized that there are powerful dynamics in national identities that supersede tribal identities, even though, they say, many try to claim tribal identities are dominant.

“It made us open a larger conversation,” he said. “We started thinking about the region, the borderlands, the true complexity of what it means to be from this hemisphere, what it means to be American, to be Mexican.”

In the end, Postcommodity collaborated with larger communities of people, not just the tribe as they’d originally planned. “It became about the complexity of the mestizo reality,” Twist said.

Going forward

As the collective has gained experience with their process, Twist said, their mission has shifted.

“Over the last few years, we’ve realized that our mission isn’t just to connect indigenous narratives of self-determination with the public sphere. The emphasis is shifting from indigenous self-determination to self-determination for all people. It’s about the power of a community to realize itself without the federal or state government getting in the way.”

It’s a lofty goal, and they seem to be reaching it: “Repellent Fence” garnered local, national and international press attention. And recently Twist was named a 2015 United States Artists fellow, one of the contemporary art world’s highest honors (which brings with it a $50,000 grant).

“I think I learned more about what it means to be an indigenous person in this hemisphere in the 21st century working on (‘Repellent Fence’) than on any other work I’ve ever worked on before.”
— Kade Twist, 2012 ASU School of Art alum

“Kade L. Twist is an extraordinary artist whose work takes on socially, culturally and intellectually challenging subjects in elegant and moving ways,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “His is precisely the kind of voice that American universities should be supporting and amplifying, so that the stories we tell through our works of art, in our films and on our stages can finally represent all of our country’s diversity, creativity and wisdom.”

Twist is quick to credit ASU with helping him get to where he is today.

“ASU has taken phenomenal risks on my behalf and on Postcommodity’s behalf,” he said. “Both the ASU Art Museum and the school, the institution, have been incredibly generous in supporting me even at times when I didn’t deserve it, when I was angry or frustrated with folks at ASU. They still stood by and were always able to help and willing to help, and that continues today.”

In particular, Twist credits the members of his thesis committee — School of Art faculty Dan Collins, Angela Ellsworth and Muriel Magenta — with teaching him critical lessons. Ellsworth in particular helped him see “why you should respect the field you’re working in even though it’s dominated by rich white people, and why it’s important to be in it especially if you’re not a rich white person.”

The appreciation and admiration go both ways. Collins also had work in “New American City,” which is how the two first met.

“Kade’s work for the exhibition featured an actual prosthetic limb that served as the backdrop for a series of enigmatic projections of text in English and in Cherokee,” Collins recalls. “The work underscored what Kade called the ‘prosthetic’ nature of the urban Indian experience. For me, the work was a revelation.”

Today Twist lives in Santa Fe with his wife, Andrea R. Hanley, an ASU School of Art alumBachelor’s degree in studio art (1989). and the membership and program manager at the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.

In addition to making art, Twist works on issues of access to health care for the tribes in the area, particularly oral health care, through the Arizona American Indian Oral Health Initiative. Twist, 44, provides technical assistance on generating policy outcomes and organizing at the tribal level.

Does he have any advice for young artists?

“If you really believe in your art form, you need to give yourself enough time. People in their late 20s drop out left and right; they’re just gone,” he said. “They start teaching or go onto a different career because of the financial instability.

“I think about duration — it really is important to stick with something long enough to have your voice come across.”



Poetic and political

New ASU exhibition highlights ceramic work of Courtney M. Leonard

April 8, 2016

The word “breach” can be used in many different ways. Legally, “breach of contract” is the failure to observe an agreement. It can also mean a gap in a wall or barrier. Breach can also be used as a verb — especially when it comes to the act of a whale breaking the surface of water.

Santa Fe-based artist Courtney M. Leonard grew up in the Shinnecock Nation of Long Island, New York, where culture historically revolved around whaling and water. Leonard’s exhibition “Breach: Log 16,” on view April 16 through Aug. 6 at the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center and Brickyard Gallery, is an exploration of historical ties to water and whale, imposed law and a current relationship of material sustainability. Artist Courtney M. Leonard's exhibition "Breach: Log 16" is an immersive multimedia exhibition that includes ceramics and video. Image credit: Courtney M. Leonard, “Artifice,” 2015. Ceramics. Image courtesy of the artist.

This immersive multimedia exhibition includes a two-channel video installation that Leonard created during a unique art residency that occurred in 2015 on the Charles W. Morgan, a recently restored 1840’s whaling vessel based in Mystic, Connecticut. While on the boat, Leonard marveled not only at the intense hand-hewn physicality of the boat itself but also at the work routines of the sailors.

“I began to focus on the hand movements of everyone rigging and started video recording these actions, focusing entirely on the hands of the individuals,” recalled Leonard. “Once I retuned to the studio, I began to realize that these movements of the hand are very similar to the movements and actions of the hand while shaping a clay coil.”

Clay is essential to Leonard’s art. Her work is intensely crafted using a variety of techniques and natural clay drawn from Native American traditions, including the use of sparkling micaceous clay that is often used for cooking vessels. The ceramic work in “Breach: Log 16” makes reference to images and themes as diverse as whales’ teeth, scrimshaw and traditional indigenous fishing baskets. All of these relate to the sustainability and availability of water, but also to the sustainability of culture and tradition.

Garth Johnson, ASU Art Museum curator of ceramics, selected Leonard as the first artist to mount a solo exhibition at the museum’s new Brickyard Gallery location.

“Courtney M. Leonard is one of the strongest emerging voices in the field of ceramics today,” said Johnson. “Her art manages to be both poetic and political, and also simultaneously personal and universal. ‘Breach: Log 16’ is meticulously crafted to contain historical and cultural references, but also to make the viewer reflect on their own relationship with nature and sustainability.”

Leonard will give the 2016 Jan Fisher Memorial Lecture at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 15 at the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center and Brickyard Gallery, with the opening reception of “Breach: Log 16” to follow. The exhibition preview for museum members and ASU alumni will begin at 5:30 p.m.

This exhibition is supported by the Centering on the Future campaign.


About the artist

Courtney Michele Leonard is an artist and filmmaker from the Shinnecock Nation of Long Island, New York. Leonard’s work explores the evolution of language, image and culture through mixed media pieces of video, audio and tangible objects. She studied art and museum studies at the Institute of American Indian Arts (AFA 2000), Alfred University (BFA 2002) and the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA 2008). Her current work embodies the multiple definitions of “breach,” an exploration and documentation of historical ties to water, whale and material sustainability.

Leonard has given lectures and exhibited nationally and internationally at Toi Ngapuhi, Northland College (New Zealand), Museum of Art and Design (New York), Eastern Connecticut University (Willimantic, Connecticut), Tribeca Film Institute (New York), National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C.), University of the Creative Arts Farnham (United Kingdom) and the University of Rostock (Germany).

Leonard currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and works as a professional artist, lecturer and educator.

Communications Program Coordinator, ASU Art Museum


Arizona PBS seeks viewer submissions for 'Arizona Collectibles'

March 18, 2016

Arizona PBS invites the Arizona State University community to apply for a chance to have their antiques and heirlooms featured on the third season of “Arizona Collectibles.”

The Arizona PBS original series, hosted by radio personality Beth McDonald of KESZ-FM, spotlights antiques, heirlooms and other collectibles found in homes across Arizona. Arizona Collectibles The Arizona State University community is invited to apply for a chance to have their antiques and heirlooms featured on the third season of “Arizona Collectibles” on Arizona PBS. Download Full Image

ASU alumni, faculty, staff and students are invited to submit a description of an item at Those selected will receive a complimentary admission ticket to the show on the weekend of April 9-10 and one free evaluation.

Additional evaluations can be purchased for $35 both days of the event. The deadline to submit an item is Monday, April 4. Based on the outcome of the appraisers’ evaluations, guests may be invited to appear on camera with their collectibles.

“‘Arizona Collectibles’ is such a fun way for Arizonans to find out what their family treasures may be worth,” said Arizona PBS producer Margery Punnett. “Our team at Arizona PBS gets so excited for the big evaluation weekend because we never know what someone will bring into the studio.”

The program’s second season featured a variety of items, including a painting by American western artist Charles Marion Russell valued between $750,000 and $1.25 million and a Luis Vuitton trunk with an estimated value between $6,000 and $8,000.

Interested individuals can receive a special invitation to the evaluation event by pledging $125 and becoming members of Arizona PBS. As a thank you gift, these members will be provided a timeslot to have up to three items evaluated at no additional cost.

Each collectible must be within the 50-pound weight limit, and guests must be able to carry their own items for evaluation.

Categories of items eligible for evaluation include:

• furniture and decorative arts
• jewelry and watches
• Native American artifacts
• books and manuscripts
• paintings and drawings
• Asian art and decorative arts
• collectibles – coins, stamps, 20th century
• toys and amusements
• memorabilia and ephemera
• rugs and textiles

“Arizona Collectibles” is an Arizona PBS original production made possible by Morris Hall, Biltmore Loan & Jewelry, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences and Whitfill Nursery.

Communications manager, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication


ASU's Herberger Institute School of Art jumps into top 20 in US News & World Report rankings

March 15, 2016

The ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts ranked 20th among fine arts graduate schools, up two spots from last year’s No. 22 and from No. 30 in 2012, in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report annual rating of the nation’s best colleges and universities.

The School of Art’s printmaking program once again ranked fifth in the U.S. ASU Grant Street Studios exterior. Photo by Craig Smith. ASU's Grant Street Studios in downtown Phoenix is home to many of the School of Art's graduate facilities. Photo by Craig Smith Download Full Image

The rise in the rankings puts the School of Art ahead of Parsons School of Design, in New York City, and ties it with the School of Visual Arts (SVA), also in New York City, and the Art Center College of Design, in Los Angeles. All three — Parsons, SVA and the Art Center College of Design — are located in major art centers and are among the most expensive arts schools in the nation.

“I attribute the rise in ranking 100 percent to our hardworking faculty and staff support, who are model artist/researchers as well as devoted teachers and mentors,” said Adriene Jenik, professor and director of the ASU School of Art. “I am very proud to be associated with such engaged peers.”

The ASU School of Art adds this jump in the rankings to a list of recent accolades that includes alumnus Kade L. Twist being named a 2015 recipient of one of 50 fellowships awarded by United States Artists to the nation’s most accomplished and innovative artists; the fellowship includes an unrestricted $50,000 grant. In addition, alumnus Matt Garcia’s desert ArtLAB was one of 46 projects to receive up to $50,000 in funding in the form of a 2016 grant from Creative Capital, in the Emerging Fields category.

“Our School of Art is a model for outstanding arts education in the 21st century,” says Herberger Institute Dean Steven J. Tepper. “Its exceptional faculty and staff prepare students for the creative and critical challenges of the future in a supportive, genuinely cross-disciplinary environment that values risk-taking, vision, excellence and affordability. The school’s active engagement with ASU-wide research agendas, its comprehensive facilities and multiple galleries, and its ties with the surrounding arts community all create conditions in which students can thrive. That the school’s alumni go on to achieve national and international prominence speaks volumes about the quality of the education they received here at ASU. We’re pleased that U.S. News & World Report has recognized our school’s excellence in its rankings.”

The recent ranking underscores the ASU School of Art’s status as one of the largest and most respected public schools in the country. The comprehensiveness of the program offers a range of specialties equaled by few other institutions.

True to the Herberger Institute spirit of crossing boundaries and transdisciplinary teaching, faculty from different disciplines team-teach some art courses. Course structures encourage students to develop programs of study that explore a range of artistic specialties. This provides the opportunity to grow more freely as an artist, exploring creativity fully while developing artistic identity.

The U.S. News & World Report's latest ranking of fine arts graduate programs is based on a 2015 peer assessment survey of art school deans or department chairs at 229 master of fine arts programs in art and design from across the nation.

The ASU School of Art offers programs not only in ceramics, photography and printmaking but in drawing, fibers, metals, digital technology, intermedia, painting, sculpture, wood, art education, art history, museum studies and, beginning in the fall of 2017, fashion.

For more information about the school, visit, and for more information about the Herberger Institute, visit

Deborah Sussman Susser

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


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ASU prof Krauss now has lowest EBS score ever. What's that? Read on.
March 13, 2016

Depp event gives Krauss the lowest ever Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number, the ultimate cross-disciplinary kudos

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2016, click here.

As subtly as the shift in a gravitational wave, the universe changed Saturday night.

Lawrence Krauss’ Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number became the lowest in history, placing him ahead of Stephen Hawking, Thomas Edison and Fred Rogers.

His appearance with actor Johnny Depp at the latest Origins Project Dialogues The Origins Project Dialogues are a series of intimate, thoughtful and entertaining conversations with scholars, public intellectuals and interesting Arizona State University on Saturday night brought his Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number down to a seven — the lowest ever, as confirmed by the project’s curators.

To have an Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number, you must have: co-written a scientific paper with someone who eventually connects to Paul Erdos, a legendary mathematician who wrote more papers than anyone else in history — more than 1,500; have performed with someone who eventually connects with Kevin Bacon, often called the most prolific actor in Hollywood; and performed with someone who eventually connects to Black Sabbath, famous for having the most members of any rock band in history (35). A perfect EBS number would be three. (No one has a three.)

Krauss, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space ExplorationThe School of Earth and Space Exploration is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. at ASU, director of its Origins Project and the only physicist to have received awards from all three major American physics societies, now has a seven following his appearance with Depp.

Actor Johnny Depp and professor Lawrence Krauss

Johnny Depp and ASU theoretical astrophysicist talk onstage at ASU Gammage in Tempe on Saturday night. Photos by Charlie Leight/ASU Now


Krauss said his new EBS standing shows how remarkably interconnected the world is, in ways few would have imagined in advance. 

“It cements my own view that science, art, literature, film and music are much closer in spirit than many imagine,” he said. “It also demonstrates to me how lucky I have been in my own life to meet and interact with remarkable people in wide variety of areas. ... I never expected this.  It is fun and remarkable to think how connected we are to others, and also to reflect on how lucky I have been in my life’s journey thus far.”

Here’s how it works:

“My actual Erdos number is 3 (Shelly Glashow, a frequent collaborator of mine, has an Erdos number of 2),” Krauss said.

Depp, having appeared with Kevin Bacon in 2015’s Black Mass, has a 1, so Krauss now has a Bacon number of 2.

Depp has played directly with members of Black Sabbath, giving him a 1. Krauss now has a Sabbath number of 2.

With an Erdos 3, a Bacon 2, and a Sabbath 2, Krauss now has an EBS of 7.

Sean O’Connor, a self-described middle-age science geek living in San Diego, and Ross Churchley, a graduate student at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, whose research field is graph theory, the mathematical study of networks, are the co-creators and co-curators of the project.

“Yes, I can confirm that seven would still set the land-speed record for EBS numbers,” O’Connor said before Saturday’s event. “Three individuals are tied at eight (Stephen Hawking, Ray Kurzweil and Daniel Levitin) ... in short, this will be the biggest news in the EBS universe in years.”

It’s very exciting whenever a cross-disciplinary collaboration creates a lower EBS number, Churchley said. “The new connections between fields help make the collaboration network more tightly knit,” he said.

Actor Johnny Depp and professor Lawrence Krauss

If Johnny Depp (shown Saturday at ASU Gammage) were to co-author a paper with ASU professor Lawrence Krauss, he would have the lowest EBS score ever.


The honor carries no privileges, like the right to wear a chartreuse robe, or titles, like the Emperor of Jupiter, but it does grant the bearer the self-satisfaction of being well-connected, Churchley said.

“Although maybe we should make T-shirts or something,” he said. “Of course, with great bragging rights also comes great responsibility: to connect with the less well-connected and reduce as many other people's Erdos, Bacon, and Sabbath numbers as possible. The greatest ambition of an EBSer is to become a hub of collaboration like Erdos was, so that one day we might talk about somebody's Krauss number!”

Krauss’ first thought was that it wouldn’t be fun anymore if there were a Krauss number.  

“But in fact as I reflect on this, the number is in a broad sense arbitrary, so that any reasonably connected representative of diverse fields might probably produce similar values,” he said. “(It might be fun to test this idea) so if anyone thought I was a representative that was sufficiently recognizable so that someone could actually determine their Krauss number easily, that might be nice. And I do like interacting with as many different sorts of individuals as possible in my life, so if I could merely serve as a medium for reducing others’ EBS numbers I suppose that might be a positive thing.”

The next most likely candidate to eclipse Krauss’ standing sat next to him onstage Saturday night. If Depp co-authors a paper with Krauss, he would have a 5 (3-1-1).

“I would love it if Depp got an Erdos number by working with Dr. Krauss!” Churchley said. “It would be very much in the collaborative spirit of the project if one EBS holder created another with a joint paper.”

There was an EBS moment at the Origins talk. Depp talked about meeting force-of-nature journalist Hunter Thompson at the Woody Creek Tavern outside Aspen, Colorado.

“I’ve been there,” Krauss said. “I took Stephen Hawking there.”

“Oh, to have been a fly on the wall,” Depp said.

“I wish we’d all been there together,” Krauss said.


Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now


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