Kopp ’17 spends summer in suspended treehouse
If you drive an hour and a half north of Brunswick and into the woods of Camden, Maine, you may find a homemade treehouse suspended above the ground. Eben Kopp ’17 built the treehouse at the beginning of this summer and lived in it for three months before returning to Bowdoin for his senior year.
While Kopp was abroad in Tanzania spring semester, he learned that his mom had sold his childhood home in Camden and bought a different property in the woods where she would eventually build a house. Upon hearing that the property would be vacant for the summer, Kopp decided to make use of the land as an alternative living situation.
His original plan was to build a yurt—a large tepee-like structure—but after extensive planning and research during his semester in Tanzania, Kopp thought of something better.
“I was thinking a lot about moisture and if it was going to get wet and I just couldn’t figure [out how to make it work]. One day—I honestly don’t know how it came to me—I was like, ‘let’s just hang [the house],’” he said.
Despite having almost no experience in construction, Kopp and his girlfriend, Kenya Perry, began building the tree house when he returned from Tanzania at the end of May. They moved in by the middle of June.
While in the woods, the couple focused on adventure, sustainability and what Kopp described as “type two fun,” which is the fun one has when looking back on an experience, rather than fun in the moment.
“Having to carry our own water in, being super aware of energy consumption—just all sorts of things that we would take for granted otherwise—we had to really work for and were super aware of, which was really cool,” he said.
Kopp’s favorite thing about the summer, aside from the fact that he was living in a hanging treehouse, was his increased awareness of his environmental footprint. After a full day of work, doing laundry, cooking and showering, the most water Kopp and Perry used was about 10 gallons. By the end of the summer, they only had about two bins full of waste.
“More so than I would have anticipated, it made me want to live more sustainably in my future,” said Kopp.
After graduation, he plans to take time off and go on more adventures that incorporate sustainable living.
“I’d like to spend time, maybe not necessarily in the tree house in the woods, but [doing] something that’s a little [less] conventional for some period of my life,” he said.
After completing a sea semester last fall and living in Tanzania in the spring, returning to Bowdoin this fall has been the first time in a year that Kopp has lived “conventionally.” “It’s really weird living back where the toilet flushes,” he said.
The fact that Kopp spent his summer in a tree house was no surprise to Yasmin Hayre ’17, who lived on his first year floor.
“I don’t know how long we were in school when he started talking about how he wanted to build a house out in the woods,” she said.
“If you think of Eben, you just think of his explorative ideas,” said Hayre. “He’s definitely into doing things that only certain people are [into].”
She added that she was glad he had found somebody, Perry, with whom he could adventure.
“I called [Kenya] up from Tanzania and I was like, ‘Babe, we’re going to live in a hanging tree house’ and she was very much like, ‘Alright I’m for it,” which was super good to have that support,” said Kopp.
“It takes a certain type of person to be on board for pooping in a bucket for three months,” he added.
From Hollywood Boulevard to Maine Street
As students on campus get back into the swing of college life, memories from summer 2016 may already seem like the distant past. But one Bowdoin student’s summer will be particularly hard to forget. Chandler Gee ’20 spent his summer as a cast member on the fourth season of YouTube series “@SummerBreak.”
“@SummerBreak,” sponsored by AT&T, is a web-based reality show that follows a group of kids on their adventures in Los Angeles each summer.
Part of the idea behind the series is to show the teens’ lives in a realistic and under-produced way. Before a day of filming, Gee would learn where the group would meet. Once there, they would get their mics, find out the activities for that day and then go do them. The activities they did varied from ice skating to going to an amusement park.
Gee said that his favorite part of being in the cast was the trips they took to Big Bear Lake, Pizmo Beach and Utah.
“They were all-expenses-paid trips where we got to just hang out with a big crew videoing us. It was really fun,” he said.
Although Gee did not have any experience with acting or reality shows prior to this summer, he received a phone call about the opportunity after a friend of his, who had been on a previous season of the show, recommended Gee for an interview.
“I thought I might as well give it a shot and see what happens,” said Gee. After going to an interview that he described as ‘any normal job interview,’ he was chosen.
Despite his outgoing personality and ease on camera, Gee said that he has no plans to continue with an acting career later on.
At Bowdoin, he currently plans to pursue a major in economics, but does not have any plans for afterwards.
“I’m kind of keeping the door open to see what happens,” he said.
Gee is also a member of Bowdoin’s football team, and explained that becoming friends with teammates has helped ease his transition to such a new place.
“They make fun of me a little bit. But it’s all fun and games. We all joke around,” he added, referring to the reality show.
Although people on campus have occasionally recognized him from the show, Gee doesn’t think that it has affected his experience as a first year at Bowdoin. Gee seems to have had a positive adjustment to Bowdoin’s campus.
“Classes have been really challenging, but in a good way so far. It’s only the second week, nothing too intense,” Gee said. “[The] food’s real good.”
Curtain Callers presents ‘Into the Woods,’ utilizes unique venue
With finals approaching and the days flying by until Bowdoin students will return to their respective homes, stress is descending on the College. If you want to escape these stressful times for a few moments, allow Curtain Callers to take you “Into the Woods.”
“Into the Woods” is a musical directed by Cordelia Zars ’16 and Max Middleton ’16, with music by Stephen Sondheim. The two worked together on “Sweeney Todd” last semester and paired up this semester for another production.
Unlike most student-produced theater, the musical will be performed in the Bowdoin Chapel. Actor Railey Zantop-Zimlinghaus ’19 said, “I’m really interested to see how it ends up looking in the chapel because it’s not a very typical space.”
She went on to explain that because of the tall ceilings the chapel acoustics are different than those in more common spaces like Pickard Theater, which should make for a unique musical experience.
In order to account for issues with acoustics, some of the show’s blocking goes off the stage and onto the carpeted area bringing it closer to the audience, explained Zars.
In addition to the unique acoustics, the chapel provides for another unexpected obstacle.Zantop-Zimlinghaus explained that there is no backstage in the chapel, so the actors will be in the pews next to the audience when not on stage.
While the chapel is not typically used for theater, the cast has learned to work with these new challenges.
“We really had to work around [the different space], which has both been a really frustrating process and a cool one because we’ve gotten to be more creative with our show,” said Zars.“The staging is minimal, we’ve made everything ourselves with scissors and tape,” she said. “We’re not pretending that it’s a huge production with elaborate sets and elaborate sound systems, it’s just us on stage.”
When asked what her biggest challenge has been as a co-director, Zars said that the show has been a huge time commitment.
“It’s kind of like the best and the hardest that it takes a lot of energy, but when you’re so immersed in something like that it gives a lot of energy back,” she said.
She said that the biggest challenge the group faced as a whole was finding a rehearsal schedule that could work for everyone. As Bowdoin students often tend to be overcommitted, having a cast of 19 busy actors provided for a special challenge.
The challenge seemed to be worth it, however, for the additions that each member brings to the stage.
“We have a really talented group of cast members that we are very lucky to [have] and they’ve just put so much time into it,” said Zars.
For Zars, the musical was a rewarding project in more ways than one.
“Devoting that much time and energy to understanding somebody else’s emotions, somebody who doesn’t even exist...getting your imagination and your levels of empathy to that point is just the most beautiful thing about the show and art in general,” she said.
Zars added, “I think we have made a pretty cohesive and beautiful project and every member of the cast has committed a lot of their emotional and mental energy into making this show really come to life.”
One-act by Maddie Lemal-Brown ’18 wins playwriting competition
In a society still dominated by heteronormative outlooks and assumptions, the relationship issues that non-straight people go through can often be overlooked. However, “Rose and Psyche,” a one-act play written by Maddie Lemal-Brown ’18, depicts some of the problems that queer students can encounter as they navigate relationships and their families. Lemal-Brown’s play won Masque and Gown’s One-Act Festival on April 8.
Lemal-Brown wrote “Rose and Psyche” over the course of about two weeks in February. It is about Sam and Hannah, a lesbian couple attending a college similar to Bowdoin. The play picks up a few days before Valentine’s Day when Sam’s very religious and traditional parents pay her a surprise visit. As a result, Sam decides that she wants to come out to her parents and introduce them to her girlfriend.
The play focuses on one’s struggles to successfully come out and the consequences that arise from being true to oneself. Lemal-Brown explained that her work explores the difficulties in deciding whether it is best to risk losing the people that you love if they fail to accept you for who you are or neglect to accept your own self.
“There’s my own story, my friends’ stories and just general experiences that we’ve had. It made me really think about the spectrum of acceptance that we receive for being non-straight,” she said.
Before picking up creative writing again at the start of this year, Lemal-Brown had not written creatively since she was in high school.
Upon seeing a poster for the festival in Thorne Hall, she decided that writing and submitting a one-act play was a feasible challenge to set for herself. Her play went on to be one of the few selected and was assigned a director, James Jelin ’16, and actors.
Lemal-Brown was excited to be able to watch her play come to life.
“You get a huge adrenaline rush,” said Lemal-Brown. “It’s...a lot of things you will never [expect to] see outside of your own room or your own laptop, and to see it as a fully formed experience was really, really cool,” she said. “Being in the room with people who knew the story I was telling a lot better than most people just gave a lot of weight and responsibility to the words. It made me feel like I had a lot of power that I had to make sure I was careful with.”
Once her play became a reality, even Lemal-Brown acknowledged certain aspects that she had not previously noticed.
“It didn’t occur to me how educational it was until I saw it,” she said. “It does shed light on issues that a lot of Bowdoin students don’t have to think about or have never come across. I’m really happy that the play is doing something to give more visibility to queer students.”
‘Next to Normal’ to be shown at Theater Project
Being a student, or a young person, isn’t always easy. But fear not. This weekend, Curtain Callers and Peer Health are co-sponsoring the musical, “Next to Normal.” The musical aims to show that nobody is alone when it comes to feeling overwhelmed with the difficulties in one’s life and the world.
“Next to Normal” is about a mother who struggles with her mental health and the complicated relationships that develop as a result.
Director and member of Peer Health Marcella Jimenez ’16 said that she hopes that after the Bowdoin community sees the show, they will understand that it is okay to not be okay.“It will actually be a stronger and healthier community if we can have those conversations about our struggles,” Jimenez said.
Due to difficulties booking a theater space on campus, the show will be presented at the Theater Project on School Street in Brunswick. The idea to partner with the Theater Project was the brainchild of Professor of Theater Davis Robinson.
“Bowdoin is this wonderful place where so many students are incredibly talented and want to do wonderful things,” Jimenez said. “And because of that, there’s a shortage of venues to do those wonderful things, so we hit a lot of walls in terms of places where we could feasibly stage the show.”
“I think that even though it was just by luck that [we’re partnering with the Theater Project], it’s really nice that we can bond with the community in this way,” Musical Director Jae-Yeon Yoo ’18 said. “Having that connection actually makes sense because ‘Next to Normal’ is a lot about community.”
The two directors attributed the idea for putting the show together to Adam Glynn ’17, the show’s producer.
“It’s been a team effort between the three of us as a production team,” said Jimenez. She added that strong communication between each member of the team has been essential to successful rehearsals.
The two directors also had high praises for their actors and musicians.
“Something that I love about musical theater is that it really does bring together a lot of different groups on campus that you wouldn’t typically find,” said Yoo. According to Yoo, among the actors and pit members are members from a cappella and the Bowdoin Music Collective.
Jimenez expressed that she had a special connection to the musical.
When she first became interested in the show, her cousin had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. At the time, she listened to the musical’s soundtrack every day on her way to and from work.
“My family was dealing with a lot in terms of taking care of him, and so there was a lot of grief and angst around that situation,” she said. “I feel like the musical really helped me process that in a lot of ways.”
Jimenez added that she hopes the musical will help students reflect on their own difficulties.“A lot of times we have the pressure of keeping everything together,” she said. “Our life is supposed to be this neat little box, but underneath a lot of that, everybody is a mess, and no one really knows what they’re doing.”
The first performance of “Next to Normal” will take place tonight at 7:30 p.m. There will be two additional showings on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Maine Inside Out reduces youth incarcerations through theater
Gazing at a college audience similarly aged to their selves, members of Maine Inside Out performed a skit that expressed the surprisingly small disparities between their lives and those of Bowdoin students.
Maine Inside Out is an organization that works with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth to create and perform original theater. The program benefits both participants and audience members, combating stereotypes of incarcerated youth and providing an outlet for expression.
This past Wednesday, the group came to Reed House to present a short video which included a news segment about the organization as well as a documentary about what Maine Inside Out has to offer to its participants. Once the video was over, the group performed a short theater piece that they had prepared themselves.
Before taking questions from the audience, the participants went down the line introducing themselves and explaining how the organization has impacted their lives. One of the members, who has continued to participate for years after he was released from prison, said that Maine Inside Out is different from the other facilitated programs that are offered to individuals while imprisoned.
“The reason we keep coming back is because we have a connection with it,” he said. Unlike other courses such as counseling or anger management, in which inmates participate either because they are required to or allow for an earlier release date, the members of Maine Inside Out chose to join because it was a place for them to openly express themselves.According to co-director Tessy Seward, the primary goal of the organization is to drastically reduce, if not eliminate, the incarceration of youth.
“I think we can demonstrate that communities are safer and more connected and better places to live when restorative and transformative justice is explored,” said Seward.
She explained that the organization chose to convey these ideas through theater because it provides a way of communicating with words as well as physicality.
“There’s feeling and thinking at the same time. I think that’s unique to live theater as an art form,” she added.
The group was invited to Reed House by Victoria Lowrie ’18, programming director of the house. She is also the co-president of Bowdoin’s chapter of College Guild, an organization that sends educational material to prisoners who would not otherwise qualify for accredited education courses.
“They use theater to work to build empathy and [cross] borders that aren’t normally crossed,” said Lowrie.
While the Maine Inside Out members joked that most of them only became involved for the free food at meetings, they also each shared specific and personal reasons for why they joined the organization. In addition to providing an outlet for expression without judgement, Maine Inside Out helps members combat issues like anxiety, fear of public speaking and an inability to express emotions.
By sharing their personal experiences and opinions with large audiences, the members hope to convey that they are just like everyone else. As a result of an emotional, impactful performance, viewers often question their preconceived notions of incarcerated youth.
“I help people by helping myself when I get on that stage,” said another member of Maine Inside Out.
Lowrie felt that the originality of this group’s mission would provide for interesting discussion, noting that she hadn’t seen an event like this on campus prior to Wednesday’s presentation.
“If we are talking about mass incarceration, it’s a very academic discussion,” Lowrie said. “So I think it is going to bring something new actually having formerly incarcerated young individuals who are going to share their stories and their lessons.”
“I think it’s going to be a great step forward in terms of maybe getting people to think about being more empathetic to people that they wouldn’t normally relate to,” she added.
Heart and Art: A scholar's perspective on the Japanese tea ceremony tradition
Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Yuko Eguchi has thoroughly studied the art of the Japanese tea ceremony as well as the music and dance of the geisha. She visited Bowdoin this week to give two lectures about each of her areas of study, perform a private tea ceremony and speak intimately with Japanese language students about her culture.
In her first lecture on Tuesday evening, Eguchi gave a brief history of the tea ceremony and then demonstrated it for the audience. She brought authentic Japanese green tea and sweets—small cookies typically eaten with the tea—for each audience member to taste.
In her Wednesday evening lecture, she went through the history of geisha music and dance, and then performed.
Eguchi first became interested in the history of geishas during her graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Her advisor told her that there are not many historical records or writings about Japanese female musicians. She then found information about geishas, who are female musicians and performers, and decided to study and write about their culture.
Although Eguchi now outwardly represents her Japanese culture, she was not always so knowledgeable about these subjects. She said that only after leaving Japan to go to Bates—where she graduated in 2003—did she become interested in studying her own culture.
“Many of [my] friends came to me and asked me, ‘You’re from Japan. What do you do?’ and at the time, there [were] no words to explain,” she said.
She had practiced the tea ceremony since she was in middle school. Other than that, her hobbies included classical piano and ballet, neither of which she believes contributed to her Japanese identity.
“That’s the time that I really realized I have to know who I am in order to communicate to others,” Eguchi said.
By studying tea ceremonies and geishas, Eguchi was able to learn about her own self as well as teach others.
Yuri Watanabe ’19, who is originally from Japan, said that she came to the lecture for the very same principle that Eguchi touched on.
“I realized that I don’t really know about Japanese culture and…I felt like I should know,” Watanabe said.
Senior lecturer in Japanese Hiroo Aridome expressed his excitement with having Eguchi come to campus. According to Aridome, the department usually invites a speaker who can perform either the tea ceremony or geisha music and dance, but Eguchi is conveniently well-trained in both.
“[The] Japanese language is very different from other languages like English, so we pretty much focus on the grammatical structure and composition, so it’s kind of difficult to introduce culture all the time,” Aridome said. “This is a great opportunity for us.”
Eguchi hopes that the audience learns as much from her performance as she does in preparing for it.
“Through learning music or through learning dance, what I learned the most is the heart,” she said. “You cannot spell heart without art.”
Poet-turned-humor novelist Paul Beatty encourages writing for oneself
The Faculty Room of Massachusetts Hall overflowed with students, professors and community members this past Tuesday when novelist Paul Beatty visited campus. He performed a reading from his book, “The Sellout,” and answered questions from the audience. Although many consider the content and themes of his novels to be satirical, Beatty doesn’t think of himself as a satirist.
“[I write about] my friends mostly, LA; I don’t know, just how absurd life is,” he said. “I usually start writing when I’m running out of money.”
Beatty came to campus as a part of the Visiting Writers Series, sponsored by the English Department.
Professor of English Brock Clarke, who invited Beatty to campus, touched on the benefit of having writers speak and read to students.
“It’s one thing to talk about a writer’s work when it’s in front of you, to read it in class, to talk about it in class,” said Clarke. “But I think it’s also useful for students to see writers as people who are striving to do the same thing as [they] are, and one of the ways you do that is bring them to campus.”
Audience member Sydney To ’19, who read Beatty’s book in Clarke’s Introductory Fiction Workshop, felt similarly.
“It’s very interesting seeing him up there. It’s weird to read someone’s book and then to see them as a person,” he said.
Beatty started writing poetry while he was in graduate school in psychology. He sent off his poems to an MFA program and was accepted. His advice for students pursuing creative writing is straightforward.
“Gotta keep writing,” he said. “I mean, it’s pretty simple: writers write, that’s basically it.”Beatty first gained recognition as as a slam poet, but today he only writes novels. He has not written a poem in about 20 years.
“I think part of the reason why I quit poetry [was that] I was writing a poem once and, I don’t know, I wrote some line and went, ‘Oh, they’ll like that one,’ and I [thought] ‘Woah.’ That just really caught me that I even thought about that, and it really messed with me,” said Beatty. “That’s not why I write.”
He said that he likes novel-writing more because it let him stick to his goal of writing only for himself.
“I was just much more aware of audience when I was writing poetry for whatever reason and with the fiction I just don’t think about it as much,” he said.
“He’s one of the most exciting novelists working today,” said Clark, of Beatty. “One of the funniest, one of the most daring, one of the most irreverent writers, and I felt we could stand to hear from someone like that.”
Beatty said that he usually does not have specific goals in mind when he writes a book.“Hopefully they’re a little elucidating, a little funny, a little sad,” he said. “I’m just trying to write good books, that’s it.”
Black History Month exhibit displays activism, College’s history
The African American Society (Af-Am) brought Bowdoin’s activist past to the foreground during its annual art show. The theme was Activism and Social Justice, and it was one of the many events that have been scheduled on campus in honor of Black History Month.
In addition to student art, the show features photo albums, news clippings and other interesting artifacts from Bowdoin’s past in the Lamarche Gallery in David Saul Smith Union.
“You see these snapshots of...the way things were, and you also see some continuity in some of the events that are still held,” said Justin Pearson ’17, who attended the show. “It’s good to see the past and sort of reflect on the present in preparation for what we would like to do in the future—in the African American Society and also as a campus.”
One notable historic item includes an Orient news clipping from when the College created Bowdoin Experience in an effort to bring more students of color to campus.
Although the real photos and artifacts from Bowdoin’s past were captivating, the student art in the show cannot be overlooked.
“You also see some very striking art...that’s really bringing us to this present day reality of the struggles in the African American community, the black community—with policing and violence and with the reality of the consistent oppression and reproduction of that oppression that is sort of like our everyday lives,” said Pearson.
Halfway through the show, six members of Slam Poet Society performed original poems on the stage. Each member recited one or two pieces about a wide variety of topics centered around setbacks, struggles and triumphs that the black community has gone through.
Ashley Bomboka ’16, one of the members of the planning committee for Black History Month, explained that Student Activities was interested in joining forces to hold a reflective, impactful art exhibit this year. The two committees worked together to organize this event.
Last year, Af-Am hosted a similar event in the Blue Gallery of Smith Union. The show displayed artifacts from the Af-Am’s past, as well as those from civil rights groups that had a particular impact on Bowdoin’s campus.
When Af-Am was deciding on a theme for the show, Bomboka said that it was almost a no-brainer.
“This year, most of the events around Black History Month in general have followed the social activist trend because that’s what Bowdoin has been building up to for the past two years,” she said.
For Pearson, the art show was a way for Af-Am to share its message through art and photographs.
“We have to become more uncomfortable with the realities of inequality that are created just because of the way you look,” Pearson said. “This exhibit tries to tie in all of those, and it brings that to a place and a space where that conversation needs to be had.”
Theater Company uses improv to develop stories
The Beau Jest Moving Theater Company will perform its original production, “Apt. 4D” in Wish Theater today at 7 p.m. The show is about three people living in a pre-war apartment. They each have their own troubles, lives and events that go on behind closed doors. It features a mysterious storyteller who begins to speculate and write about the other residents, despite not truly knowing anything about them.
“‘Apt. 4D’ is what it’s like to be in a city and the interactions you have with humans on a day-to-day basis that are so distancing, but also very intimate,” described Bowdoin alum and co-star of the show, Kathleen Lewis ’10.
Professor of Theater Davis Robinson, who also directs and acts in “Apt. 4D,” created the Beau Jest Moving Theater Company 32 years ago. He started working on the show about two years ago, along with a cast of three other actors, two of which are Bowdoin alums.
When creating a new production, Robinson uses a technique called devising. He relies on improvisation to develop characters, a plot and important, human moments. He then seeks out feedback from audience members. After they perform, the Company will regroup to workshop and adjust certain elements based on feedback they receive.
“It’s kind of writing on your feet,” said Robinson. “What will happen is we’ll do it at Bowdoin and we’ll tape it and we’ll get some feedback and see if there is anything we still need to work on.”
Lewis explained that one of the most valuable lessons she has gained from her time with the Company is the importance of the devising process.
“One thing that I find really special about Beau Jest is that we walk in not necessarily with a concrete idea of what the end product will be,” Lewis said.
When beginning a new production, the members meet and brainstorm. “We allow ourselves the freedom of just playing and seeing what is in the ether for each of us as individuals and we bring that to the table and we mix it all up and then we create something,” said Lewis.
Both Robinson and Lewis described working with the Beau Jest Theater Company as a welcome distraction from their normal, more uniform jobs.
“We’re happy working on it when it fits everyone’s schedule. Everybody has day jobs. Nobody is relying on it for making a living right now so that’s pretty great,” said Robinson.
Lewis said it is challenging to find a time when everyone can meet. Although each actor is a part of the Company for his or her own enjoyment, it is still important that they can find a time in their busy schedules when they can all be in the same room at once.
Lewis is excited that Bowdoin students will get the opportunity to see a show performed and created by one of their professors.
“In a way it’s like giving students a chance to see what we do in the real world and see where the research that we do and the stuff that we teach in class ends up professionally,” Robinson said.
Arctic biodiversity through an amateur lens
“Through the Lens: Arctic Biodiversity” is a photographic exhibition that will be on display at the Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum during the spring semester.The exhibition, which has been shown from Iceland to Canada, features Arctic-related photos that were highly regarded in a competition sponsored by the Conservation of Arctic Fauna and Flora Secretariat (CAFF).
CAFF is devoted to the conservation of Arctic biodiversity, ensuring that residents and governments of Arctic countries have up-to-date and accurate information about Arctic plants and animals.
CAFF also promotes practices which ensure the sustainability of the Arctic’s resources. In 2014, they released a report on Arctic biodiversity and held the photography competition to mark the launch of the report.
According to Genevieve LeMoine, curator and registrar of the Arctic Museum, this competition is the first artistic outreach that CAFF has initiated, as their mandate is typically directed at educating through scientific means and is usually focused on the scientific and policy-making community. The competition included 18-and-under and 14-and-under categories in addition to thematic groupings. The winning photos from these categories are also shown in the exhibit, one of them being a photo taken by a seven-year-old.
LeMoine is happy that the Arctic Museum is showing photos taken by less experienced photographers. “It’s nice to have amateur photography being shown and perhaps inspiring people to get out there and do their own photographing,” she said.
The foyer where the photos are currently being shown typically displays works from the Arctic Museum’s collection and thus are usually historic.
“One of the things that I’m excited to do is to be exhibiting contemporary photography,” said LeMoine.
Many of the photos are aimed at showing the effects of society on biodiversity. One of LeMoine’s favorite photos in the exhibit shows a researcher in Siberia who was trapped inside his hut by hundreds of walruses.
“It’s not necessarily beautiful to look at, but the story is great,” she said.
The exhibit on Bowdoin’s campus is not the only event in which CAFF is connecting its mission to Maine.
This coming fall, the Arctic Council will have a meeting in Portland, Maine. According to LeMoine, this is the first time this meeting will be held outside of the Arctic. She explained that this event is related to Senator Angus King’s work to promote Maine as a gateway to the Arctic.To lead up to this initiative, the Arctic Museum will be holding talks and other events with growing excitement to connect Maine with the Arctic.
LeMoine added, “It totally fits in with our mission both in terms of the science and national history of the Arctic but also art in the Arctic as well so it’s a nice addition to what we normally do.”
Visiting artist to meld visual arts, technology and community
Since its induction in fall 2013, the Digital and Computational Studies Initiative (DCS) has grown increasingly popular among students. Students will have the opportunity to explore the nexus between technology and the arts in the DCS-Visual Arts Department cross-listed course next semester.
Visiting Artist Erin Johnson will be teaching a 3000-level class called Site-Specifics: Production of Socially Engaged Media. The class will require students to go into the world and explore the way in which sites—like parks or dams—represent the histories of their locations.
Some of the sites that Johnson has in mind include Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center, Fort Andross and Brunswick Landing. Students will be asked to interview community members who work at or live near those sites to learn about them and the impacts they have on the town. Next, they will be asked to turn what they learned into a digital representation to be displayed at that site.
“By exploring all the different histories and squeezing those out they can choose how they want to connect something that’s happening in the contemporary world to something that’s happened in the past,” said Johnson.
The goal with these projects will be both to enhance the impact of the sites and help educate site newcomers. Johnson added that another goal is to “draw out this history that’s maybe not on the surface of the site and connect that with the questions that we are asking right now.” The issues explored through the histories of the sites could include issues like that of race, class, labor, gender and sexuality.
This semester, Johnson is teaching her first class at Bowdoin: Introduction to Digital Media. She explained that the class she will be teaching next semester will require more thorough exploration and investigation. However, an important aspect of the class still focuses on ensuring that students will gain a basic understanding of tools like a digital video camera and video-editing software.
One aspect that Johnson said she is most excited about is the fact that students will be creating art that will “live outside the walls of a gallery.” This way, she explained, those who haven’t typically appreciated art when they have seen it in museums will have an opportunity to view art in a new way.
Crystal Hall, an associate professor of digital humanities, is excited to be collaborating with the Visual Arts Department for Johnson’s cross-listed class.
“I think that there’s been a sense that DCS has really been digital humanities, in part because those first few cross-listed courses were coming from English and Cinema Studies, and so this is a way to give a space for another aspect of DCS beyond the humanities,” said Hall.In contrast to perceptions of DCS as digital humanities, Hall described it as an “equal opportunity collaborator.”
“We are really trying to understand where the overlap exists, where we can find questions or issues that many disciplines would like to investigate,” she said.
Johnson’s class, in which students will use digital tools to explore and represent artistic and historical ideas, provides a strong gateway to redefining the DCS department.
“Even though we’re looking at history, we’re thinking about sociological theory. We are also addressing present day problems, issues and questions, and so I think Site Specifics also gets into that ultra-contemporary moment, which I think can be really powerful,” added Hall.Johnson said that she has thoroughly enjoyed planning the class.
“What my goal is for this class is that students will walk away with another kind of experience in which hopefully they’ve learned more about how to just look at the world and think about all of the creative possibilities that every place has,” said Johnson.
World Cinema Festival exposes community to multitude of cultures
Bowdoin’s third annual World Cinema Festival showcased not only innovative and artistic films from around the world, but offered a platform for professors to foster analytical discussions about culture and films.
The countries represented in this year’s festival include Russia, Germany, Cuba, Mauritania and China. Participating Bowdoin professors chose films to which viewers from both Bowdoin and the Brunswick community could relate.
Each night, the professor who was presenting would introduce the film with contextual information. Once the film was over, the floor was then opened to questions and discussion.Organized by Visiting Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies Sarah Childress, the festival consisted of five films from a variety of cultures and continents. One film was shown each night in the Beam Classroom of the Visual Arts Center.
The festival originated as a Spanish and Latin American film festival, but after its first year, Childress decided to expand the festival to be more inclusive and representative of cultures from around the world.
Childress explained that while she cannot choose a favorite, she is most excited for the films “Suite Habana” and “The Assassin.”
The Oscar nominated film “Suite Habana” only uses sound and images to follow the lives of 10 ordinary Cubans during their day-to-day activities. “The Assassin” chronicles the mission of a seventh century Chinese assassin to kill a politician.
“I have to say I’m really excited about ‘The Assassin’ because Hou Hsiao-hsien hasn’t had a film out in a while and I really admire him. He makes gorgeous films,” she said.
On Monday night, Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian Lindsay Ceballos presented “The Fool (Durak).” Wilder Nicholson ’16 attended the screening and explained that the film’s impact stayed with him for days afterward.
“It was a great opportunity to get a little insight into a world that I had never seen before,” said Nicholson.
On Tuesday night, Associate Professor of German Birgit Tautz presented “Unveiled (Fremde Haut).”
The film follows a woman who flees to Germany from Iran because her sexual orientation is rejected.Along her journey, she is put into a holding room in the airport because her passport is invalid. While in the holding room, she befriends another refugee whose application goes through. To her unfortunate advantage, this man commits suicide, and so the woman assumes the man’s identity to get into Germany.
“The film was of course made to cast in a very problematic light the intersection between national identity or ethnic identity, political refugees and sexual and gender identity,” said Tautz. “Now, 10 years after it was originally released, it develops a new currency and becomes very topical again.”
Tautz received a grant from the German Embassy to show the film. Each year, the embassy has a particular theme and gives grants for programming. This year, the theme was 25 years of German unity.
Tautz explained that in the past years of the festival, the departments had chosen to screen more popular, blockbuster films. This year, however, the professors involved decided to choose films that pertain more to the classes they are teaching.
“I’m teaching a first year seminar on German women filmmakers, so I wanted to select a film made by a woman,” she said.
The festival concludes tonight with Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “The Assassin,” which is still in theaters.
Dance groups include new members in Family Weekend performance
Since the start of the semester, four of Bowdoin’s dance groups—Anokha, Arabesque, Broken and VAGUE—have been extremely busy. From holding auditions for new members to preparing for upcoming performances, these groups have quickly gotten into the swing of things. The groups will perform this weekend as one of the many events scheduled for Family Weekend.
Juniors Dhivya Singaram and Lizzi Takyi lead Anokha, a group that explores some of the many different styles of dance from India. In the past, they have performed both Bollywood and South Indian styles. This semester, the group has more than doubled in size, growing from six members to 14.
The larger group has brought new challenges, such as obtaining more costumes and integrating new members into the close-knit group.
“When new people joined, I think there was initially a weird dynamic between the two groups. They weren’t mixing as nicely as I wanted, and I want everyone to feel like a family,” Singaram said. “Somewhere in the last few weeks, some of the new girls came to our Anokha cultural dinners, and we really got to know each other through that. I feel like the two groups have integrated now, which is so nice.”
Despite the difficulties of this growth, Singaram and Takyi would like to see more students join Anokha.
“Our goal is also to recruit first years,” Singaram said. “We really want to create a strong foundation so that when we leave, there will be someone who’s willing to step up and take the leadership position.”
This Saturday, the group will be performing a Dandiya Raas dance, a style that comes from Gujarat, India. The dance includes foot-long sticks called dandiyas that are hit together rhythmically, both alone and with a partner.
“I’m looking forward to people appreciating the cultural aspect of Anokha,” Takyi said. “One of the things that I’m actually very proud of is that the group itself is so diverse. We choose to appreciate this other culture that none of us really have in common. I truly look forward to seeing the parents appreciating it as well.”
Bowdoin’s ballet group, Arabesque, is led by Megan Maher ’16 and Emma Peters ’16. This semester, the group has 10 members who will perform this Saturday for Family Weekend and 11 who will perform in a December production of “The Nutcracker.”
For Maher, because there are a few members who are studying abroad this semester, this is the smallest group she has experienced since she joined in her first year at Bowdoin.
This weekend, Arabesque will be dancing to Avicii’s “For a Better Day.”
“It’s a little sentimental for all of us seniors because it’s our last year [performing for the] Parents Weekend show, but we’re super excited to be with the new group,” said Maher.
The breakdancing group, Broken, is led by Simon Pritchard ’16 and Sovannarath Pong ’17. Eight of the group’s 10 members will be participating in this weekend’s show.
Like many of the campus dance groups, Broken has experienced significant growth of membership this year. Last fall, only four people performed in the Family Weekend show.
Pritchard and Pong both feel that Broken is usually faced with one dominant problem: people assuming they need prior experience to join the club. In fact, most members, including Pritchard and Pong, had no experience with breakdancing before coming to Bowdoin.“I think it’s important to emphasize the fact that anybody can breakdance, and it’s not as hard as it looks. It’s actually very simple to achieve a pretty solid skill base,” Pritchard said. “Anybody can do it and shouldn’t be afraid of doing it. It’s a great way of expressing yourself in a less structured manner.”
This year, Broken has moved away from a performance rooted in solo work and improvisation and has begun using more group choreography.
“If you can do anything synchronized, it looks a lot cooler than just one person doing it,” Pritchard explained. “We’re now reaching skill levels where we can do some of the things we used to do solo together as a group at the same time. We’re really capitalizing on that.”Broken’s performance this weekend is Halloween-themed and will feature some classic Halloween songs and zombie dance moves.
“Hopefully, we won’t scare too many small children,” Pritchard said.
VAGUE is led by Maddie Rutan ’16 and Olivia Stone ’16. According to Rutan and Stone, the group’s style is a mix of jazz and contemporary dance. This semester, VAGUE has 10 members, although this number will grow once other members return from studying abroad.
Four of VAGUE’s senior members graduated last year, so the group added four first years and one junior after holding auditions.
“I think our goals are to unify as a group with the new members, especially because this semester we are in kind of a unique position in that half of our members right now are new,” said Stone.
In order to achieve that goal, the group goes to dinner together after every practice in order to ensure that the team can bond outside of the practice setting.
Since the beginning of school, VAGUE has been working on its performance for Family Weekend, which will be a routine to Beyoncé’s “Run the World” and “Flawless.”
Masque & Gown mixes comedy, dark issues in ‘Crimes of the Heart’
Mental illness, depression, abuse and suicide aren’t what most would consider light-hearted themes. However, Masque and Gown wants to blur the lines between serious and comedic with its fall production of “Crimes of the Heart.”
“Crimes of the Heart” is the tale of three sisters, Lenny, Meg and Babe. The play opens with the three meeting in their childhood home in Mississippi for the first time in many years. Lenny has grown tired and depressed from the weight of familial responsibilities that she has inherited as the oldest sister. Meanwhile, Meg’s attempted career in the country music industry has fallen apart. Lastly, the youngest sister, Babe, has just shot her husband under mysterious circumstances.
Director Axis Fuksman-Kumpa ’17 explained that it can be tough for her and her actors to immerse themselves in such a complicated play.
“Sometimes we have to kind of pull back when we’re rehearsing,” Fuksman-Kumpa said. “We need to take a step back and really process that because it affects you as an actor.”
Fuksman-Kumpa hopes the performance will prompt discussion about more difficult issues, especially at Bowdoin, where most students have extremely busy schedules.
“There’s always an idea that you should be strong enough to handle it on your own,” Fuksman-Kumpa said. She hopes that when viewers see how the members of the family rely on each other to get through difficult times, they will understand that it is OK to seek help when necessary.
“I hope that by bringing some of this to light, it’ll make it a little bit easier for other people to reflect on that in their own lives,” Fuksman-Kumpa said.
While the play does touch on dark and heavy themes, Fuksman-Kumpa hopes that the comedic aspect present throughout the play will lighten the mood.
“It deals with these really intense and very genuine things...that are very emotionally traumatic, but it brings them to light in a way that has kind of a joy and a humility about them,” Fuksman-Kumpa said.
Set designer Conor Walsh ’18 also attempted to create a more positive atmosphere for the production with an open, airy stage design.
“To bring it more into the realm of comedy and to lighten up some of the dark themes, the set’s very light,” Walsh said.
He and the crew also worked to make the set feel more lived-in, with details like slightly scratched-up walls.
“The walls weren’t painted yesterday, you know? They were, but they’re not supposed to look like it,” Walsh said.
The lighthearted mood was present in rehearsals as well, according to cast member Austin Goldsmith ’18, who plays Meg.
“Our better rehearsals come out of those where we have a little bit of time to goof around beforehand, so we connect better,” Goldsmith said.
The cast is also trying to find humor in chaos—due to the timing of this weekend’s Inauguration, the members have not yet been able to rehearse in Pickard.
“The rehearsal process is different from usual because I’ve never been so late getting into the space. [This week] was the first time we ran through the entire show,” said Goldsmith.In order to direct a play through Masque and Gown, one must submit a detailed proposal to be reviewed by the club. Masque and Gown President Madeleine Livingston ’16 explained that Fuksman-Kumpa’s proposal for “Crimes of the Heart” stood out for a variety of reasons. “[It] is not a play that very many people know but is really interesting and deals with some tough issues about families,” Livingston said.
The show will be performed on October 22, 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Pickard Theater. “I’m most excited to see it come together,” said Livingston. “I think it’s always nice to have been part of a show from the conception to performance.”
“I just really encourage people to come see the show,” said Fuksman-Kumpa. “I think it’s something that is at some points challenging to watch but the kind of experience where, at the end, you’ll be glad you saw it.”
Visiting artist reframes nature using media, printmaking
“It’s beautiful... Now what?”
Internationally recognized printmaker Nicole Pietrantoni, an Assistant Professor of Art at Whitman College, placed this text onto a photo she took of an Icelandic landscape in an attempt to challenge the concept of beauty in nature.
Currently, she is at the tail end of a week-long residency at Bowdoin as part of the Marvin Bileck Printmaking Project. As this fall’s chosen printmaker, she has been teaching classes in the Robert H. and Blythe Bickel Edwards Center for Art and Dance, hosting workshops and meeting with students for meals.
Associate Professor of Art Carrie Scanga was instrumental in bringing Pietrantoni to campus. She was originally captivated by Pietrantoni’s ability to mix traditional and digital media. “[What] I like about her work is that it’s part image and part object. I think that’s again something that is very relevant to our time,” Scanga said.
Though Peitrantoni grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, she always had an interest in nature and landscape. Pietrantoni currently lives in Walla Walla, Washington, where she teaches printmaking and book art at Whitman.
Pietrantoni began her residency at Bowdoin with a lecture this past Monday in the Visual Arts Center in which she juxtaposed the romantic painting, “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog,” with a contemporary Washington State tourism brochure. Her opening served to give the audience an idea of the types of themes she explores.
The painting depicts a man standing on a cliff looking out into an abyss of smoke and fog, while the brochure shows a man in hiking gear looking down from the top of a mountain. Though the images are from different time periods, they each idealize the theme of nature.
Pietrantoni explained that she’s concerned that beauty has become a construct in our society. The main way in which beauty has been idealized, she emphasized, is from humans’ depiction of natural landscapes and views through paintings and photos.
“I am interested and feel excited when I see a sunset or when I see a rainbow, I can’t deny that,” Pietrantoni said. “Yet, I can sort of pick at and question, ‘Well, why do I like it?’”
One of her works, titled “This Waterfall is Falling for You,” consists of a photo she edited in Photoshop and screen printed onto a plexiglass plate. She then mounted the plate to a wall with a c-clamp and small piece of wood and placed a light beneath it to project a shadow onto the wall.The goal of this piece was to create tension between a beautiful landscape and the industrial materials that were holding it together.
When showcasing her projects, Pietrantoni motives go beyond the conventional art exhibit in a gallery. In Iceland, she took photos of landscapes and printed them onto postcards with text reading “Because you can.” She then placed them on postcard racks in tourist shops.
“I was interested in my own position as a tourist so it was for me to poke fun at myself, but also for people traveling around the island to think about their role as tourists,” she explained after the lecture.
Through this project, Scanga said, students have the chance to see and work alongside an artist in action. Last semester, the department hosted Nancy Blum, who focused on the merits of public art.
“With each program it seems like there are some students who get turned onto the possibilities of the art world in ways they haven’t thought of before,” she said.
Experiencing sculpture in virtual world
Over the past century, technological advances have allowed for the progression of virtual gaming systems, from the GameCube to Xbox Kinect to full-on virtual reality such as the Oculus Rift. Now, Laura Griffee ’17 and Assistant Professor of Art Jackie Brown are uniquely integrating sculpture art into the virtual world.
Griffee and Brown spent the summer creating an online, interactive interface that allows users to view Brown’s sculptures in a completely new way.
“As an artist, the documentation of my work is really critical,” Brown said.Brown explained that documenting 3D sculptures is more difficult than documenting 2D drawings or paintings, due to the inability to capture the experience of viewing the work from all angles.
Before this summer, Brown was awarded the 2015 Gibbons Fellowship, which gave her the opportunity to work on the project.
The next step was to find a student who could help her.
After asking around the department, Brown was put in touch with Griffee, whose self-designed major in computer science and visual arts made her the best fit for the project.
“I came into the project knowing nothing,” said Griffee. “I had no idea what I’d be doing and Jackie just said ‘I would love it if you could create a 3D version of my installation work so that people can experience it online.’”
Though she did not have prior experience with this technology, Griffee did extensive research before beginning the project.
Griffee’s first task was to design a way to transform Brown’s sculpture from real life to a virtual, 3D representation.
To do this, she took 250 photos of the sculpture from all angles and sent them into a program called Autodesk Memento, which uses algorithms to stitch photos together.
Griffee explained that the project was not easy at first.
“It was exciting and terrifying at the same time to have such freedom and to really not know anything about the process,” she said.
Once they had a virtual representation, the two proceeded to explore ways in which they could make the representation interactive for the viewer.
“I was really interested in thinking about new ways for people who can’t experience my works first hand to be able to experience the works in different ways virtually that somehow parallels the act of being in a physical space with the work,” said Brown.
Brown and Griffee then met with a member of Information Technology, Kevin Travers, who encouraged them to use a video game software called Unity.
“There was a little bit of coding involved, so I had to figure out how to get a menu to pop-up so that users could see controls or to have other user friendly things,” said Griffee.
She explained that once she worked out the small bugs, they achieved the virtual representation they had been striving for using Unity.
ln the future, Griffee wants to continue exploring the intersection between technology and art.
“I’m slowly piecing together a path,” said Griffee, “Right now, that path has definitely led me down the 3D rabbit hole, so to speak.”
Both Griffee and Brown said that they would like to continue the research next summer.
“We are just scratching the surface of what we can do,” said Brown.
Chorus rehearses Spanish repertoire for ‘Nuestra Navidad’ performance
At the start of each school year, the Bowdoin Chorus selects an ethnic theme to explore for the duration of the semester and present during its end-of-year concert. This semester, the concert, which is co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and the Department of Music, will be performing “Nuestra Navidad” as a tribute to Latin American culture by showcasing songs only in Spanish. The show will debut as a preview on October 31 for Family Weekend. The final performances will take place on November 20 and 21.
The concert will be led by Director of the Bowdoin Chorus Anthony Antolini ’63. Antolini has previously directed the chorus in other ethnically-themed concerts such as “French-Canadian Christmas” and “Black Nativity Christmas.” This semester, however, will be Antolini’s first time teaching songs in Spanish. The chorus has featured songs in multiple languages in the past, including Russian, French and German. Antolini specializes in Russian and believes that Spanish may be his most difficult linguistic endeavor thus far.
“Believe it or not, singing in Spanish is not that easy because the different countries have different dialects of Spanish,” said Antolini.
Chorus member Katie Ippolito ’19 explained that when learning songs in a different language, the singing becomes less about the song meaning and more about the sounds of each individual word.
“All of these different regions have different forms of Spanish,” said Ippolito, echoing Antolini. To stay true to the intentions of the original song, the chorus is learning all the different variations on how to say each word.
The songs the chorus will perform are influenced by a variety of Latin American countries and styles, including Argentinian, Puerto Rican and Afro-Colombian. The chorus has reached out to several resources, including native speakers, to capture the correct pronunciations of complicated Spanish words.
Antolini also hired experienced musicians who specialize in Latin American compositions to add to the performance’s authenticity. In addition to its usual keyboard accompaniment, the chorus will perform with a guitarist, a bassist and two professional flute players, all of whom have experience with Spanish music and culture.
“Learning to sing really excellent music in Spanish is a wonderful way to learn [the Spanish] culture,” Antolini added.
The concert will dually shine a light on the Hispanic Studies section of the Department of Romance Language and give students the opportunity to experience authentic Latin American music.
Associate Professor of Romance Languages Enrique Yepes, was happy to hear about the chorus’s production and encouraged his students to participate.
“We were very excited and sent an email to all students in Spanish classes about this opportunity, hoping they will participate and attend,” said Yepes. “It’s always great to have some visibility for the Spanish language beyond the academics or the classes.”
Antolini was thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive support from the department. “That’s what Bowdoin is about,” Antolini said, “Different departments should work together. Collaboration is a great idea.”