Tag Archives: Culture

Sand art teaches students how to play

Sand, play and learning unite for the April 8 event “Art of Play” at 4 p.m. in Riley Student Center 201.

Professor of Art and Visual Culture Nils Lou will “introduce the idea of play as a lubricant for being creative in making art in any medium,” he said. In this case, the medium is sand painting.

The event is related to the Sand Art Painting event that was scheduled March 17. Sophomore Linh Tang, Linfield Activities Board student talent coordinator, said the former event didn’t attract many students because it was so close to the beginning of Spring Break. But she said in an email that she wanted students to have another opportunity to learn about Lou’s approach to the process of creating art through play.

“I thought it would be a good idea to spread this idea of how to really play [and]enjoy ourselves again,” Tang said in an email.
Lou said that his experiments in making art remind him of the feelings he had playing as a child.

“Children naturally play, and they imagine their world. They invent their fantasies,” he said. “It’s definitely a state of mind where you’re willing to take risks and be surprised.”

For Lou, this is the definition of art.

“That’s what art is about: in developing a method of working that allows you to move on a trajectory where anything goes and you can explore the side roads,” he said.
However, Lou noted that the way students are educated today doesn’t leave room for play; in fact, it discourages play altogether.

“I think young people are cheated out of a huge chunk of learning when we disallow or take out play as a complement of learning,” he said. “I think adulthood is a disease in the sense that we have cut play out of our lives.”

Lou explained that by age 7, children have used play to develop fundamental skills regarding socialization, language and how to be human. Then, starting in first or second grade, our culture pushes children to stop daydreaming and start seriously focusing on learning, he said.

But Lou said the concept of play is essential to developing creativity in any area: art, writing, business, science, etc.

“We regard the word play as frivolous and inconsequential and just fun. I regard play as one of the most serious things that human beings do,” he said. “The problem is that with the institutions we have now, the way we’re educating, with an emphasis on assessment and standardized tests, we’re creating robots more than real educated individuals.”

Lou said that students rediscover their childhood creativity by learning “how to give themselves permission to move in a direction that is theirs and take ownership of that” instead of being guided by, for instance, structured assignments.

He said he hopes that event attendees will learn to trust their own instincts and processes and “ultimately be surprised with the result.”

“I think everybody can benefit from this event,” Tang said in an email. “We college students are always too busy with classes, activities, responsibilities and tons of other commitments. I feel like we need some time off, to just enjoy a moment of a cup of coffee, or a moment of painting a picture, or maybe just a moment of cooking pasta.”

She said she hopes students take the time to just play and enjoy their time playing.

To learn more about Lou’s philosophy on play, check out his book “The Art of Play.” You can preview the book at www.blurb.com/okstore/detail/1980636.

Kelley Hungerford/Editor in chief
Kelley Hungerford can be reached at linfieldrevieweditor@gmail.com.

Art student pursues life-long hobby

Senior Caity Halvorson, an art and writing student from Hot Springs, Mont., has made life-long pasttimes the foundation of her diverse academic interests.

Halvorson is pursuing majors in both creative writing and electronic arts and minors in English, computer science and studio art.

Halvorson said in an email she comes from a family of artists. She has learned from her sister, an artist; her father, a photographer; and her mother, a quilter. Halvorson said she discovered her joy in doodling, crafts and stories.

“I’ve always been interested in stories. Ever since I can remember I have been creating ‘imaginings’ in my head. It just took a while before it occurred to me to write them down,” she said. “I remember teaching my classmates how to draw dragons in kindergarten, and once I got into junior high school, I never went anywhere without my story notebook.”

Halvorson does not limit herself to writing particular genres or using specific artistic mediums. “I write [and] make whatever appeals to me at the time,” she said. “I like the creative process in whatever form it happens to come in — whether with words, pixels or hands-on materials, I’ll probably enjoy working with it.”

Halvorson will work primarily with electronic formats for her senior thesis. She said she generally writes in areas of fantasy, science fiction and surreal fiction. Among the different art forms, Halvorson prefers the art of writing.

Professor of English Lex Runciman has noticed Halvorson’s passion for writing.

“In a Caity Halvorson poem, a sentence can sweep across lines and stanza breaks, making for larger effects than those available to prose. And she brings to her work the best sort of writer’s ambition. She wants to push her language and imagination toward those recognitions, those truths, beyond the mundane, beyond the clichéd,” Runciman said in an email.

Not only does Halvorson occupy herself with what one might consider “artsy,” such as reading books, writing and attending plays, she also enjoys gaming, martial arts, fencing, karate and bellydancing. Halvorson is the president of Linfield’s Fencing Club.
In the future, Halvorson plans to produce freelance work on top of a currently undetermined day job. She has applied for Fulbright grant to study and write while living in Romania.

Michele Wong/For the Review
Michele Wong can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com

Oregon poet combines life, music and verse

(Top) Starck performs a reprise of his poetry April 7 in the Nicholson Library. Katie Paysinger/Senior photographer

(Top) Starck performs a reprise of his poetry April 7 in the Nicholson Library. Katie Paysinger/Senior photographer

An audience of Linfield students, faculty and staff welcomed a performance by poet Clem Starck and musicians Jon Broderick and Jay Speakman on April 7.

The event was co-sponsored by the Theatre and Communication Arts Department, the Department of English and Nicholson Library and took place at 7:30 p.m. in the Austin Reading Room in the Nicholson Library.

Starck has made his living as a carpenter and construction foreman. He has also worked as a ranch hand in Eastern Oregon, a merchant seaman, a newspaper reporter on Wall Street and a door-to-door salesman.

“I write about my life, my experience, what it is to be alive on the planet, what that means, what I’ve seen and experienced,” Starck said.

The poems that Starck read ranged in topic from fixing a car to contemplating a name written in a still-wet sidewalk in 1917. His imagery of machines and construction conveyed the themes of work and rest.

The accompanying music set the mood of each poem. Along with the guitar and the harmonica, the musicians played a few novel instruments such as an iron triangle, wind chimes, a typewriter and the wet rim of a wineglass.

Starck began writing at age 21, although he was always interested in writing. He says he started writing poetry because it seemed easier than writing a novel.

“I was always a bit of a bookworm as a kid,” he said. “I loved to read, and thought I would like to write. I thought maybe I could use poetry as a stepping-stone to writing novels. But I got hooked on poetry, and I’ve been writing poetry for over 50 years.”

His collection of work, “Journeyman’s Wages,” won the Oregon Book Award and the William Stafford Memorial Poetry Award. He is the author of four books of poetry.

He said he does not have any background as a musician and normally does solo poetry readings. Combining poetry and music in this fashion is an unusual event for him, he said.

“I got to know Jon Broderick and Jay Speakman at a gathering in Astoria for fisherman poets, poets who write about work, like I do. We decided to make a CD, and it turned out pretty well, so we did a live performance on the coast last year,” Starck said.

Brenda DeVore Marshall, department chair and professor of Theatre and Communication Arts, was in the audience during the performance. She asked the trio to perform at Linfield — an ironic coincidence considering the fact that Starck and Broderick first met on the Linfield campus during a weekend convocation for high school students.

“Jon Broderick saw that my poems were about carpentry and about working. He knew a lot of fishermen who also wrote about work, and he more or less set up the Fisher Poets in Astoria. So performing at Linfield feels like I’ve come full circle,” Starck said.

Sharon Gollery/For the Review
Sharon Gollery can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com.

‘Shoegazer’ trips, falls flat on its face

Dismal. That’s really the only word to describe this year’s music offerings.

Disappointing works, too, I suppose. The year 2011 has heralded a new decade of music, and things are looking grim. Simple, mind-blowingly self-involved and wasteful, this sort of music, which is slowly becoming mainstream, has been paraded about for years. Only now it seems the scarcity of real talent has increased and even independent artists are jumping on the bandwagon.

This week’s album for review, “Shoegazer” by Alfred John, is a perfect example of the resounding lack of vision and tepid success of this year’s music.

Leader of the one-man band, John seems to be nursing a bit of an ’80s fetish, something made glaringly evident in his music, which echoes that same signature synth and keyboard that was integral to the glitzy and melodramatic sound of the period.

The ’80s, with its big hair and overwhelming lack of truly decent music, make the decade’s eventual revival dreaded. It is best to nip this in the bud and make it emphatically clear that any music which attempts to capture the ‘80s era is simply 20-some years too late.

Opening the album is “Hold Your Light On Me,” a song which somehow manages to capture the desperate trappings of this album in one horrific piece. The song teases with a promising beginning and sounds like agreeable background music for all of 22 seconds, at which point the horribly out-of-tune vocals ruin the entire experience and betray the listener. This out-of-tune theme carries throughout the entire album.

Although there are rare instances when vocals are spot-on in pitch, they are all over the place; only vaguely following the
tempo of a song. It’s unfortunately crippling for “Shoegazer,” for even though the melody bounds forward eager and spry, the
disjointed harmony of those ridiculous vocal effects saddles them with a depressive weight.

Everything about this album harkens back to a time best forgotten with even the title of the album: “Shoegazer.” It seems to attempt to set itself apart by being named after a subgenre of a subgenre which never really caught on.

While this music may prove popular with trendy, vegan hipsters, let’s be realistic. Anyone forced to take three bowel movements a day because of diet has to have developed a marked ability to deny that shit stinks.

Finally, clocking in at well over an hour, it takes dedication to listen to every track of “Shoegazer,” especially if you notice the off-key vocals.

With its laconic lyrics, ’80s obsession and a vocal disharmony that makes ears bleed, “Shoegazer” is an album
better suited for the trash can than the review rack.

Eric Tompkins/KSLC 90.3
Eric Tompkins can be reached at kslcmusic@gmail.com.

Authors offer story-writing techniques

A Eugene-based journalist and a Linfield alumnus shared insights into their recent books during individual author readings at the Nicholson Library.

The James Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon, Peter Laufer, discussed concepts in investigative journalism and introduced his non-fiction trilogy during an event March 17.

Laufer’s trilogy explores the concepts of animal use and abuse through stories about butterflies, exotic pets their owners, and cock- fighting.

He answered questions and discussed information gathering techniques about “The Dangerous World of Butterflies,” the first book in his trilogy.

“It’s a book about butterfly collecting — from true crime and poaching to heated debates between butterfly conservationists and butterfly farmers,” Laufer said.

Laufer said that the subject matter of his trilogy, which uncovers uncomfortable material, such as animal abuse, made it difficult to reach sources who weren’t willing to be candid and exposed in an interview setting.

“Part of the art of journalism is to get information,” Laufer said. “It’s almost a process of seduction to get an unwilling source to share information.”

Laufer shared information gathering techniques, such as building trustworthy reputations with sources and asking them questions about themselves.

“I never lie to sources about who I am or how I’ll use the information they give me, but I don’t always reveal it unless I’m asked,” he said.

Laufer also gave the audience insight into his writing process and how he builds a story from an initial idea.

He said that he began writing “The Dangerous World of Butterflies” after being invited to a butterfly reserve in Nicaragua.

“After going to the butterfly reserve and hearing them talk about the poaching that goes on in the butterfly world, I started to realize there was a story,” Laufer said. “So I found problems and then talked to people who were creating and solving those problems.”

Laufer stressed the importance of being curious about the world and constantly asking questions.

“Be careful, because once you’re a journalist, you’ll never stop being a journalist,” he said.

Michael Huntsberger, assistant professor of mass communication, said that he enjoyed hearing about Laufer’s story-building process.

“It’s always a different experience for each journalist,” Huntsberger said. “I like to hear people talk about how they find elements in a story and the research that goes into specific stories. It’s gratifying to hear someone articulate what they do.”

Junior Michael Sanchez said that he was encouraged by Laufer’s work and the exhortation to constantly question things in life.

“[Laufer] reminded us that we should always be curious,” Sanchez said. “It’s part of our job when we want to be a voice for others.”

Laurel Adams, class of ’59, read excerpts from his debut novel “Two Boys” on March 15.

Adams’ novel blends his own life experiences, history and a web of his daydreams into a coming-of-age story about two Oregonian boys during the Great Depression.

During the event, Adams read selected excerpts of the novel, ranging from the characters’ exploration of each other’s religious and cultural backgrounds to sports and hunting segments, to letters back and forth from home to the military front during World War II.

Adams said that McMinnville was the inspiration for the setting and the characters were products of his own life experiences and his imagination.

“I’ve always spent a lot of time dreaming,” Adams said. “Whenever I’m mowing the lawn or raking leaves or loading the dishwasher, my mind is always creating stories.”

Joanna Peterson/Culture editor
Joanna Peterson can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com.