Photography students share their portfolios and what is important to them as artists

By Lydia Velazquez

Advanced photography studio students presented their portfolios at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art on Wednesday, gaining the important experience of presenting their work in a professional setting.

“In any event, you will have to have the ability to talk about it, conceptualize the work” said Carsten Meier, Utah State photography professor, about the need to be able to talk about one’s art.

After reaching out to NEHMA’s director Katie Lee-Koven, Meier was able to book a room and time for his students to present their portfolios. Meier views NEHMA as the “ideal location” to practice presenting, as it is a more professional setting compared to presenting in a classroom.

Photography students Alise King, Alexa Okerlund, and Chantelle McCall prepared and presented slides of both completed series of theirs as well as works in progress and discussed themes in their photography and their sources of inspiration.

“Art isn’t quite widely taken as something important,” junior Chantelle McCall said. “For us to be able to stand up here and speak to people whom may not understand and to say ‘yeah, we’re not just doing this shit for fun, we actually have a reason and we actually want change,’ I think that’s really beneficial for us.”

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Student organized town hall focuses on making known resources that the university offers

By Lydia Velazquez

The Caine College of the Arts held a town hall meeting today at noon entitled “Rights and Resources,” the first town hall to have been organized by the CCA council.

Normally town halls happen on an as needed basis and are organized by department heads to address specific issues or concerns within departments.

During a council meeting, there was discussion about being unsure how to report violations that either fall under Title IX or are academic violations. This discussion gave Academic Senator Sierra Wise the idea to have a town hall that would educate students on what resources are available to them and who to contact about what kinds of concerns.

“Communication is really crucial in any discipline, but I think especially where we are right now,” Wise said. “It’s really important students know what their resources are.”

The town hall had tables with representatives from Utah State’s Affirmative Action and Title IX office, Student Health Services, Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information, and Counseling and Psychological Services. There was also a panel comprised of Vice President for Student Affairs James Morales, Student Advocate Vice President Samuel Jackson and Prevention Specialist for the Affirmative Action Office Emmalee Fishburn.

Morales emphasized how important it is that if something happens that students “go somewhere” and talk to someone, whether that be himself or another trusted member of faculty. He further explained the importance of ensuring that concerns are made known and that students are provided the necessary help to navigate whatever process may be needed to reach a solution.

“There’s great support at all levels of the university for speaking up,” Nicholas Morrison, executive associate dean of the college, said.

Utah State students are working to change the music industry

By Lydia Velazquez

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Prodigy, the idea of Huntsman School of Business students Chase Roper and Michael Crane, is a new music streaming application that will focus on helping small artists succeed. The beta version of the app will be in trial in January and the full version will be available in the spring.

The app will combine aspects of SoundCloud and Spotify — listeners and artists will be able to have profiles, share music, and make playlists. There will be a newsfeed in which users can see who they’re following is listening to and a trending feed to see what music is trending, or very popular at the moment. Prodigy’s trending music will be determined by “hits,” or likes, rather than number of streams like other services.

“Usually, trending algorithms are based off of someone listens to your song for a certain amount of time,” said Roper, Prodigy’s chief executive officer. “By giving a hit to someone, you have to listen to the song and then you have to click and give it a hit and the algorithm is based of how many hits you have, not how many listens.”

Artists will also have a geolocation on their profile, allowing users to search artists by name as well as location. This will allow users to find local artists in the area.

“We’re basically becoming a manager for the masses,” Roper said. “If you were to have a personal manager, he would be looking for places for you to get exposure, looking for places for you to be able to grow your brand and everything like that. Through our algorithms, we’re giving them exposure.”

The app’s team is currently on the small side, but team members said they have a passion for improving the music industry.

“It’s important for artists with talent to get recognized regardless of the money they may or may not have,” said Ari Romo-Gonzalez, Prodigy’s talent searcher. “Prodigy is truly for the artist. It’s about time local talent gets their big break.”

Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art’s continuation of Museum and Music series, focusing on music and art in the West

By Lydia Velazquez

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The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art will be hosting the latest installment of its Museum and Music series, “Avant Folk: Reimagining the West in Art and Music,” Thursday at 7 p.m..  

The event will start with a brief presentation by Professor Christopher Scheer, a musicology professor at Utah State and the curator of the Museum and Music series, about the connection between specific pieces of art on display and Avant Folk, a genre that draws inspiration from country and jazz music. There will be a brief intermission during the Lone Prairie Band’s set to allow for attendees to look at the artwork with a new frame of mind.

“We can get people into the museum that may not otherwise come into the museum,” said Kati Lee-Koven, NEHMA’s director, about the importance of events like Museum and Music that bridge understandings. “This gives them the opportunity to learn about both or one or the other, the possible connections we can make between them.”

The Museum and Music series, where live music that connects with the current exhibit is performed, began in 2014 at the same time that Lee-Koven became NEHMA’s director. It all started with “Enchanted Modernities: Mysticism, Landscape & the American West,” the first event at the museum that had a musical component to it. The musical aspect was organized by, then curator, Professor Scheer. Lee-Koven shortly after approached Scheer and asked him to be the curator for a series of concerts that could connect music to art exhibitions.

“Our Avant Folk event is a great example of the way the Museum and Music series invites people to connect with the same idea through different mediums,” said Kat Taylor, the public relations and marketing coordinator for the museum. “Combining old cowboy tunes with jazz music isn’t too different from what we do here at NEHMA. Both are ways to reframe our ideas about the West in a new context, inviting our audience to reach their own conclusions about the art and culture that has shaped the history of the American West.”

Utah State costume design professor’s exhibit is more than just a fashion show

By Lydia Velazquez

Today in the Caine College of the Arts’ Tippets and Eccles galleries, costume design professor Nancy Hills will be holding an opening reception for her exhibit “More Shades of White,” a showcasing of dresses Hills made to reflect the development of women’s fashion over a period of decades.

Hills researched the style of women’s dresses during different times periods as well as studied various patterns made by Janet Arnold, a British clothing historian and costume designer, before making her own patterns. With the help of a few graduate students, the result of Hill’s research was a number of white dresses that each embody a change in style.

During Hills’ sabbatical, 2014 to 2015, she traveled to London and presented her research to the Society of Antiquaries, from which she received the Janet Arnold Award, a grant awarded to further a applicant’s study of the history of dresses and their materials. Hills then took her dresses to Berrington Hall in Herefordshire where they were on display for seven months and then had them on display at the Hereford Museum and Gallery for three.

“I think a lot of times theater is discounted as not as scholarly and I think especially within theater costume spaces there is a lot of, frankly, gender based discrimination. ‘It’s women’s work,’ so people tend not to take it as seriously,” said Spencer Potts, a USU alumnus who helped Hills with the project and a current costume design professor at Westminster College. “What Nancy was doing was showing some serious academic research in the field of costume design and costume history and that was amazing and inspiring as a student to see that happen.”

Hills chose white as the color of the dresses because it is common in costume design to make mockups using white fabric, so there is a sense of familiarity in the work, and so that despite the dresses’ varying styles, there can still be a homogenous feeling to the display.

The first display only had 11 dresses, but Hills eventually added nine more, as to have a larger spectrum to better encapsulate the varying styles and fabrics that existed from the 18th to 25th century. Hills also wanted to show the details in the dresses’ artistry and functionality during their respective time periods.

“I find the story to be fascinating, what each thing tells about their time and their place and the lives of women,” Hills said. “The story it tells utterly fascinated me”

Today’s reception starts at 5 p.m. and the exhibit will be on display through Dec.7.

Utah State remembers World War I with the music that came out of it

By Lydia Velazquez

The American Festival Chorus and the Utah State University Symphony Orchestra will be holding their Veterans Day Memorial concert Sunday in the Daine Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. as a closure to a week full of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

USU held events including a reading of British soldiers’ poetry, a presentation on how World War I affected Utah and a showing of various WWI related films. Most events focused on recognizing the art and writing produced during the war as well as how the war influenced individual approaches to such craft.

One of the major events that happened during the week was “War and the Human Heart,” a multimedia concert that incorporated music, film, and a live reading to provide audience members with as close an experience and understanding as possible to what veterans experienced and felt.

“We read history to understand our past and to hopefully not repeat the same mistakes of the past,” said Craig Jessop, the dean of the arts college and founder of the American Festival Chorus. “A study of the arts helps us to understand our collective past.”

Prior to the concert, Professor Regina Sweeney of Dickinson College gave a presentation titled “Music Goes to War: From Parisian Music Halls to the Trenches of World War I,” discussing and analyzing the music written and performed in France during WW1. The pre-concert talk was an event meant to help audience members enhance their experience, further providing context to an aspect of war that isn’t always given a lot of attention.

“I think to a certain degree, depending on what you’re listening to, music can be incredibly evocative. Especially on an emotional level,” said Sweeney, a history professor. “So in terms of reflecting where we are 100 years later, what the war meant, I think it’s a great thing to sort of  bring it forward so people think about it.”

The intersect of art and politics finds its place at one of Utah State’s on-campus galleries

By Lydia Velazquez

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A political art exhibition on Utah State University’s campus will host an “election watch party” as part of a series of events aimed at encouraging students to be political involved.

The Nov. 6 party, which will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., is the final “town hall” that is part of “Fifty States,” the current exhibition in the Caine College of the Arts’ Tippets and Eccles galleries.

That, in turn, is part of a national project, the For Freedoms initiative, that was co-founded by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman.

The project was brainstormed in 2016 as a way to encourage civic engagement and political discourse as well as to recognize how art is a method of political activism.

“College students are the ones who will shape the future,” said Marissa Vigneault, an art history professor at USU, “and it is our obligation as educators to make sure they are fully engaged, knowledgeable, and aware of the world outside of northern Utah.”

To promote the purpose of the exhibition and further educate citizens about important issues that are on this year’s ballot, there have been town halls held in the gallery space covering a range of topics, from climate change to how local candidates view the humanities.

“Being invested in culture  and participating in culture is how we celebrate our humanity and how we learn as a group,” Utah Cultural Alliance executive Crystal Young-Otterstrom said. “Bringing that into our political experience, where government is overseeing how we exist as a society, how we coexist as a community, putting those boundaries that help us exist, putting the funding together that helps arts and humanities thrive and function makes perfect sense.”

Locations around the country are participating in For Freedoms in different ways.

USU’s contribution, designed by two graphic design students, is an art exhibition highlighting free speech. In the galleries there are various posters as well as a video on loop showing LGBTQ pop artist Keith Haring, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., and student activist Emma Gonzalez, among others, demonstrating their freedoms.

The exhibition is interactive — there are small pads of paper for individuals to write their thoughts about political issues, and tape to stick the notes to one of the gallery’s walls.

There is also an iPad for visitors to check if they are registered to vote.