Seniors-to-Seniors Event Was Captivating!
Three dozen LLI members were held captive by five graduating Bard students. That should be the headline for the Bard Seniors-to-Seniors Zoom event April 6. The two-hour event in which students presented the senior projects Bard LLI had helped fund was that engrossing. Every year, LLI donates several thousand dollars in memory of Dean Stuart Stritzler-Levine to help graduating students finance their senior projects. In normal times, the event is held as a tea where we seniors ply the Bard seniors with brownies and pastries and learn about their work. In this pandemic year, the event was held on Zoom and the brownies and pastries were supplanted by a gift basket delivered to each of the students.
David Schein, Dean of Studies at Bard, and Nanci Kryzak, our LLI President, opened the meeting remembering how Dean Stritzler-Levine loved the program. “It was really his favorite.” After a welcome from Nanci, the floor was quickly ceded to the students.
Temple of Dendur in History
Conrad Clemens, a Middle Eastern studies major, created a podcast that examines the Temple of Dendur installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, in its many historical, political, and cultural implications. What is it doing at the Met? How was it removed from its home in Egypt? What stories are not told? Conrad said he chose the subject because he wanted to explore America’s relationship with Egypt. This ancient temple was endangered when the construction of the Aswan Dam threatened to submerge many cultural artifacts. Egyptian President Nasser and UNESCO organized the removal of many artifacts that would be lost when the dam was completed. The funding associated with the dam and the cultural removals became a cold war football with the USSR funding the dam and the United States funding the archaeological “rescue.” Lost in this public relations battle was the voice of the Nubian people displaced by the dam as well as their primacy in Egypt’s ancient history. Installed in the Sackler Wing of the Met, the Temple itself is treated as oriental exotica, a background for John Kerry to talk about airstrikes in Syria, and a die-in staged to draw attention to Sackler’s role in the opioid crisis. Clemens asks if we can see how settler colonialism pervades this history.
Women Senators in Albany
Charlotte Geisler is a major in global and international studies. She is working on a short documentary that explores the challenges of gender discrimination faced by women in the New York State Senate. She has interviewed six women, asking them a variety of questions: how they became involved in politics, what were the challenges in running, did they favor gender quotas as a solution to the underrepresentation of women, what is their worst nightmare, how can women become fearless? The film is framed as the story of a young woman lost in the woods who finds a phone, picks it up, and begins talking to the senators. Asked where we could see the movie, Charlotte said she expects to share it on Vimeo.
Black Portraits and Identity
Chris Minter, a studio arts major, is focused on Africana studies. He created a collection of paintings entitled “Primary Colors (A Beacon of Light)—Black Future Is Now.” These are stunning portraits clothed in bright primary colors. “In my paintings, I capture an image in a moment in time, while adding my perspective to the image’s future which embodies Black joy, Black creativity, and Black confidence.” Chris was chosen for a summer fellowship at the Philadelphia Museum of Art— the only person of color among the fellows. His extraordinary work was displayed at the Bard College Exhibition Center in Red Hook.
Pitch and Recall
Hadley Parum, a double major in psychology and music, experimented with learning what makes a moment in music uniquely its own or connects it to previously heard works. “Classical musicology,” she said, “relies on analyzing a written version of the music… but we may need to borrow from psychological work to understand what parts of hearing music are essential to forming the identity of the work.” Her project explored the relationships between hearing pitches and recalling words. When her subjects listened to several musical/verbal sequences, those who said they heard the same sound twice definitely recalled more of the associated words but, interestingly, 22% of the time, even those subjects who did not hear any sound said they thought they were hearing the same sound twice.
Complex Installation Art
Isaiah Schwartz, a studio arts major, created an installation called “Unfolding Weightlessness.” This kinetic installation incorporates sound, video, and physical objects. Light, cloth, and video soften the sharpness of the moving structure Isaiah created. He used stop motion video with real actors to create his animations. His installation was exhibited at the Bard College Exhibition Center in Red Hook.
The LLI members at the event found the presentations absolutely fascinating—the subjects, the process of development, and the students’ ways of thinking about them. It was a unique and inspiring opportunity.