Christopher Swan, Geography and Environmental Systems, Discusses Maryland Green Prisons Initiative in the Baltimore Sun

Christopher Swan, an associate professor of geography and environmental systems, is leading the Maryland Green Prisons Initiative, which was launched in partnership with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Baltimore Office of Sustainability and other local collaborators. As part of the program, Swan works with inmates at the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore to spruce up and test wildflowers and grasses in vacant West Baltimore lots.

Swan was recently interviewed in the Baltimore Sun about the initiative. “One of the goals of the project is to bring nature into the prison,” he said. “Cities all over the place are having a problem with vacant land and what to do with it. The Baltimore Office of Sustainability has goals and we try to help them meet them by having inmates help out as a human resource in order to make that happen.”

Swan also noted the initiative will likely beautify two dozen vacant lots and said about 14,000 vacant lots exist in the city. To view a video about the project, including information on the “Portrait Garden,” by Lynn Cazabon, an associate professor of visual arts, see below. To read more about the project, click here.

Faculty and Alumni Recognized by Maryland State Arts Council

15365064460_649cdd1abb_zA number of UMBC faculty members and alumni received 2015 Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council. The Maryland State Arts Council awards grants to individual artists and non-profit organizations for arts programming, projects, and assistance.

Timothy Nohe, visual arts, was recognized in the non-classical music composition category, while Susan McCully, theatre, and Mark Squirek ’91, history, were honored in the playwriting category. Ben Marcin ’80, economics, and Jaimes Mayhew ’10 M.F.A., imaging and digital arts, received awards in the photography category.

Click here to see the complete list of winners.

Preminda Jacob, Visual Arts, Examines Visual Culture and Indian Politics in Scroll

When J Jayalalithaa, a film star turned prominent politician, was convicted of charges involving financial assets, her supporters in the state of Tamil Nadu responded to the verdict by creating billboards and posters representing their feelings of anger and loss. Preminda Jacob, visual arts, spoke to Scroll about the historic connections between cinema and state politics in Tamil Nadu. 

Jacob focused on how Jayalalithaa used images to promote her political career and connect with supporters. “Over the space of half century the population has been very adept on how to read these images,” she said.

Jacob is the author of Celluloid Deities: The Visual Culture of Cinema and Politics in South India.

Click here to read “How Jayalalithaa used posters to transform herself from a film star into the Amma of Tamil Nadu” in Scroll.

Neja Tomšič, Visiting Artist Lecture (10/15)

tumblr_mklmvb2Tzj1s803lqo1_1280The Department of Visual Arts presents a lecture by artist-in-residence Neja Tomšič on Wednesday, October 15 at 12:00 p.m. in Room 132, Performing Arts and Humanities Building.

Tomšič is a visual artist and writer from Ljubljana, Slovenia. Since graduating from the painting department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, she has been part of individual and group exhibitions for drawing and media, performing and publishing poetry and prose, among others. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy and Theory of Visual Culture at the University of Primorska, researching documentary cinema and related practices in the contemporary art context. She is the manager and editor of the ArtistTalk project.

Tomšič will be in residence in UMBC’s Department of Visual Arts for five weeks this fall, from October 9 until November 12. The residency was made possible by CEC ArtsLink. ArtsLink Residencies offer artists and arts managers from 37 overseas countries five-week residencies at non-profit arts organizations throughout the United States. The program enables artists and communities across the U.S. to share artistic practices with artists and arts managers from abroad and engage in dialogue that advances understanding across cultures.

Click here for additional information.

Humanities Forum: Mark Tribe: Art is a Three Letter Word (9/18)

Photo credit Collier Schorr

Photo credit Collier Schorr

On Thursday, September 18 at 5:30 p.m. on the 7th floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library, artist Mark Tribe will present the Humanities Forum, “Art is a Three Letter Word.” The forum is part of the Dresher Center’s Digital Humanities Initiative.

Mark Tribe’s work explores the intersection of media technology and politics. His photographs, installations, videos, and performances are exhibited widely, including solo projects at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Momenta Art in New York, the San Diego Museum of Art, and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. He is the author of two books, The Port Huron Project: Reenactments of New Left Protest Speeches and New Media Art and numerous articles. Tribe is Chair of the MFA Fine Arts Department at School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 1996, he founded Rhizome, an organization that supports the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology.

The event is sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Visual Arts Department, and the Center for Innovation, Research, and Creativity in the Arts. For more information, click here.

Visual Arts Welcomes First Long-Term, Artist-in-Residence, Neja Tomšič

imageThe first long-term, artist-in-residence for UMBC’s Department of Visual Arts, hosted by IMDA and the Visiting Artists Lecture Series, is Slovenian artist Neja Tomšič. Tomšič will be in residence for five weeks this fall, from October 9 until November 12. There will be several public events and many opportunities to interact with Neja Tomšič.

Neja Tomšič co-founded the Museum of Transitory Art (MoTA) in 2008 and has been involved in strategic planning, international collaborations and development of an artist residency program. MoTA is a multidisciplinary platform dedicated to the research, production and presentation of transitory, experimental and live art forms. For the past two years Tomšič has also been in charge of MoTA’s educational programming and has developed an online platform, together with various Polish organizations, to archive and share public programs such as artists talks, workshops, discussions and symposia. She hopes to research practices of archiving transitory works and strategies for audience development and engagement.

This residency was made possible by CEC ArtsLink. ArtsLink Residencies offer artists and arts managers from 37 overseas countries five-week residencies at non-profit arts organizations throughout the US. The program enables artists and communities across the US to share artistic practices with artists and arts managers from abroad and engage in dialogue that advances understanding across cultures.

Please contact Lisa Moren, Visual Arts, for more information on exchanges with her this fall.

Lynn Cazabon, Visual Arts, Receives Fulbright Teaching Award

Associate Professor Lynn Cazabon, Visual Arts, has received a Fulbright Teaching Award to work at Leipaja University for the Spring 2015 semester.

Leipaja University is in Leipaja, Latvia, a city of 75,00 located in the western part of the country on the Baltic Sea. Cazabon says her “project proposal is to develop and teach classes centered on Photography and Public Art in their New Media Arts Program. I will also pursue a project of my own focused on local traditions centered on mushroom harvesting as they connect to country-wide environmental conservation policies.”