Ben Wright ’01 Returns to Campus, Goes Behind the Scenes of ‘Meow Wolf’

By Sarah Senese 23

On Oct. 21, Ben Wright ’01returns to Colorado College to share his experiences working with the artistic collective Meow Wolf. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Wright describes Meow Wolf as “an immersive, interdisciplinary collaboration between a large community of creatives and intellectuals,” connecting visual, auditory, and theatrical arts.

Working as the director for “House of Eternal Return,” Meow Wolf’s first full-scale installation, and as the senior creative lead for the sound team, Wright sees projects from the beginning to the end, aiding in the process of using sound to support new ways of storytelling through immersive arts experiences. Wright will discuss his work with Meow Wolf, various projects and exhibits, and the upcoming installation under construction in Denver.

Meow Wolf uses non-linear composition techniques for sound and interactive installations, a unique arts experience which Wright has had the privilege of working with so closely. The concept development at Meow Wolf always begins with the seed of an idea, necessitating collaboration with others to grow an artistic concept into a dynamic and immersive experience, a process for which Wright says CC has prepared him greatly. For Wright, Meow Wolf is directly “applicable to the CC culture in that it crosses all these boundaries between different areas of expertise including tech and sound, stage design, theatrical and performative elements.” The collaborative and community-based skills established at CC hit close to home for Wright, reminding him of the Department of Music and the feedback he received from professors and peers, specifically.

Wright presents on Oct. 21, in Cornerstone 130 at 7 p.m.; the event is open to the public and all students are encouraged to attend. Learn about Wright’s work with the collective, both the creative process and musically, and how he took his Colorado College experience and turned it into a career, utilizing CC’s creative community and engaging deeply with other artists. For Wright, his liberal arts education defines how he approaches problems and collaborates with others, “there’s strength in numbers here at Colorado College, and a great potential for success in every student.”

Get to Know: Kyle Cunningham, New General Manager of KRCC

By Miriam Brown ’21

Kyle Cunningham was named KRCC’s new general manager in September. But he’s not new to KRCC, or to public media, or even to the general manager position.

Cunningham says that “people kind of just fall into public media,” and he was no exception. While studying at Oklahoma State University for his bachelor’s degree in English, he started working at KOSU, the university’s public radio station. After graduation, he started working for KOSU full-time, eventually moving to KRCC to serve as membership manager in 2016, and the interim general manager in January.

“The history of our region, I think it’s very rich, and the idea that I could serve that community in a greater capacity as general manager is something that really appealed to me,” he said. “And I was just having a lot of fun being interim general manager, so I figured, well why not go for the job and see if I can do this?”

For Cunningham, Colorado Springs has been a special place to work and live. He loves being able to take his three dogs on hikes, exploring Old Colorado City with his wife, and meeting a unique mix of residents with adventurous spirits and “can-do” attitudes. He says he feels the energy and growth of Colorado Springs, and he thinks KRCC, as a public media organization, is best poised to match that growth.

“There’s plenty of awesome news outlets out there that do a good job, but I really think that public media stands alone in the sense that it is … truly nonpartisan and really strives to be that space for everyone,” he said. “We bring stories, human stories, stories of our own community, and I’ve always liked that.”

As general manager, he hopes to see KRCC grow in staff, in coverage, and in its ability to reflect the community and meet its needs. As for his goals for himself, he hopes to be at KRCC for a “very long time.”

“I’m incredibly lucky to be where I’m at right now,” Cunningham said. “I’m happy to be part of the Colorado College community, the KRCC community … I’m hoping that I can give back to this community in the same way it’s given so much to me so far.”

To support KRCC, those interested can tune in at 91.5 FM, read news at krcc.org, and donate at krcc.org. Students interested in internships can contact Managing Editor Andrea Chalfin at achalfin@krcc.org.

Thomas Evans’ ‘Detour’ Connects Music and Art

By Emma Holinko-Brossman ’20

Thomas “Detour” Evans, a Denver-based muralist, focuses on the connection of music and fine arts through traditional methods and technology. He  looks to break down barriers when creating his art so the viewer can become engulfed and understand his message.

“Detour” is Evans’ current installation at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. His installation at the Fine Arts Centerwill be on display now through Dec. 8. “Detour” is a duel interactive piece that allows people to create sounds through the two string installations. These sounds can be changed remotely by him. Evans says he hopes to bring something new to a space, create new conversations, and individualize experiences. The use of multimedia for him evokes different feelings. “The sound is another brushstroke.”

Around Denver, Evans creates many portrait-based murals. These colorful and moving murals capture the spirit and diversity of the city through a singular face to be seen by the masses. The color aspect is not lost in his interactive installation; the background is painted to bring the feeling of two abstract mountain ranges forming one.

Evans did not start out on the path to become an artist. He has a background in business from University of Colorado-Denver with a focus on advertising. After traveling, he moved into becoming a full-time artist. He says interactive installations are interesting to him since he is able to use technology to create new layers into his artistic pursuit.

The artist and his work have been featured by CNN, numerous digital and print publications, radio and television outlets, and most recently, on the Netflix show: “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman,” for which Evans painted two portraits, one of  Letterman and one of guest artist Jay-Z.

Award-Winning Poet Dominique Christina to Perform at CC

By Miriam Brown ’21

Dominique Christina has performed her poetry for National Poetry Slam Championships, TEDx stages, YouTube videos with thousands of hits, and conferences across the country. Next Monday, she will add Colorado College to the list.

Christina is an award-winning writer, educator, and activist who has written and performed poems broaching topics such as police brutality and menstruation. On Oct. 7, Christina will perform in Kathryn Mohrman Theatre with SpeakEasy, CC’s spoken word troupe, and Poetry 719, a Colorado Springs-based group, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Montana Bass ’18, health education paraprofessional at the Wellness Resource Center, says the WRC sponsors ongoing programming throughout the month, but this performance is probably their biggest event.

Last year, they hosted spoken word poet Olivia Gatwood as part of their Domestic Violence Awareness Month events. This year, they’re also collaborating with the Student Title IX Assistance and Resource Team to follow the performance by providing relevant resources available to community members.

“I [hope] that students and community members who attend the event … develop a better understanding of the dynamics in intimate partner violence of power and control and the way that that is related to systems of oppression and other forms of identity-based violence,” Bass says. “I think Dominique is going to be really wonderful at drawing those topics together.”

Christina will perform on Monday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. in Kathryn Mohrman Theatre in Armstrong Hall. She will also be holding two workshops open to the CC community on Tuesday, Oct. 8: “Ally’s a Bad Word” at 12:15 p.m. in Sacred Grounds, and a writing workshop at 4 p.m. in the Cornerstone Flex Room.

Students Partner With Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission for Archival Project

By Miriam Brown ’21

For the next three months, Arielle Gordon ’21 will be sorting through crates of documents in the Collaborative for Community Engagement’s basement.

“I’m excited,” she says. “I don’t know what sort of hidden gems we have.

The crates contain memos from meetings, newspaper clippings, undated photographs, and other documents belonging to the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for issues of peace, justice, and sustainability. In celebration of the organization’s 40th anniversary, Gordon will be working with other CC students to read, organize, preserve, and share 40 years of archived documents with the community.

Gordon is a member of the Community Engaged Leaders program, a three-year program designed by the CCE to integrate civic leadership into students’ everyday lives, and this project will serve as one of the final pieces of the program — her capstone project.

But for Gordon, the project is more than a short-term project. She hopes that students will not only use this project as an opportunity to engage others about the work and history of the PPJPC, but also use it as a starting point for many future collaborations with the PPJPC.

“It’s important to help a community partner that’s done so much for the Springs … [and] to give students who are interested in history or some sort of social work the opportunity to engage with a community partner,” Gordon says.

Students interested in the PPJPC archival project can contact Gordon at a_gordon@coloradocollege.edu.

35 Years of FOOT: First-Year Students Embark on Annual Backpacking Trips

FOOT Trip

By Miriam Brown ’21

Emma Gorsuch ’21spent her first block break at Colorado College backpacking with other first-year students on a First Year Outdoor Orientation Trip. And this year during the first block break, as a junior she returned as a trip leader.

The CC FOOT program started in 1984 and has been sending out trips during the first block break, between Blocks 1 and 2 every year since. Trips are led by upper-class students who are certified through the Office of Outdoor Education and are open to first-years of any experience level.

This year, 57 first-year students participated in eight trips to destinations around Colorado such as the Lost Creek Wilderness, the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Holy Cross Wilderness, Pike National Forest, and San Isabel National Forest.

Gorsuch and Kadin Mangalik ’20led eight first-year students through Buffalo Peaks Wilderness near South Park, Colorado. They hiked, meditated, ate meals together, shared life stories, and played get-to-know-you games like Hotseat. While on their way back to campus at the end, Gorsuch and Mangalik took a detour to Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival to show the first-year participants that there’s more to do in Colorado then hiking.

For Gorsuch, the students were the best part of the trip. She says she was impressed by the first-years’ openness in sharing their stories, respectfulness toward each other, and kindness about mistakes. She says the trip renewed her excitement “about CC and what CC can be,” and she hopes that the participants view her as a friend and a resource, whether to give advice on classes or drive them to King Soopers when they need groceries.

“I hope for them they got some sense of having a friend or someone to turn to within their class as well as in the upper class because I think it’s really easy to feel lonely as a first year,” Gorsuch said. “And also a sense that CC’s not as overwhelming and scary as it perhaps seems at first… even the older students don’t have it all together and that’s okay.”

CC Bluegrass Ensemble to Play at Exclusive Urban Festival

CC Bluegrass Ensemble

By Miriam Brown ’21

The International Bluegrass Music Association claims its Wide Open Bluegrass Festival is the largest free urban bluegrass festival in the world. This year, the lineup includes artists such as I’m With Her, Balsam Range, Doyle Lawson, and Quicksilver — and the Colorado College Bluegrass Ensemble.

The CC Bluegrass Ensemble is one of three groups designed to give CC students the opportunity “to develop material with the feel and structure of bluegrass music,” according to its website. Led by bluegrass program director Keith Reed, the group is audition-only and performs regularly at shows around Colorado.

The ensemble’s invitation to perform at the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival puts them on a line-up among a range of “all-star musicians,” says Camille Newsom ’20, who has been playing with the ensemble since last spring. The festival, which will take place from Sept. 27–28, in Raleigh, North Carolina, is part of IBMA’s “World of Bluegrass” week. Last year, the week’s events drew nearly a quarter million attendees.

The ensemble performing at the festival includes Newsom, Hub Hejna ’21, Ethan Hall ’21,Helen Lenski ’22, and Ada Bowles ’21. They all take lessons from Reed and practice on their own to learn songs; for performances like this, the group practices together many times a week.

“I am excited to play with this new group and develop our sound as a band,” Newsom says. “We all have a lot of fun playing together and over the course of the year have the opportunity to play lots of shows around the state. It is really exciting to be able to play at the IBMA festival because there will be many incredible musicians at the festival who are role models for us.”

The ensemble has played a few gigs locally in an effort to refine its set list for the festival. Hejna says the IBMA event “is a great chance for us to take what we’ve been working on and see how it’s received in one of the biggest bluegrass hotbeds in the U.S. Not only do we get to play a set at the same festival as some of bluegrass’s finest, but we will also be able to study the way professional musicians operate both on-stage and off and immerse ourselves in the deep-rooted culture of bluegrass music.”

Fit 4 Life: Fitness Center Offers Class For Retirees

Fit4Life

By Miriam Brown ’21

The oldest participants in Fitness Center Coordinator Wes Kosel’s “Fit 4 Life” class are in their 90s. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Kosel leads them in full-body workouts complete with everything from cardio intervals to strength exercises.

Chris Starr, director of recreation and the Fitness Center, and Brad Raines, previous Fitness Center coordinator, started the Fit 4 Life program in October 2018 as a way to give CC retirees and their partners a sustainable fitness plan. When Raines left in early 2019, Kosel took over and he’s been leading the class ever since.

The program focuses on four areas: Functional fitness, strength, endurance, and balance. Classes last for 30-45 minutes and usually involve a dynamic warm-up and three to four strength exercises. They may also include cardio, stretching, balance, and core work. Workouts are catered to the retirees’ skills, fitness level, and injury history.

The class not only helps retirees maintain a healthy fitness routine, but it also has social benefits. Kosel says they all recently met at a member’s home for a “coffee and pastry” party, and the participants have their own t-shirts with the class logo that they proudly wear to classes.

“I have had many of the participants tell me how much easier it is for them to do a household chore, or to go out and run, or just to walk since they have been coming to class,” Kosel says. “They are eager to learn, work hard, and are always in a good mood. I hope that the positive benefits spread through the retirees to other groups they are a part of.”

The Fit 4 Life program is offered Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 10 a.m. in the Adam F. Press Fitness Center.

Colorado College Partners With PikeRide

Pike Ride

By Miriam Brown ’21

No car? No problem.

The Colorado College Office of Sustainability just announced a partnership with PikeRide that will give some students free access to the bike-sharing service. PikeRide bikes typically cost $1 to unlock and $0.10 per minute to ride, but for any CC students with demonstrated financial need, the fee to ride will be waived. And, all other students, faculty, and staff get a discounted rate of $99 to ride up to 80 minutes every day for the entire academic year.

For Mae Rohrbach, paraprofessional in the Office of Sustainability, the benefits of this partnership are threefold: It ensures that students, staff, and faculty have equal access to alternative transportation; it encourages the use of a more sustainable transportation that does not release carbon emissions while riding; and it works with downtown Colorado Springs to make the city more walk- and bike-friendly.

“Colorado College saw an opportunity provided through the Downtown Partnership roughly four years ago, and here we are today with the introduction of the new electric-assist bikes and a possible expansion of PikeRide service on the horizon,” says Rohrbach.

Another Locale for Wooglin’s

WooglinsNorth

Wooglin’s Deli will soon open its second location in northeast Colorado Springs. The eatery, which has been a fixture at 823 N. Tejon St. for nearly 30 years, plans to open another location near the corner of Barnes Road and Oro Blanco Drive by the end of the year. In the proposed site plans, the deli would also occupy a prominent spot next to the new Robson Arena.

“Our goal has always been to be 100 percent in tune with what students need and what they want. And of course the general public, but CC is our primary audience and customer,” says Todd Renz, Wooglin’s manager.

Renz says he plans to close the Tejon location in late November, when students leave for Thanksgiving break, and have the new location at Barnes up and running by mid-December. “We’ll need to have some flexibility with inspections and equipment installations,” he says.

Renz says he’s “excited but nervous” about the changes coming to the neighborhood with Robson Area. “We are doing as much of the work as we can to get ready before moving time. After 18 years in one [location], it’s exciting to have the additional space.”

The eatery will be open at just one location when the Robson Arena construction gets underway. Wooglin’s aims to be in a new space near the arena when it opens, and Renz says the Barnes location will stay open as a second location.

“I’m really proud of the fact that we have a clientele that are dedicated and regular,” says Renz, and he’s looking forward to the “preexisting customer base,” joining Wooglin’s. “Ultimately, two years from now, everyone’s going to be better off and, in the meantime, the second location is going to be a great anchor location once it takes off, too.”