Posts in: Around Campus
By Leslie Weddell
Albert Einstein once said “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
Imagination certainly is on display at the Colorado College Children’s Center, its hallways an amazing preview of the creativity and ingenuity the preschoolers are developing.
Exhibited in the front hall of the Children’s Center is a “Preschool Fine Art Museum” featuring Monets, Chihulys, Klimts, Warhols, and others – or at least a preschool interpretation of the masters. Recycled water bottles, painted with watercolors and permanent markers and fastened to a chicken wire base, make a striking Chihuly hanging sculpture. Another Chihuly rendition is created from melted plastic Solo cups, painted and glued to driftwood. And a third Chihuly sculpture – Chihuly being a favorite of the young students – is created from painted coffee filters strung together.
Credit much of the behind-the-scenes work to Gina Thompson, an early childhood educator at the Children’s Center, who did a lot of the melting, gluing, stringing, and fastening of artwork to chicken wire.
“It was a kid-driven project,” says Thompson, who works with students in the kindergarten readiness program. A recent theme in the class was artists and their art. After spending time studying and researching various artists, Thompson and others at the Children’s Center, including CC student volunteers, took the preschoolers on a field trip this summer to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, only a few blocks away. “It’s so wonderful that it’s within walking distance,” Thompson says.
“The kids were really inspired when they saw many of the artists we had studied there,” Thompson says. “It really sparked their imagination and they were incredibly enthusiastic about learning more.”
Prior to their trip, and the students examined books with pictures of the artists’ work and read children’s books about the artists’ lives. They studied Monet, noting that many of his paintings featured gardens and bridges. They studied the Klimt cats, observing the geometric shapes, how the cats sit with their tails positioned behind them, and how Klimt’s works are highlighted with gold.
They looked at Van Gogh’s works, and made their own swirling “Starry Nights.” Cubism came to life with watercolors on paper as they drew, cut, and formed eyes, nose, mouth, and eyes. They saw paintings of fields of poppies, and then painted their own versions, a series Thompson calls “Poppies in Perspective.”
Throughout the process, Thompson encouraged the students to use the entire paper, to have their artwork take up the whole page and not only a tiny portion of the paper. “That is one of the biggest challenges,” she says. “I also want them to take time and have pride in their work. Once they see what they can accomplish with the techniques, mediums, and color combinations they experiment with, the kids get so motivated to create more and take chances.”
The art and artist “block” is over now, and Thompson and her students are moving on to a rockets and space theme. “It’s providing me a chance to get to know my new students and what inspires them,” Thompson says. “Student-inspired lessons are so much more meaningful to the students and it is always fun, as a teacher, to watch the kids get excited about their learning. I can’t wait to see where their imaginations take them on this.”
The whole community is invited to find out more about the CC-Fine Arts Center alliance at upcoming listening sessions: Thursday, Sept. 8, 7:30-9 a.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room; Wednesday, Sept. 14, 4:30-6 p.m., CC’s Packard Performance Hall; or Monday, Sept. 26, 7-8:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room. Learn about the strategic planning process.
A new initiative on campus aims to support and welcome refugees, often the most vulnerable members of the community, arriving from all over the world to the Colorado Springs area. The CC Refugee Alliance is a group being co-led by Nicole Tan ’17 and Heather Powell Browne, assistant director of off-campus study.
“As an international student in the U.S, I think I’ve become acutely aware of the different privileges we have when we ask to enter a country,” Tan says of her motivation to organize this group. After a semester in Central America, I realized how different my entry into the U.S. was compared to undocumented migrants, who in many cases are also refugees fleeing from severe economic hardship and violence. I think this is what prompted my interest in refugees.”
Powell Browne says a variety of different people across campus were already looking for ways to help with the influx of refugees arriving in the Colorado Springs area. She hosted several volunteer trainings independently and had significant participation from members of the CC community. She says it made clear there was a need to consolidate efforts.
CC has partnered with Lutheran Family Services, an area organization which assembles cultural mentoring teams that “adopt” incoming refugee families and individuals for their first four to six months in the country, allowing CC faculty, staff, and students to add their support in a variety of roles.
“Those teams work best when they are diverse; a mix of faculty, staff, and students,” says Powell Browne. “We all have different capabilities and times we can help mentor and serve. For example, a staff or faculty team member may wish to have the refugee family over to their home one night for a dinner, or help call an elementary school to navigate a problem the parents are having. A student may have more flexibility to tutor ESL in the afternoons, or drive a refugee to a job interview or medical appointment.”
She says there are plenty of opportunities for individuals, student groups, athletics teams, and others to work with refugee kids after school, or to organize a one-time household goods drive of items needed to furnish refugees’ apartments when they arrive in a new country, often with nothing. “Everyone has their strengths and I hope that the CC Refugee Alliance will give us a space to work together to support these vulnerable people fleeing oppression,” she says.
Tan says she also hopes the group will start to put faces to the abstract idea of refugees. “Unless we intentionally seek these interactions, it’s very unlikely that we will come across refugees in our day to day lives,” she says. “I’d like to see CC step forwards to welcome refugees into our community.”
If you would like to learn more about how you can be involved in the CC Refugee Alliance, attend an information session next Friday, Sept. 16, from noon-1:30 p.m. at Sacred Grounds in the basement of Shove Memorial Chapel. Opportunities exist for ongoing cultural mentoring teams, one-time service projects and supply drives, English as a Second Language tutoring and language translation, help setting up apartments for new arrivals, resume proofreading and interview prep, and more.
Start your Thursday with coffee and a light breakfast as you learn more about the CC-FAC alliance at a listening session tomorrow, Sept. 8, 7:30-9 a.m. in the Fine Arts Center Music Room.
This is your opportunity to share input about a new future between CC and the Fine Arts Center. There are also two more listening sessions this month: Wednesday, Sept. 14, 4:30-6 p.m., CC’s Packard Performance Hall; or Monday, Sept. 26, 7-8:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room.
You’re also invited to an open house for CC faculty and staff at the Fine Arts Center tomorrow, from 3-5 p.m. Take a tour, explore the galleries, and mingle with FAC colleagues.
Find out about the strategic planning process: www.coloradocollege.edu/csfac/
Experience the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at an open house this week!
All CC faculty and staff are invited to an open house at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Thursday, Sept. 8, 3-5 p.m. Take a guided tour, explore the galleries, mingle with FAC colleagues, and enjoy light refreshments.
Last week, President Jill Tiefenthaler and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center President and CEO David Dahlin, announced an historic alliance between Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. The alliance builds on the legacies of both the college and the Fine Arts Center, and will enhance the strengths of both. It also begins a four-year planning process for developing an operational structure that achieves CC and community strategic objectives.
Three community listening sessions are also planned:
- Thursday, Sept. 8, 7:30-9 a.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room
- Wednesday, Sept. 14, 4:30-6 p.m., CC’s Packard Performance Hall
- Monday, Sept. 26, 7-8:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room
President Jill Tiefenthaler shared the following update with the CC campus community about staffing related to the CC-FAC alliance:
Dear Campus Community,
I am pleased to announce that on the heels of our exciting announcement of a new alliance with the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, we are extending CC art and curatorial expertise to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
Associate Professor of Art Rebecca Tucker is now the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center’s museum director, overseeing all operations of the museum including curatorial and educational programs. A professor of art at CC since 2003, Rebecca’s teaching focus on art, Southwest studies, and museum studies programs is a wonderful fit for the museum.
Jessica Hunter-Larsen, who has served as curator of Interdisciplinary Experimental Arts programming, including the IDEA Space at CC since 2006, is now director of academic engagement/IDEA curator. In this role, Jessica will work with the FAC curatorial team to develop innovative approaches to curating, and to build educational connections between the museum, the community, and the campus.
Briget Heidmous, assistant curator at CC, retains the same title but now also works with the FAC museum. She will continue to manage the IDEA Space and Coburn Gallery exhibitions and programming at CC during this academic year before moving to the FAC.
All of the previous FAC museum staff continue to bring their expertise, commitment and knowledge to the museum. Joy Armstrong, former curator and most recently acting museum director and chief curator, is now curator of modern and contemporary art. Michael Howell, FAC registrar; Jeremiah Houck, FAC preparator; and Lauren Tyson, FAC special projects/admin, continue in their current roles.
We hope to add a Southwest curator to the museum staff in coming months.
With our four-year strategic planning process for the FAC starting with a focus on the museum, it is important for the museum to be in a position of strength to begin the work. The vision for the museum will be implemented beginning in July 2017.
I’m thrilled that we can immediately start our collaboration with the FAC by combining our expertise and talents. I am grateful for the enthusiasm of Rebecca, Jessica and Briget as well as that of the FAC team members as we embark on this new partnership. With this dynamic group in place, we can start envisioning a bigger future for the arts at the FAC and CC.
President Jill Tiefenthaler shared this update with the Colorado College campus community about the CC-FAC alliance:
Dear Campus Community,
Along with Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center President and CEO David Dahlin, I am pleased to share with you that we have achieved an historic alliance between Colorado College and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. This morning, David and I announced to faculty, staff, and students, as you may have heard at Fall Conference, and to Fine Arts Center employees that we have reached an agreement that will support the missions of both organizations, greatly expanding teaching and learning opportunities for our students and faculty, while enriching arts and cultural programming and resources for the entire region.
This alliance builds on the legacies of both the college and the Fine Arts Center, and will enhance the strengths of both. We are excited about the possibilities for our faculty to integrate the nearly 20,000 pieces of Southwestern and Native American art into the curriculum to strengthen experiential learning and multicultural perspective; for our performing-arts students to have broader opportunities on the stage and behind the scenes; and for the college to positively influence the Pikes Peak region and beyond by providing greater depth, understanding, and context to arts and cultural offerings.
A series of three listening sessions, open to the community, are planned:
- Thursday, Sept. 8, 7:30-9 a.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room
- Wednesday, Sept. 14, 4:30-6 p.m., CC’s Packard Performance Hall
- Monday, Sept. 26, 7-8:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room
We will now embark on a four-year planning process for developing an operational structure that achieves CC and community strategic objectives. In July 2017, the name will change to the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. By July 1, 2020, plans for the museum, performing arts, and art school will be implemented, and the Fine Arts Center entity will be fully transferred to the college.
I am excited to embark on this wonderful new chapter in CC’s history. Thank you all for your enthusiasm and support!
“Ascend cliffs rising through the clouds. Wander the back alleys of Dublin. Skip moss-covered stones across a river tumbling from the frigid North Sea.” Sound like the summer vacation for you? With the intention of engaging in a creative experiment, Tara Labovich ’19 and fellow student Bryce Kirby ’19, spent the summer exploring those settings, Labovich in Ireland, Kirby in Scotland, trying to get lost in every sense of the word.
The project, to create and publish a book of photos and poetry that captures the experience, was inspired by questions about the creative process: “How will our perceptions of reality and creative expression, told through our poetry and photographs, change with the isolation and loneliness of the trail? In other words, how lost in place and self can we become? Can we represent our journeys in words and pixels?” ask Labovich and Kirby at the start of their project.
Those questions accompanied a video and website the students made to explain the project and request help in funding their travels. Labovich and Kirby each won separate Venture Grants to pursue their individual creative experiments; they joined forces after realizing they had parallel goals for their projects.
“We were doing separate projects, and both submitted different grants, unbeknownst to each other, and we realized we’re basically doing the same thing, so why not pull everything together?” says Labovich of how the two connected. So they did, writing poetry and taking photos, documenting their journeys and observations while getting lost.
“We want it to feel that when the reader’s looking at these poems and photos, they’re stepping into our experience and creating an experience of their own without having to actually get onto a plane,” Labovich says of her work. She says the locales, scenery, and time she devoted to the project during the summer helped her grow as a writer and as an individual.
“I definitely think it was some of the best writing I’ve done. It was interesting for me, because it was a shift — a lot of my poems before [the trip] focused on things I was feeling, and while I was over there, all of the things around me started to come alive. It was a new kind of inspiration.”
She says her travels helped make her more aware allowing her to devote time to just observe and write. “When I’m in a busy place, it can be over stimulating; in nature, there’s a lot more flexibility on the focus, the quiet, the scenery, there’s also a lot of mystery around it.”
It was also an opportunity for Labovich to travel on her own, find her own way, and solve her own problems throughout her month abroad.
“My family asked, ‘You’re not going alone, are you?’ and some of my extended family was concerned until I got back. But my mom’s family is Irish, and they were thrilled I was there. There were times when my lack of navigation skills was a challenge; there was no Wi-Fi access. It was the first time I was traveling when I didn’t have anyone else to rely on, to help find where I was. I built a lot of confidence in myself.”
The connection to her Irish heritage was also a special one for Labovich; she’d traveled to Ireland previously with her family and grandfather, and says she knew she would be back. Labovich is a creative writing major minoring in philosophy; she grew up in Germany, and has lived in Colorado for the past six years.
Her experience drafting poems for “Lost” is something she says will have a lasting effect on her growth as a writer. “This will be something to draw from, and it’s been such a good and changing experience that I think it’ll influence my writing for a very long time. As a writer, the project as a whole allowed me to learn a lot about self-motivation and when I work best (which is late at night and not convenient at all) and how I work both as a writer and as a person.”
Now, Labovich and Kirby have reconnected, going through all of the content, picking out the best and making it better, in preparation for self-publishing their book. “It’s challenging but also rewarding, because we have two different minds, different ideas, and that adds a little more variation,” Labovich says.
The final products are in the works: a book of poems will be completed in October, and a full book with poems and photography will be published at the end of the year. Catch a preview and place your order with The Isles Project.
Aug. 8-9, a contingent of great minds will come together on the CC campus to collaborate about the challenges and benefits of implementing a successful professional development program. The Organizational Development Conference addresses professional development in institutions of higher education.
“Considering our interest in professional development, in workplace excellence, it makes sense for CC to not only host this conference, but to also actively partner with institutions across the country,” says Lisa Brommer, senior associate director of human resources.
It’s the sixth annual ODC and CC’s first time hosting. Wake Forest University initiated the event when CC President Jill Tiefenthaler was there as provost. “It’s an interesting connection, to have President Tiefenthaler providing support and leadership in making professional development a strategic priority at these two different institutions,” Brommer says. Tiefenthaler will give the opening keynote address on the importance of professional development in higher education.
Throughout the two-day conference, presenters will lead discussions on a variety of topics, from building a professional development program, to increasing staff engagement, to evaluation of PD resources. CC’s Paul Buckley, assistant vice president and director of the Butler Center, will lead a segment on diversity and inclusion in professional development, highlighting the “Good to Great: The Journey to Inclusion at CC” Excel@CC program.
“We’re really looking at how we make sense of professional development and package it differently. In a program like what we’ve done with Excel@CC, we’re able to pull it all together and embrace professional development as a part of our institution’s strategic plan,” says Brommer.
The attendee list includes 19 new attendees, which is exciting for the organizers, and one of the benefits of bringing the conference to the CC campus. “We’re able to diversify the conversation by broadening participation throughout this region,” says Brommer. “This is a phenomenal place and we want to share what we’re doing with others.”
The more than 30 participants represent 25 different institutions from across the country. Expect to see representatives from a range of colleges and institutions, from Baylor University to Virginia Tech, Columbia University to the University of San Diego, and many in between. They’ll be on campus, primarily in the Spencer Center, Aug. 7-9.
The conference is an opportunity for CC to continue to build its professional development program and to learn from and support colleagues at the other institutions. It’s also a way for CC to set an example of how PD can be done, and done well, in higher education. “We can really showcase our professional development program. We can show what we’re doing, talk about the support and the resources we have for Excel@CC, and that we have the ability to do what we believe is right for our employees. This is part of our commitment to the college,” says Brommer, “to further enhance our own professional development program.”
What did you do this summer? Pose that question to Ricardo Tenente ’16, Caroline Boyd ’17, or a number of other students in the Summer Collaborative Research program (SCoRe), and you might get an answer like: “Just studying how bacteria incorporate DNA into their genomes by observing the process via an Atomic Force Microscope.”
Through the SCoRe program, Tenente, Boyd, and their student colleagues have spent months conducting real research, in a lab, and recording and analyzing their results. Completing a comprehensive research program on the Block Plan can be a challenge, so this program provides not only collaborative opportunities for students to work together and to work closely with faculty, but also allows for additional time.
“Research requires time and sometimes things don’t work out,” says Tenente. “If an experiment doesn’t work and you don’t get results on a short time frame, it is challenging. That’s why doing it for longer is ideal.” And while the extended timeframe allows for significant progress to be made over the summer, many SCoRe students are involved on an even more long-term basis.
Kristine Lang, associate professor of physics, and Phoebe Lostroh, associate professor of molecular biology, are working with Tenente and Boyd this summer, and have been for several years. The professors are conducting a research project funded by a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant and they collaborate with students each summer to help keep the project moving. By studying a type of bacteria that has a condition called competence, they’re using microbiology and microscopy techniques to observe how bacteria find DNA in the environment and import it into themselves, incorporating it into their own genomes.
“We’re trying to more fully understand how they accomplish this, using a combination of microbiology techniques and microscopy techniques. That’s the cool collaborative part, allowing us to put our skills together.”
They co-teach a First-Year Experience course based on their research project, and during that FYE, the students get one block of background information and introduction to lab work, and then spend a block conducting research. “The idea that you can bring in first year students and have them produce something and have this transformative experience so early in their careers, that’s unusual,” says Lang.
Tenente was exposed to the research program in that FYE course and says the opportunity to work directly on a research project provided insight in making career decisions. “This has defined a lot of my career path,” says Tenente, who graduated in May and is now working as a researcher on this project for the next year. “I knew I wanted to do something with biology, but that first year gave me an insight into what it meant to be a researcher, and I liked it, I liked finding results – that’s just a small part of it – and I liked the whole process.”
Lang says she and Lostroh often hire between two and four students out of that FYE class, so the research students are starting in the lab in the fall of their first year, “which is great for them, to get research experience early,” she says. “And, it’s great for us to have students who know they’re interested and have a background. These students typically work for us a couple of years throughout their time at CC.”
Boyd, who’s majoring in molecular biology, also became involved in research during her first year at CC, “which is wonderful,” she says. “Being able to do it for much longer than a block or a summer tells you how much goes into research. I also found out I love it.”
Boyd spent a semester doing research abroad, and says the experience she had already gained at CC enabled her to survive and contribute to the process overseas. “Through this research experience, I’m learning new ways of analysis that can be applied across other labs, learning things I would not have gotten in other classes,” says Boyd.
It’s a rare opportunity, for undergraduate students to participate so fully in research, and Lang says the time working with students in the lab addresses much more than the research project. “We’re a teaching college at CC, and the best part is feeling like this is an extension of my teaching. It is teaching them practical things, like lab skills; it’s teaching them how to interact with supervisors in a professional job setting; it’s helping them determine whether they like professional science and this kind of research and giving them the experience to make educated decisions about their academic futures.”
“I have lots of students I continue to mentor when they go on to be graduate students, so these are very long term, meaningful relationships. There’s lots more to the research, than the research and those other things are as important than actually the research product itself,” says Lang.
You can catch students discussing their summer work and findings during a final Summer Collaborate Research program presentation: Friday, August 5, in Slocum Commons, 12:15-1 p.m.
All Summer Collaborative Research program participants will present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, Friday, Sept. 30, 3:30-5 p.m. in Cornerstone Main Space.