Tribal Fusion: Arabic Dance in the Digital World

Cornerstone Arts Week 2013

February 4 – 8, 2013

“What’s So Funny ? Humor, Faith, and Politics.”

Highlighting the vital role the arts play within the liberal arts, the annual Cornerstone Arts Week focuses on a theme, posed as a question, that is examined through exhibitions, performances, films, lectures, and special events. Cornerstone Arts Week 2013 explores the ways in which the arts create bridges between cultures, belief systems, and yes – even political parties.


Friday, February 8, 7pm

Tribal Fusion: Arabic Dance in the Digital World

Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center

Richard F. Celeste South Theater

Free and open to the public

Donna Mejia is a choreographer, lecturer, teacher, administrator, and performer specializing in contemporary dance, traditions of the Arab/African Diaspora, and new fusion traditions in world electronica. She lectures and teaches for colleges, private organizations and dance festivals internationally such as Jacob’s Pillow, and the Bates Dance Festival.

She taught at Colorado College for 10 years and was Director of the Colorado College International Summer Dance Festival for the last half of her term. For twelve years she served as managing director of the award-winning Harambee African Dance Ensemble of CU-Boulder. Donna was Guest Artist in Residence with the Smith College Dance Department for three years and received a full teaching fellowship for her MFA studies.  In 2011, she received the Selma Jeanne Cohen Endowed Lecture In International Dance Scholarship Honor by the Fulbright Association.

Donna is the founder and director of The Sovereign Project: a nonprofit arts collective dedicated to a reverent connection to the body by addressing social repression, distortion, sedentary lifestyle and acts of violence.

Her presentation for Cornerstone Arts Week will include performance and commentary on tribal fusion dance.

Sponsored by the Cultural Attractions Fund and the Theater and Dance Department

First Monday: “SyrianamericanA: A Nation-State of Mind” a lecture and performance by Omar Offendum


Monday, January 21, 2013, 11:15am

Armstrong Hall

Born in Saudi Arabia to Syrian parents and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, hip-hop artist Omar Offendum uses his lyrical talents to bridge his Middle Eastern roots to his Western upbringing. Offendum began his rap career as one-half of the N.O.M.A.D.S., an Arab/African-American hip-hop duo. In 2010, he released his first solo album, “SyrianamericanA” a potent mix of noir-soaked ’90s rap sounds laced with Islamic poetry and antiquated clips from Western documentaries on Syria.That Offendum has gained fans during the Arab Spring is no coincidence. Profoundly interested in social justice, Offendum feels he must use his music to create awareness. His songs, which are often political, resonate with Arab youths, many of whom have embraced one of America’s most popular forms of protest music: hip-hop. #Jan25, a song dedicated to the protestors who filled Tahrir Square in Cairo during the uprisings quickly went viral. Of the current Syrian conflict Offendum says, “A year and a half after [the protests], it’s a bloodbath…But at the same time, it’s an amazing time to be Syrian — people are saying things that you haven’t heard there in 50 years.”

Omar Offendum has been featured on several major news outlets and toured globally, helped raise thousands of dollars for various humanitarian relief organizations, and lectured at a number of prestigious academic institutions, including Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Columbia, American University of Beirut, and  NYU-Abu Dhabi. Sponsored by the Cultural Attractions Fund & the President’s Circle.Watch Omar Offendum’s recent videos here

Cornerstone Arts Week Keynote Presentation by Maz Jobrani

Cornerstone Arts Week 2013

February 4 – 8, 2013

“What’s So Funny ? Humor, Faith, and Politics.”

Highlighting the vital role the arts play within the liberal arts, the annual Cornerstone Arts Week focuses on a theme, posed as a question, that is examined through exhibitions, performances, films, lectures, and special events. Cornerstone Arts Week 2013 explores the ways in which the arts create bridges between cultures, belief systems, and yes – even political parties.


Colliding Currents?

Exploring the Boundaries of Humor, Faith and Politics

Wednesday, February 6, 7 pm

Richard F. Celeste Theater

Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center

825 N. Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903


General Public: $10

CC ID: $5

Tickets available at Worner Center, 902 N. Cascade Avenue beginning January 28


Cornerstone Arts Week Keynote presenter Maz Jobrani is best known as a founding member of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, which featured some of the top Middle Eastern-American comics in the world. The Axis of Evil Comedy Central Special premiered in 2007 as the first show on American TV with an all Middle Eastern/American cast. The DVD was also released in 2007. The tour started in the US and later went to the Middle East in the fall of 2007, selling out 27 shows in Dubai, Beirut, Cairo, Kuwait and Amman (where they performed in front of the King and Queen of Jordan.) Maz followed up his Axis of Evil Tour with his own solo international tour titled “Maz Jobrani; Brown and Friendly.” Maz was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he caught the acting bug after portraying the lead in his eighth grade production of “Li’l Abner.” He studied theater throughout high school, and then went on to earn a BA in Political Science and Italian at UC Berkeley. In the fall of 1994, while beginning a Ph.D. program in Political Science at UCLA, he visited the university’s prestigious theater program – and was immediately hooked back on acting. This led to him dropping out of the Ph.D. program to pursue his childhood passion. Maz has done standup on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Lopez Tonight,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn,“ Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” and England’s Paramount 2 Network. He is also a recurring panelist on NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” and has his own podcast with 2 other comedians called “Minivan Men.” His sketch comedy performances at the ACME Theater in Los Angeles were hailed as “devilishly funny” and “extraordinary” by LA Weekly.



Basim Magdy: How to Build an Invisible Monument


Basim Magdy

Coburn Gallery

January 22 — March 8, 2013

(Closed Block Break: February 13 — 17)

Tuesday, January 22, 4:30pm: Opening Reception and Artist Talk

Free and open to the public

Working in a variety of different media including drawing, painting, animation, installation, sculpture, film, video and sound, Magdy engages elements of humor, irony, and absurdity to alter and expand preconceived notions and entrenched cultural views. He is particularly interested in creating narrative structures that explore the space between reality and fiction and its influence on science, history, global culture and the dissemination of knowledge. Sponsored by the Cultural Attractions Fund.

American Qur’an: Works by Sandow Birk

IDEA Space

January 21 — March 12, 2013

Closed Block Break: February 13 — 17

In response to a decade of travel to various Islamic regions of the world and his own research into Islamic religion, American artist Sandow Birk created a large series of codex–like paintings adapting the techniques and stylistic devices of Arabic and Persian painting and albums, blending the past with the present, the East with the West, creating his “American Qur’an”.

Unlike the Gospels of the New Testament – which relate narratives of Jesus’ ministry on earth – the Holy Qur’an is believed to be the verbatim words of God as communicated through the angel Gabriel to Muhammad in the 7th Century CE. Collected together and grouped generally according to length (rather than chronologically), the 114 chapters (“suras”) form a collection of sermon-like “revelations” that are the fundamental text of Islam.

Presented in the form of illuminated verses and using an English translation of the Qur’an in hand rendered text that is an amalgam of Islamic calligraphy and the letters of urban graffiti that he finds around his Los Angeles neighborhood, Birk illuminates the verses with scenes from contemporary American experiences, both at home and abroad. The project, when finished, will illustrate the entire 114 suras of the Qur’an, 83 of which are represented in this exhibition.

At a time when the United States is involved in wars against Islamic nations and declares itself to be in a cultural and philosophical struggle against Islamic extremists, Birk is recreating the Qur’an in his own hand and illustrating it with everyday scenes as a way to reflect on Islam within the context of American culture, and is inviting viewers to do the same.

American Qur’an was organized by the Andy Warhol Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is circulated by Curatorial Assistance Traveling Exhibitions, Pasadena, California. Its presentation at Colorado College is sponsored by the NEH Professorship. The exhibition is part of Cross-Currents: Exploring Tradition and Change in the Islamic World, a year-long series that explores contemporary culture and politics of the Islamic world.


Art in Review – Shows by Dan Colen, Sandow Birk, Karl Wirsum, Anton Henning –

Laura BenAmots: Battle Portraits, Lions & Lambs.

November 29-December 18, 2012, Coburn Gallery

Thursday, November 29, 4:30: Artist Reception and IDEA Cabaret event

Free and open to the public


Drawn from the artist’s conversations with local veterans, Laura BenAmots’ Battle Portraits probe beyond the specific circumstances of individual soldiers to explore universal themes of grief, healing, and the true costs of human conflict.  The exhibition, in conjunction with the special events at the reception, presents creative and academic responses to trauma.

Winner of the Pikes Peak Arts Council’s Visual Artist of the Year award for 2012, Laura BenAmots has been acknowledged as exceptional in the field. The New York-born painter spent her formative years in Israel and has made Colorado Springs her home for the last eighteen years. She is a dedicated studio artist, passionate community advocate, and long time permanent Art Faculty member and Gallery Director at Pikes Peak Community College.

Her Battle Portraits series has been shown at the Business of Art Center in Manitou (2012); Colorado State University Fine Art Gallery in Fort Collins (2012). The exhibition will travel to the Sangre de Christo Art Center in Pueblo in 2013. The exhibition is supported by a fully-illustrated book featuring an interview with the artist and essays by faculty from Colorado College and Pikes Peak Community College.  Published by the Business of Art Center, the book will be available for purchase at the exhibition.




Eiko & Koma: Residue of Nakedness


November 27 – December 18, 2012, IDEA Space

Tuesday, November 27 4:30pm: Reception and IDEA Cabaret Conversation with Eiko Otake

Artists Eiko & Koma are known for their unique blend of performance works characterized by bold, highly theatrical strokes and handcrafted visual/sound design. They have created a unique and riveting theater of movement out of stillness, shape, light and sound that transcends  genre or discipline.

Throughout their forty-year career, the award-winning duo has collaborated with filmmakers to document performances ; the artists then alter and present these videos to create different experiences of their performances. They have also created “dances for camera” as independent media works that were shown in museums and festivals.  For the exhibition at IDEA Space, Eiko will use these videos as a source material to illuminate core concerns and textures of Eiko & Koma’s life-long work together. She will explore the boundaries of time, memories, and bodies as landscape.

Recipients of the MacArthur Genius Award, Eiko & Koma have developed a collaborative, interdisciplinary movement-based work and have performed in outdoor sites, in museums, and in theaters world-wide.  Since 1972, the Japanese-born choreographer/dancers have challenged and galvanized audiences with their performances. In the forward to Eiko & Koma: Time is not Even; Space is Not Empty, recently published by the Walker Art Center, Olga Viso writes, “Over the course of their forty-year collaboration, Eiko & Koma have created a body of work that is like nothing else in contemporary art.  Primal, intense, and powerfully moving, their pieces explore elemental themes such as birth, death, desire, struggle, and the profound connection between the human and natural realms.  They have been acclaimed and embraced by the American dance community since their arrival in the United States in 1976.  Yet Eiko & Koma do not consider themselves dancers in any traditional sense.  Rather, they think of themselves as artists whose medium is movement and whose work resides in the spaces between dance, theater, performance art, and sculpture.” Among their many accolades, Eiko & Koma have received two “Bessies” (1984 and 1990), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1985), a MacArthur Genius Award (1996) and United States Artists Fellowships (2006). They were honored with the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award (2004) and the Dance Magazine Award (2006) for lifetime achievement in modern dance. In 2012 both Eiko and Koma received inaugural Doris Duke Artist Awards.


KRCC Presents: The Big Something Exhibition!

Coburn Gallery / October 29- November 20, 2012

Opening Reception and Gallery Talk with Noel Black and Craig Richardson: Tuesday, October 30 4:30-7pm

The Big Something Exhibition this Fall will be a giant analog version of KRCC’s daily web-based program that seeks to reflect a more nuanced and esoteric view of the many hidden, overlooked and forgotten cultures and cultural artifacts of the Pikes Peak region. On Tuesday, October 30 from 4:30-7pm, Coburn Gallery will host an Opening Reception and Gallery Talk with Noel Black and Craig Richardson, featuring a live DJ, storytelling booth, arcade games, and a vision of our community you won’t see in the mainstream media. The exhibition and reception are free and open to the public. KRCC Presents: The Big Something is sponsored by The Colorado College Cultural Attractions Fund.




















Photo by John Suhay, date and title unknown.

Cross-Currents Film Series presents: Position Among the Stars by Leonard Retel Helmrich

Monday, October 8 Monday, 4 – 6pm
Cross-Currents Film Series presents:
Position Among the Stars by Leonard Retel Helmrich
Hosted by Clay Haskell, Artist-in-Residence for Film Studies Cornerstone Art Center Film Screening Room
Free and open to the public

For 12 years, filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich followed an Indonesian family from the slums of Jakarta. This resulted in the trilogy “Stand van de zon”, “Stand van de maan” and “Stand van de sterren” (“Eye of the Day”, “Shape of the Moon” “Position Among the Stars”). Just like in the previous two parts, which received many international prizes, in the third part “Position Among the Stars” the maker shows us the underlying patterns of life in Indonesia. He presents both literally and metaphorically with his revolutionary camera work. The Indonesian Sjamsuddin family is, in a way, a microcosm in which you can recognise the most important issues of life in Indonesia: corruption, conflict between religions, gambling addiction, the generation gap and the growing difference between poor and rich.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country and has the largest Muslim population. Grandmother Rumidjah, a confessed Christian, has left the bustle of Jakarta to live with her friend Tumisa in the countryside. Her son Bakti, who has converted to Islam, takes care of her grandchild Tari. Bringing up his Tari is hard for him, so Bakti brings his mother back to town. However, Tari grows up in a time when young people have become much more open and she does not hide her opinions. This behaviour regularly brings her into conflict with the older generations. The problems faced by the Qatari family make the old woman decide to stay in town until Tari has finished her secondary school and can study at university. The whole family regards the bright Tari as their only opportunity of improving their own status and ever being able to escape the slums of Jakarta. Bakti’s job as district chief doesn’t earn him much money. As a result he trains fighting fish to gamble with them the side.

While the whole family does everything they can to collect enough money to pay the college fees for Tari’s study, Tari prefers to spend her time and money with her girlfriends in Jakarta’s nightlife. Her friends from secondary school also bring her into contact with the nouveau riche of Indonesia, which is miles away from her life in the slums. Will Rumidjah managed to allow her granddaughter to study in this economic crisis?

This screening of Position Among the Stars is part of a four-film series that explores aspects of the Islamic world.  Offered in  September and October of 2012 and January and February of 2013, each film has been chosen and will be introduced by a Colorado College faculty member.  After the screening, the audience is invited to linger and participate in a discussion of the film.

Host Clay Haskell holds a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University (1994) and an M.F.A. from American Film Institute (2000).  He was also awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in photography in 1997.  Haskellhas written screenplays for a number of Hollywood production companies; his scripts Happy Trails and The Wrong Brothers are currently in development. He shot and directed the award-winning short film The Chair and the short documentary Ascent to Mount Angel, and he documented the handover of Hong Kong in photographs as one of the first Fulbright Fellows to China. He is cinematographer of the forthcoming documentary The Hollywood Complex (2011) and director of the forthcoming documentary Mississippi Messiah (2012).

Cross-Currents Film Series presents Ten directed by Abbas Kiarostami

Monday, September 10, 4 – 6pm
Cross-Currents Film Series presents Ten directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Hosted by Scott Kryzch, Assistant Professor of New Media
Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Art Center Film Screening Room
Free and open to the public

Released in 2002, Ten focuses on ten conversations between a female driver in Tehran and the passengers in her car. The driver, an unusually independent Iranian woman, serves as a present-day Virgil, driving through Tehran in the company of various other women. Her exchanges with her young son, a jilted bride, a prostitute, a women on her way to prayer and others, shed light on the lives and emotions of these women whose voices are seldom heard. Every ride is a conversation, which range in topic from banal discussions of relationships to meditations on God and fate. Directed by one of Iran’s foremost directors, Ten was chosen by the French publication “Les Cahiers du cinéma” as one of the 10 best pictures of 2000s.

This screening of Ten is part of a four-film series that explores aspects of the Islamic world.  Offered in  September and October of 2012 and January and February of 2013, each film has been chosen and will be introduced by a Colorado College faculty member.  After the screening, the audience is invited to linger and participate in a discussion of the film.

Host Scott Krzych holds a B.A. in English from California State University-Northridge, an M.A. in English from the State University of New York-Buffalo and a Ph.D. in screen studies and English from Oklahoma State University. Krzych is  the first tenure-track professor of New Media at Colorado College. His various papers and publications address a range of subjects from digital cinema to video game studies to analysis of Glenn Beck’s television show. His dissertation examines evangelical representations of the apocalypse, including such films as “A Thief in the Night,” “Left Behind,” and “The Omega Code” and such prophecy-based cable programming as “The Hal Lindsey Report” and “Jack Van Impe Presents.”

Cross-Fade: Music and Dance featuring Reza Derakshani

September 12, 4:30pm

Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center Main Space
Free and open to the public

An accomplished musician as well as visual artist, Reza Derakshani is interested in combining artistic traditions and media. Trained in classical Persian musical styles, Mr. Derakshani’s recent musical projects combine global and devotional styles with jazz, rock and other modern forms. He has collaborated with a diverse group of artists, including John Densmore of The Doors, Madonna, Branford Marsalis, poet-philosopher Robert Bly, author Deepak Chopra, and choreographer Bill T. Jones, among many others. Mr. Derakshani often performs in proximity to his own vibrant paintings, or works with dancers or poets on collaborative projects. For the performance at Colorado College, he will collaborate with dancers to present an improvisation-based performance. Mr. Derakshani’s paintings are featured in the exhibition Cross-Currents: Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary Art of the Islamic World. A public reception will take place in IDEA Space following the performance.  Sponsored by the Dean’s Office.

Cross-Currents: Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary Art of the Islamic World

September 3 – October 24, 2012, IDEA Space

(closed September 26 — 30 for Colorado College’s block break)


What will Islamic societies look like in the twenty-first century? While political analysts make predictions, artists within the Islamic world also intervene in these debates, often with profound impact on cultural discourse.  As Robin Wright notes in the 2011 prologue to her book Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World, “The profound political stirrings are supported by a strong culture of change. … The social transformations are as pivotal as the political upheavals. Activists are not only adapting the technology of Facebook and Twitter to their causes. They are also experimenting with culture — from comedy to theater, poetry to song — as an idiom to communicate who they are and to end isolation caused by extremists within their ranks.” Focusing the lens on contemporary visual arts, Cross-Currents: Tradition and Innovation in Contemporary Art of the Islamic World presents the work of seven international artists whose work lays claim to and honors their varied and complex heritages, while simultaneously challenging accepted norms.

Part of a year-long series of exhibitions, performances, films, and events that explore the elastic capacity of the arts to challenge, expand, preserve, and disseminate aspects of global Islamic cultures, Cross-Currents examines the intersections between historical practices and contemporary artistic priorities. Employing a wide range of media, the seven featured artists each adapt or appropriate aesthetic strategies and themes from older Persian and Arab traditions to address contemporary issues including: the thin line between media coverage and war propaganda; the devastation of urban decay; the challenges of creating and maintaining sacred spaces within other cultural contexts; the experiences of exile and return; and the construction of gender identities in contemporary Islamic cultures.

The artists’ approaches to traditional themes and forms vary significantly: some engage directly with the past by merging traditional forms with contemporary media, while others merely hint at traditional aesthetic precedents. Yet while remaining culturally, aesthetically, and philosophically distinct, these artists commonly share the desire to probe the tension between the desire to honor the past and to subject it to intense interrogation. – Jessica Hunter-Larsen, Curator

Featuring: Azra Akšamija; Ayad Alkadhi; Shoja Azari; Reza Derakshani; Hayv Kahraman; Naiza H. Khan; Soody Sharifi.

This exhibition and associated programming is made possible by generous support of the Colorado College Cultural Attractions Fund, the Dean’s Office, and the NEH Professorship. Special thanks to: Leila Heller Gallery, New York; The Third Line Gallery and the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Shehab Gargash, Dubai; Rossi & Rossi, London; and Renaissance Creative.








Image: Ayad Alkadi
Will Not Be Silenced (I Will Not Be Silenced) 2011
Acrylic, pen & yarn on canvas (Courtesy of the artist and Leila Heller Gallery, New York, NY)


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