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Mark R. Williams

These Inuit tools from the early 20th century represent just one community featured in the exhibition Unsettled Conditions: How We Talk about the Environment and Our Place in It. The exhibition aims to look at communities and their environmental issues, which are connected to the objects on display.

In the late 20th century, the people of Papua New Guinea faced a challenge. Communities were trying to resist development in their ancestral forest areas, so they had to come up with an alternative economic model. They settled on making tapa, a pounded barkcloth, for market — the same material displayed in a current exhibition in the Longyear Museum of Anthropology. Unsettled Conditions: How We Talk about the Environment and Our Place in It runs until December 17. The exhibition focuses not just on the environmental problems we faced in the past and the ones we face today, but also how we break down and talk about those issues. “We’re looking at how communities in different parts of the world that are connected to the objects we have in the collection are grappling with environmental issues, especially those that are changing their livelihoods and are impacting the way their communities can survive into the future,” said Christy DeLair, associate curator in the Longyear. With the idea of having the Colgate and Hamilton communities participate in the exhibition, DeLair and several students spent a few weekends at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market asking people to submit videos talking about their interactions with the environment. If people had objects representing those interactions, those were accepted, too. Also, a video booth in the museum allows visitors to add their voices to the exhibition, and polling stations are situated around the room asking the public for their opinions about different aspects of the show. Students visiting the exhibition for class can answer questions about the experience on iPads throughout the museum, and their responses will be put on display. “We’re trying to get as many people’s voices into the museum as possible,” DeLair said. In addition to helping conceptualize the exhibition, students also did the research for each section of Unsettled Conditions and selected the pieces that would go into them. They chose to focus on four key groups of people around the globe: the Tuareg people of the Sahara Desert, the Inuit in the Arctic, communities in Southeast Asia and Oceania, and central New York. The exhibition includes pieces such as an Inuit doll, a war charm, a baby carrier, tent posts, and vintage photographs of central New York. These photos show changes to the Colgate campus community, but also show Hamilton and how human interactions have affected the local landscape. Sierra Sunshine ’18, an anthropology and Native American studies major and curatorial assistant, gained experience that she hopes will help her as she considers a career in environmental science. “I love working in the museum setting in general,” she said, “but this exhibition is very topical.”

Colgate Choir in Colombia

After studying and performing Music of the Americas in Hamilton last spring, 42 members of the University Chorus and Chamber Singers took their performance to Colombia. Named for the music of North and

Pilar Mejia Barrera

Environmental conditions then and now

United States; the chorus sang in Latin, Spanish, and English. “We were delighted to also learn some uniquely Colombian music for joint performances at a few venues,” said Ryan Endris, assistant professor of music and director of choral and vocal activities. In many cities, Colgate students engaged in musical and cultural exchange with local university students. “Some of my favorite moments from the trip were the exchanges with other choirs,” Ben Fetzner ’17 said. “It was really special because we were able to share the language of music with people whom we could not necessarily communicate with otherwise.” The choir performed in churches and auditoriums, but they also had a few impromptu concerts — singing on the top of the Rock of Guatapé and performing for their tour guides on some of their many bus tours around the country. Although the group had a busy performance schedule, they visited a number of cultural sites, including the Gold Museum in Bogotá, the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá, and the walled city and the Castle of San Felipe in Cartagena. The group also experienced the natural life of Colombia, canoeing

The University Chorus with the Children’s Choir of Villa de Leyva, Colombia

South America, the Music of the Americas performance celebrated the cultures and shared musical history of the continents. In addition to performing music, students explored a number of Colombian cities and engaged with local communities. The tour focused on the art and folk music of Latin America and the

through mangroves and spending time on local beaches. On November 12 at 3:30 p.m., the University Chorus and Chamber singers will perform Music of the Americas II in the chapel, bringing their concert tour of Colombia full circle. — Melanie Oliva ’18

News and views for the Colgate community


Autumn Scene 2017  
Autumn Scene 2017  

The Scene is published by Colgate University four times a year — in autumn, winter, spring, and summer.