A NEW DESIGN ECOLOGY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY CONSILIENCE PROGRAM EXPO15
B O N N I E B I R D & C O M PA N Y
ART SCHOOL AS LEADER
O C TAV I O S O L I S
© Ankrom Moisan Architects/Casey Braunger Photographer Photo by Winifred Westergard
Publisher: Rosemary Jones Editor: M. Mark Bocek Art Director: John Engerman © 2016 Cornish College of the Arts PAGE 2
TODAY WE ARE MAKING HISTORY. THE NEW CORNISH COMMONS is the first ground-up building at Cornish since Kerry Hall was built in 1921. When Nellie Cornish opened up her piano studio in 1914, six years before women had the right to vote in the United States, she had an audacious dream to invent a new kind of school, one that would link the arts to the best thinking about education and innovation. She was a maverick and had tremendous impact on her students and the communities of her time—in Seattle, in the country, and even across the Atlantic Ocean—which in her era was a world away. The meaning of today flows beautifully from Nellie’s dreams. Now we have Cornish’s long-term solution to student housing. We are further anchoring our campus in the Denny Triangle and South Lake Union. We are creating the capacity for growth of our student body and growth in our innovative academic programs. Perhaps most exciting of all is that we’re deeply committed to providing a bold, distinguished, and inspiring 21st century education for artists. This impressive and elegant live/learn center will be a fundamental part of student success and the holistic student experience at Cornish. This breathtaking building will serve to encourage our students and our community to think about the grand opportunities in store for them as their lives unfold. – Dr. Nancy J. Uscher, President, Cornish College of the Arts August 27, 2015, Cornish Commons Opening
4 Constructing a New Design Ecology for the 21st Century BY JEFF BRICE
8 Arts Schools Network Conference 10 Ringing In the Next 100 Years
THE NEXT CENTURY GALA
12 Bonnie Bird & Company BY MAXIMILIAN BOCEK
16 Sidra Bell In Residence 18 Spring Events at Cornish 20 EXPO15 22 MAT in Teaching Offered 24 Commencement 2015 26 David Bolinksy & the Consilience Program 28 INTERVIEW Jean-Baptiste Barrière 32 Performance Production News 34 INTERVIEW Octavio Solis 36 Fall Theater Season Features Three Seattle Premieres 38 Artist Residencies & Visiting Artists 40 Summer at Cornish 42 Cornish On the Move 44 Cascadia Art Museum Tribute to Cornish 46 Art School As Leader
BY MOIRA SCOTT PAYNE
ON THE COVER Neon design by Alex Wallace ’15, from the EXPO15 exhibition. Photograph by Winifred Westergard.
Top left: Interactive map of Seattle showing development over 100 years, by Tim Sircoloumb ’13 Second: Expo15 Sculpture by Bristol HaywardHughes ’15 Other photo credits on their respective pages.
Top right photo: Bonnie Bird in her solo work The Judgement, a sarabande, at Cornish, 1938. Photo (detail) attributed to Phyllis Dearborn © Michael Cunningham; from the Bonnie Bird Collection at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Constructing a New Design Ecology for the Current Era By Jeff Brice, Chair of Design
This October, the 2015 INTERNATIONAL DESIGN CONGRESS drew 3,000 attendees to Gwangju, South Korea. Chair of Design Jeff Brice spoke to this international audience about Cornish’s new curriculum. Cornish was one of eight schools from the North and South Americas invited to discuss design education. The following is drawn from Brice’s remarks to the assembled educators at the conference.
ornish College of the Arts has recently adopted a new educational paradigm for its designers, a paradigm based on an “ecology” of practices. These practices mesh and include a total adherence to stringent environmental practices and beliefs, the integration of studio work with social and cultural questioning, a belief in “agile” design iteration, and the promotion of healthy living and pursuit of life/work balance in design and designers. This paradigm departs from the curricular constraints most design programs labor under. Instead of the linear flow-chart of siloed concentrations marching lockstep through four years of classes, our new curriculum recognizes the ways design actually works now—and responds to the reality. All design happens more or less at once these days, and the old “siloed flowchart” approach to education just did not match the demands facing our graduates. This kind of integrated and holistic environment for the thinking and making of design emphasizes an iterative, incremental approach to designing and prepares students to create products and services in the highly flexible and interactive environments they will encounter as they transition to the working world. Our program ensures that they have the tools to prosper in these turbulent times of rapid social and economic change. ODDLY, WE LIKE THE OUTDOORS Designers aren’t usually the outdoors type, but Cornish—an institution dedicated to artistic innovation for more than a century—is in the Pacific Northwest. We live between two mountain ranges. We see water
everywhere we look. Many of the students in our programs come here because they can design during the week and backpack in the mountains on the weekend. Many of our students want to use design to better their physical and cultural environments. It’s no wonder that an environmentally sensitive ethos informs design education here. WE TEACH “AN ECOLOGY OF PRACTICES” Our students need to “speak digital,” they need to have technical skills, hand-skills and craft, and they also need to have a clear understanding of the social contexts within which designers work. Through workshops, sophomore design students practice digital skills and drawing approaches related to narrative systems, type and image and user experience. Critical and contextual studies relate to studio projects and provide important historical and social contexts. Our approach recognizes that the student must be ready to supply many kinds of solutions, from viral information campaigns, technologically driven apps, to more hand-crafted approaches. The design department’s expansion of an object-based practice to include a relations-based practice reflects the convergent, integrated, and holistic nature of design. These days, apps and other digital products exist within ecosystems of supporting services, our students need to design for this system of relationships. Many students gravitate to our courses that develop hand skills and craft, like screen printing and book arts, illustration, comics and animation. Others prefer to expand their digital toolkit in UX, UI, web, gaming and coding. Adjunct instructors teach practica, where students can experiment with different approaches to design in 5-week modules, allowing for both depth and breadth. Students can explore three different subjects of study or dive deeply into one subject for 15 weeks. Many of our alumni work in larger design firms, and found that their education taught them to be adaptive and comfortable in the varied digital environments encountered in their studios. But we also nurture the start-up spirit and continue to have a strong entrepreneurial component in our classes. Cornish design values adaptability and creative vision. They both have central roles in our students’ ecology of practices. WE MINGLE Unlike students in other design programs, Cornish design students are part of a visual and performing arts college, one of three in the country. Design students mingle with actors, musicians, dancers, performance production majors, and fine artists, and this integration sparks creative collaboration. This culturally rich environment gives students the resources to experiment in hybrid forms of expression, an opportunity that other design-only programs lack. Starting in 2016, our integrated arts program, The Creative Corridor, will further foster these collaborations. At Cornish, all design students are given a “home” studio space in which they learn to work collaboratively. The studios are flexible spaces that offer work tables, counters, and casual collaborative areas. But the connections that they make outside the studio and across campus add to that collaborative process. When the performing and visual arts come together we experience a true creative synergy. Our ecology of practices speaks to all the programs that share in the ecosystem of the institution, the environmental ethos of the Pacific Northwest, and the many different disciplines that constitute design practice today.
The Design Department’s expansion of object-based practice to include relations-based practice reflects the convergent, integrated, and holistic nature of design’s current ecosystems.
WE’RE TRANSFORMING DESIGN EDUCATION IN THE NORTHWEST In our overhaul of the design curriculum, we are moving quickly (by institutional standards) to alter the structure of our educational process using theme-based and research-led projects. We’re also growing our facilities to support the new curriculum by creating collaborative home spaces. Along the way, data about how things are going is collected from the people who are actually experiencing the changes. Design-thinking workshops and meetings with student reps keep conversation flowing. Student input is invaluable. These meetings with students allow us to discuss issues as they come up and students help shape the program. The new curriculum provides an environment for experimentation and exploration for everyone involved at the College. We encourage students to explore opportunities both within the institution and with partners outside, engaging in collaborative projects and internships. Amazon, Microsoft, Nytec, EMP, Fred Hutchinson, Institute for Systems Biology are a few the partners of the design department. An advisory board of industry professionals provides insight about how external partnerships and the larger community of practicing designers responds to our new curriculum strategies. COME VISIT
Poster Illustration by Robynne Raye, Adjunct Professor of Design Modern Dog Design Co. © 2015
Now more than ever, design is recognized as a valuable way to understand our world and make changes within it. It’s a language for tapping the creative spirit, and it smooths the way for innovative action. That is why designers are so valued by businesses, organizations, and institutions of all sizes and kinds. Our new curriculum, based on an ecology of practices, reflects the nature of today’s creative workplaces. Come visit—we’d love to show you around and talk about how Cornish’s department of design has laid down a plan to grow and flourish in its next 100 years.
Cornish Graduate Makes Starbucks’ Siren Celestial For 2015’s Anniversary Blend, Starbucks senior designer Victor Melendez ’06 was given the task of re-imagining the packaging for the company’s classic blend. One of several Cornish design grads working at Starbucks Corporate Headquarters, Melendez knew that the company’s siren had to be at its center of the design. That’s the tradition of the Anniversary Blend, which first debuted in 1996. “Although the design for our seasonal coffee packaging changes each year, we had used the same central illustration for the siren for more than 10 years,” he said. “I knew that I would redraw the siren this year to give it a new life.” Like everything at Starbucks, the initial design discussion centered on the flavor of the coffee, not the look of the package. “Whenever we kick off a new design for our coffee packaging, we have a tasting and talk about what makes each coffee special,” Melendez said. “For Anniversary Blend, we wanted to represent the true artistry and boldness of this coffee.” Once Melendez came back to his desk from the initial meeting, he started sketching. He began with small, blank squares. In each thumbnail, he tried new type treatments, styles for the art. Just quick, rough representations. After the rough stage was done, he started to do more detailed sketches. He began exploring the arc of her tails, the movement of her hair. “The hair to me is fluidity—a water-coffee metaphor. I wanted it to be flowy, with intricate curves,” Melendez said. “You get a sense of smoke, of vapor.” Once he received design approval, he created the individual components as separate layers bringing in more dimension by using organic linework, texture, and bright colors. He started by drawing his design in pen and ink, using detailed strokes. He then turned to the separate watercolor pieces for the coloring of his drawing and the background. For the siren, he added more color—the hair a coppery red, her tail a blue-green. For the background, he created a waterscape with an ethereal, cosmic quality. “Even though she’s underwater, it still feels a bit celestial,” he said. Melendez then scanned the layers, adjusted each component digitally and added in the text. The finished design features the siren with a coy expression beneath her golden crown, a branch from a coffee tree in her left hand. In a nod to the past, this siren is also holding a cup of coffee—only in Melendez’s version the cup is gently floating above her open palm. “When you hold a bag of Anniversary Blend in your hands, the focus is firmly on the siren,” he said. “She’s the hero.” Story and photos reproduced with permission of Linda Thomas, Starbucks Newsroom director and editor-in-chief of Digital News.
Arts Schools Network Conference Held At Cornish
eaching students for a career in the arts that won’t start until 2021 or later informed many of the seminars held during this year’s Arts Schools Network national conference. Held for the first time in the Pacific Northwest, ASN Executive Director Kristy Callaway had no problem enticing her membership to Cornish College of the Arts. The 2015 conference focused the ways that technology enhances and impacts the arts, and it quickly sold out. “We barely had to market this one after we said that it would be in Seattle,” mentioned Callaway. “Everybody wants to come here and see what’s going on.” The three-day conference was held October 21 to 23. The traveler who came the longest distance to attend was Russel Mulamula, who is working to establish a performing arts college in South Africa. President Nancy Uscher took a break to take Mulamula for coffee in Cornish’s newly remodeled café and answer his questions about arts colleges. Uscher also opened the conference’s plenary session on October 22. Other attendees were arts leaders and representatives of middle school and high schools throughout the United States. Several attendees arrived from Canada. Nearly 300 professional educators were able to share experiences and ideas as well as learn from arts education experts, researchers, and working artists. In addition, nearly 100 high school students attended the conference to perform, take master classes, and tour local museums and other cultural attractions. With the bulk of sessions taking place at the Cornish Playhouse and surrounding venues at the Seattle Center, Cornish faculty led many of the discussions on how to craft a truly 21st century approach to arts education. Following tours of Cornish’s South Lake Union campus, Provost Moira Scott Payne and leaders of Cornish’s visuals arts program discussed how to create student-centered learning guided by a balanced approach to thinking and making, as well as rigorous conceptual inquiry and research. Although this model of higher education for the arts has been used in Europe for almost a decade, Cornish is the first arts college to implement it in the United States. Payne was joined in this discussion by Design Chair Jeff Brice, Interim Chair of Visual Arts Dawn Gavin, and Associate Provost Star Rush.
Performances by students of Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts, Idaho Arts Charter School, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Orange County School of the Arts, and Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences
Top right: Students talking to school representatives at the college fair, and touring the new Cornish Commons. Below: Conference attendees at presentations by ASN Executive Director Kristy Callaway and others.
Lyall Bush, the new Program Leader of Film+Media, brought together a panel of local film experts in an examination of what forms and what new languages must be made available to the media makers of 2025. Executive director of Northwest Film Forum from 2008 to 2015, Bush joined Cornish this year to shape the College’s newest BFA program. His panelists at the ASN Conference included Cheryll Hidalgo, film faculty at Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences; Stefanie Malone, executive director of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY); and Liz Shepherd, youth programs director at Northwest Film Forum. Interim Music Chair Tom Baker asked a panel of teachers and composers to consider ways to create interactivity, collaboration, and innovation in classes for younger music students. The founder of the Cornish Live-Electronics Ensemble (CLEE), Baker discussed how the real technologists are the middle school and high school “sound-makers” who are equally comfortable with creating on their computers as with their instruments. He was joined by Steve Barsotti, sound artist and music faculty at Cornish; Shawn Tolley, music teacher at Stevens Elementary School in Spokane, Wash.; and Josh Parmenter, composer and software engineer. For the final day, more than 100 high school students attending the conference had master classes with Cornish alumna Kate Wallich ’10 and faculty members Tinka Gutrick-Dailey and Timothy McCuen Piggee. Wallich is a Seattle-based choreographer, director, and teacher who was named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2015. She led a dance master class in her own brand of movement technique. Piggee, an award-winning performer familiar to Seattle theater audiences for his work in drama and musicals, led the class on musical theater technique with choreographer/dance teacher Gutrick-Dailey. The same students also got a taste of Cornish’s biggest stage when they performed on Thursday night at the Cornish Playhouse. Participating schools in this production were Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts, Idaho Arts Charter School, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Orange County School of the Arts, and Seattle Academy. Cornish Performance Production alumni helped produce both the conference and the performances by the high school students. At the end of the conference, both Vice President of Enrollment Jonathan Lindsay—whose team had spent more than a year working with ASN on hosting this event—and Uscher received medals from ASN. Overall, the conference was one of the most successful ever held, according to Callaway.
Ringing In the Next 100 Years the next century gala
ornish’s centennial year ended with a party and a pledge to future students, marking a time to focus the College on the its next 100 years. The Next Century Gala brought board members, contributors, friends, students, faculty, and staff to the stylish Four Seasons Hotel on November 13 to celebrate the moment. This gala, as it does every year, has a vital mission: funding scholarships and making a Cornish education possible for deserving students. This year, over half a million dollars was raised for this purpose. The gala’s purpose was serious, but so was its fun. After the black-tie guests to Cornish’s Next Century Gala entered the Four Season Hotel, they were greeted by Cornish students and invited to watch performances of “Tiny Dances” choreographed by Wade Madsen. Next up was a screening of itsy bitsy, a film created by Cornish dance student JuJu Kusanagi ’16 and her sister Lisa Kusanagi. The Kusunagi Sisters (as they call their production company) won the Audience Choice Award at the 40 NORTH Dance Film Festival 2015 and itsy bitsy has been screened at multiple festivals. Other student performances included musicians Andrew Forbes, Ruby Dunphy, and Michael Conlin, as well as the alumni-student jazz ensemble Lucas Winter Trio (Lucas Winter, Adam Kessler, and Paul Gabrielson).
(A) Timothy McCuen Piggee emceeing (B) Brian Yorkey (C) Honorable Ed Murray, Mayor of Seattle (D) Student performing in Wade Madsen’s “Tiny Dances” (E) The Next Century Gala Co-Chairs. From left to right: Doug Francis, Marianne Francis, Jody Cunningham, and Mark Mennella.
(F) Stephanie J. Block knocks ’em dead at the gala (G) Cornish students Ruby Dunphy ’17, drums, Michael Conklin ’15, sax, and Andrew Forbes ’16, trumpet
The evening’s welcome speeches began when Linda Brown, Chair of the Board of Trustees, acknowledged faculty member Timothy McCuen Piggee’s recent receipt of the 2015 Gregory A. Falls Award for Sustained Achievement and his many contributions to theater in Seattle as well as at Cornish. Piggee acted as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Dr. Nancy J. Uscher acknowledged the distinguished history of Cornish, which figured prominently in the birth of the American avant garde movement, and the many achievements of its alumni in Seattle and around the world. She noted the evolving role of the artist in society and the ways in which Cornish prepares its students to be leaders in a changing world. “Our own graduate, and now trustee, Eleuthera Lisch, has spent decades using her artistic talents to work on the prevention of gang violence and to frame gang behavior as a public health issue,” Uscher said. Her remarks were followed by the Honorable Ed Murray, Mayor of Seattle, and theater student AnnaClaire Laush ’17. Murray touched on the recent tragedy in France as well as the importance of the arts to bridge cultures and bring people together. Laush spoke of being a “rebel” who dared to take her dreams of a career in the arts seriously, rather than seeking a college degree that led to
a more mundane job. Laush also acknowledged the support of people like the Gala audience that made her scholarships and college career possible. Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright and director Brian Yorkey, who directed the current production of My Fair Lady at Village Theatre, also spoke movingly about the arts. Then the crowd was presented with what the power of art can do, via the vocal pyrotechnics of special guest Stephanie J. Block, who had taught a master class to Cornish musical theater students earlier that day. Everyone learned what kind of star quality puts an artist in Broadway musicals and earns a Tony Award nomination. Block received warm applause punctuated with standing, whooping, ovations for “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl and for a song from a role she defined on the national tour of Wicked, Elphaba’s “Defying Gravity.” The song selections were perfect, a celebratory start to Cornish’s second century as Nellie’s dream that keeps marching on, no matter what the weather, and Cornish’s students defy expectations as artists, citizens, and innovators.
Bonnie Bird & Company AN EXPERIMENTAL DANCE-THEATER COLLABORATION AT CORNISH CHANGES THE DIRECTION OF ART MID CENTURY
There is hidden drama behind a series of familiar photographs from Cornish’s “golden years.” Unpopular, unappreciated, seemingly dead-end: no one caught up in the events of 1937-40 could have predicted how huge the work of an ad hoc dance-theater company set up by Director of Dance Bonnie Bird ’27-30 would be. More than a half century ago, Seattle photographer Phyllis Dearborn froze on black-and-white film a moment from a whimsical bit of choreography. There are four dancers in the shot, but our attention falls first on the familiar face of the young man with the curly hair. Almost anyone connected with the College can tell you who it is: Merce Cunningham. Cunningham, as everyone knows, went on from Cornish to become one of the major figures of 20thcentury dance, and any picture of him that show him at work are treasured keepsakes at Cornish, icons of the school’s glory days. The images are iconic, too, for one who is not pictured but happily haunts the photos—the musical director of the piece, John Cage. Almost as many know that he, too, went on to become a major figure in 20th century art, as a composer. Cornish introduced Cunningham and Cage, and they entered into a life-long professional and personal partnership. Called 3 Inventories of Casey Jones the piece was a fun romp—but the fun so brilliantly captured in the photo masked a very serious drama that was unfolding at Cornish. There is, in fact, something almost Shakespearean in the size of it. The story behind the photo puts in stark contrast the brilliant impulses that made Cornish an internationally important center of arts education in the 25 years it had existed and those darker ones that pulled it back towards obscurity. One might say it is the story of greatness laid low by what the Greeks called hamartia—a heroic flaw.
THE YEAR WAS 1937 This is significant in setting the drama because it is a mere two years before Nellie Cornish would leave the school that bore her name, a departure that ended an era, a philosophy, and a revolution in arts education and began a PAGE 12
By Maximilian Bocek
period of tumult and bad feeling. At the center of the drama was the young head of the Dance Department, a product of the Cornish School and a favorite of Nelly Cornish. This dancer, choreographer, and educator would go on to great success, alumna Bonnie Bird ‘27-30.
BONNIE BIRD Bonnie Bird was, like Nellie Cornish, a daughter of the Northwest: straightforward, tough-minded, resilient, and hard-working. Born in Portland the year Nellie founded Cornish, 1914, Bird grew up both in Seattle and in the countryside beyond its city limits, what is now Bothell, Washington. A great lover of horses, her highest aspiration as a girl was to become a rodeo trick rider and roper, according to her biographer, Karen Bell-Kanner. This plan for her development was undermined the day in Seattle when she saw her next-door neighbor, the son of her mother’s friend, doing his ballet exercises. The young dancer’s name was Caird Leslie. He had been dancing with Adolph Bolm, a partner to Anna Pavlova in Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Some time later, Leslie took her backstage to meet Pavlova when the great dancer came to Seattle on tour. Young Bonnie migrated in her dreams from “Bonnie Bird, rodeo queen” and “Bonnie Bird, veterinarian” to “Bonnie Bird, prima ballerina.” At about the age of nine, in about 1923, Bonnie became one of Leslie’s first ballet students in his new school. Worth noting is that it is likely that Karen Irvin, longtime head of Dance at Cornish from 1954 to 1979, took classes with her: Irvin listed Leslie as her teacher and she and Bonnie Bird were roughly the same age. Irvin would go on to form the influential Cornish Ballet that was the center of the art in the Northwest for a generation.
Merce Cunningham, Bonnie Bird, Syvilla Fort, and Dorothy Herrmann in 3 Inventories of Casey Jones, choreographed by Bonnie Bird, set by Xenia Cage, music by Ray Green under the direction of John Cage, the Cornish School, 1938. Photo by Phyllis Dearborn © Michael Cunningham; from the Bonnie Bird Collection at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
to New York to prepare for her company—as soon as she finished high school. Bird was able to graduate high school in August of 1931, finishing classes there at the expense of work at Cornish. She left for New York with Nellie’s blessing, but without finishing the dance program at the School—it was not unusual for young artists to leave Cornish early to pursue professional opportunities.
In 1927, when Bird was 13, Leslie folded his ballet school into the Cornish School and became head of Dance. It was the second go-round for Leslie at the Cornish School, and, as it turned out, his stay was no more successful than it had been before. By 1928 he was gone and the future of ballet instruction was in question. Nellie called each dance student into her office to deliver the news personally that ballet was being deemphasized in favor of modern dance [see the May 2015 Cornish magazine feature on Louise Soelberg, page 10]. “Modern” was still very much developing as a form. Bell-Kanner describes the Nellie’s rationale for the decision, as told to Bird: “Miss Cornish told her she was convinced that the best way to educate young dancers was to stimulate them to make their own artistic decisions, and ballet training did not prepare them for this.” Ever strong-willed and rebellious, Bird organized an underground ballet class at Cornish in protest. This revolt was shrugged off by Nellie Cornish, it seems, who no doubt saw something of herself in Bird. “She was my mentor,” Bird said of Nellie, “and she bossed me around a lot. She also thought I was one of the most stubborn [sic] that she ever knew.” But the new head of Dance, Louise Soelberg ’26, slowly won her over to modern. At a time when everyone in the world was trying just to define what modern dance was, Soelberg was teaching the newer form by teaching ballet alongside it—the very recipe used at Cornish today. Her progress was such that Bird was ready in 1930 when a dancer and choreographer at the upsweep of a meteoric rise arrived to fill what had become an important role at Cornish, running the summer program. This was Martha Graham.
MARTHA GRAHAM “When this fierce, dynamic, and startling woman—very small, very fiery—the impact of her classes was extraordinary,” Bird recounted to Bell-Kanner about meeting Martha Graham at Cornish. Whatever longing Bird still felt for classical ballet was washed away. Graham was also impressed with Bird: she invited her
Bird arrived in New York to find two other Cornish students already brought in by Graham, Dorothy Bird (no relation) and Nelle Fisher. As part of their training in preparation for dancing in Graham’s company, they took acting classes at the famed Neighborhood Playhouse. Bird began a long and fruitful relationship with Martha Graham, first as student and ward, then as a dancer in her company, the Graham Group. Later, her can-do attitude made her a trusted assistant and led at last to her certification as a teacher of Graham technique. It was an exciting time for Bird, but after five years of intense work and touring with Graham, she felt ready to strike out on her own. There were just the beginnings of degree programs in America, and she was setting out with what was as complete an education in dance as was available at the time. She found her new opportunity exactly where she had bloomed as a dancer, Cornish. Nellie Cornish hired her in the spring of 1937 as the new head of her school’s Dance Department.
CORNISH AND “BONNIE BIRD AND GROUP” Bonnie Bird was excited at the prospect of returning home to Cornish. She was just 23 years old. Her return to the Northwest had just included a highly successful summer workshop at the University of Washington. Building on this, she had suggested to Nellie Cornish that she could be advertised as the only certified teacher of Graham Technique on the West Coast. But the circumstances of Bird’s return to Cornish were unsettled at best and nightmarish at worst. The school was in the decline of the Nellie years. In 1937-8, Nellie was waging a running battle with the directors over money and the structure of the school’s curricula. In these last years, Cornish described herself as “a tired, sick woman” and she admitted to barely knowing several members of the board of the school she had founded. She hired Bird in 1937, but was so distracted she didn’t advertise the classes at all. When Bonnie Bird arrived for the fall term, she was crushed to find this out, and at its result: she would have just a handful of students. “I expected to start reconstruction from the bottom up,” Bell-Kanner quotes Bird as saying, “but I never realized how barren the bottom could be.” PAGE 13
Faced with the disappointment of the limited enrollment, she could have meekly held her tiny classes and collected her pay and had done with it—but she had the gumption that has so often characterized Cornish alumnae. In modern parlance, Bird decided to look at the diminutive size of the department as “not a flaw, but a feature.” She decided to pour her considerable creative energy into forging a unique learning environment for her students and her school. It resulted in the creation of what was for all intents and purposes a collaborative dance theater company. By May 6, 1938, when Bird and her dancers took part in a fund-raiser to support the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War, they had an identity. They appeared as “Bonnie Bird and Group” – elsewhere billed as “Bonnie Bird and her Dance Group.” It is evident that Bird thought of her collection of students and teachers as a production unit.
SYVILLA FORT AND THE DANCERS Luckily, two of Bird’s small contingent of dance students were quite good: Dorothy Herrmann and Syvilla Fort. The two were in almost all the photos of “Bonnie Bird and Group.” Dorothy Herrmann, like Bird before her, was to have the opportunity to leave Cornish early to dance with Martha Graham, but opted instead for married life. Her classmate Syvilla Fort would go on to become an important figure in American dance. Fort can be seen in almost every photograph from this time. She was an African American who got by pretty well, all things considered, in an era of Jim Crow laws and bald-faced racism in America. For years she had been solo-tutored in dance, as no ballet school in Seattle would accept her. Generous even as a girl, Fort turned around and organized dance classes for the smaller children in her neighborhood to pass on what she learned, an experience which presaged her later fame as a teacher in New York. But where other schools said no to Fort, Cornish said yes. There’s nothing much about her in the school records— though, admittedly, much is lost—but the impression is that she was accepted at Cornish without much fuss of any kind, no complaints on the one hand and no institutional self-congratulation on the other. Fort stayed at Cornish for five years, completing the course; it may be assumed that she was happy at the School, or at least content.
MERCE CUNNINGHAM AND THE ACTORS Bird’s first order of business on discovering her withered department was to attract more students. Due in large part to the open structure of the school
under Nellie Cornish, theater students were required to take dance. With what seems to have been an imaginative blend of dance and theater, Bird managed to entice a few acting students, such as Jack Tyo and Cole Weston, son of famed photographer Edward Weston, to spend more and more time in dance. She was especially taken with a lanky young man named Mercier Cunningham. Cunningham, “Merce” to his friends, had taken a good deal of dance in his younger years in small-town Centralia, Wash. Cunningham was not thriving in his drama classes, and Bird offered him a chance to express himself in a way that bridged drama and dance. Bird could see something special in him, even then. “Even though he was still raw,” Bird told Bell-Kanner, “he had a magical quality that wowed people.” It was not long before Cunningham transferred to the Dance Department.
SITE-SPECIFIC DANCE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE The summer before she took over the reins at Cornish, Bird met the man she was to marry, Ralph Gundlach. Gundlach was a professor at the University of Washington and deeply interested in political action on the left. Bird was attracted to these causes, too. She felt strongly about the cause célèbre of the moment, the Spanish Civil War, in which General Franco enlisted the aid of Nazi Germany to crush the elected government of the Republic. This interest in social action informed her work at Cornish from very early on. One of the first pieces she and her nascent resident company produced raised money for medical supplies for Spain. The piece presented was Skinny Structures presented sometime, probably, in the fall term of 1937. There were some fascinating aspects to Skinny Structures that show us today the kind of teacher Bird was and what the “Bonnie Bird Company” stood for. First, it was a site-specific piece choreographed into and through a row of adjoining “skinny houses” built by Gundlach and a group of UW professors on narrow lots. In 1937, modern dance was still very new itself, and the added element of being site-specific was very daring and very imaginitive. It is true that, following Isadora Duncan ant her, dancers had performed outdoors, but Skinny Structures took “site-specific” to a whole other level. Second, putting Bird’s collaborative impulses on display, the piece was designed with input from the ensemble, which included Fort, Cunningham, and Herrmann. The piece was restaged in the Cornish Theatre (now the PONCHO Concert Hall) the next year. From this small first step, the socially active work of the company grew. At the end of the next term, in May 1938, they were featured in Dances for Spain, a much larger effort. The core group was joined onstage by theater students and Cunningham housemates Jack Tyo and Cole Weston.
JOHN CAGE For her first year at Cornish, Ralph Gilbert had accompanied and composed for Bonnie Bird and the Dance Department. As were so many
at the school during this time, Gilbert was poached by Martha Graham. He went on to a successful career writing and performing in New York. During the following summer of 1938, while with Graham at the Mills/Bennington workshop in Oakland, Bird was on the prowl for someone to replace Gilbert. She was introduced to a young composer who had studied with Schoenberg, John Cage. Cage warned her that he was an experimentalist, and Bonnie, fresh from her experiences with Skinny Structures and Dances for Spain, assured him that she was, too. Bird and Cage started from the same page, but problems were still there. Nellie laid it all out in a letter to Cage on August 25, 1938 about his incipient hiring. “The Dance Dept. [sic] is small, as we have changed faculty too often recently, and Miss Bird is virtually starting from scratch.” It got worse. “For this reason, the salary has to be very small.” This did not dissuade him. Cage and his wife, Xenia—who would go on to become an established figure in the New York art world—decamped California for Seattle. Cage had been engaged as an accompanist, but also as a composer for dance, just as Gilbert had been. It was, apparently, not an unusual combination. Soon after arriving at Cornish, he also became a member of the faculty teaching a class in composition. With the addition of Cage, for the 1938 academic year, the “Bonnie Bird Group” was fully formed. From all indications, Bonnie Bird led her department in a very free and exciting exploration of dance, theater, and music. The photos themselves reveal work that was offbeat and fun. There is one key story, though, that displays how the work unfolded. Arriving at a studio for class one day, Bird and Cage found that no piano had been provided for accompaniment. Rather than cancel, the decision was somehow made for John Cage to lead a wild percussion accompaniment using whatever objects and surfaces were available in the space. This might seem fun and trivial, but it speaks volumes about the relationship of Bird and Cage, and the complete integration of Cage into the fabric of the class. It is also the first glimmerings of a direction for Cage’s music that would make him famous. Far left: Syvilla Fort, late 1940s or early ‘50s, photographer unknown, probably dancing with the Katherine Dunham Company. Bottom left: John Cage (center, seated) performs with his percussion ensemble at Cornish, c. 1938. Photographer unknown.
It is the year 1938 that Casey Jones came to the stage of the Cornish Theater. Bird choreographed (and possibly designed the costumes), the dancers danced, John Cage organized the music, and Xenia Cage designed the set. The whole piece was set to percussion music, Cage’s most recent obsession. For it, he contacted a number of avant garde composers he knew. Cage would go on to found one of the first percussion orchestra ever at Cornish, made up of himself, Xenia, some actors, dancers, and a music student. The instruments were whatever was at hand or could be fabricated. The group toured the West Coast. Later, more music students were added to the group. During the summer of 1939, Bird took Cunningham and Herrmann to Mills with her to work with Martha Graham. Graham was impressed with her students. As she had done with Bird herself, Graham invited both to begin training with her company. Herrmann had fallen in love with Cole Weston, and so declined. Merce Cunningham, on the other hand, eagerly followed Bird’s lead to the letter, accepting the invitation to go to New York a year short of completing his Cornish degree. For Bird it was a fiasco; the department was paper thin as it was without losing a dancer like him. Her worries extended to Cage and what plans, if any, were in the works for him as the School prepared for life without Nellie Cornish. “John Cage is giving a concert next Thursday at Mills College,” wrote Bird to the assistant head of school on July 29 of that year. “The people here are very impressed with him. I think it would be unwise for Cornish to lose him – I would advise writing to him – he is restless because of the school’s indecisiveness [illegible words] to reach a conclusion.” By the start of the new term in 1939, having experimented throughout the prior year and come to terms with the dire departmental situation, Bonnie Bird was ready to formalize a solution for dance at Cornish. Her solution was inventive as it was bold. She proposed starting a professional resident company at Above: Merce Cunningham and Dorothy Herrmann in flight at summer program, Mills College, 1939. Photo attributed to Bonnie Bird, from the Bonnie Bird Collection at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Cornish coupled with an aggressive appeal to high-school-age dance students. Whether Bird was unaware of the fact or whether her proposal was made in the face of it, Nellie Cornish was in her last months. Most likely, Bird did know; such a thing would be hard to hide. In any case, her idea was rejected. Bird rescued half of the proposal, and as 1940 began and with it the spring term, Bird gathered young dancers and put them to work on a project that was part Cornish, part independent. It would go on to produce America Was Promises on the Cornish stage, which Bird choreographed, in large part, to the spoken word. The spring term of 1940 also began without Nellie Cornish. The forces that had been pushing for change allied with those seeking to fill the power vacuum left by the director’s departure. Bonnie Bird’s program had, it seems, not been terribly popular in many quarters, and this was about to come home. By February and March, the acting director informed John Cage that his contract would not be renewed and Bird that she would no longer be head of the department. Cage’s firing and Bird’s demotion were part of a general restructuring of Nellie’s faculty and curriculum. Offered the opportunity to teach separate classes at Cornish for whatever she could make on percentage, Bird declined. On contract through May of 1940, she planned to take the beginnings she had made of a resident company at Cornish and make it an independent school. As the academic year ended, so had an era. Bird had her new school in the U District, Merce was in New York, Cage and his wife were in Chicago working with the New Bauhaus, and Dorothy Herrmann, Cole Weston, and Syvilla Fort graduated, soon to relocate in Los Angeles. And Nellie Cornish herself had left the scene. Other than a sketchy trail of documents and what we can make of them, Phyllis Dearborn’s pictures of the Bonnie Bird Company are what we have of this signal moment for Cornish and, indeed, for arts education in the last century.
Merce Cunningham (with the hands of Bonnie Bird, Syvilla Fort, and Dorothy Herrmann) in Imaginary Landscape, Cornish School, 1939, choreography by the ensemble, music by John Cage. Photo by Phyllis Dearborn © Michael Cunningham; from the Bonnie Bird Collection at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. FOR MORE ON BONNIE BIRD SEE PAGE 23.
Sidra Bell Finds Cornish Dancers Ready To Create by Rosemary Jones he Fall 2015 Concert of Cornish Dance Theater, the performing ensemble of the Dance Department at Cornish College of the Arts, featured a new work by Sidra Bell as well as the choreography of Dayna Hanson, Pat Hon, Veronica Lee-Baik, and Paula J. Peters ’07. New York choreographer Bell was an artist-in-residence at Cornish this fall. She worked collaboratively with the student dancers to generate “3 durations.” With an emphasis on pure movement, Bell and the dancers created a vocabulary that allowed for a sense of play that could shift from performance to performance. “Each community has its own culture. And I never know what to expect. And the more I try to embrace that, the less restrained I am. What I do like about [working with college students] is that you are on the cusp of what is happening in the dance world,” said Bell. When coming to a school, and she’s in demand at colleges throughout North America and Europe, Bell always tries to create a new work rather than set an older piece on the students. “It’s interesting to see how bodies are changing. The field is shifting. I try to be responsive to what is happening now. I like being part of the conversation. With the online culture, you know everyone now. There’s such a dialogue happening. That’s why I like moving with [the students] and generating with them, and not bringing in older work,” she said. Bell began dancing at the Dance Theater of Harlem. Her mother “put me in Saturday morning classes and, as I got more serious, I moved into their preprofessional classes,” she said. From this conservatory school with a primary focus on classical ballet, Bell, at age 15, went to The Ailey School. In 1969, Alvin Ailey founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York, with the philosophy that dance instruction should be made available to everyone. In that way that all dancers are interconnected, Bell worked with teachers at these New York institutions who had danced for Martha Graham. And Graham, of course, had a long and illustrious history with Cornish. However, unlike Graham and many others, Bell didn’t go directly from dance school in her teens into performing. Instead she earned a BA in History from Yale University. “I just didn’t want to specify [dance as a career] at 18. I wanted a normalized liberal arts education,” said Bell. “I really liked language and
literature. I ended up doing my thesis on the Harlem Renaissance, so I was still combining dance with history.” She also remained active in a student dance company. “I started choreographing there. That’s what activated the creative part of me and I organized symposiums on dance on campus,” Bell said. At age 22, she decided to start producing work. “For the next three years, I was creating work. Then I was asked if I wanted to do my master’s. It took another year to decide that was what I wanted,” she said. She also called her MFA years her “learn how to run a company years” as she studied the business as well as the art of dance while getting an MFA in Choreography from Purchase College Conservatory of Dance. As the artistic director of Sidra Bell Dance New York (SBDNY), Bell’s choreography often demonstrates a natural fluidity between the genders. The roles are very rarely set by the sex of the person who danced it last. A part danced by a woman in one outing could be dance by a man in the next. “It never mattered to me who was doing what. Once I started building repertory, it became interesting to have people exchange roles,” she said. “It is always about the essence of the person and not their gender. It embodies futurism in that way. It’s not subscribing roles to genders [like classical dance].” When working at Kerry Hall, Bell often got right in the middle of the group of students, moving with them as they developed the work. “I like to work in the now with the people who are in front of me,” Bell said. “Also I like moving with [the students]. That’s how I get my kicks, since I’m not performing. For now, my body responds in that way. It’s all about the embodiment of the movement.” As a guest artist, Bell also asks the students “to break their training. Go a little further and make those decisions along the lines of ‘this is my body, how does it respond and ingest material?’” As her time at Cornish came to a close, she was leaving the college impressed by the students that she met. “I like that there is such a range [at Cornish]. I didn’t know any of them before I came in,” said Bell. “There’s a really nice synergy of them listening to each other. That’s also a real testament to the school, that they’re prepared to be in the studio with a choreographer. Also that they’re not rigid in the way that they are thinking about movement.”
Photos by Mark Bocek
Sidra Bell’s residency at Cornish was made possible through the support from the Bossak Heilbron Charitable Foundation. ERRATA: In our last issue of Cornish magazine, we we failed to
note the copyright on the wonderful photo of alumna Dana Sapiro in Pina Bausch’s Keuschheitslegende. Please note that the image is © Pina Bausch Foundation / photo: Ulli Weiss. Thanks again to the Pina Bausch Foundation in Wuppertal, Germany, for allowing us to use the image and to Dr. Anne-Kathrin Reif for her assistance with setting everything up.
Spring Events at Cornish Every year, Cornish presents more than 200 separate events to the public. In the spring, these range from student recitals at Kerry Hall’s PONCHO Concert Hall to the always surprising O!Fest at the Seattle Center to our year-end gigantic Art and Design BFA show (see page 20) in Lui and Beebe. There’s also visiting artists, last minute pop-up performances, and something that somebody hasn’t even thought up yet but is going to be magnificent. It’s the Cornish way. Art happens here, both visual and performing, and it happens often. Here’s a few events to put on your “to do” list. For more, check Cornish’s calendar at www.cornish.com/events. There’s going to be additions every month! CORNISH WINTER NEW WORKS FESTIVAL February 12 and 13, 8:00 p.m. February 19 and 20 at 8:00 p.m. February 26 and 27 at 8:00 p.m. Alhadeff Studio at Seattle Center Cornish Theater’s annual Winter New Works Festival, is a series of readings of new plays by members of the senior class in our Theater/Original Works program. The writers collaborate on the development of their scripts with professional directors and dramaturgs and casts of Cornish theater students. All performances free and open to the public.
BFA DANCE CONCERTS 2016 February 20 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. February 27 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Broadway Performance Hall The BFA Dance Concerts showcase the choreography and performance work of Cornish Dance Department’s class of 2016. An eclectic array of dance styles and viewpoints will be represented and the concert series will include performances of works commissioned from professional guest choreographers. Free, but reservations will be taken online.
GOOD KIDS By Naomi Iizuka Produced by the Theater Department April 8, 12, 15 at 8:00 p.m., April 17 at 1:00 p.m. Skinner Theater at Raisbeck Performance Hall Something happened to Chloe after that party last Saturday night. Something she says she can’t remember. Something everybody is talking about. Set at a Midwestern high school in a world of Facebook and Twitter, smart phones, and YouTube, Good Kids explores a casual sexual encounter gone wrong and its very public aftermath.
CORNISH DANCE THEATER SPRING 2016 CONCERT April 22 at 8:00 p.m. and April 23 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center Presented with support from the Bossak Heilbron Charitable Foundation Cornish Dance Theater, the performing ensemble of the Dance Department at Cornish College of the Arts, will feature choreography by Wade Madsen, Deborah Wolf, Jason Ohlberg, and guests.
THE WINTER’S TALE A GENERATIVE THEATER PIECE Created by Members of the Sophomore Ensemble April 10 at 7:00 p.m., April 14 and 16 at 8:00 p.m., April 17 at 7:30 p.m. Skinner Theater at Raisbeck Performance Hall Theater without a net! The generative project will use the play Good Kids as a jumping-off point for a thematic investigation, but the methodology of the process and the shape of the eventual production will be developed by the ensemble and the director.
By William Shakespeare April 22 and April 23 at 2:00 p.m., April 24 at 7:00 p.m., April 29 at 2:00 p.m., April 30 at 8:00 p.m., and May 1 at 7:00 p.m. Alhadeff Studio at The Cornish Playhouse This continent-spanning tale of jealousy, betrayal, and redemption features some of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters. All performances are free and advance reservations will be available online.
O!FEST 2016 INTO THE WOODS Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim Book by James Lapine Produced by the Theater Department April 9 and 13 at 8:00 p.m., April 16 at 2:00 p.m., and April 17 at 5:00 p.m. Skinner Theater at Raisbeck Performance Hall Everyone’s favorite storybook characters reflect on what happens after “happily ever after” in this modern classic performed in an intimate setting.
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN Screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green Songs by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed Presented by the Theater and Performance Production Departments April 12 to 15 at 8:00 p.m. and April 16 at 2:00 pm Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center The “Greatest Movie Musical of All Time” is faithfully and lovingly adapted by Broadway legends Betty Comden and Adolph Green from their original award-winning screenplay. Each unforgettable scene, song, and dance in this a hit-parade score of Hollywood standards make Singin’ In The Rain the perfect entertainment.
April 21 to May 1 Alhadeff Studio at the Cornish Playhouse Cornish celebrates the creativity of our Original Works juniors with our annual O!Fest. The Clown Show, directed by David Taft, and 10 Minute Play Festival, curated by Kathleen Collins and Elizabeth Heffron, runs in repertory with The Winter’s Tale at the Alhadeff Studio at the Cornish Playhouse. Come to one, or come to all three, they’re free.
THE SILVER FOX A one-act chamber opera by Libby Larson April 25, 8:00 p.m. Produced by the Music Department PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall The Cornish Modern Opera Project presents The Silver Fox, a mystical, mythical one-act opera by American composer Libby Larsen, based on a Cajun legend and set in the Louisiana Bayou. This exciting, interactive production will feature a cast of six Cornish Classical Voice majors, supported by an instrumental chamber ensemble led by Cornish alumnus Greg Smith and directed by Cornish faculty member Michael Delos. The evening will begin with a “curtain-raiser” called Animagus, featuring songs by American composers Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, and Jake Hegge.
Kronos Quartet Residency at Cornish College of the Arts 2016
As part of the previously announced Kronos Quartet/Kronos Performing Arts Association’s program Fifty For the Future: The Kronos Learning Repertoire (Cornish Magazine, May 2015), the Kronos Quartet will be in Seattle from February 20–24. Cornish students from all departments will have an opportunity to interact with the group. Discussions and demonstrations will occur in both the visual arts and performing arts departments. The work undertaken will range from curating drawings that can be “translated” into music to master classes on composition. Concurrent with this residency, the campus community will be engaging in the generative creative process of producing new works such as art, dance, multimedia, and spoken word pieces inspired by these interactions, said Dr. Nancy J. Uscher, President. Student Life plans to host the Kronos Quartet on the Cornish Commons’ 20th floor for an evening Q&A about a life in the arts complete with dessert for all.
Sarah Perry Named Vice President of Advancement Sarah Perry was named Vice President of Advancement for Cornish College of the Arts in June. “Sarah brings a rich history of working with local and national foundations such as Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, and Carpenter Foundation,” said Dr. Nancy J. Uscher, President of Cornish College of the Arts. “As Cornish moves forward in developing several new programs and expanding our current properties to serve our students and wider community, we’re delighted to have Sarah here.” At Seattle University, Perry was the Senior Director of Development for University Intiatives & School of Theology and Ministry. She brought the university significant support for student scholarships, special projects, and faculty scholarships. She also served as a key leader in a number of initiatives involving Seattle University alumni including Search for Meaning Book Festival and other outreach events. As Director of Stewardship, she worked on major initiatives on Faith & Family Homelessness, interfaith dialogue, ecumenical dialogue, student debt and economic literacy and management, and a host of scholarship and program fundraising for students in the US and abroad. She is also the mother of two Cornish students, Maya Ramos, a music student, and Max Ramos, an art major. For Perry, Cornish really means family.
CORNISH’S ADVANCEMENT TEAM AT THE NEXT CENTURY GALA
From left to right, Iris Calpo, Advancement Services and Annual Fund Manager; Jennifer Sherer, Donor Stewardship Coordinator; Jill Carnine, Special Events and Donor Stewardship Manager; Patrice Edwards, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations; and Sarah Perry, Vice-President of Advancement.
Art & Design
BFA Exhibition May 9—17
15 Graphic by Drew Hamlet ’10
Friday, May 8, 5—8PM 2—7PM cornish.edu/expo
Beebe Centennial Lab Filling galleries in two buildings Building at Cornish College of the Art’s downtown 2014 9th Ave. 2000 Terry Ave. Seattle campus, EXPO 15 was Cornish’s most expansive exhibition Seattle, WA Seattle, WA of work yet from graduating seniors in the Art, Design, and Film+Media departments.
Lauren MacDonald’s installation used both Japanese and Western woodblock techniques. “I have started to combine these with the common materials I often use in my sculpture work to create installations,” explained MacDonald. Her installation expanding a print series, The Manor, “into an installation piece examining the idea of a secret passageway.” She built miniature rooms to be placed within the walls of a life-sized room and visible only through peepholes. PAGE 20
Noelle Hoffman ’15
One of the emerging artists in EXPO 15 was Annieo Klaas, who grew up in Dakar, Senegal, and came to Seattle to study at Cornish. Her artwork has been displayed at shows in such Seattle neighborhoods as Capitol Hill, West Seattle, Georgetown, Fremont, and, this August, Pioneer Square. For EXPO 15, she created an ethereal installation of hanging paper and embroidered collages. Klaas uses obtrusive processes such as sewing through thin paper with wet thread, piercing or ripping her materials with sharp objects, and staining them with saffron dyes, charcoal powder, or washes of oil paint to explore the relationship between the artist and the artwork. Following graduation, she had a solo exhibition at Bustle on Queen Anne called Imagined Spaces. That exhibition was a reflection on used green tea bags and Donald Kuspit, the noted art critic and poet.
Toby Warren ’15
During the run-up to the May 2015 exhibition, several seniors described their work as the result of experimentation encouraged by Cornish’s faculty. These students believed that the show also reflected a senior class which they called both provocative and supportive–as befitting the Centennial graduating class of Cornish College.
Kaire Shiowaki ’15
Angela Gilham ’15
EXPO 15 Featured 98 Seniors
“It is playful and nostalgic with darker undertones, such as the loss of innocence or the duality of a place,” she said. Originally from Portland, Oregon, MacDonald’s work was exhibited at “Interventions” (2014) at Clark Lake Park in Kent, Washington.
Sean McNally ’15
Megan Wyma ’15
Melissa Martin ’15
DESIGN SENIORS DISPLAY WIDE RANGE In the Beebe Building gallery at 2014 9th Avenue, the student work explored the wide range of visual communications, interior architecture projects, and more that falls under the heading of Design at Cornish. For EXPO15, design senior Patrick Perkins created a typeface, “Pacific.” This font explored rhythm, balance, and systematic thinking. Currently employed at a boutique firm Mint Design, which specializes in packaging and identity, Perkins interned at Seattle’s Modern Dog, where he worked on a variety of projects from festival posters to copy writing to brand identity. Another design senior created a computer game titled The Pear and the Cinnamon Roll: a Digestive Platformer. Rose Burt explained that her game places the player in the “role of a ‘digestive spirit,’ collecting the food’s essence for the body’s use. It explores an appreciation of the beauty of food, the contrast between whole and processed foods, and the unquantifiable nature of nutrition.” The game was inspired by Burt’s conviction that it is necessary to overcome the “disconnect” between production of food and consumption in an industrial society, both for the health of the individual and for the health of the planet. Burt also created a process blog about her “foodventure” to share with fellow designers how she built her game. Through March 2016, selections of each artist’s work displayed in EXPO15 can be seen at www.cornish.edu/expo/
BFA EXPO16 PUBLIC OPENING, APRIL 29, 5:00 TO 8:00 P.M. Our largest student art exhibition of the year features the work of all Art and Design seniors. Look for previews at www.cornish.edu by mid-April.
Accelerated Master of Arts In Teaching Offered to Cornish Students
ornish students who envisage a career as teachers of pre-school to 12th-grade art and design now have a clear and easy path thanks to a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) offered through Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). This five-year, dual-degree program allows visual arts students to finish their Cornish BFA on a normal schedule. Completion of MAT requirements requires a summer in residency in Vermont between their junior and senior year and a second summer residency after graduation, but the bulk of the work can be performed in the locations of their choosing. “We are delighted to announce this program in partnership with Vermont College of Fine Arts,” said Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs Moira Scott Payne. “It is important to us that we build opportunities for our students with colleges that embody the values that we hold dear here in Cornish. Just as we do, VCFA believes in innovation built on a deep respect for the combination of practice and theory, with a student-centered approach that recognizes the real life needs and contexts of the individual.” The Vermont College of Fine Arts has designed a program that efficiently moves students toward their goals. “Our partnership allows students to complete their BFA, MAT, and acquire teaching licensure in five years,” said Jay Ericson, VCFA’s director of marketing and communications. “This unique summer-residency program offers an innovative curriculum that will prepare students to be successful, confident teachers with a focus on contemporary artistic practice, in high demand for hiring.” Unique in its mission as a graduate-only college, the fully accredited Vermont College of Fine Arts was established in 2008. The college is, however, the descendent of an educational tradition going back to 1834, when it was founded as Newbury Seminary. Its present campus in picturesque Montpelier, Vermont, was established in 1868. Montpelier is the smallest state capitol in the country, with a population of just under 8,000. Also diminutive is the college itself, with a total population of 360 graduate students. Many of its programs predate the formal establishment of VCFA; they include MFAs in writing, writing and publishing, visual art, graphic design, and music composition. VCFA describes the program in these terms: “Undergraduate art, design and media majors who are creative thinkers and skilled problem solvers are ideal candidates for this unique low-residency opportunity. Junior year students in good academic standing are eligible to apply for this dual degree option. Students enroll and participate in their first VCFA MAT summer residency—which focuses on pedagogy, theory and hands-on materials workshops –– between their junior and senior years. They complete their fieldwork/observation cycle and pre-thesis work in Seattle while completing their undergraduate degree.” The accelerated Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) also is open to Cornish alumni with a BFA in Art or Design. Alumni and current students are eligible for the Cornish Artist, Citizen, Innovator, Educator Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship that recognizes the commitment of Cornish to teach the next generation. To learn more about VCFA’s MAT program, visit the program’s website at www.vcfa.edu/ art-design-education or contact Program Director Marni Leikin at (802) 828-8553 or marni.leikin@ vcfa.edu.
Dr. Bonnie Bird Gundlach: The Long, Rich Road from Cornish
ever, possibly, since Samuel Johnson became “Dr. Johnson” in 1775 via an honorary doctorate has such a degree so fittingly transformed a recipient. Cornish alumna Bonnie Bird Gundlach (her married name), received a Doctor of Arts in London not just in recognition of artistic achievement, but for work specifically related to academic advancement. She was, in the words of today’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance “instrumental in the evolution of Laban into the leading dance education and training school it is today”: In 1974, at the age at which most people retire, she was invited by Marion North, Principal of Laban, to become Director of the Dance Theatre Department. Here she was able to apply and develop her theories on dance training by helping to institute Britain’s first BA (Hons) degree in Dance Theatre studies, and subsequently Britain’s first MA and PhD degrees in Dance Studies. In 1982 Bonnie Bird founded Transitions Dance Company, Britain’s foremost professional training company for young dancers. She remained Artistic Director until her death in 1995.
Bonnie Bird used to joke with Merce Cunningham that she was sorry to lose him to Martha Graham a year before he was to finish at Cornish because “I haven’t finished your arms!” Here Bird displays the kind of thing Cunningham missed as she works with a young dancer from her Trinity Laban Transitions Dance Company while on tour in Taipei in 1992. Photo by Tony Nandi, from the Bonnie Bird Collection at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Dr. Gundlach’s (1914-1995) deep involvement in the development of arts training in the United Kingdom put a capstone on an incredible career, and also to many years of Cornish School involvement. Her teacher at Cornish, Louise Soelberg, and a host of other faculty members and alumni including Mark Tobey, helped shaped the curricula at experimentalist Dartington Hall, which blazed the trail for arts education in the UK. In fact, Rudolph Laban, whose name is immortalized as part of “Trinity Laban Conservatoire,” developed his dance notation system, Labanotation, at Dartington Hall—aided by Soelberg who had co-founded the dance theater program there. When her post-Cornish project in Seattle, the visionary American Dance Theater, failed in 1941, Bonnie Bird had nearly deserted dance, beginning medical studies at Berkeley. A last-minute involvement in teaching dance in Mexico saved her for dance education. She settled in New York City with her husband, Ralph Gundlach, and developed a leading dance program for youth, along with methods of dance therapy for disabled children. She also was at the forefront of developing national organizations for dance educators. Bird also became Director of Education at the Dance Notation Bureau, and it was during this time that she was contacted By Dr. Marion North and offered a post at what was then the Laban Centre. PAGE 23
ore than 200 seniors walked up the aisles at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall at the Seattle Center to the cheers of friends and family. The Centennial commencement ceremony for Cornish College of the Arts’ Class of 2015 was held on May 9. Noted director and author Anne Bogart (A) was the keynote speaker. President Nancy J. Uscher awarded honorary degrees to Bogart and to choreographer and McArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Liz Lerman. In addition, this year’s Distinguished Recent Alumni Awards went to Jerick Hoffer ’10 and Richard Andriessen ’10 (B). Andriessen accepted on behalf of both as Hoffer was appearing in a show. The Distinguished Alumni Award went to Kent Devereaux ’82, the former Chair of Music who left Cornish in December 2014 to become the president of the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Noting the many changes in this special year for Cornish, President Uscher spoke glowingly of the department chairs who have recently retired: Dave Tosti-Lane and Ron Erickson in Performance Production, Kitty Daniels (C) in Dance, and, of course, Devereaux. As always, the focus of the day was on the seniors who received their diplomas and many tearful hugs and goodbyes. “Throughout its history, Cornish has opened its doors to artists with bold dreams and embraced those who wanted to make a difference in the world,” said President Uscher. “The artists we honor at Commencement, and the graduates who leave here to become the next generation PAGE 24
of distinguished alumni, uphold that tradition. We are very excited to see what they will accomplish next as artists, citizens, and innovators.” Speaking wonderfully for the class of 2015 was Performance Production graduate Kendra Lee (D). Lee recounted the pain and tribulations of life as a Cornish student, in her address Love Letter to the Tears Cried in Public Bathrooms. “I made myself a home in a city I hardly knew four years ago, in coffee shops with baristas who learned what a ‘triple shot mocha day’ signified, in knowing the difference between raincoat rain and ‘a hoodie will suffice’ rain, in the arms of my teachers and of my friends,” said Lee. “And, most importantly, I found my passion,” she continued. “I found the one thing in this world I was meant to do. The thing that energizes me, that forces me to keep a notebook next to my bed so I can write down the ideas that come all night instead of sleep. I found something that I love more than free time or regular hours or guaranteed financial security. I found myself.” (E): Cornish Gamelan Ensemble, directed by Professor Jarrad Powell (F): Sage Olivia Miller ’15 in Traumlos, choreography by Terence Marling
Photos by Michelle Smith-Lewis
(G): Samantha Louise Capell ’15 singing her composition “Blue’s Still a Colour of Spring”
Illustrator/Animator David Bolinksy Visits Cornish
Nearly 1.5 million people have watched David Bolinsky’s TED talk about how he and his team illustrate scientific and medical concepts with highdrama animation. On October 1, Bolinsky brought his vision and expertise to Cornish to mark the beginning of a cross-disciplinary partnership between Seattle’s Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) and Cornish. Part of ISB’s newly announced Consilience Program, this partnership brings scientists, artists, and scholars together to engage Cornish students and the wider public with systems biology. The term “Consilience” is defined as “a jumping together” of knowledge. Edward O. Wilson’s book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, inspired ISB founder Leroy Hood to use this name for ISB’s program that brings artists, scholars, and scientists together to create meaningful connections between the arts and science. Systems biology studies the large world of organisms— the manner in which they work together—and absorbing the broad swaths of knowledge contemplated by Wilson is a guiding concept. Resident Research Fellow and Assistant Professor of Design Genevieve Tremblay has been working closely with Allison Kudla, senior communications designer at ISB, since last May to create this exciting collaboration. Bolinsky’s visit included a film screening, presentations, and workshops with design, interior architecture, film, and visual arts students as well as one-on-one meetings with the frontier medical research scientists at ISB. “Artists and designers bring valuable and diverse perspectives to researchbased fields,” said Tremblay. “Allison and I have been working together with our respective colleagues to create ways to expand their engagement and
Consilience Program at Institute for Systems Biology: Partnering with Cornish by Moira Scott Payne, Provost and VP for Academic Affairs The Consilience Program in the communications department at Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) is an internal effort to bring together science, arts, and humanities to further ISB’s mission and reach for the purpose of engaging a wider public with systems biology and the core values of ISB. ISB holds six basic core values: that effective systems biology requires constant attention to a very complex, very human social experiment; they cherish intellectual freedom; they value collaboration across disciplines; they have a responsibility to share what they learn; they don’t seek roadmaps, they create them; and they expect to invent the future of human health and environmental sustainability. exposure to advances and challenges in these frontier fields. This partnership with ISB is an extraordinary opportunity for our students, as it enhances their ability to traverse disciplinary boundaries as they develop their creative practices.” Bolinsky was chosen because his work represents this bridge between the disciplines like no other. As an artist, he has created a new way of interpreting and expressing cell biology. CEO and Chief Creative Officer of e.mersion studio, LLC, in Wallingford, Connecticut, Bolinsky specializes in interactive animation to advance science education. He is currently partnered with the new Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at nearby Quinnipiac University in North Haven to craft a series of innovative interactive apps for medical students. As a grant partner/recipient with Smart Sparrow and the University of Arizona of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Education Grant, he is working on enhanced interactive online science courses for community colleges. The relationship between Cornish and Institute for Systems Biology has been developing for some time. In 2014, Provost Moira Scott Payne was invited to speak at a symposium hosted by ISB that was focused on Systems Biology and Systems Art, which explored intersections of art, science, and systems. The Provost, along with Design Chair Jeff Brice, Interim Visual Arts Chair Dawn Gavin, and Julie Myers, program lead for interior architecture, have been great supporters of this collaborative initiative. As part of his visit, Bolinsky gave a public presentation and screening of “Inner Life of the Cell” at ISB for the South Lake Union Art Walk. ISB’s offices are located at 401 Terry, within easy walking distance of Cornish’s South Lake Union campus.
The interdisciplinary, cutting-edge and social experiment that is ISB is growing beyond the confines of being interdisciplinary within technology, engineering and science. The collaborative nature of ISB extends to including Affiliate Scholars in the Arts and Humanities. We believe the inclusion of these new disciplines to the culture and energy at ISB will not only positively impact our organization internally, but will also extend our reach to a wider public. Cornish is now positioning its focus and engagement with the public in a way that re-imagines the role of the artist. Global issues need us to find solutions to big questions and the arts become an important part of collaborative research. Our creative processes naturally challenge assumption and the habits of thought. Our working processes can encompass an improvisational response. We are comfortable with ephemera, intuition and sensory and material knowledge. Our communication skills traverse disciplinary boundaries and knowledge transfer is an important part of what we can bring to highly specialized fields. The opportunity to work with ISB brings us also the chance to participate in this deep look at what it means to be human in a rapidly changing world.
Tianyu e Sun Photo by
Jean-Baptiste Barrière On Music and Visual Art
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French composer and sound designer Jean-Baptiste Barrière is known for incorporating the visual arts into performances of his works. Along with internationally recognized flutist Camilla Hoitenga he presented aa multi-media concert at PONCHO and taught master classes at Kerry Hall in October. Cornish Interim Music Chair Tom Baker spoke to Barrière about his work and the intersection of music and visual art.
TB: Camilla Hoitenga joined you for your residency and concert here at Cornish in October. What do you find most rewarding about your collaboration with her? J-BB: Camilla Hoitenga is a unique musician, dedicated and inventive. Her long collaboration with Kaija Saariaho and her intimate knowledge of her music, has been for me a permanent source of admiration and inspiration for 30 years. She understands perfectly what I am looking for musically, in particular in terms of color and expression. Communication between us is straight and easy, and collaboration therefore very productive. I find myself privileged to be working with such a musician. TB: You worked on a “prop opera” with Peter Greenaway, called 100 Objects to Represent the World. I imagine this collaboration to be inspiring and profound, given both of your work. Might you talk for a moment about your views on collaboration, and how this or other projects have informed those views? J-BB: This should be a time of “interdisciplinarity,” in particular in the domains of music and arts. However, many people talk about it, but few do it in practice. All fields of knowledge are saturated: nobody can pretend to master all the aspects of even one single domain. Therefore collaboration is a practical necessity, but it should also be the ultimate artistic challenge: by confronting with the others, we get to go beyond our own limits, to make things which we would not do otherwise, and while learning about the artistic visions of others, we learn in the same time to better understand ourselves, and we enrich ourselves. This is what I have learned from my experiences with Greenaway, and even further through the 20-years-long common endeavor with the French artist Maurice Benayoun: collaboration forces you to go beyond boundaries, to reconsider your — sometimes unconscious — a priori, and therefore to venture into new territories and make discoveries, including about yourself.
TB: What were some of the first works you did in electronic music and composition, and how did this merge with (or stay parallel to) your work in acoustic composition? J-BB: I started electronic music very early, when I was 13 years old in 1971. This was the high time of analog synthesizers. My father being an electronics engineer, we did also construct at some point analog modules to complete my equipment. I was then doing studio works as well as live works, including with a synthesizer ensemble consisting of composers from all over Europe, performing our own pieces in France and in Germany, mixing instruments and electronics, and also Stockhausen repertoire for live-electronics. But after some years, I was disappointed by the poor level of musical control and reliability of analog devices, so as soon as it became possible, I started to study computer science at Université de Paris I - Panthéon Sorbonne, as part of my studies in Philosophy, which were including Mathematical Logic as well as the Arts. Computer Music was representing the theoretical possibility to access to the totality of the sonic universe, with infinite precision, and without the constraints and limitations of the instrumental world. TB: Your work as a composer seems to be intricately tied to your work as a visual artist, video artist, etc. How do you reconcile and integrate these different artistic pathways in your work and life? J-BB: I have always been fascinated by image as much as by music, and more specifically by the combination, the interactions of both. My education and training actually included both. Today computers are capable of transforming and synthesizing sound and image in real time. Moreover, the same software can often be used to describe image and sound, therefore it becomes possible to imagine and realize parallel, evolving processes in two dimensions, musical and visual, in totally new ways. Not in order to achieve synesthesia— which is a utopia—which is not an aim in itself, but to develop our aesthetic experiences, and beyond that, our senses.
FACULTY CREATE AMERICAN DREAMS Several members of Cornish’s music faculty, past and present, can be found on a new release on Navona Records, American Dreams, by Seattle’s Saint Helens String Quartet. Paige Stockley, who teaches her instrument at Cornish, plays cello in the quartet, along with violinists Stephen Bryant and Adrianna Hulscher and violist Michael Lieberman. One piece on the album is by music faculty member Janice Giteck, “Where Can One Live Safely, Then? In Surrender” and one is by former faculty member Bern Herbolsheimer, “Botanas.” “The album explores a sonic vision of American culture presented by four contemporary composers,” said Morgan MacLeod of Navona Records “Grammy Award-winning composer Peter Schickel, Kenneth Benshoof, Bern Herbolsheimer, and Janice Giteck—offering an intersection of classical, popular, and folk music.” Additionally, Design faculty member Robynne Raye’s design firm, Modern Dog, shares credit for the design of the CD.
Taub Takes on National Post Music professor and flutist Paul Taub has been elected to a twoyear term on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the National Flute Association (NFA), as assistant secretary for one year and secretary for the next. His term began on November 1. Previously, Professor Taub had served as chair of the New Music Advisory Committee for five years and as an at-large member of the board for three years.
Cornish’s Second Century Starts With Worldwide Classes CORNISH’S SECOND CENTURY BEGAN WITH THE COLLEGE’S FIRST MASSIVE ONLINE OPEN COURSE (MOOC) hitting a top ten list in November. The same week, the college offered its first music master class via Google Hangouts, bringing composter/pianist Yitzhak Yedid in Australia together with students at PONCHO in Kerry Hall.
The NFA is the largest instrumental association in the world. With over 6000 members from dozens of countries and a full-time staff of five professionals based in Chicago, the association hosts an annual convention that attracts thousands of members, publish the Flutist Quarterly, the leading international periodical for flute professionals and amateurs. Taub serves on the Editorial Board. The association has commissioned more than 80 new works including pieces by composers Toshio Hosokawa, Shulamit Ran, Anne LaBerge, Giya Kancheli, Robert Aitken, Martin Bresnick, Mario Davidovsky and many more including several current and former colleagues of Professor Taub’s at Cornish: Bun-Ching Lam, Wayne Horvitz and Paul Dresher.
Irene Song ’16 (detail)
Creates New Work Taub also embarked on a new project this year, New Works for Flute + Ensemble. He is commissioned five composers — four with direct Cornish connections — Tom Baker (Chair, Department of Music); Andy Clausen (a Roosevelt High and Juilliard Jazz Program graduate); David Dossett (Cornish class of of 2013); Jessika Kenney (Cornish alumni and music faculty); and Angelique Poteat (Cornish music faculty). “I chose these composers because of the quality of their work,” said Taub, “each composer has a truly unique sound and style that really speaks to me and to a wide audience.” Joining Taub onstage in November to perform the works was Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Walter Gray, cello; Joe Kaufman, contrabass; Cristina Valdes, piano; and Matthew Kocmieroski, percussion. “It’s been a dream to rehearse and perform with five of my closest colleagues,” he said.
This fall, the Design Department launched its first MOOC on Kadenze.com. Faculty member Junichi Tsuneoka leads students through his introduction to graphic illustration in five online sessions. Through a series of projects, students can explore the translation, production, and distribution of their visual ideas. At the same time, Tsuneoka discusses new opportunities for illustrators to work in a variety of industries. The class made a top 10 list for MOOCs compiled by Class Central in November. Hitting the top ten at Class Central was a first for Cornish and for Kadenze, a site that specializes in MOOCs related to the arts.
Lyall Bush Named Film+Media Program Leader Lyall Bush was named Program Leader of Film+Media at Cornish College of the Arts this summer. From 2008 to 2015, Bush was executive director of Northwest Film Forum, which screens more than 200 independently made and classic films annually. Under Bush’s leadership, Northwest Film Forum offered a year-round schedule of filmmaking classes for all ages as well as supporting filmmakers at all stages of their careers.
On November 16, the Provost Office and Music Department hosted a Master Class taught by Yitzhak Yedid, an Israeli-born composer/ pianist/scholar. Yedid conducted Cornish students Austin Larkin, violin; Trevor O’Loughlin, contrabass, and Colin Wood, piano, from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Cornish students gathered in PONCHO Concert Hall to watch their classmates work with Yedid via a global streaming link. Yedid is known for his “third stream” music that combines jazz, Western classical, Arabic, and Jewish music styles. An accomplished jazz pianist, he is equally adept as a composer of orchestral and chamber music. Among his recent awards are the prestigious Israeli Landau Prize for the Arts, the Israel Prime Minister’s Prize for Classical Composers, the first composition prize at the International Oud Festival and the first composition prize at the 17th International Harp Contest.
An active writer, editor, teacher, and producer, Bush has written personal essays, feature essays, and reviews for a variety of publications, including The Iowa Review, Film Comment, MovieMaker, The Seattle Times, The Stranger, and Cinema Studies Journal. His writing has been featured on the National Public Radio station KUOW 94.9 and at Seattle’s music and arts festival Bumbershoot. His book and film recommendations were a regular feature on Art Zone, hosted by Nancy Guppy. In 2006, he was selected by The Stranger as “One to Watch” in its annual Genius awards. Bush has taught film and film history for two decades and is the executive producer of What She’s Having, a show about food. He also served as an executive director of Richard Hugo House in Seattle.
In the Google Hangout, anyone anywhere in the world can watch how a master music class operates at Cornish. The class began with opening remarks from Yedid in his studio followed by a performance and coaching of the Cornish students on his Arabic Violin Bass Piano Trio. Yedid also answered questions from the audience, both those present in PONCHO and those listening online.
One of his first acts at Cornish was to move the old Alpha Cine screen from the Notion Building to the new Film+Media classroom in the Lui Building. That screen, as Bush noted, is bit of cinema history. While in the Notion Building, prior to Cornish acquiring the property, Alpha Cine served as one of the major film labs on the West Coast. They processed S/8, 16mm, and 35mm stock for both independent filmmakers and large scale studio productions. Most famously, they made the prints for the first two Star Wars movies.
Cornish plans to have more MOOCs as well as Google Hangouts in the coming year. The campus that spans three Seattle neighborhoods now will be truly international in Cornish’s next century.
Today, the same screen that they used to check out the completed prints of The Empire Strikes Back now serves as the canvas for Cornish’s filmmakers.
Photos of Quixote: Book One by Chris Bennion
Performance Production: Emerging Collaborators
Photo by Blaine Taylor ’17
uring the Fall semester 2015, students in the Performance Production Department had several “full scale laboratory” experiences in collaboration with the Theater Department. Kittens in a Cage had scenery, costumes, lighting, props and sound all designed, stage managed and produced by Performance Production students with faculty advisement. The show ran for two weekends in Raisbeck Performance Hall. Similarly, Performance Production and Theater collaborated on Quixote, Book One at the Cornish Playhouse and it was another successful production for our students. Performance Production students enroll in what are known as Skills classes during their time at Cornish. One of these classes is Drawing and Painting for the Theater. These photos are examples of work done by the students in the scene painting part of the class, as taught by Cornish alum and professional scenic artist Jennifer Law ’92. The drawing portion is taught by Jane Richlovsky.
Photos by Jennifer Law
November Brings Broadway Stars To Cornish Since its earliest days, Cornish College has hosted New York theater stars for cross-department chats, master classes, and longer residencies. This November showed the second century will continue much like the first. At the beginning of the month, theater producer David Stone (Wicked, Next to Normal) took time off from his duties launching the national tour of If/Then at the Paramount Theatre to join STG’s Josh LaBelle in conversation with Cornish Theater and Performance Production students about national tours and building big shows. A week later, Stephanie J. Block, who has starred in Wicked, 9 to 5, The Boy from Oz and other Broadway shows taught a master class for musical theater students. She talked eloquently and honestly about how she got her career started, life as a touring actor, dealing with disappointment as well success and balancing career with family. On November 20, Tony Award-winner, the legendary Ben Vereen, graced Theater students and faculty with wisdom gleaned from decades in theater and film in a master class in a packed Raisbeck Hall. He worked directly with two students, Maya Burton ’16 and Rachel Guyer-Mafune ’16, on their audition material and then answered questions from students.
Photosby Mark Bocek
Above: Kittens In a Cage, photo by Emily Russell ’17 Below: Kittens In a Cage crew, photo by Peter O’Connor
Ben Vereen’s master class was made possible by Judy Pigott. Reports on master classes drawn from Theater Chair Richard E.T. White’s winter newsletter.
Migration, Transition, Adaptation Octavio Solis on the Cornish Production of Quixote: Book One By Maximilian Bocek
n October, Latino playwright Octavio Solis visited Cornish College of the Arts. His time on campus was divided equally between work with Cornish students in the rehearsal hall and the classroom for the Seattle premiere of Quixote: Book One.
Originally commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Quixote: Book One was co-produced by the Cornish Theater and Performance Production departments and co-directed by Sheila Daniels and Theater Chair Richard E.T. White. The script by Solis was selected as part of a fall theater season that emphasized contemporary works and new adaptations of classics. “The production at Oregon Shakespeare Festival could have used a bit more time,” said Solis during an interview done toward the end of his Cornish visit. Solis said that working with the students helped him refine the script even as they were preparing to present the play to the public. Miguel Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote is as much the story of a journey of the mind and the imagination as that of physical distance, according to Solis. As an adaptor of this iconic work, Solis reminded the students that as widely as Quixote and Sancho Panza roam, they actually never leave their small province in Spain.
Solis is fascinated by the idea of migration, tracing its intellectual course through classics such as The Illiad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, and all the way up to Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, which he has used as the basis for a script. “It’s an ancient story,” he said, “It goes back to Exodus. It goes even further back than that.” Solis presented Don Quixote as an act of migration and one that complemented his belief that our every move individually and as a people is first made in our minds: movement and migration are natural to human beings.
Top: Cameron Hodges ’15 and ensemble. Bottom: Maya Burton ’16, Georgette Anderson ’16, and Jeremy Chan ’16. Photos by Chris Bennion.
Part of his fascination with migration comes from his personal history as the son of Mexican parents who settled in El Paso, Texas. “I feel there’s been a gradual, epic migration over the last hundred years of Mexicans to this country,” said Solis. “They represent people who have lost faith and hope in their own country, and in the way of life there … they come here to find new life, to energize their blood again, find new spirit. … They’ve altered the American landscape. They’ve altered the American character and revitalized it, changed it in a dramatic way.” But migration works both ways, Solis emphasized, as a people are transformed by their journey. “They will be changed. Wherever they
go, they’re going to be a different people. They’re not only going to change the landscape, they’re going to be changed by it.”
“They will be changed. Wherever they go, they’re going to be a different people. They’re not only going to change the landscape, they’re going to be changed by it.”
“That’s what’s happening to Quixote as well,” Solis continued. “Don Quixote wants to abandon his house, wants to abandon the life that he has lived, which he finds so tedious, so boring, and a waste. A waste of his youth, of his heart, of his imagination, and he wants to live the life that he’s been reading in his books. He want to transform, he wants to go out into the world to do that. He wants to be Spiderman. He wants to be a superhero. He wants to save the world.” LIKE QUIXOTE, EARLY ON, SOLIS JOURNEYED WIDELY
but within his home state of Texas. From his home town of El Paso he went to college at Trinity University in San Antonio and then into the art world in Dallas. There, he toyed with writing, but felt as though theater he knew was too small and too prosaic for what he wanted to do. “I had started writing some of these pieces for myself, these strange musical, lyric, poetic dramas that were kind of silly, kind of fun, but I never felt permission to share them, or air them or to stage them,” he said. Then he got a part in Eric Overmyer’s language-drenched drama about a latenight underground disc jockey, Native Speech, at the Dallas Theatre Center. “I had never read anything like Native Speech,” said Solis, “Never come across any of that kind of stuff, except maybe those of the early, early 20th century, the lyric poetry, the poetic dramas of Yeats or Beckett.” Solis had discovered a model for a more poetic theater. “It turned my head around.” After Overmyer, he gravitated towards other playwrights who shared the same sort of vision and freedom, such as Sam Shepard and Maria Irene Fornes—who he considers a mentor—and Erik Ehn, with whom he collaborated on Shiner for Dallas’ Undermain Theatre. It is this kind of theatrical energy that led Solis to the story of Quixote. In his concept, Quixote: Book One is “a dreamed reality, through a prism that was more lyrical, more poetic and less realistic.”
Latino playwright OCTAVIO SOLIS’ works include Alicia’s Miracle, Se Llama Cristina, Ghosts of the River, Lydia, June in a Box, Lethe, Marfa Lights, Gibraltar, The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy, The 7 Visions of Encarnación, Bethlehem, Dreamlandia, El Otro, Man of the Flesh, Prospect, El Paso Blue, Santos & Santos, and La Posada Mágica. Among the theaters at which he has been presented include the California Shakespeare Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Yale Repertory Theatre, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, El Teatro Campesino, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Magic Theatre, South Coast Repertory Theatre, the San Jose Repertory Theatre, Latino Chicago Theatre Company, the New York Summer Play Festival, Teatro Vista in Chicago, Campo Santo, and the Imua Theatre Company in New York.
The Fall Theater Season Featured Three Seattle Premieres
ornish’s fall theater season featured works by contemporary playwrights, including three Seattle premieres. “This fall we explored the theme of adaptation,” said Theater Chair Richard E.T. White. “These were works adapted from some of the greatest works of literature and some of the cheesiest B-movies about ‘women behind bars.’ Moreover, each of these plays, in its own way, raised the question of how we (and whether we should) adapt to extreme circumstances. It’s particularly exciting that a number of the writers were local to Seattle and one was a Cornish alumna.” Between October 22 and December 18, Cornish students performed in Kelleen Conway Blanchard’s Kittens In A Cage, Edward Mast’s Jungalbook, Octavio Solis’s Quixote: Book One (Seattle premiere), Dipika Guha’s Blown Youth (Seattle premiere), Naomi Iizuka’s Anon(ymous), Karen Hartman’s Wild Kate: A Tale of Revenge at Sea (Seattle premiere), and a cabaret revue, Golden. Local playwright and Cornish Theater alumna Kelleen Conway Blanchard’s black comedy Kittens In A Cage opened the season with sold-out notices by the second weekend. The play about “tough broads who can’t get no breaks” inspired the highly lauded webseries starring Rebecca Mozo, Erin Anderson, and Jillian Armanente. On social media, Armanente lauded Blanchard’s wit and urged her fans to check out the Cornish production. Throughout the season, Cornish theater students had opportunities to meet and discuss the works with the playwrights (see related article about Solis’s visit to Cornish). As always, the directors were drawn from Seattle’s lively theater scene and professional guests also broadened the experience for the students.
Jazmyne Waters-Smith ’17 and Victor DiMarco ’17 in Jungalbook.
Gabrielle Griffeth ’17 and ensemble in Wild Kate: A Tale of Revenge at Sea.
More discussions were sparked by how the works in this season echoed issues being debated on the national level. Homer’s Odyssey was reimagined by Naomi Iizuka in Anon(ymous). In the play, a young refugee journeys through the United States, searching for a new home and lost family. Opening the same weekend as the bombings in Paris, France, as various political figures began talking about banning refugees from asylum here, the piece seemed eerily timely. “This play was written in 2004, when there was a huge immigration crisis. I read it in 2006, I think, and it was still very topical,” said director Desdemona Chiang in a discussion with theater senior Leah Webster ’16 that was published this fall on the Cornish website. “The questions of global displacement, war,
L–R: Tasha Newell ’15, Meghan Dolbey ’16, Te Yelland ’16 and Fathiya Ritter ’16 in Blown Youth.
home--they’re not going away. It seems to me we’ve always been asking them. There will always be countries who want to wage war with each other. There are always people blowing each other up, destroying whole neighborhoods, homes. It’s not ‘Why this play now?’ it’s ‘Why this play always?’ Why do we keep asking the same questions, and getting the same answers?” Cornish Theater moved to Capitol Hill in December for the Seattle premiere of Wild Kate: A Tale of Revenge at Sea at 12th Avenue Arts Black Box. Local playwright Karen Hartman crafted a seagoing adventure for women inspired by Melville’s Moby Dick and the Deepwater Oil Rig disaster. From “Call me Isabel” to the obsessed sea captain, Wild Kate, this journey was anything but business as usual. As it has for the last few seasons, fall ended with a cabaret revue. Conceived and directed by Frances King and award-winning faculty member Timothy McCuen Piggee, Golden explored themes of thankfulness and gratitude.
Timothy McCuen Piggee Receives Theatre Puget Sound’s Sustained Achievement Award Cornish faculty member Timothy McCuen Piggee received the Sustained Achievement Award from Theatre Puget Sound (TPS) in October as part of the 7th Annual Gregory Awards. On the same night, he was awarded outstanding supporting actor prize for his work in Intiman Theatre’s 2014 production of Angels in America at the Cornish Playhouse. As a vital part of the Seattle’s theatre ecosystem, Piggee has taught and directed at Cornish for 21 years, as well as directed productions and readings at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, Village Theatre, Freehold Theatre Lab/Studio, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and many others. His appearances onstage include leading roles with ACT Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Village Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, 5th Avenue Theatre, Showtunes, Seattle Group Theatre, The Empty Space Theatre, and Tacoma Actor’s Guild, among others. Nationally his work has been seen on Broadway and at the Denver Center Theatre Company, Arizona Theatre Company, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Portland Center Stage and Pioneer Theatre Company, and his film and television credits include Late Show with David Letterman and the 65th Annual Tony Awards. Throughout his career, Piggee has wanted to let “the work matter, and make sure there are always opportunities for myself and others to work,” he said in the announcement of the Sustained Achievement Award. “I aim to be ‘symphonic’ or ‘hyphenated’—unlimited in my own mind about the opportunities available to me. You have to find your own route to the truth—artistic, emotional, civic, and human— and then you’re able to be an agent of change and find joy in the serious business of living.”
Lexi Chapman ’16 in Kittens in a Cage with (L) Sara Grant ’16 and (R) Haley Alaji ’16. Photos by Michelle Smith-Lewis.
Timothy McCuen Piggee Photo by LaRae Lobdell
Earlier this year, Piggee was named a Lunt-Fontanne Fellow for 2015, a program that selects “the best regional stage actors in America—the great mentor actors in the great theatre communities.” PAGE 37
JuJu Kusanagi ’16 Photo by Lisa Kusanagi
2015/16 Arts Incubator Residencies Begin with Kusanagi’s Durational Art The Arts Incubator residencies at the Cornish Playhouse began last year as part of the facility’s extensive public benefit program. Recognizing the artists of all types need a place to experiment, the residencies support artists in the creation of work that is outside the boundaries of their genre, discipline, or comfort zone. “The intention of Arts Incubator is not to create a final, polished product,” said Playhouse Manager Liisa Spink. “Instead, the program seeks to give artists time and space to incubate and begin to develop an idea, concept, or exploration. The chosen recipients receive free space at the Playhouse to nurture their projects.” The first residency was completed by Julia (JuJu) Kusanagi ’16, a student in Cornish’s Dance department. In October, Kusanagi worked on a durational performance that combines visual art, dance improvisation, and body art film on the screen in the Playhouse’s Founder’s Room. The visual art component, which included 200 dried flowers, was complemented by the body art film aimed at separating the audience from the outside world. Other elements included a dance improvisation score and a durational performance to highlight the idea of the constant change of the matter.
In November, Veronica Lee-Baik worked in the main auditorium on “Her Name is lsaac” which confronts the journey of being a woman in a man’s world. Lee-Baik’s work challenges viewers to re-think their emotional and physical response to viewing the female form. “As an Asian artist, I investigate topics that fly under the radar. I want to invoke experiences that connect and engage the community in ways that promote understanding across social boundaries,” said Lee-Baik. “A single red balloon is an ever-present reminder of the duality of burden and hope all women carry (in Eastern cultures the color red signifies positivity). lsaac also means ‘laughter.’ In this work, laughter symbolizes hope for the end of a society where men make decisions for women and their bodies.” Alice Gosti worked on her project TO|GET|HER last year at the Playhouse. “The residency was a crucial moment in the development of the piece. In 11 days, huge steps were made in the design and content of the work,” she said. In January, Gosti uses the Alhadeff Studio to develop a new project called “Bodies of Water.” This five-hour performance spectacle dedicated to the politics of water is scheduled to premiere later in 2016. “The piece will be a celebration of Seattle while also creating a conversation around its historically problematic and layered relationship with its own bodies of water,” said Gosti.
The choreographic work of Hannah Simmons sits at the intersection of dance, math, and technology. “I find that generating movement material can be equated to developing an algorithm: the choreographer provides a structural impetus and the dancers carry out the instructions to reveal a precise output. I am interested in experimenting with visualizing choreographic structures and exploring what it means to quantify a choreographic system,” she said. In February, Simmons will explore these inquiries by creating a number of interactive and analytical tools that can be employed to understand and reframe choreographic structure and form. “With percussion and contemporary dance, we plan to experiment with the idea of the audience having control over an aspect or aspects of our live performance through unplanned obstacles and challenges,” said Melanie Voytovich in her proposal for a March project in the Founder’s Room. The audience input could change the whole piece at once, including placing physical structures in the dancer’s path, giving instruments to a musician or taking them away, a rotating graphic score for the musician, and even changing the tempo of the musician, dancer, or both. “Within this context, we also aim to balance the two art forms in both the creative process and finished project,” she said.
Cornish Presents: StuART Fest February 6, 8:00 p.m. PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall Renowned trombonist Stuart Dempster honors his deep history with Cornish in a concert of his own compositions. Look for Cornish faculty members Paul Taub in a solo performance and Tom Varner with students, as well as improvisations with Cornish faculty member Janice Giteck, trombone legend and retired Cornish faculty member Julian Priester, and long-time colleague and friend clarinetist William O. Smith. This special event honors Cornish’s past and present, and looks into the future featuring the Cornish Creative Ensemble!
Cornish Presents: The Three Yells: Her Name Is Isaac February 11 and 12, 8:00 p.m. Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center Developed in November 2015 as part of the Cornish Playhouse Arts Incubator residency by choreographer Veronica Lee-Baik, digital artist Bob Campbell, and lighting designer Meg Fox, “Her Name Is lsaac” confronts the journey of being a woman in a man’s world and challenges viewers to rethink their emotional and physical response to viewing the female form.
Cornish Presents: Ches Smith Trio February 16, 8:00 p.m. PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall One of the most exciting drummer/composers on the fertile Brooklyn jazz scene appears here with veterans of the jazz vanguard Craig Taborn (piano) and Mat Maneri (viola).
Cornish Presents: Greg Ruby and The Rhythm Runners March 24, 8:00 p.m. PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall Greg Ruby and The Rhythm Runners deliver intoxicating Prohibition-era jazz, evoking the sounds of underground speakeasies, roadhouses, and dance halls of the 1920s and ’30s. This concert features compositions by Seattle jazz pioneer Frank D. Waldron.
Cornish Presents: A Tribute to Janice Giteck Applications for residencies at the Cornish Playhouse begin in the spring, with final decisions made by the start of the summer. The Cornish Playhouse Arts Incubator Residency is open to anyone age 18 and older, including professional and non-professional artists, teachers, ensembles and groups, and students. The residency is open to both those within the Cornish community and those outside the Cornish community. The lead artist applying must be a Washington State resident. For more information, see www.cornish.edu/ playhouse/arts_incubator/
April 12, 8:00 p.m. PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall Alumni, faculty, students, and friends will gather to celebrate long and dedicated teaching career of Janice Giteck with a concert of her music performed by old friends and former students. With performances and presentations by long-time “Jancie-collaborators” Paul Taub, Roger Nelson, Matt Kocmieroski, Laura DeLuca, Walter Gray, and many more.
Cornish Presents: Friction Quartet April 21, 8:00 p.m. PONCHO Concert Hall at Kerry Hall Friction Quartet, whose performances have been called “stunningly passionate” (Calgary Herald) and “chillingly effective” (San Francisco Examiner), has established a reputation for edgy programming and exhilarating performance of contemporaty string quartets. Friction Quartet is Kevin Rogers and Otis Harriel, violins, Taija Warbelow, viola, and Douglas Machiz, cello. Tickets for all shows are available through Brown Paper Tickets. PAGE 39
Summer at Cornish 2015
very year, the Summer at Cornish program, for ages 3.5 to adult, continues to grow. This summer saw 538 students arrive on campus in July and August 2015 to take classes in all the arts. The majority were high school students, many only a year or two away from attending college. Summer at Cornish gave them a taste of what being at Cornish fulltime would be like.
SPRING AND SUMMER AT CORNISH 2016 Registrations now being accepted for Spring and Summer extension classes at www.cornish.edu.
One of those international visitors and a scholarship recipient, Alyssa Highly of Trinidad and Tobago, recently was recognized for her role in the film Sally’s Way. This was the first film for children ever produced on that island according to director Joanne Gail Johnson. “I loved seeing Alyssa growing taller and brighter through the enrichment and exposure and would have loved to have met you all in person,” wrote Johnson in an email after Alyssa returned home in August. “We want and need to show locally the value of carving out our unique place in the world for our Caribbean children and for our indigenous film [industry]. That Cornish is a 100-year-old arts college is in itself a sentence that re-educates our minds about the kind of lifetime work that lays ahead and in which we should be fully engaged.”
Photos by Colleen Dishy, Sean Sullivan, and Winnie Westergard
International students came from Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, France, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Japan, and South Korea. Eighty-seven students, both national and international, received scholarships to attend Summer at Cornish.
94 and Going Strong: Kerry Hall Gets a Facelift
A CAPITOL HILL LANDMARK WAS GLEAMING when the wraps came off recently. The building was welcomed to the Seattle scene in 1921 as “The Cornish School Building” and is known as Kerry Hall today. Still used by Cornish’s music, dance, and prep dance departments, Kerry has undergone a number of remodels over its 90+ years, including additions required by changing building codes. Starting in June 2015, Cornish began restoring this Seattle treasure, which is featured on the National Registry of Historic Places. All the repairs and renovations also had to meet with the approval of the Harvard-Belmont Historical District. Kerry Hall is a solid masonry structure, brick covered with stucco with accents of bright-hued architectural terracotta. Like other Seattle buildings of similar age, there had been some separation of the brick from the stucco with subsequent cracking visible outside, so that nearly every façade of the building needed work. Parts of the facade were removed, patched, and replaced with true stucco on the south elevation. On the west end of the building, all failing stucco on the third floor porch was replaced. The two “wing walls” that flank the Roy Street stairs were stripped of stucco, brick repairs were made, and terra cotta planters cleaned and reset. The entire stucco façade of the building (east, west, and south—the north face is unstuccoed brick) was painted, as was all the trim and the three “Juliette balconies.” The signature portico that runs along outside the PONCHO Concert Hall is of concrete construction. It, too, was cleaned and repaired. The original wooden windows on the south elevation of the building were removed and restored. This included repairing damaged or rotten wood and glazing, then installing new weather stripping and sashweight ropes. The windows were then sealed, flashed, and painted inside and out. New flashing and drip edges added to the windows and doors on the third floor will protect against any further water intrusion. Since Kerry opened for the fall term of 1921, the sounds of music floating through the air have given this corner of Capitol Hill its atmosphere and caused some comment. In the latest restoration, magnetic storm windows were installed on the inside of many of the studio windows to keep the music inside. Kerry’s Spanish Revival style had suffered the addition of exterior lighting in 1980s style. These fixtures were replaced with period and architecturally correct lighting that utilize energy-saving LED lamps. New lighting was added at the southeast corner to improve safety. The old lighting on the north side also was replaced with new “dark sky” 100-percent-down lighting. Also restored was the Roy Street Lobby, changed back to its original Spanish Revival style with new flooring and more period lighting, including a new ceiling light fixture for the Harvard Street PONCHO Lobby.
Writing Center Moves PREPARED BY STAR RUSH
ORNISH’S WRITING CENTER has a new home in the Main Campus Center. In 2014-15, the Writing Center relocated to the second floor of MCC, right next to the Library. The new space underwent a renovation, with new furniture, interior design, and bright, lovely colors to welcome the many Cornish students who regularly use the center’s services. Everyone has had a year to settle in, and it looks like the move is definitely a success for all. “We are excited to have the Writing Center next to us,” said Bridget Nowlin, Visual Arts Librarian. “It is nice to have a deeper relationship.” Nowlin explained that the Library and Amanda Hill, Writing Center Director, have enjoyed a close working relationship working with students during research and writing projects. “During Cornish Connection and orientations, we are two stops next door to each other,” said Nowlin. “When we’re working with students on a research project, they can quickly pop next door to working in the Writing Center.” The Writing Center serves about 50 students on average each week, according to Michelle Domanowski Art ’16, who is one of the center’s four student consultants. Some drop by to work at one of several PC stations and work tables—or simply read quietly on the comfortable couch. “Coming to the Writing Center and talking out the process can be helpful,” Domanowski said. “We all have different methods for getting stuck, and sometimes all it takes is talking to a person to get ideas out.” The Writing Center is lead by Amanda Hill, director and associate professor of rhetoric & composition in the Humanities & Sciences Department. The Center’s student consultants come from Theater, Art, Design, and Performance Production. They range from sophomores to seniors, so they are able to bring their diverse experiences in the academic programs and life of Cornish to their work supporting the student writers they help.
“We meet writers where they are,” said Domanowski. “We do not have a readymade response for everyone. We personalize our responses for each writer we work with, helping them get to where they want to be.” Students can visit the Writing Center to receive assistance with assignments, writing process, generating ideas, exploring ideas. Some visitors are regulars, some drop-ins, and some students are referred to us. Usually a student’s first contact with the Writing Center occurs as a result of a faculty recommendation, and they often return on their own for subsequent sessions. The most frequent visitors are first-year students and seniors. “We’re not a paper-editing service,” Domanowski explains. “Our purpose is to help students become better writers, which means we may push them somewhat from their current level. But it is the writers who decide where the conversation wants to go.” To become a Writing Center consultant, students complete an application, provide recommendations, submit writing samples, participate in an interview with Amanda Hill, and participate in a mock consultation. Consultants also enroll in a course to learn about the theory and practice of writing instruction as well as writing center pedagogy. They participate in weekly staff meetings and develop among themselves as a community of practice. “I learn a lot about the different media, disciplines, and the diverse subjects in each, which has helped me become a better writer as I look at writing from other perspectives,” Domanowski said, describing the benefits she has gained from being a consultant. “It keeps me in the community. I know people at a higher level than if we had met outside the center.”
The Cornish Writing Center is located in the Main Campus Center, Floor 2, Room 212, WritingCenter@cornish.edu. To learn about the center’s services and consultants, visit its webpage at www.cornish.edu/writing_center/
Photo Mark Bocek
Photos ÂŠ Ankrom Moisan Architects/Casey Braunger Photographer
A Very Uncommon Commons
From move-in day in September until now, Cornish Commons has proved a hit with students. The residence hall allows both space for reflection and for creative connection for all the students, not just those living there. Cornish Commons also earned LEED Gold certification, a green building certification that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices, and has been featured in the Puget Sound Business Journal, Seattle Magazine, and other publications since opening.
EXHIBIT TO OPEN
Cornish’s Impact on Visual and Performing Arts Explored
LEFT: Portrait of Mary Ann Wells, circa 1921, photographed by Wayne Albee. MIDDLE: Robert Joffrey (center) and Gerald Arpino with unidentified female dancers, circa 1948. Photographer unknown. RIGHT: Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, circa 1946 Photographer unknown.
Photos courtesy of the Estate of Mary Ann Wells.
CASCADIA ART MUSEUM, in Edmonds, Washington, is the Northwest’s newest museum and the first dedicated to NW art from the late 19th century through the 1960s. For its second full-scale exhibition, it decided to create a tribute to Nellie Cornish and Cornish College of the Arts. While some of the paintings, prints, sculpture, and photography come from the college’s collection, there are many surprises too, according to curator David Martin. Owner of Martin-Zambito Fine Art in Seattle, Martin drew on personal relationships and years of research to assemble a historical collection of rare ephemera as well as original works from noted artists who studied or taught at Cornish. Many of the materials have never been displayed in a museum setting before. From the beginning of the 20th century to the end, this exhibition documents the Cornish influence on both the visual and performing arts on both a national and international level. From the estate of Mary Ann Wells, who founded the Dance Department in 1916, comes photos of early dancers at Cornish. Among her pupils was Robert Joffery, who formed the Joffery Ballet and recruited many other Cornish dancers to the company. Other photos found by Martin or loaned from the college document several prominent modern dance instructors from that early period including Adolph Bolm, Michio Ito, and Martha Graham. PAGE 44
Martin also was granted access to the estate of dancer Karen Irvin, who directed the dance department mid-century. He discovered a number of films made of Cornish Ballet. From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, this group introduced generations of Seattle families to ballet. Irvin, her partner Mea Hartman, and artist Malcolm Roberts produced the dances along with stage sets, costumes, and posters. Recently digitized by the University of Washington’s Special Collections, these films will be projected on the walls during the run of the exhibition. While most people know Mark Tobey as the founder of Cornish’s Art Department, the exhibition also has photos taken by noted photographer Wayne Albee of Tobey performing in theater productions. Also in the show are Tobey’s nude contour drawings of students in Martha Graham’s classes at Cornish from the collection of the University of Washington. Large-scale oil paintings by artist Ebba Rapp also demonstrate the crossover between departments. Her models are dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham and African-American dancer Syvilla Fort. Both appeared in 3 Inventories of Casey Jones created by Bonnie Bird (see related story on page 12).
William Cumming: Untitled, 1940 Tempera on illustration board Courtesy of Michael Christ Mark Tobey: Costume sketch for unknown Cornish production, circa 1924 Crayon on paper Courtesy of the Estate of Burton and Florence Bean James Ebba Rapp: “Blue Mood”, 1939, model is Syvilla Fort. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of Martin-Zambito Fine Art
Other visual artists in the show include painters Louise Crow, James Edward Peck, and Frank Okada. On loan from the US Navy collection are two rare watercolors by WWII combat artist and Cornish faculty member Mitchell Jamieson. Also included in the exhibition are puppets from the Cornish Theater Department. Cornish was one of the first schools to offer puppetry as a performance art in the United States. From the late 1920s comes the work of student and later faculty member R. Bruce Iverarity. His original puppets, made from found objects, were used in a Surrealist science-fiction puppet production titled “Z-739.” These will be publically displayed for the first time along with two puppets by Helmi Juvonen. The show also includes work from 21st century Cornish alumna Aleah Chapin. Her painting “Auntie” won the distinguished BP Portrait Award in 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Chapin is the first American to be so honored. The show opened on January 14. Look for Cornish students to be participating in the February 18 Art Walk Edmonds. More information will be published about this show in the coming months on www.cornish.edu.
Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Centennial Tribute to Nellie Cornish and Cornish College of the Arts JANUARY 14, 2016 TO MAY 1, 2016 CASCADIA ART MUSEUM 190 Sunset Ave. #E Edmonds, WA 98020 425-336-4809 Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Tickets: Adults $10 / Seniors, students 17 and under $7 PAGE 45
As Leader By Moira Scott Payne
VER THE LAST 15 YEARS, the funding of research in the arts has radically changed the art school dynamic. Young artists now understand the peer-reviewed paper, performance, or show and can refer to recently gathered data that measures the impact of the arts on society. What are being called the “new paradigms” in art education are forcing art schools to reckon with the question, “What are the arts for?” Project-based learning and arts practices that also function as research often situated in a poststudio environment, favor a distributed or collaborative model of educational engagement. It takes years to train a dancer, a concert pianist, or a painter, and the development of technical skills is still an important part of an education in the arts. Art schools still offer opportunities to develop the self through a creative medium. But beyond the usual roles of decoration and expression, the arts are now fulfilling additional new functions that include knowledge transfer, design thinking, communication, and translation. The art student today leaves college with skills that prepare him or her well for the mobile and fluid demands of the workplace. At Cornish we are embracing new approaches to art education and looking to lead in the development of a structurally changed and fully integrated model that will create a laboratory of scholarship and practice. The school has a weighty history of innovation: Founder Nellie Cornish brought a vision of the allied arts to the Pacific Northwest coast that was profound, radical, and arrived at through her own empirical, perhaps synaesthetic, understanding of the arts. She brought eurythmics into the Cornish program in 1915 on the vanguard of its introduction to the US; John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham and Mark Tobey are all associated with Cornish. A bold, embedded sense of experimentation prepares Cornish well for a new generation of interdisciplinary, community-focused practice.
OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS, Cornish has relocated from “up the hill” to a downtown campus in South Lake Union. Some inspired real estate acquisitions by a forward-thinking board have placed Cornish in the heart of the second fastest growing urban district in the world. With neighbors such as Amazon, Fred Hutch, Institute for Systems Biology, and Microsoft, Cornish is surrounded by a heady entrepreneurial, technology-heavy, research-based, burgeoning medical and commercial district. So what can we at Cornish offer our South Lake Union community, and how can we lead? Of course Cornish will put on concerts and stage plays, dance and sing, but we will also reflect our surrounding cultures. We will dance an interpretation of folding proteins, design data systems, appropriate new technologies to our own ends, challenge assumptions and create new ways of thinking. We will lend our communication skills to translate impenetrable research for the layperson, and we will compare our creative processes to those of the scientist. We will bring an understanding of metaphor, intuition, and tacit knowledge to the exciting new worlds that our surrounding digital technologists create as they address how we might live better, work, play, and tell stories. We will collaborate, share, and bring new audiences to issues of global concern. Together with some of the world’s brightest minds in South Lake Union, we will lead. Moira Scott Payne is provost and vice president of academic affairs at Cornish College of the Arts. Previously she was the director of art and media at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design Dundee at Dundee University, UK. She studied at Glasgow School of Art in Scotland, UK. This article was adapted from her talk given at a PechaKucha Night Seattle event, Designing Leadership, which was hosted in collaboration with Design in Public for their Seattle Design Festival and was published in ARCADE magazine in March 2015. Photo by Winnie Westergard PAGE 47
Foundations’ Sight/Site The Foundations project “Sight/Site” created installations at the Seattle Center and on campus. This Fall 2015 module examined the importance of location and observation in site-specific work.
Ryleigh Paxton ’18
Maria Idris ’18, Saige Ketcheson ’18 and Nestor Salazar Benavides ’18
Rachael Benson ’18
Jaylin Prescott ’18
Photos by Mark Bocek and John Engerman