The Arts at Ursinus College

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The Arts at



Just after the start of each new year, outside

of my third floor window in Olin Hall, the starlings captivate me. In the hour before sunset, I watch the flock alight on the Japanese pagoda trees between Wismer and BPS. The early ones, on the topmost branches, trickle downward as if on tiny escalators, making room for new arrivals, until every twig is twittering with glossy black shapes, furiously feasting on the pale green fruit of winter. Defectors swoop away, followed by more, until the entire assembly launches and banks rightward in perfect synchrony toward the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art. My eyes stare through the empty branches, all the way to Patterson Field, where lacrosse players, birdlike at this distance, swirl across the turf in a synchrony of their own, weaving and unweaving, until my view is obscured by returning starlings. Amid these alternating murmurations, avian and human, something inside me turns—not yet inspiration, but an urge, in E.M. Forster’s famous phrase, to “only connect.” My mind’s eye swirls across campus to perch where dancers make meaning across a hardwood floor, where paint and pencil meet canvas and paper, where digital audio and visuals blend. To Bomberger basement where a lone

ARTS & RESEARCH.. . . . . ......................... 2-13 Shannon Zura and Emily Bradigan ’23 Talia Argondezzi and Mekha Varghese ’23 Holly Hubbs and Jamie Polson ’22 Meghan Tierney and Maia Peele ’23 David Aipperspach, Karen Clemente, Domenick Scudera

LIVING THE ARTS.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14-21 Ensemble of Music Paging Through 90 Years of Literary History Exploration of Curation

THE ARTS AFTER URSINUS......... 22-28 Shelby Bryant ’18 Masila Muli ’16 Patrick McAndrew ’13 Wynton Rice ’09

saxophonist saws a melancholy note, to Main Street houses where the poet’s fingers thrum a silver radiator, and to the Kaleidoscope stage, where students strive still to embody Hamlet’s edict “to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature.” The starlings cruise in from the rooftop, refilling the trees, and I hold my breath for their deft ballet of departure. I am grateful for this moment, and grateful to be a small part of the upheaval of invention roiling art into existence at Ursinus College. Artists here may be athletes, scientists, and entrepreneurs, but they are also encouraged and enabled simply to create, a value we hold to be self-evident. Jon Volkmer Professor of English Director of Creative Writing 1



Theater and Dance Creative Writing Music Fine Arts Research Profiles Art is all around us. It motivates and inspires. It evokes emotion, uncovers meaning, and prompts us to ponder, question, and explore. But behind any performance, exhibition, or written word, there is always the why. Students and faculty at Ursinus seamlessly blend a vibrant arts culture with cross-disciplinary academic research, presenting creative works that are grounded in scholarship and transcend imaginative boundaries. Meet our creators.





Shining a Light Shannon Zura Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater and Dance in Design and Technology Shannon Zura has been living the arts for decades. A former associate professor and theater chair at the University of Southern Maine, Zura brings to Ursinus more than 20 years of professional experience in lighting, sound, and scenic design, including award-winning work in Houston’s Museum of Natural Science. As an 18-year-old computer science major at Cameron University in her home state of Oklahoma, Zura was secretly conscripted by her best friend to audition for the school play. “The director called my name,” she recalls. “It was the most terrifying experience in the world.” Zura’s surprise audition landed her a role as Sarah, a talking lizard, in Edward Albee’s Seascape. “I remember feeling the light and feeling like I was on a beach,” says Zura, “and then I put it together that, wow, this is a creation made by Scott Hoffman, who was the designer at the time who did lights.” After that, Zura began to explore more opportunities backstage, which she found more interesting. “It was a whole world that opened up to me.” As a first-generation college student working her way through college, Zura built an impressive skill set. She interviewed artists and politicians on NPR; directed shows; designed sets, lights, and sound; and even took a year off to complete an apprenticeship at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia before returning to Oklahoma to apprentice twice at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City. “I really used my undergraduate career to explore the world and life,” says Zura. “I still approach life in that way, because I love learning.” Most recently, her projects have included a collaboration with three self-initiated majors in theater design and technology on stop-motion animated projections for the college’s 2021 production of Kissing the Witch. Zura is always trying new things in the classroom, as well as on the stage and screen. “I absolutely see the importance of educating yourself, to find out who you are and what your passions are.” Today, Zura teaches, mentors, and continues to work professionally in theater year-round. She always tries to foster in students that bon vivant boldness that inspired her vivid undergrad experience. “I try to provide that same experience for students because it was so special to me.”



Setting the Stage Emily Bradigan ’23 Major: Theater Design and Technology Emily Bradigan ’23 is what her adviser Meghan Brodie ’00 describes as “a renaissance woman.” Preparing for a life on and around the stage, Bradigan built her own self-initiated major (SIM): theater design and technology. Bradigan sought the guidance of Brodie and Shannon Zura and together they crafted an interactive program built on scholarship and production. “You take [relevant] courses that the school offers and compare them to different curriculums from different universities,” Bradigan says. Upon approval from the dean’s office, an individualized major is born. Naomi Marin ’23 created the original self-initiated theater design and technology major, which three fellow students adopted with their own individual concentrations. Bradigan’s major is mostly focused on set design. To enhance her scholarly education, Bradigan directs, designs, and acts in plays. At Ursinus, she gets to do it all. Her experiences have yielded an impressive theatrical portfolio that represents her talents as a designer, performer, and visual artist. Her most recent projects include animating short films, directing plays, and designing sets. Upon graduating, Bradigan plans to design sets on stages everywhere. “The rest of my time at Ursinus really is setting me up to be able to do that.” On Bradigan’s experiential curriculum, Zura remarks that “there’s such a wide range of opportunity for students to earn credit and learn something that is meaningful.” The two feel grateful to be able to have a deep theoretical exploration in the classroom, and then take those questions onto the stage. Zura and Bradigan agree that Ursinus is fortunate to have the resources to help students cultivate imaginative SIMs.

“there’s such a wide range of opportunity for students to earn credit and learn something that is meaningful.” 5


to e k i l s l e e f t i t a h w Now that I know n i o g t i e e s t n’ o d I , e f i l y have art in m

Embracing the Creativity in All Types of Writing

Unscripted: Finding Her Voice Through Writing

Talia Argondezzi Director of the Center for Writing and Speaking Contributor to

Mekha Varghese ’23 Majors: Art, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Mention creative writing, and often what come to mind are genres such as poetry or fiction. However, at the Center for Writing and Speaking—an on-campus service staffed by student fellows who assist with all steps of the writing process—Director Talia Argondezzi appreciates the creativity required for all forms of writing. “We tend to think there is a diametrical opposition between the creative process and the analytical process, but analytical writing is also creative,” says Argondezzi. “There is a stereotype that creative types are solitary: The image of the literary genius alone in the attic, typing away, who then sends off the work and is declared brilliant. But the center thinks of writing as collaborative 6

and communal—a process that involves articulating what you’re trying to convey as a way of understanding it.” One example of the crossover between the analytical and the creative is an artist statement, used in the Annual Student Exhibition at the Berman Museum of Art to describe an artist’s work. “Artists are often driven by something that is not easily articulable. It’s a feeling or vision they have that they are trying to realize in their art.” Fellows work with artists to draw out the motivation behind and meaning of their art to help viewers better understand. An accomplished writer herself—she wrote two of the top 10 most-read

articles on humor website McSweeney’s in 2021—Argondezzi finds writing to be a therapeutic way to enjoy a different reality. “In my case, I use satire to bring new light to a particular social problem or human foible, but scholarly thinking and creative thinking have the same motivations and the same ends. Whether it’s introducing new scientific research or helping people understand the humanities, writers aim to change people’s perspective on the world in a slight way.”

Mekha Varghese ’23 is one of the writing fellows at the Center for Writing and Speaking. The daughter of a nurse and pharmacist, Varghese says that a career in the sciences has “always been part of the conversation,” but she has also always wanted to be a screenwriter. She credits her first-year adviser, Talia Argondezzi, with ensuring that she has been able to explore both pursuits, with majors in art as well as biochemistry and molecular biology. Despite a childhood desire to pen a film or television script, Varghese did not write much before coming to Ursinus. It was her art coursework that gave her the courage to pursue creative writing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when Ursinus shifted to remote instruction in March 2020, she challenged herself

to write a script for a TV pilot, and she entered it into the Humanitas New Voices Fellowship screenwriting competition. She wrote the script as the country was gripped by protests over racial injustice. “My family’s background is Indian, and we were having some really interesting conversations about race and politics. The script was a reaction to that: What happens when a hate crime or racial injustice happens within the Indian community, and how does that fit into the overall context of race in the United States? It draws from my own life as well, so it’s about students who are navigating college when something big happens, and they’re forced into a social justice role.”

As a writing fellow, helping her peers dig into similarly personal topics is something Varghese finds especially rewarding. “A lot of discussions that take place as part of the Common Intellectual Experience (CIE) are really personal, and students are not used to that type of writing. I help them go to that vulnerable space and figure out what to write about. It’s not about the quality of their writing. It’s about making students feel comfortable and empowered in their writing.” What’s the post-Ursinus chapter look like for Varghese? Already an EMT, she plans to attend medical school after graduation. “But now that I know what it feels like to have art in my life, I don’t see it going away.”




A Virtuoso of Musical Improvisation Holly Hubbs Professor of Music and Chair An esteemed multi-instrumentalist known for her skills on the saxophone, Holly Hubbs embarked on the adventure of a lifetime in 2020. Embracing the same entrepreneurial mindset that she encourages in her students, the chair of the music department planned to use her sabbatical to enroll in Academie voor Muziek, Woord en Dans, a conservatory in the Flemish region of Belgium, and add a new instrument to her repertoire: the recorder. When the COVID-19 pandemic altered her plans, she decided to adapt rather than retreat. “I had to be improvisational about why I was living in Europe for a sabbatical when I wasn’t able to do what I was supposed to do,” says Hubbs. She carved out her own independent adventure, which enriched her in many unexpected ways. “It became more about punting and learning language and practicing

on my own and finding very small opportunities to perform.” Hubbs made good friends abroad and took every chance she could to live the musical arts in Europe. “My Dutch got a lot better. But I didn’t fulfill all the things on recorder that I wanted to do. So I’m still studying, I’m still playing.” While her work with the recorder continues, Hubbs is completing more scholarship on the saxophone, her dissertation instrument. “I’m writing a book chapter about an American woman saxophonist from the 1920s, which will be not something new for me but a return to something very old.” It was during graduate school that Hubbs discovered Elise Hall, one of the first women to play, write, and teach the saxophone. Now, as the 100th anniversary of Hall’s death approaches, Hubbs and other experts are writing about the musical pioneer.

The book, to be published by Norton, documents Hall’s legacy and patronage. She commissioned works from France’s Claude Debussy and Vincent D’Indy, as well as other major composers of the time. Hubbs will continue to explore the familiar and the unfamiliar, as she dives back into her old notes on Hall and prepares for her first onstage performance with the recorder.

“We have to be very purposeful in our lives to remain creative .”

Composing His Vision of Grandeur Jamie Polson ’22 Majors: Music, and Media and Communication Studies to leave anything on the cutting-room floor.

Jamie Polson ’22 is a prolific songwriter who’s combining his education with his love for making music. For his senior capstone project (a culminating class or endeavor displaying expertise in your studies), the music major has taken to the page, writing and recording 13 songs, which he published as an album entitled Lost and Found. For his project, he worked closely with Holly Hubbs. Hubbs admires Polson’s creative fervor and calls him “a fantastically talented songwriter.” She notes influences of the Decembrists and Johnny Cash in Polson’s work, and especially admires his tenacity to write in a turbulent time for artists everywhere. “We have to be very purposeful sometimes in our lives to remain creative,” Hubbs says. 8

Polson premiered the album with a small concert for friends. When he’s not writing solo songs, he sings in a band called FIO (Feel It Out) with music students Liam Worcheck ’22 (guitar) and Moustapha Balde ’23 (bass). Polson’s next independent project is a three-part album entitled Visions of Grandeur.

The original project, meant to be four or five songs, blossomed as Polson hit a songwriting streak. “I just kept making songs,” he says. Once he had created enough for what could be a short album, he knew he did not want

While the pandemic still casts limitations on musical performances all over, Polson enjoys every second, with high hopes for touring the world and collaborating with some of his favorite artists in the future.




Finding Innovation in the Ancient Americas Meghan Tierney Assistant Professor of Art History Meghan Tierney feels very fortunate to have an accredited museum at her disposal on campus. “I treat it like a laboratory, especially for my ‘Museum Studies’ class,” she says. In the first few weeks of each semester, she encourages students to meet the staff, view the works on display, and simply explore—and become comfortable in—the gallery spaces, all as part of the process of honing their critical eye. For her research, she’s been focusing her own critical eye on the Nasca culture of ancient Peru and how they used sculptural ceramics for cultural expression. Their legacy lives on in tens of thousands of brightly painted ceramics, made before the use of electric kilns and pottery

wheels. “Maybe it doesn’t sound so extraordinary given our technology now, but at the time the innovation to do that is mind-boggling.” Beyond serving simply as a canvas, each piece—adorned with images of beans, peppers, and other foodstuffs— is also a vessel. So in addition to examining the sculptural aspects, Tierney also studies the relationship that people of the Nasca culture had to food. The Nasca also made vessels in the shapes of heads, which is another avenue of Tierney’s research. “We have this correlation between actual preserved human heads, a cultural practice of the Nasca, and these

ceramic versions that are depicted with their eyes wide open and ‘alive.’ There are some interesting relationships going on between artistic reality and expression versus these real-world objects that were living human beings.” Tierney understands that she is introducing students to time periods, regions, cultures, materials, and techniques that are likely unfamiliar to them. “A lot of people think, ‘Well, I’m taking an art history class, so I’ll look at lots of paintings and marble sculptures,’” says Tierney. “I do some of that too, but the arts of the ancient Americas and my research in Nasca ceramics are very different from what people are used to.”

“It’s important to me to do the research justice and inform as man y people as I can.”

On View: Authenticity and Ethics in Exhibitions Maia Peele ’23 Major: Anthropology and Sociology As a Bonner Leader, Maia Peele ’23 is accustomed to reflecting on how her service can help not only the campus community, but also the greater good. It’s an outlook the anthropology and sociology major brings to her academic pursuits too. What she likes most about her area of study is learning about different cultures, particularly underrepresented ones, and working to shine light on and preserve their authenticity.


It was an internship with Adebunmi Gbadebo, an artist who uses dirt from a South Carolina plantation to create clay vessels honoring her ancestors, that helped set in motion Peele’s independent research project that focuses on the role that museums play in our society.

Peele argues that when museums put human remains on display as art and artifacts, they diminish the human aspect of the remains. As such, Peele questions whether they are sites of educational institutions or sites of racialization by examining three case studies: Sarah Baartman, a South African woman with steatopygia who was put on display in the early 1800s and whose remains were displayed in a Paris museum until 1974; Ota Benga, a Congolese pygmy who was displayed with apes at the Bronx Zoo in the early 1900s and whose remains were held postmortem; and members of the Africa family who were killed in the 1985 MOVE bombing in Philadelphia and whose remains were held for decades by the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University.

One of her takeaways from Meghan Tierney’s “Museum Studies” course was that it’s important to make sure that museum displays are authentic and ethical. In this regard, museum curators and anthropologists need to work hand in hand. “I want to shed light on the mistreatment of black bodies in our society and bring the human aspect back into the body, especially in museums,” says Peele. “It’s important to me to do the research justice and inform as many people as I can. I’m driven by my own ancestors. I feel that spiritually.”




Finding—and Painting—the Drama in the Everyday

Stepping Through History

The Stage Is His Classroom

David Aipperspach Assistant Professor of Art and Art History

Karen Clemente Professor of Dance

Domenick Scudera Professor of Theater

If a dance piece tells a story, then so does each of its steps. Every choreographed movement is steeped in history and inspired by its creators and performers.

To bring a play to life on the stage, directors must first fully immerse themselves in that world. The setting. The social climate. Characters’ motivations. It all plays a role in how the production will unfold long before the curtain rises on opening night.

When you think of a dramatic image, a microwave oven may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Nor a flannelclad torso or a box fan. But for painter David Aipperspach, researching—and then identifying ways to represent— the dramatic relationships of light and shadow in everyday items is an important aspect of the art he creates. “All the subjects … are recognizable to a broad audience. Yet as a body of work it’s interesting how these seemingly ubiquitous, everyday, or deadpan subjects can be imbued with ambiance, drama, and tension—which you might expect to see in a genre like science fiction—just by the way they are cropped, rendered, and lit,” he says. Aipperspach is also interested in how time gets recorded in a painting. For his “Fan” series, he animated a box fan by taping streamers to it and turning it on. He then used a combination of models and photography to help understand some of the blurring effects and create the illusion of light and motion. His newest work is inspired by a threeweek residency at the Soaring Gardens Artist Retreat in Laceyville, Pa. Each 7’ x 6’ painting in this series depicts a particular interior or exterior tableau recorded on site and is stamped with inset frames of various bands of color that mark the pocket of time represented. It was featured in a solo exhibition at Chart Gallery in New York City called Prologue to a garden dark. “It’s like a clock; a way of recording time based on how the light changes as the sun sets.”


“I always wanted to learn more than just dance steps,” says Karen Clemente, who has been dancing since age 4 and has always been drawn to the scholarly side of the performing arts. “I want to know the origin of the dances and the people doing them.” Through her research, Clemente is bringing attention to modern artists who revolutionized dance, but whose contributions were often forgotten in history books. Many African American performers in the early-to-mid 20th century weren’t acknowledged for the work they did, Clemente says. “They’d perform and choreograph, but all the credit would go to White choreographers and producers. These are marginalized and largely ignored stories.” In Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty-First Century (University Press of Florida, 2022), Clemente penned the chapter, “To Topple, Not Maintain: Changing Pedagogical Practice in the College Jazz Dance History Course”—a call to teach dance not only as performance, but also as history by calling attention to its heritage. “I want to teach an inclusive history of dance,” she says. “That’s a very important piece for me in terms of research and pedagogy. That history component has more integrity and uncovers more about African aesthetics, which is the bedrock of all American dance.” Next, Clemente wants to turn her research about Ralph Brown—a “hoofer” on Broadway and in films—into a book to publicize his influence. She intends to return to Harlem, to The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to resume research that she began prior to the pandemic.

At the intersection of the performing arts and academic scholarship, each production is its own research project—a deep dive that takes words on paper and turns them into vibrant sets and powerful performances. “I want to provide [my students] with a rich experience and allow them to live and breathe that world. I try to choose plays that are going to allow students to experience something very different than what they might already know,” says Domenick Scudera, a veteran director and theater scholar who for 25 years— and 40 productions—has brought his bold vision to stages in Philadelphia and on the Ursinus campus. In Hair, for example, Scudera challenged student actors to connect to young people of the 1960s and embody their revolutionary spirit. Lynne Nottage’s Sweat presented a chance for the students to convey the struggles of steel plant workers dealing with a changing economy. “That’s some of the most enriching kind of education that you can provide,” Scudera says. “[Directing and teaching] both involve a great deal of research to prepare, and then a lot of planning in terms of putting together a lesson plan for a class, or a rehearsal plan for a production. And then, you must guide people through the experience,” he says. “Teaching ties everything together. It allows me to tap into the joy of theater. Students are so eager in their approach to theater, and every semester reminds me why I love what I do.”



Art should be an experience. It’s something to be lived and breathed rather than simply observed. There are many ways to live a creative life. At Ursinus College, students gain a sense of what it’s like to be a practicing artist, a performer, a writer, a researcher, or a curator in the world today through hands-on learning that allows them to put their talents on display on stage, in a museum, or on the printed page. The opportunities are endless. 14





The Ursinus College Music Department takes the study of styles and theory and blends it with performance opportunities to provide an in-depth understanding of music. Regardless of major, students with a passion for music are encouraged to express themselves and develop their talents so that music can continue to be a meaningful part of their lives. As a result, there are several opportunities for ensemble music-making, all of which are open to everyone in the campus community. The longest-standing departmental ensemble is the student choral ensemble, Voices of Ursinus. This group, formerly known as the Meistersingers, has a rich history of performing concerts on and off campus. Those who play an instrument—or two—will find a home in one of the college’s three bands, all of which perform two campus concerts per year. The concert band, led by Ryan Lowrie, has a long-standing tradition of providing music for the annual commencement ceremony. The jazz band, under the direction of Professor of Music and Chair Holly Hubbs, has backed up jazz legends such as Denis DiBlasio. The newest addition to the music department is our string ensemble, a group that is led by Charles dePasquale and comprised of violin, viola, cello, and bass players. Opportunities to perform and tour make Ursinus an exciting place to get involved in music.




Paging Through 90 Years of Literary History Created in 1933 and published continuously since, The Lantern is believed to be one of the longestrunning literary magazines in the nation. The publication, which allows students from all disciplines to showcase their creative work, has much to celebrate.

“While The Lantern showcases only Ursinus writers, the work is consistently at a very high level—comparable to things I read in national literary magazines,” says Jon Volkmer, who has been the adviser of the student-run publication since 1987.

“ Having your work in The Lantern means you’re part of a really supportive community because everyone’s work is coming together and being celebrated.” - Sarah Buck ’22 18

The magazine offers cash prizes for top entries in the categories of prose, poetry, and visual art (the winning entry becomes the magazine’s cover image). The Creager Prize, named for 1933 graduate Alfred Creager, who contributed three pieces of writing to the first edition of The Lantern, is also awarded to the writer with the best overall work. Submissions are judged by The Lantern’s alumni editors and writers. Each year, student editors for fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual arts lead teams of readers who pour through submissions and select their favorite pieces. “Having your work in The Lantern means you’re part of a really supportive community because everyone’s work is coming together and being celebrated. It’s fun to be a part of that,” says Sarah Buck ’22, editor-in-chief and former fiction editor. 19


Exploration of Curation At the Berman Museum of Art, the divide between theory and practice and between art and research is nonexistent. They are one in the same. “At Ursinus, we explore art as an inherently interdisciplinary practice in conversation with issues and debates of the day,” Berman Museum Creative Director Deborah Barkun says. “I think most importantly, museums and museum collections function as ways of knowing and as laboratories for knowledge. What we do at the Berman Museum is part of the college’s Quest inquiry-based core curriculum. Often, we don’t think about the extent to which artists fold research and inquiry into the evolution of their work … I think people sometimes stereotype museums as crypts for artifacts, but they are lively places that engage in discourse and inquiry about contemporary issues.” As a vehicle for teaching and learning, the Berman Museum has endeavored to develop a curriculum that is intellectually rigorous and, in its interdisciplinarity, gives students a sense of what it’s like to be a practicing artist, a researcher, and a museum curator by conducting tours and installing exhibitions. Curating is an art form. Research informs art. And so, there are intellectual, conceptual, and creative processes behind a piece or exhibition. At the Berman Museum, students learn to consider responsibilities to artists and to the people who visit the museum, Barkun says. Contemporary art is in conversation with science, psychology, history, and policy. It’s innovative and immersive, and there is never a singular meaning to a work or a larger exhibition. Students can experiment across boundaries.

Kristen Cooney ’22 (left) and Sarah Marchione ’22 visit Immigrant Flora: Rising Under, which they helped curate. 20

Take one of the latest pieces in the museum’s Pfeiffer wing, Immigrant Flora: Rising Under (pictured, left), a wall drawing researched by Ursinus students and artist Bahar Behbahani that explores

the intersections of science, commerce, and politics to prompt discussion and reflection surrounding immigration and displacement. “One of the biggest things I’ve learned from this is how you can take creative liberties,” says Kristen Cooney ’22, an art and environmental studies double major. “Bahar encouraged us to take it in any direction we wanted in terms of research—and even materials we gathered—to help inspire the projects.” The process included collecting pictures, stories, and more in a digital “archival playground” to help inspire Behbahani and the team. For students, the Berman Museum is “a literal laboratory space,” Barkun says.



ursinus Shelby Bryant ’18 Masila Muli ’16 Patrick McAndrew ’13 Wynton Rice ’09 Art continues to enrich the lives of our students long after their undergraduate journeys come to a close. Driven by a liberal arts education that has prompted them to challenge conventional thought and delve into a deeper understanding of the world— as well as ask, “What Will I Do?”—Ursinus graduates are fearless innovators who are using the research and experiential elements described in this publication to inform their professional work. Meet our alumni. 22



Bryant ’18

Photographer, digital artist, gem expert Current Title: Museum assistant at Maine Mineral & Gem Museum

How did an artist end up providing expertise at Maine’s premier science museum? For Shelby Bryant ’18, working in museums such as Ursinus’s own Berman Museum of Art and studying photography and other arts have empowered her to create more freely, and bring art into any career. Her most instrumental course at Ursinus was a 300-level photography class with Sarah Kaufman, assistant professor of art and art history in photography. “I would not be anywhere near a camera in my professional work if it had not been for her,” Bryant says. Kaufman encouraged her to incorporate photography and graphic design into her professional career. “Her course always made me feel confident and powerful as an artist.” Today, Bryant pursues art in many forms. She has built giant board games, designed magazine advertisements, and launched products while honing her skills as an e-commerce photographer. At the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum (MMGM), she’s learning about computer-aided jewelry design. At MMGM, internationally established scientists and researchers have produced 30 unique discoveries of previously unknown minerals. The lab has been the setting for nearly 500 scholarly articles. “I get to work with the first person ever to photograph and market select meteorites as sculptural forms,” she says. This process introduced meteorites into the auction environment. Bryant looks forward to creating advertisements in larger publications and developing her photography skills for high-end jewelry, while developing a greater personal collection of art. For now, she enjoys living an art that’s truly “out of this world.”



Muli ’16

Musician, engineer, entrepreneur

Current Title: Owner and lead engineer at Elysium Creative Group From 2012 to 2016, you could spot Masila Muli ’16 touring the Ursinus campus with his guitar, singing original songs and making friends. In class, the music major met his mentors like Professor of Music and Chair Holly Hubbs and other faculty who influenced his musical and personal development. Outside the classroom, Muli was social and resourceful. He researched socio-musicology for an open topic summer fellowship. To make his passion his trade, he sought guidance from Associate Professor of Business and Economics Jennifer VanGilder. She and others in the business and economics department equipped Muli with the skills he needed to develop a business model and finance a business. At the same time, Hubbs inspired Muli. “She believed in me, pushed me to do my best,” he says. “She and other professors advocated for me in ways that I didn’t fully understand.” Looking back, Muli appreciates the support he received across campus. His music professors, business and economics mentors, and even Associate Professor of History—and music connoisseur—Edward Onaci all encouraged Muli to think deeply and do what he loves for a living. Now, he owns a multimedia production company based out of Philadelphia. In addition to engineering events, Elysium Creative Group provides audio-video installation and support for recording artists. By his side is Ursinus alum Brent Garcia ’16, the company’s lead marketer. Most recently, Muli has enjoyed working on projects with singer-songwriters Saint Steven and Meriit. “I’m really blown away by how innovative and creative their work is,” Muli says. In the studio, he continues to create his own work while collaborating with groundbreaking artists to produce the right sound. “The endgame for my business is to develop a music distribution platform,” he says. “It has always been a long-term plan and so far things are unfolding well. All I will say is, we are developing something big.”




McAndrew ’13

Actor, writer, podcast producer

Current Title: Activities coordinator for The Actors Fund in New York Patrick McAndrew ’13 came to Ursinus with zero stage experience, but his positive attitude during his first-ever audition earned him a role, and ultimately he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theater. That can-do spirit, mixed with some entrepreneurship, continues to serve him well as he pursues his passions on and off the stage. Whether he’s working as a freelance podcast producer, creating programs as the activities coordinator for The Actors Fund, or hosting his own podcast, Actorcast, at the root of many of his projects lies a desire to help people. It was while working on his master’s degree at Villanova University that McAndrew took an interest in the impact of technology on human relationships. He viewed the arts and theater as a way of connecting people, yet saw technology disconnecting people. He set out to use theater as a tool to help people reconnect and engage. The result was a thesis turned off-Broadway solo show, REEL, that used his character’s relationship with the audience as a way to illustrate the toll that technology takes. As his character’s use of technology increases throughout the show, his connection to the audience deteriorates until there is none. From there, he began coaching people on how to improve their relationship with technology. In the process, he became more immersed in the world of digital wellness and realized he had his feet in two different fields. “I asked myself, ‘What can I do to spread this message that’s more unique to me?’” says McAndrew. He returned his focus to creative outlets, by launching his first podcast, Relate, and then by co-creating a new musical, The Startup. “Ursinus was the catalyst for everything that I’m doing right now. It opened up a whole world to me. I’ve performed in roles in New York, and I’ve transferred my skill set over to film as well. I learned so much about myself at Ursinus, not only as a career professional, but also as a person. That first role changed my life.”


Wynton Rice ’09 Dancer, teacher

Current Title: Dance faculty at Aquinas Institute and Hochstein School After 10 years performing internationally as a principal dancer with the Garth Fagan Dance Company, Wynton Rice ’09 decided to try something different. In 2020, he joined the fine arts faculty of the Aquinas Institute in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y., to begin teaching dance to high school students. “I have over 15 years of teaching experience from what I call the womb to the tomb,” says Rice. “I’ve taught every age range so I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve to help move students to a place of deeper understanding with a willingness to try things. Slowly but surely they start to understand the benefits of moving their body.” From a young age, Rice knew he wanted a career that would provide opportunities for him to learn something different every day. Now he’s also teaching something different every day. Tapping into one’s creativeness is something he strives for with his students and personally. Case in point: Rice accepted an invitation to tour with his former dance company as part of its 50th anniversary celebration. “It’s the best of both worlds,” says Rice, who has the full support of Aquinas’s principal—a former theater teacher—to feed his passion. With every student, Rice tries to spark a curiosity of “What is possible?” all the while emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of the art form. “You have to know anatomy, physiology, nutrition, history, psychology. And you have to be able to integrate that and execute it. You can’t fake it. We see it in real time: With dance, you either did it, or you didn’t do it.” Rice credits Ursinus for providing a solid foundation for the success of his career. “Ursinus was everything for why I’m here today. I really appreciated all the opportunities that were available when I was a student, and all of the different types of professors who really fed into me becoming a total artist, and a total thinking, critical, analyzing person. My professors—and the adjuncts and guests they brought in—really instilled in me a professional approach to dancing.” 27


ENSEMBLE Groups devoted to theater, dance, music, and creative writing give students opportunities to explore the arts

Students in and out

Through performances

Create and Perform with Us There are so many ways for students to truly live the arts on campus, such as performing in dance or music concerts, participating—either on stage or behind the scenes—in theatrical productions, showcasing their writing in our literary magazine, or displaying their art in the Annual Student Exhibition. Adding to the vibrancy of campus are a variety of studentrun organizations, including a cappella groups, dance and theater troupes, a gospel choir, a literary society, and a step team. Each year, Ursinus bolsters its commitment to the arts by awarding scholarships to standout applicants who excel in the areas of creative writing, dance, music, and theater.

The Arts at Ursinus College Volume #2 | Spring 2022 The Arts at Ursinus College is published biennially. Copyright © 2022 by Ursinus College. Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean

Mark Schneider

Chief Communications Officer

Tom Yencho Editor

Jennifer Meininger Wolfe Creative Director

Dominic Monte Student Graphic Designer

Emma Wood ’23

Contributing Writers

Tommy Armstrong ’20, Ed Moorhouse

Creative Contributions

Emily Bradigan ’23, Mekha Varghese ’23


Tommy Armstrong ’20, Bill Ecklund, Elysium Creative Group, Zachary Frazee, Maine Mineral & Gem Museum, Manoogian Media, Dominic Monte, Margo Reed, Jim Roese, Alex Wagoner ’20, and Juliana Wall Website

Erin Hovey ’96 Visit and follow us on social media. For events, visit