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Category: Arts & Humanities

Jewish families to be key topic at Greenfield Summer Institute

The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

The Jewish family can be considered the core of Jewish identity. At a four-day event, attendees can develop a rich understanding about the history and function of family in a Jewish context, according to organizers.  

“In many ways, the Jewish story is a family story,” said Cara Rock-Singer, co-chair of the Greenfield Institute Committee. “There are so many different formations and meanings of family related to issues about how families function and work to produce and reproduce Jewish life.” 

The 22nd annual Greenfield Summer Institute, which is part of the George L. Mosse and Laurence A. Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be held July 11-14, 2022, featuring the theme of “The Jewish Family across Time and Place.” 

Former WPM Director Gene Purcell inducted into WBA Hall Of Fame

Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin Public Media and the Educational Communications Board joined broadcasters from around the state to celebrate the life and career of former WPM Director Gene Purcell who was one of four people inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame on June 23, 2022. Purcell was a longtime WPR reporter, regional manager, and former director of the ECB before becoming director of WPM at UW-Madison in 2018. He was killed in a traffic collision in August 2021.

New novel by UW–Madison French professor explores love and loss in the early years of the AIDS crisis

Madison Magazine

Richard Goodkin wrote the first draft of what would become his new novel, “Mourning Light,” over the course of a few months back in 1993. For the University of Wisconsin–Madison French professor, working on the novel was a way of processing some difficult personal emotions surrounding the loss of his partner two years earlier — and so he wrote a fictionalized story about a UW–Madison professor who loses his partner during the early years of the AIDS epidemic.

Zola Jesus finds purpose in the process

National Public Radio

Noted: She started producing music, drawing equally from her childhood opera training and love of noise, while in college at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her debut, The Spoils, was released by Sacred Bones in 2009, when she was still a student, after which she moved to Los Angeles. After time in the Northwest and the Northeast, and four more albums later, she moved into a house she built with her two uncles, a contractor and an electrical engineer, on the land where she grew up.

Children’s books need to watch their (skin) tone

Boston Globe

Noted: Books written by historically underrepresented authors increased by 3% in 2020, to 26.8%, while books written about racially diverse characters increased by only 1% to 30%, according to Kathleen Horning, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center. This progress has been further threatened by right-wing efforts to banish the discussion of race from classrooms altogether.

Humorology presents ‘The Way Back Home’

Daily Cardinal

Humorology — more commonly referred to as “Humo” — made a big return to Shannon Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Memorial Union last weekend with a presentation of “The Way Back Home.” Since 1947, Humo has dedicated 75 years to building friendships across members in Greek Life.

UW Marching Band to hold first spring concert after COVID-19 cancellations

Wisconsin Public Radio

After making it through the 2020 football season without fans, Corey Pompey said the feeling of his marching band returning to a Camp Randall Stadium full of Badger fans for the first time in 2021 was indescribable.

“For a large chunk of the band, they (had) never marched in the stadium before,” said Pompey, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Marching Band. “They never had that crowd response.”

Behind-the-scenes look at Great Lakes shipwrecks-focused video game

PBS Wisconsin

Noted: The game was produced by PBS Wisconsin Education, Wisconsin Sea Grant, and Field Day Learning Games — an educational game developer within the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research and Wisconsin educators. It complements the PBS Wisconsin Shipwrecks! documentary and virtual reality experience exploring wrecks on the bottom of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes.

Breaking the mold: UW-Madison geneticist bridges art and science, partakes in National Mall display

Wisconsin Public Radio

For years, Ahna Skop didn’t feel like she fit the mold of a scientist.

She comes from a family of artists. Her father, Michael Skop, was a pupil of a famous Croatian artist, Ivan Meštrović, and her dad brought in students from all over the world to an art school they had at their house. Her mother, Kathleen Prince Skop, is a ceramicist and retired high school art teacher.

“Here I am as a scientist,” said the geneticist and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “You might assume that I inherited the recessive gene for science.”

UW treble choir ‘Pitches and Notes’ to compete for national trophy

Wisconsin State Journal

“Pitches and Notes,” a longtime treble choir based at UW-Madison, is headed later this month to compete for top honors in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, or ICCA, in New York City. It’s the same competition that spawned the “Pitch Perfect” series of three movies and the 2015 reality TV docuseries “Sing It On.”

UW-Madison treble group makes a cappella history in NYC

The Capital Times

When Sophie Jester, a sophomore biology major at University of Wisconsin-Madison, auditioned for Pitches & Notes, a treble a cappella group on campus, she didn’t think she would make it.   Now, a little over a year later, Jester and the rest of the group will head to New York to perform in the upcoming in-person International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA). This is the first time that a group from UW-Madison will be competing at an in-person ICCA finals, set for Saturday, April 23, at The Town Hall in Times Square.

From TYME machine to ope!, here’s why many Wisconsinites say these words and more

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: While Tom Purnell — a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of English language and linguistics — was living in Pennsylvania in the mid-1980s, he said the cash dispensing machines in that area were called MAC (money access centers).

“ATM (automated teller machine) is the generic term that is being used more widely now, overtaking the local variants,” he said in an email.

“A lot of changes and variations in pronunciation reflect things that not just happen in our mouths, but also what happens in our ears,” said Joe Salmons, a longtime professor of language sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In many languages, when there’s an “l” at the end of a syllable, it will mess with how people hear a preceding vowel, he explained, especially when the “l” is in the same syllable.

A similar example of this is pillow v. “pellow,” he noted.

The “melk” pronunciation is also heard in other parts of the Midwest, he said. And while it’s not exclusive to the state, it appears to be most common in eastern Wisconsin.

We’ve found the best attraction in your state capital

Love Exploring

Wisconsin: Chazen Museum of Art, MadisonWhether it’s paintings, sculptures, photography, drawings or print works that float your boat, the Chazen Museum of Art located in the University of Wisconsin–Madison will not disappoint. Having just reopened, permanent and rotating exhibits showcase American and European artworks and you can take a guided tour for the lowdown on the history of some 20,000 works of art across all genres.

How a UW-Madison professor’s algorithm helps find The New Yorker’s cartoon caption

Wisconsin Public Radio

The New Yorker relies on an algorithm from Robert Nowak, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Nowak said on WPR’s “The Morning Show” that the algorithm collects the ratings and over time pushes more successful captions to the top of a sorted list. It’s similar to how a search engine such as Google tracks how many times a website is chosen after a given search.’

So roughly speaking, the funnier the caption, the more ratings it receives, providing a more statistically accurate estimate of just how funny it is,” he said.

UW programs this spring focus on democracy and the American Dream. Watch them at our websites.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Journal Sentinel and USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin will livestream several democracy-focused programs this spring from the University of Wisconsin-Madison LaFollette School of Public Affairs.

The first, today at 5 p.m., features Harvard University Professor of Government Daniel Carpenter, who will discuss his book “Democracy by Petition,” which traces the explosion and expansion of petitioning across the North American continent.

“It’s okay to be sensitive” Sasha Debevec-McKenney, poet and server


In our new feature, “Digest,” Isthmus interviews unsung or behind-the-scenes members of the service industry and lets them speak for themselves.

Sasha Debevec-McKenney, 31, is a poet, an instructor at UW-Madison, and the current artist-in-residence at StartingBlock. She’s also a part-time server. She has worked at restaurants in New York City and Madison, including Willalby’s Cafe, Settle Down Tavern and Diner in WIlliamsburg, Brooklyn. Currently she works a couple lunch shifts a week at Morris Ramen.

Madison becomes an epicenter of prints this month

Wisconsin State Journal

“It’s been three years since our last conference” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, “so everyone is super-excited,” said Emily Arthur, an associate professor of art at UW-Madison and a member of the conference steering committee. The 2022 event also marks SGCI’s 50th anniversary as an organization.

Wisconsin Watch named finalist in 12 Milwaukee Press Club categories for coverage in 2021

Wisconsin Watch

Wisconsin Watch has been named a finalist in 12 categories in the Milwaukee Press Club’s 2021 Excellence in Journalism contest.

Whether the entries won gold, silver or bronze will be announced in May. Three of the awards are shared with news partners and one award is shared with students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


New book ‘A Creative Place’ a detailed history of visual art in Wisconsin

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: The University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Idea: The Wisconsin Regional Art Program hired painter John Steuart Curry in 1936 as the first artist-in-residence at a U.S. university. Curry, and later Aaron Bohrod, worked with groups around the state to encourage to encourage small-town and rural artists. The program valued art created not only by professors and artists, but also by regular people, Sawkins said.

‘Mapping Dejope’ project seeks to make Indigenous histories in Madison available digitally

Wisconsin Public Radio

Signs are static.

They can, of course, convey concise and relevant historical information. But they are limited to one point in time, said Kasey Keeler, an assistant professor of civil society and community studies and American Indian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

That’s why Keeler is leading a project, “Mapping Dejope: Indigenous Histories and Presence in Madison,” which will make Indigenous history of the area digitally accessible.

“We The Vision” celebrates the 50th anniversary of UW’s The Black Voice

Madison 365

The Black Voice news publication was first created in 1971 with the mission to provide a safe space for Black and African diasporic students attending UW-Madison. “We The Vision,” which will be presented at Marquee Cinema in Union South on Tuesday, March 1, 6 p.m., is the tale of The Black Voice’s origins, influence and legacy told by many of the voices who have shaped its success. The documentary commemorates the 50th anniversary of the founding of The Black Voice, during the 2020-21 school year.

New ‘counter monument’ sculpture on State Street celebrates shared humanity

Wisconsin State Journal

Downtown Madison is not new to the debate over historic monuments. But thanks to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and a UW-Madison art professor, State Street’s iconography is now home to a new kind of monument. The museum unveiled its newest installation Tuesday evening, “Blu³eprint,” a 12,000-pound limestone sculpture designed by Faisal Abdu’Allah. For Abdu’Allah, it is a deeply personal piece that aims to reimagine the role of identity in public art.

Liz Claiborne Co-Founder Helped Create a Fashion Star

Wall Street Journal

After service in the Navy, he earned an economics degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1948 and an MBA degree from Columbia University two years later. While working as a securities analyst at Sutro Brothers in New York, Mr. Chazen got a call from a Wisconsin classmate whose family owned an apparel maker. He was soon launched as a traveling garment salesman, driving to small-town shops in Indiana and Illinois, the start of a thorough education in the rag trade.

World traveling UW-Madison professor shares a new novel and play

Wisconsin State Journal

Author, UW-Madison professor and world traveler Amy Quan Barry says she strives to have depth and range to her writing. Her releases this month of both a novel and play certainly seem to validate that goal. “When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East,” is Barry’s third novel due out Feb. 22. A few days later, her first play, “The Mytilenean Debate,” begins its run at Forward Theatre. She will discuss both works during an upcoming in-person event through the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Sculpture of UW-Madison art professor brings message of ‘shared humanity’

The Capital Times

When Faisal Abdu’Allah first strolled through a pathway of stone slabs at Quarra Stone, the Madison company that would help create a sculpture of him, he felt like the materials had souls … A year-and-a-half later, the material has been crafted into a 7-foot statue of the University of Wisconsin-Madison art professor for his upcoming DARK MATTER exhibition at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, which opens Sept. 17. Titled “Blu³eprint,” the art will be installed this fall in front of MMoCA, on the corner of Henry and State streets, pending permits from the city.

‘Lorraine Hansberry,’ by Charles J. Shields book review

The Washington Post

The glaring disconnect between her family’s civil rights activism and their fortune, made by exploiting other Black people, likely played a role in Lorraine’s move towards Marxist politics, but Shields doesn’t explore it. By contrast, his depiction of her intellectual development is substantive, from her teenage readings in Harlem Renaissance literature through her discovery at the University of Wisconsin of theater, in particular Sean O’Casey’s Irish folk dramas. He also revisits a summer workshop in Mexico that cemented her commitment to social realism in art and her tenure as a journalist at the radical monthly Freedom after she dropped out of college.

What Virgil Abloh Left Behind: Black Creatives Remember the Designer’s Impact on Fashion

Teen Vogue

Born September 30, 1980, in Rockford, Illinois to Ghanaian immigrant parents, Abhloh’s educational background deviated from the traditional route of a high fashion designer, which typically involves design school. He attended undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed a degree in civil engineering. He then went on to receive his master’s degree in architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology — according to Vogue, a ​​Rem Koolhaas building was installed on campus during his time at IIT, which “piqued” Abloh’s interest in fashion. And, Abloh’s mom was a seamstress, who trained him as a young man. A student of practical fields, he applied those skills to fashion, instilling himself as a multidisciplinary, multi-hyphenate creative.

UW-Madison professor pens haiku collection detailing medical treatment

Wisconsin Public Radio

Ellen Samuels has spent a lot of hours in loud, cramped MRI machines.

She said medical personnel would give her these “little headphones” to play music, but the sound of banging metal coils and vibrating electrical pulses all but muted that music.

So to pass the time, she would craft poems in her head. Without the ability to jot them down, she imagined haiku because the five-seven-five-syllable format was easier to remember.

UW-Madison researchers pour themselves into 40-year History of Cartography Project

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Embedded within a four-decade-long endeavor to document the history of cartography is a deceptively simple question: What is a map?

In a world where most people interact with maps almost daily, pulling them up on their smartphone to effortlessly chart a path through the lattice of streets that lie between Point A and Point B, the map, at first glance, is a tool.

But ask a generations-spanning team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison what a map is, and they’ll give you a more complex answer. Maps are more than a flattened rendering of the land around us, said Matthew Edney, a senior scientist at UW and a professor of geography at the University of Southern Maine.

“They’re cultural documents,” he said. “They’re social instruments.”

UW Madison Cartography Lab’s “We Are Here: Local Mapmakers Explore the World That Connects Us” Exhibit


We Are Here: Local Mapmakers Explore the World That Connects Us is an exhibit that was developed by the UW Madison Cartography Lab and currently showing at the Overture Center until January 16th. The exhibit features work from both current students and alumni from their current places of employment and aims to let people know that Madison is a hub and important place of cartography training.

The Artists We Lost in 2021, in Their Words

The New York Times

“When I studied engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, it was the humanities classes that I had put to the side that ultimately started me on this path of thinking about creativity in a much more cultural context — not designing for design’s sake, but connecting design to the rhythm of what’s happening in the world.”— Virgil Abloh, designer, born 1980 (Read the obituary.

31 movies with Wisconsin ties in 2021, from ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ to ‘No Time to Die’

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”: In this franchise reboot, Carrie Coon plays the daughter of OG (original Ghostbuster) Egon. After he dies, Coon, who got her start at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in Madison-area theater, brings her kids to his rural Oklahoma house and discovers the ghosts are coming back.

“Enemies of the State”: Oscar-winning documentarian and University of Wisconsin-Madison alum Errol Morris is executive producer of this true tale of a family that caught up in intrigue when their hacker son is targeted by the federal government.

The alien beauty and creepy fascination of insect art

Knowable Magazine

Noted: Another striking example is the singing shawls made by the Karen people of Myanmar and northern Thailand, says Jennifer Angus, who teaches textile design at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. These woven garments, so named because they’re worn at funeral ceremonies where mourners sing around the clock for several days, sometimes have a fringe made from the shiny, iridescent elytra, or hard outer wings, of jewel beetles. Angus, who grew up in Canada, had never seen anything like it. “I really had trouble believing that it was real,” she says.

The discovery inspired Angus to start incorporating insects into her own work. Her first installation was at a storefront gallery in Toronto, where she arranged hundreds of weevils into a wallpaper-like pattern on the walls. When people walked up to take a closer look, Angus says, “literally, I saw them take a step back as they realized the wallpaper was composed of insects.” The piece created tension, she says, between what people expect when they see a pattern they associate with domestic spaces and the realization that the pattern is composed of bugs, which most people don’t like to find in their homes.

Do children’s books encourage gender stereotypes?

Daily Mail

Books designed for children may be perpetuating gender stereotypes, a new study warns.

More than 240 books written for children five years old and younger were analysed by a team from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

They found that books with a male main character were more often about professions, whereas those with a female protagonist were about affection.

36 Children’s Books About Diversity to Read to Your Kids

Reader's Digest

Noted: A recent count by Cooperative Children’s Book Center School of Education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison found that “books about white children, talking bears, trucks, monsters, potatoes, etc. represent nearly three-quarters of children’s and young adult books published in 2019.” In other words, vegetables, animals, monsters, and aliens had more visibility in books than brown or black characters.

Viroqua, Hillsboro public libraries awarded grants from the Center for East Asian Studies

La Crosse Tribune

The Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is pleased to announce the winners of the “East Asia in Wisconsin Library Program” competition. Grants have been awarded to public libraries throughout Wisconsin, enriching their collections with new titles that will enable patrons to deepen their understanding of East Asia (which includes China, Japan, and Korea). Over $24,000 in funding will be distributed to 29 libraries, representing 12 of the state’s 14 library systems.

Xela Garcia helps young Milwaukee Latinos see themselves in art, education

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Garcia earned her bachelor’s degree in English Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She recalls taking American English classes and only learning about white male authors.

She remembers thinking: “America is more than these old dead white dudes.” She decided to minor in Chicano/Latina studies and American Indian studies, where she saw herself reflected in the stories she learned about.

“It brought me back to that feeling of empowerment, of feeling seen,” she said. “This was something that was me.”

Commemorative plaque on Richard Davis Lane helps to preserve jazz legend’s legacy for generations of Madisonians to come

Madison 365

In 2018, a new street in the Darbo-Worthington Neighborhood on Madison’s east side was created in honor of the legacy of Richard Davis, a Madison jazz legend and Professor Emeritus of Bass at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he taught for nearly four decades. Now, after a fundraising effort throughout the pandemic, Davis’ former student and mentee, Wilder Deitz, has honored the man who inspired him and so many others with a commemorative plaque to accompany the street sign on Richard Davis Lane.

From books to museums, here’s where you can learn about Native peoples in Wisconsin during Native American Heritage Month

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: What do you know about the Native peoples who have called Wisconsin lands their home for thousands of years?

November is Native American Heritage Month and is a good opportunity to learn about the history, culture and sovereignty of the 11 federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin and the Brothertown Indian Nation, which hopes to regain its federal status.

Most people know little to nothing about Native Americans, said Aaron Bird Bear, director of tribal relations at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Keeping ourselves ignorant about Indigenous nations, about our shared history and our treaty-based relationships with Indigenous nations is a form of collective amnesia,” Bird Bear said.

“One thing we would hope is that people really think deeply during Native American Heritage Month of how they can interrupt or arrest settler colonialism itself, which is a process by which the vast majority of U.S. society knows little to nothing about the people who’ve lived here for 20,000 years and counting.”