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Gateway is the community newsletter of Pratt Institute. It is published monthly by the Office of Communications, in the Division of Institutional Advancement. For a list of contributors, click here.

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Sunday
Oct312010

Faculty Focus

Tracie Morris

Associate Professor, Humanities and Media Studies

 

Tracie Morris performs the Willie Dixon song Wang Dang Doodle at a benefit for Cave Canem, an organization supporting African-American poets and authors. Pratt hosted the benefit, which took place October 27 in Memorial Hall and featured world-class musicians, authors, and performers. Click the image above to see more from the Cave Canem benefit.

You are a poet, singer, and playwright—how do you manage to do so many different things, and still do them well?
I actually consider all those art forms part of the same thing: being a poet. Poetry has so many applications; I just feel that I'm discovering poetry with whatever I'm doing, including teaching and learning from my students.

How did being active in the slam poetry scene of the 1990s lead you to your current work?
The slam environment helped me understand what my relationship to poetry is in what I call three-dimensional space—meaning the live and auditory environment. Before that, I mostly thought of poetry as occupying two-dimensional, or visual, space. Taking part in poetry slams was tremendously helpful and eventually lead to my writing of sound poetry only for live/auditory environments. It also helped me go further with some of my work that was at first only meant to be seen on the page and experienced in the voice and mind of the reader. Most of my poems are somewhere in the middle—they can be experienced one way when I read them, and another when the reader reads them to him or herself.

The slam poetry scene is still quite active, especially on college campuses as well as on TV shows like Brave New Voices. The novelty isn't as present anymore so there aren't as many news stories about it, probably.

Do you find that teaching performance studies and/or cultural theory at an art school is different than it is at a liberal arts college? 
There are some substantial differences teaching at Pratt than at other places. The visual artists analyze their own work textually, intensely, but many aren't as confident in work that's presented in a literary format. I think one of my jobs as a teacher is to transfer the knowledge they're developing in their other classes into my courses. Their visual skills are not as far away from the work for my class as they often think! In my classes I often give them the opportunity to play with and apply the skills they're learning in their art and design classes, to the work they do for humanities topics.

What projects do you have going on right now?
Oh, a few: a new poetry book that should be coming out soonish and an academic book that references my dissertation topic, philosopher J.L. Austin. I am also working on three CD projects: one with my band, one with composer Elliott Sharp, and one with poetry legend Anne Waldman. As an actor, I'm performing in a play that's in development. All these things are ‘words work’ and, despite the different genres, are, to me, all related.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in Brooklyn since growing up here, and what do you like best now about Brooklyn?
I am a Brooklyn-aholic, a Brooklyn evangelist. It's in my heart. I grew up in East New York under sometimes-difficult circumstances. When I was a teenager we moved to Clinton Hill, not too far from here. When I was younger I felt that Pratt was "distant" from me, despite the physical proximity. I sometimes find it ironic that I'm teaching here. One day, I hope, there will be more interaction among long-time residents of this neighborhood, its newer residents, and the campus.

There are too many aspects of Brooklyn that I love, to be able to pick just a few. I was recently a finalist for Brooklyn poet laureate, and in my proposal I asked to work in every part of the borough. There are entire countries here, it seems, that I have yet to discover. I think that was true then, and I hope it always will be. I like two things about Brooklyn now: that I don't have to leave here to teach here and the fact that, finally, everyone knows that Brooklyn is the greatest place in New York.

How did you come to teach a class on vampires and what exactly do you cover in it?
I like examining aspects of popular culture and putting new, deeper considerations onto them. There is a lot of scholarship on why vampires are popular figures. I like to think about, and ask my students to consider, what these huge popular culture waves might indicate about our society as well as how they might have developed. The vampire class considers vampires and vampirism as a fictional metaphor to consider ideas of prejudice, freedom, literary trends, and creative movements. That's as brief as I can be and spare you the entire syllabus!

What would people be surprised to learn about you that they may not know?
I'm not being modest but I'm pretty boring. I just read and write. Sometimes I perform what I read and write. But I'm basically doing the same things I was doing when I was a kid, a goofy, nerdy kid. Then again, people may know that about me already.

 Photo: Evelyn Diaz 

Tuesday
Nov022010

FACULTY AND STAFF NEWS AND NOTES

Kate Anand, administrative assistant, Corporate Relations, has retired, effective November 4. Kate had been with Pratt for over 22 years, lending her support to the communications, public relations, and office services areas of Institutional Advancement.

Provost Peter Barna has been elected to the board of directors for the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the national accrediting agency for art and design and related programs.

Nick Battis “Carmine,” 2009, oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inchesNicholas Battis (M.F.A. Painting ’89), Pratt’s director of exhibitions, is showing recent paintings in oil on canvas or wood at Judy Saslow Gallery in Chicago through December 30, 2010.

Liubomir Borissov, assistant professor, Digital Arts, recently exhibited work at the Last Supper Festival’s New Media exhibition at 3rd Ward in Brooklyn. More information on Borrisov’s work is available here.

Liubomir Borissov, Funny You Should Say That, digital moving painting, size variable, single channel video loop, aspect 16:9, duration 4’52″ 

Carol Crawford, adjunct assistant professor, Interior Design, is currently exhibiting “Another Time, Another Place,” works of mixed media constructions, photographs, and three-dimensional landscapes, at Atlantic Gallery in Chelsea through November 27. A reception will be held on Saturday, November 13 from 5–8 PM.

Edward Darino, adjunct associate professor, Digital Arts, delivered a lecture on animation, titled “Klatka po Klatce,” at the 2010 Polska Filmoteka in Warsaw, Poland, this summer. Darino also visited the Animatorske Skola and the Prague Film School in Prague, Czech Republic, to screen the work of recent Pratt digital arts graduates. Darino has recently completed mini documentaries for the feature films Resident Evil 3D, Red, and Case 39, which air on the internationally syndicated television program Hollywood Stars. 

Sophie Kahn, Head of a Young Woman, 2004, bronze (from rapid prototype in wax and 3D laser scan), life-size David Frisco and Michael Kelly, adjunct associate professors, Communications Design, were awarded a grant from Sappi Fine Paper North America’s 11th Ideas that Matter annual grant program that transforms the creative ideas of designers into a powerful force for social good. The grant will fund an identity and promotional materials for the Design Corps course at Pratt.

Sophie Kahn, visiting associate professor, Digital Arts, recently exhibited a laser-etched crystal sculpture in the “Process Boxes” show at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., as part of the Filament festival. Kahn’s laser-sintered nylon sculpture was also shown at the Last Supper Festival’s New Media exhibition at 3rd Ward in Brooklyn. Kahn will also hold an Open Studio Residency at the Museum of Arts and Design through December 2010, through which she has been creating three-dimensional beaded reconstructions of point cloud data from the Building Rome In A Day project.

Paul McDonough, adjunct associate professor, Film/Video and Photography, launched his latest book, Paul McDonough: New York Photographs 1968–1978 (Umbridge Editions, 2010), at Sasha Wolf Gallery. The exhibition of McDonough's photography, “New York City 1973–1978,” will be on display at the gallery through January 8, 2011.

 Sarah Strauss, visiting associate professor, Interior Design, is showing “FOLDING/UNFOLDING: COLLIDER” at The Artisphere WIP Lab Artists-in-Residence in Arlington, Virginia, November 13 through December 5, 2010. She is also collaborating with artist Lia Halloran to install a series of large geometric crystal forms and clusters of light clouds in the works-in-progress gallery. They are also giving an educational lecture series and hosting a panel on collaboration between the arts and sciences.

Photos: Courtesy of the artists