By Crocker Staff and Sac State Faculty Members

Welcome to U-Nite 2020! We're thrilled to welcome you to a virtual celebration of works by Sac State's College of Arts And Letters faculty members (November 12-15). We've divided U-Nite into four themed sections, each of which include a variety of lectures, performances, and film screenings. New content goes live every morning before noon and again in the afternoon after 2 PM. Be sure to check back regularly for updates! Click the links below to jump to one of the sections.

LAST UPDATED: November 15 at 2:07 PM

Day 1: Global/Local Culture
Day 2: Storytelling
Day 3: Isolation and Connection
Day 4: Reexamining History

Can't catch U-Nite "live"? This post will remain up until December. What's your favorite U-Nite memory? Tag and tell us on Twitter or Instagram, @crockerart with #YouNite.

Reexamining History

Explore topics of race, social justice, and how impactful moments in history affected faculty members' respective fields of study with thoughtful reexaminations of history that urge us to reflect and determine how to move forward.

U-Nite Through the Years

We're concluding U-Nite 2020 with a discussion about the nine year collaboration between Crocker Art Museum Director of Education Stacey Shelnut-Hendrick and Dean of the College of Arts and Letters Dr. Sheree Meyer. Guests Doug Dertinger, Rika Ayotte, Elaine Gale, and Michelle Foss-Snowden — all of whom have been instrumental in shaping U-Nite through the years — join the conversation to reminisce on their favorite memories and highlights of the event.


Mya Dosch, Department of Art

On October 2, 1968, 50,000 protestors took to the streets of Mexico City. Amid a sea of signs and slogans, a single stalk of corn teetered above the heads of protestors. Members of the artist collective Proceso Pentágono took turns pushing the live plant through the streets in a wheelbarrow, showing that the movement was vibrant, deeply rooted, and growing. “Provocative Protest Art: Examples from Mexico City” draws from my research on protest art in 1970s Mexico City and encourages U-Nite guests to think creatively about art for social justice.

Veronica Hicks, Department of Art This presentation examines the resiliency of black women printmakers, relating my experience as a black woman art teacher creating prints — squatting in vacant studio spaces, using borrowed and repurposed printmaking tools — to Catlett’s experience as a black woman art teacher and printmaker. To enhance understanding of a black woman printmaker’s perspective of societal challenges and inconsistencies, I highlight the ways both Catlett and I create art in our communities.


Eliza Gregory, Department of Design

What would an anti-racist photo history curriculum look like? How does the act of teaching and learning history re-create society? How can we integrate real-world consequences and motivations into an intro course? In this presentation you’ll connect with an educational experiment unfolding in real time, as students in Photo 15 critique the book they’re learning from, and ask of photo history, “Who isn’t here?” while developing publicly accessible anti-racist curricular resources for future photo courses.

<< Listen >>

Rachel Miller, Department of Art

The transformation of Catholicism into a global religion in the early modern period created the potential for new Catholic saints who had carried out their holy acts very far from Rome. One strategy for inspiring devotion to these new global saints was to compare them to popular ancient and medieval saints. In this presentation, we look at paintings and sculptures depicting St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary, as a caretaker of lepers in various locations throughout the world.

These images were made at a time when leprosy rates were actually declining. Despite the seeming irrelevance of these images, we will see that the value in showing Xavier’s ministry to lepers rested on the comparisons that could be drawn between this new saint for a global age and beloved medieval saints who had been celebrated for their care for lepers for centuries.

<< Watch Presentation >>

Mona Siegel, Department of History

Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris opened her August 2020 acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention with a shoutout to women whose shoulders she stands on, beginning with Mary Church Terrell. Who was this remarkable American suffragist, pacifist, and civil rights activist? Feminist historian Dr. Siegel teaches us about Mary Church Terrell’s relentless fight for equality and justice a century ago.

<< Watch Presentation >>


Isolation and Connection: Cultural Production in the Time of COVID-19

We find ourselves in an unprecedented time where our lives are circumscribed by social distancing. Isolated from friends and family, we're reorienting our normal patterns and routines to new virtual formats. The presentations highlighted here address how the pandemic has directly shaped personal experience and professional inquiry. What are the moral issues in creating art during a pandemic? How can a software animation better help us understand the spread of a virus? How might we find healing in the intersection of dance, movement, and nature?

We've got space for one more set of questions/answers from U-Nite participants. Here's what they said about their colleague's work:

Dr. Michele Foss-Snowden’s podcast presentation was a highlight at one U-NITE in the auditorium . . . so clever to use TV shows for therapy!
- Lorelei Bayne

I wasn’t aware before of the variety of dance performances.
- Shelley Blanton-Stroud

It was a great way to see and learn what colleagues across the college are doing. So many creative and scholarly projects on display in their myriad forms.
- Jeffrey Dym

Michele S. Foss-Snowden, the aforementioned TV Doctor. Photo courtesy of Michele S. Foss-Snowden.

I loved the poetry written by the graduate students in the galleries and how much heart is in the art of our faculty and students. I loved wandering around and watching people express themselves and connect with others.
- Elaine Gale

Seeing the surprise costume parade last year made me wonder where all these fantastic costumes were hiding on campus.
- Mikko Lautamo

I knew Sac State had a dance program, but I had no idea how wonderful they were. I have seen Bernard Brown’s students perform at U-Nite twice now and I was blow away both times.
- Garret Merriam


Garret Merriam, Department of Philosophy

As a rule, artists aren’t fond of rules. Art is often about transgression, pushing boundaries. Ethics tends to be about imposing boundaries, providing norms and pushing people to live up to them. When a global pandemic hits, norms are imposed to control it. What’s an artist to do?

In the age of COVID-19 when information, disinformation, media and disease travel faster and more frequently than ever, artists have unique powers — and hence unique responsibilities — to shape public thought and public behavior. Novelists, actors, filmmakers, and musicians can find themselves in an impossible position of both questioning norms and obliging us to them. But of course, it is in the impossible spaces that art truly thrives.

Nichol Lazenby, Department of Theatre & Dance This dance film is created to honor the land of the Sierra Foothills, the landscape of mountains, oak and pine trees, rivers, streams, and all beings that reside within. By connecting to nature, there comes a deeper connection to self and a greater understanding of the world around us, and our place in it.


Elaine Gale, Department of Communication Studies

Sunset Moonrise is a spoken words piece culled from Professor Gale’s experience with her mother’s Lewy Body disease and seeing her behind glass at a Santa Fe memory care facility during the pandemic. Professor Gale is one of many people navigating the emotional realm of trying to see elderly or infirm parents during a shelter-in-place. However, our love for our parents doesn’t shelter-in-place. We want to see them, hug them, and hold their hands. This piece covers the pathos and particulars of this common pandemic dilemma.

<< Hear More >>

Nicole Limon and Nicole Manker, Department of Theatre & Dance

A Rogue Tale is a collective creation of dance, theatre and physical improv about diverse communities — both connected and in isolation — experiencing the absurdity of institutional inequities during a pandemic. Performed by faculty, students and alumni of the Department of Theatre and Dance.

Mikko Lautamo, Department of Art

The coronavirus pandemic is frightening, especially because the virus itself is mostly invisible and can spread from person-to-person unseen. “Cough" — a software animation and simulation of an airborne virus — visually expresses what it means to go viral across communities. It explores the impacts of individual choices on vulnerable communities and how preventative measures can protect more than just your own health.


Storytelling

Storytelling is essential to the human experience. Writer Joan Didion insightfully distilled how stories shape our lives in her 1979 essay, The White Album: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live . . . We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the 'ideas' with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.”

The Sacramento State faculty included in our Storytelling section build dynamic and engaging narratives through writing, dance, music, film, and visual arts. Explore how they merge inquiry and imagination into stories that bring new meaning to our lived experiences, starting with two PechaKucha presentations. PechaKucha is a storytelling format created to allow for “showing more and talking less.”

We're closing out Day 2 with another round of comments from U-Nite particpants. We wanted to know what everyone's favorite U-nite memory was. Here's some responses:

I have so many! Feeling the excitement of multiple events happening all around the museum and outside was so invigorating. The many different art forms surrounded by the beautiful Crocker architecture and the art already there is thrilling. I showed a duet outside for one U-NITE, as the sun was almost gone, and the shadows from the performers moving in the light were amazing. It is always an honor to be in the Crocker space.
- Lorelei Bayne

I read in the same room with other English Departments. I loved the drama of the big blue room with a huge painting and also huge furniture. It was so dimly, dramatically lit. It leant real excitement. I so enjoyed that.
- Shelley Blanton-Stroud

I participated in U-Nite 2019 as a new faculty member at Sac State. My fondest memory was the excitement of the evening at the Crocker Art Museum, seeing the works of other faculty members and community groups, and mingling with participants and guests.
- Amy-Rose Forbes-Erickson

The work I’ve shown before uses projections and motion camera, so seeing people dancing and enjoying watching themselves on a 40 foot high projection was great.
- Mikko Lautamo

Last year I gave a talk in the ballroom. I have spent time in there before, admiring the woodwork, watching dance and listening to music performances. It is such a gorgeous room, and it was a real pleasure to be able to speak to an audience there. - Garret Merriam

I love getting to see what people in other departments are working on, and, as a member of the U-Nite committee, it has been a real pleasure to get to work with colleagues from across the College of Arts and Letters to produce this event.
- Summer Ventis


Kathryn Kasic, Department of Communication Studies

This is a music video for KING ROPES' cover of the song Girls Like Us. The song — written by Mike Ferrio and originally recorded by his band, Tandy — released on the To A Friend (2004). KING ROPES' version of this song is a track off their 2020 release, King Ropes, Go Back Where They Came From, a 12-song album covering songs by artists from a variety of periods and genres. Kasic created the video for Girls Like Us in February 2020 and released it in April 2020.

Emily Potts, Department of Design

Who owns the trees, shade, grass, and open space on a public housing project? This short video explores this question by looking at a specific situation in Sacramento, CA and tracking the journey of a stand of trees removed from a public housing project.

Summer Ventis, Department of Art

A tent is an object that allows us to connect with the landscape by separating and protecting us from it. This presentation will discuss the use of the tent form in Professor Ventis’ artistic practice as a metaphor for the ways in which we impact and are impacted by our surroundings and each other.


Torsa Ghosal, Department of English

Author Torsa Ghosal reads from her in-progress novel, Heartland, a story of two young people desperate to find real connection and purpose. Heartland is set in India and the United States; it dwells on how class, religion, and migration shape human intimacies.

<< Hear More >>

Samuel Brett Williams, Department of English

Expecting is the story of a teenage girl that finds out she is pregnant on the day she is to portray the Virgin Mary in her church Nativity play. She must negotiate a kicking and screaming baby Jesus as she sorts out her life in front of the entire church.

<< Watch Film >>

Shelley Blanton-Stroud and Anita Scharf, Department of English

What is fact? What is fiction? What is truth? How can a writer or reader sift through the differences? Shelley Blanton-Stroud and Anita Scharf collaborate on the video essay Seeing Through the Fog.

<< Watch Video Essay >>

GLOBAL/LOCAL CULTURE

We're kicking off U-Nite by celebrating the diversity of the College of Arts & Letters and its disciplines of study. These first presentations explore the global and local culture that transcends into the work of our esteemed faculty. Each one showcases their diverse portfolio and gives a glimpse of the artistry that they bring to the classroom.


We're finishing the night with some closing thoughts from this year's participants. We wanted to know what U-Nite means to them. Here's what they had to say:

U-Nite is a true highlight and jewel in the crown of Sacramento State. The event truly bridges “campus to community” and it is energizing to be involved and attend. U-Nite facilitates community building on so many levels while celebrating arts and culture and life in Sacramento.
- Lorelei Bayne

It’s really special to me this year, as I am retiring at the end of the semester. I feel it is a great way to honor the talents and interests of faculty in a partnership that includes all of Sacramento.
- Shelley Blanton-Stroud

I like seeing what people in other departments are doing. All of the arts complement and inform the others, and U-Nite is a fantastic way to show that off to the public.
- Anita Scharf

To me, U-Nite means the joys of creating art with and for the community towards a more just and humane society. Artists and the arts bring perspective, sensitivity, and vision to imagine and enact present realities to hopeful futures. I think U-Nite represents the best of these commitments, and one worth being involved in.
- Amy-Rose Forbes-Erickson

U-Nite allows me to learn about the wonderful work my colleagues and our students are doing at Sac State. It makes me feel like I am part of an eclectic community of artists and scholars!
- Torsa Ghosal

I’m an artist who regularly collaborates with museums, so it’s a nice chance to get to know the education staff and start to build relationships with the museum, and to get to know its values and programs a little better.
- Eliza Gregory

It is a good chance to reach out to the public, not just the Crocker regulars and supporters, but the folks who may not look at art unless there is a party to go to. I like when serious art is made accessible in a fun way.
- Mikko Lautamo

The connection with the Crocker is so rewarding. I love museums, but I almost always go there as a spectator. Being able to participate, to contribute something personal, something that I invest time and work into, and then share it with the people who value the museum space as I do feels like I am repaying a small portion of a life-long debt. I look forward to U-Nite every year.
- Garret Merriam

U-Nite gives students, faculty, and the broader community a glimpse into the research and interests of Sac State faculty members. As faculty members, we often present to colleagues within our own fields. U-Nite gives us the opportunity to think about how to share what we are working on with people outside of those fields.
- Summer Ventis


Lorelei Bayne, Department of Theatre & Dance Lorelei Bayne and her collaborators present a short dance theatre video piece, honoring James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, and take a joyful look at staying optimistic in life.

Maria Jaoudi, Department of Humanities & Religious Studies

Maria Jaoudi's paintings, books, and teaching all stem from similar intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual studies in consciousness integrating science, nature, philosophies and theories of perception in cultures, religious traditions, and literature. Professor Jaoudi's paintings draw on the philosophic and spiritual traditions of the world in combination with descriptions from biology, astronomy, and other illustrations of nature.

Edith LeFebvre, Department of Communication Studies

Professor LeFebvre’s paintings express metaphors relating to the human condition, along with abstract expressionism. Her paintings have often been described as the embodiment of energy through color and movement.


Amy-Rose Forbes-Erickson Griot Ballads (Parts I – IV) are short digital media installations/films about African mythology, Afrofuturism, poetry, and sacred feminisms in Latin American and Caribbean performance as cultural activism. Only Part II of this project would have been presented at U-Nite 2020.

Jeffrey Dym, Department of History Japan’s Sublime Textiles: From Cocoon to Loom is a rearranged and re-edit excerpt from the feature documentary Flowers on the Stage: Noh Costumes. While Flowers on the Stage takes an in-depth look at noh costumes from how they are made to how they are worn to how they are used in a noh performance, Japan’s Sublime Textiles focuses solely on the creation of the fabric that noh costumes are made of: the making of silk thread, the dyeing of the thread, and the transcendent three level weaving of the fabric itself.

Osvaldo Ramirez, Department of Theatre & Dance From the state of Veracruz, Angelica Barajas, Rosa Angelica Sarabia, Antonio Sarabia, and Osvaldo Ramirez will present Sones Jarochos of the Afro-Mexican communities of the east coast. The dance interpretation reflects the present time Fandangos, which are the gatherings that occur in various communities where the musicians and dancers create a space for traditions to continue their legacy.


Top Image: A still from Osvaldo Ramirez's 2020 U-Nite performance.

U-Nite, powered by Pecha Kucha and presented in partnership with Sacramento State's College of Arts and Letters.