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Arts and Letters

Naturalization Ceremony to Take Place Sept. 17 at UToledo

More than 70 people will become U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 11 a.m. in the Law Center McQuade Auditorium on The University of Toledo’s Main Campus.

Judge Mary Ann Whipple of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio will preside over the ceremony, which will celebrate Constitution Day at the University.

UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber will give welcome remarks at the event, which will feature alumna Grisoranyel Barrios as this year’s guest speaker.

Barrios moved from Venezuela to Toledo when she was 7 years old. She attended Springfield Local Schools before coming to The University of Toledo, where she received a bachelor of arts degree in political science and a bachelor of social work degree in 2018.

She is pursuing a master’s degree in social work specializing in policy at the University of Washington in St. Louis and plans to graduate in December.

Barrios attended the 2017 naturalization ceremony, where she opened the court, and became a U.S. citizen in March 2019.

“I look forward to participating in the ceremony yet again, but this time as a UToledo alumna and a U.S. citizen,” Barrios said.

“Hosting this naturalization ceremony on campus is a wonderful way to celebrate Constitution Day and to honor our country’s history,” Diane Miller, chief of staff and associate vice president for government relations, said. “It is so moving to watch individuals achieve their dreams of becoming U.S. citizens.”

Constitution Day is annually observed in America to commemorate the formation and signing of the Constitution of the United States on Sept. 17, 1787.

The free, public event is sponsored by the Office of Government Relations and the Center for International Studies and Programs.

For more information on the naturalization ceremony, contact Lisa Byers, executive assistant in the Office of Government Relations, at lisa.byers@utoledo.edu.

Donate Banned Books to Support Freedom of Reading

Support the right to read, speak, create and think freely by donating books to The University of Toledo’s Banned Book Vigil.

The vigil will return for it’s 22nd year Thursday, Sept. 26, in the Health and Human Services Building Room 1711B.

Attendees will have the opportunity to win banned books and other door prizes every 30 minutes.

“We should read banned books and protect them because our democracy depends on us being able to think freely,” said Dr. Paulette Kilmer, UToledo professor of communication and coordinator of the University Banned Books Coalition. “If someone controls what we read, then our thoughts are limited in the same way too much shade kills many plants.”

Every year, more books are banned. These include classics: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Catcher in the Rye” and “The Lord of the Flies.”

Become a “Champion of Freedom of Expression” by donating banned or challenged books, which can be found on the American Library Association’s website. A list of recently challenged books can be found here.

Kilmer encourages the donation of banned books to give a voice to content that allows people to think freely — and have fun while doing it.

“Reading freely nurtures our imagination, inspires our best behavior, and teaches us about the world in a way that often engages our hearts as well as minds, helping us to empathize with those who differ from us,” Kilmer said.

Donations are requested by 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16. Books may be purchased at the Barnes & Noble University Bookstore. For assistance, contact Jordan Welty at 419.530.2516 or TM573@bncollege.com and copy AM573@bncollege.com.

Cash donations also are welcome.

Fore more information on donating banned books or this year’s vigil, contact Kilmer at paulette.kilmer@utoledo.edu.

Rocket Wellness Coalition Launching Mindfulness Program

Beginning fall semester, the Rocket Wellness Coalition will offer various mindfulness-related practices to the UToledo community.

“Mindfulness, or the ability to be in the moment and aware, is something that a lot of University of Toledo community members have been requesting programming on,” said Andrea Masters, assistant director of Rocket Wellness. “It is important to offer tools and skills in order to reduce stress and build resiliency.”

The Office of Recreational Services and Rocket Wellness, along with assistance from other members of the Rocket Wellness Coalition, have been working collaboratively on a campus mindfulness initiative for students, faculty and staff. The initiatives include a weekly Mindful Monday video hosted by Jay Rinsen Weik, UToledo associate lecturer of music and CEO of the Toledo Mindfulness Institute, as well as mindfulness drop-in stations throughout campuses.

The Mindful Monday series will feature a short video from Weik providing a quick mindfulness strategy to help students and employees work through various challenging times in a mindful manner throughout the semester.

“Mindfulness is a skill that needs to be worked on consistently in order to master, similar to an instrument,” Weik said. “Our plan to offer multiple avenues to practice mindfulness at UToledo is to get the community in the habit of regularly having it on its radar.”

Each week, spaces across Main Campus and Health Science Campus will be designated for students and employees to drop in during the open hours and practice mindfulness, whatever that means to the individual. There will be student-only spaces and employee-only spaces in order to avoid any hesitation with participation. Visit the Rocket Wellness website for location information and times.

For more information on this program, visit the Rocket Wellness website.

Poet/Activist to Return to Alma Mater to Launch ‘Legacy of Black People in America’

Sierra Leone, president and artistic director of Oral Funk Poetry Productions, will visit The University of Toledo to kick off 1619-2019: The Legacy of Black People in America Series.

“Voices of the People” is the title of the first program in the series.

Leone

Leone, a writer and leader of an urban poetry movement in Dayton, Ohio, will speak Thursday, Aug. 29, at the event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Thompson Student Union Steps on Centennial Mall. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, the program will be moved inside the Thompson Student Union.

“This series of events over this next year is to commemorate the totality of the horrific and majestic experience of black people in America from 1619 to 2019,” Ben Davis, professor of law and co-chair of the 1619 Committee, said. “We are also planning other events — Health and the People, Art and the People, Slavery and the People, Faith and the People, Law and the People — and a writing contest are in the works to hopefully have a series of learning moments for our University community over the course of the school year.”

“The purpose of this first program is to have members of the community honor and commemorate the lives and experiences of African Americans — living, dead, famous, infamous, from any field of endeavor — through spoken word, quotes, sayings, poems and readings,” said Angela Siner, director of the Africana Studies Program and co-chair of the 1619 Committee.

“We want these programs to inspire and engage through the words and stories that spotlight African Americans’ contributions to U.S. culture during the past 400 years,” Davis said.

Both agree Leone is the perfect person to open the series.

Leone received the 2018 Ohio Governor’s Award in the community development and participation category. The honor was presented by the Ohio Arts Council and Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation and recognized the educator and entrepreneur for creating and strengthening interactive arts participation among diverse community members while increasing awareness about the arts.

More than a decade ago, Leone and her husband, Robert Owens Sr., founded Oral Funk Poetry Productions; the creative urban arts initiative has brought together communities across racial, cultural, ideological and economic divides.

She told the Dayton Daily News she was influenced by growing up in a large family with a grandmother who believed life is better when shared: “In community, we can be more creative, more impactful, reach more people in diverse audiences.”

Her project, The Signature: A Poetic Medley Show, presents a fusion of urban poetry, music, dance and visual arts from local, regional and international talent. The quarterly show expanded to include a competition, The Last Poet Standing.

Through Signature Educational Solutions in Dayton, Leone works with schools, youth art organizations and community groups. A big focus is on girls’ and women’s empowerment.

The wordsmith has written and performed commissioned works for many organizations, and she was the featured artist at the 2017 National Breaking Silences Conference, where she shared a poem about her journey with dyslexia.

Leone was known as Lucy Armstrong when she received a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice in 2000 from The University of Toledo. The native of the Glass City is working on a book of poems and short stories.

1619-2019: The Legacy of Black People in America Series is free and sponsored by the College of Law, the College of Arts and Letters, the Africana Studies Program, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

UToledo Psychologists to Study How Classical Music Might Further PTSD Treatment

Researchers at The University of Toledo are teaming up with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra for an innovative project to examine whether classical music could be a useful addition in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

For some patients with PTSD, getting to a place in treatment where they are able to confront their emotions can be overwhelming.

Dr. Jason Rose, left, and Dr. Matthew Tull received a two-year, $80,000 grant through the American Orchestras’ Future Fund to study if classical music could be a useful addition in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Our thinking is that music might provide an alternative way to aid patients in connecting with and expressing their emotions, enabling them to stay in these treatments and hopefully benefit more from them,” said Dr. Matthew Tull, professor of psychology and one of the lead researchers on the project. “We’re not looking at classical music as an alternative treatment for PTSD, but something that might facilitate currently available empirically supported treatments for PTSD.”

The Toledo Symphony Orchestra and UToledo were recently awarded a two-year, $80,000 grant through the American Orchestras’ Future Fund to back the research.

In addition to playing recordings, researchers hope to bring Toledo Symphony Orchestra musicians directly into the clinic to examine if there’s a difference in patients’ reactions to live music.

“We are honored to be one of the 19 orchestras in the U.S. to receive this special grant,” said Zak Vassar, president and chief executive officer of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. “The Futures Fund grant opens many doors for us, and we couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with The University of Toledo on a two-year project exploring the psychological effects of experiencing classical music. Through this collaboration, we are able to advance the state of the performing arts, not just in our community, but across the globe.”

The project’s first year will focus on experiments that examine the effects of bursts of classical music on targeted emotional experiences. Researchers will monitor those effects by testing for both psychological and physiological reactions.

In the second year, researchers will marry their laboratory findings with traditional treatment strategies in the clinic to see what extent classical music can help patients with PTSD.

“Music has such a great emotion-evoking quality about it. There is research on how music affects emotion, but there really hasn’t been much on the impact of classical music on individuals with PTSD. We believe this is an innovative project,” said Dr. Jason Rose, associate professor of psychology and the other lead researcher on the project.

The American Orchestras’ Future Funds program is supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

UToledo Theatre Assistant Professor’s Work Plays in Chicago

An adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” by Matt Foss, UToledo assistant professor of theatre, will receive its professional premiere in Chicago Friday, Aug. 16.

It will open the season of Red Tape Theatre and is a co-production between Red Tape, the Greenhouse Theatre Center, and The University of Toledo, and run through Saturday, Sept. 14.

The production represents a unique collaboration between a public university and professional theatre, allowing a showcasing of work incubated in Toledo to be shared with a larger audience.

Along with Chicago-based professional actors and designers, Stephen Sakowski, UToledo assistant professor, is serving as the production’s lighting designer, and recent UToledo graduates Austin Rambo and Bianca Caniglia round out the acting ensemble.

The story is centered on the experiences of 2nd Company on the German Front lines during the last year of World War I as they navigate the vicious cycle of tedium, boredom behind the lines, and constant terror when installed in the trenches at the font. The adaptation closely follows the events of the novel, as the central storyteller, Paul, speaks to the loss of friends, the deepening of human connections, and the growing realization of what is true and what is not in the face of war.

“It speaks to the cycles of history from which we are charged to learn, and our approach to the play seeks to gather the threads of this cycle — from the time of Remarque’s writing and to our immediate present,” Foss said.

The play was created with permission and in association with the Remarque estate and was initially produced at The University of Toledo on the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI last November. It featured a set design by student Kevin Upham, sound by student Ryan Peters-Hieber, and costumes by Lecturer Kelly McBane.

Red Tape Theatre is a free venue committed to the creation of new and experimental work through collaborations with ensembles, playwrights, musicians, dancers and visual artists.
All tickets are free to every performance and can be reserved through the Red Tape Theatre website.

Foss is no stranger to the Chicago theatre scene. His work as a director and adaptor there has received critical praise, and his own production of his adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s groundbreaking exposé novel about the working conditions in the meat-packing industry, “The Jungle,” received multiple Joseph Jefferson Award nominations for best production, best director and received the city’s top theatre prize for best new adaptation.

“The Jungle” will open UToledo’s Theatre season in November.

UToledo Expertise Sought to Examine Poverty in City, County

A new study by the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center at The University of Toledo focuses on poverty in Toledo and Lucas County using different lenses and sheds new light on who is struggling in our area and why.

Toledo City Council commissioned UToledo experts to prepare the report and offer recommendations based on successful practices demonstrated in other cities.

Dr. Sujata Shetty talked about the report that examines local poverty during a Toledo City Council Committee meeting Aug. 15.

“Our goal is to provide a more nuanced understanding of poverty and encourage targeted collaboration,” said Dr. Sujata Shetty, professor in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning, interim director of the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center, and lead researcher on the report. “Thank you to Toledo City Council and the city of Toledo for the opportunity to do this critical work, which we hope will be useful to the city, spark meaningful change, and help families.”

The report examines housing affordability, educational attainment, employment, cost of living and other factors associated with poverty, as well as geographic areas that show relatively higher concentrations of poverty and related characteristics.

“We care deeply about the community and are proud to be Toledo’s university,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “As a public institution, the heart of our mission is to use our expertise and knowledge to improve lives.”

The study’s findings using 2017 data include:

• 26.5% of residents in the city of Toledo lived below the federal poverty level, compared to 19% of Lucas County residents.

• 32.3% of the city’s residents had a high school diploma as their highest educational attainment.

• 48% of city residents are renters, and 52% own their home.

The report also offers solutions that other cities found to be effective in fighting poverty and helping families.

Those anti-poverty initiatives include:

• Cincinnati’s “Hand Up Initiative,” which provides people in dire need with training opportunities and gets them back to work into jobs with higher pay through partnerships with organizations and corporations, focused on fields such as truck driving, construction and home-care aid.

• St. Paul’s “Job Opportunity Fund,” which offers $500,000 in low-interest loans to spur job creation and retention by supporting business ventures in defined areas of concentrated poverty.

• Lancaster’s “Commission to Combat Poverty” and “One Year Strategies,” which resulted in the creation of nine functioning “action teams” that focus on a particular segment of the poverty challenge, such as jobs action, food security, education and data analysis.

• Rochester’s “Kiva Rochester Crowdfunded Loans Program,” where residents can apply for loans ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 with 0% interest and no fees. The fees are crowdfunded, and the loans are for small business owners looking to create jobs by performing renovations, paying training fees, and buying new equipment.

Several UToledo graduate students assisted on this project, including Alex DiBell, who is pursuing a master’s degree in geography and planning while working as a policy intern for Toledo City Council, and Ph.D. students Brittany Jones and Philemon Abayateye.

Choral Students, Faculty Sing in Scotland

Five University of Toledo choir students and several UToledo faculty traveled through Scotland in June as a part of a tour with Perform International.

The tour, led by Dr. Brad Pierson, UToledo assistant professor of music and director of choral activities, included time in Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow, along with an afternoon in Ayr and Alloway.

UToledo students posed for a photo during a trip with Perform International to Scotland last month. Making the trip were, from left, Caris Croy, Madeline Repka, Cheyenne Kastura, Sterling Wisniewski and Karina Gibson, who are shown with Dr. Brad Pierson, who led the tour.

The students performed as a part of the American Burns Choir, an ad hoc choir of amateur singers from all around the United States. The choir performed music with lyrics by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, as well as a collection of traditional drinking songs.

Performances were held at the Robert Burns Museum in Alloway, and the Blair Athol and Glen Ord whisky distilleries, plus the Scotia Bar in Glasgow, and the Dalriada Bar on the beach in Edinburgh. The performances at the two pubs were part of “Trad Nights” — or evenings of traditional music — and the choir was joined by local musicians in their performance of Scots music.

UToledo choral students on the tour were Sterling Wisniewski, a music education major; Caris Croy, who is majoring in theatre and music; Cheyenne Kastura, a media communications major; Karina Gibson, a paralegal studies student; and Madeline Repka, a psychology major. Amanda Rasey, artistic director for the UToledo Children’s Choir, also went.

In addition, several UToledo faculty members from the Department of Pharmacy Practice joined the tour as a part of the choir: Dr. Michelle Seegert, associate professor; Dr. Megan Kaun, associate professor; and Dr. Sarah Petite, assistant professor.

Alumna Designs Mural for Inner-City Beautification Project

Artist Caroline Jardine, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from The University of Toledo in 2017, recently designed and completed a mural project intended to beautify abandoned homes on North Huron Street in the historic Vistula district, the Glass City’s first neighborhood.

The houses have good bones and may yet be rehabilitated. The project is intended to protect the homes from vandalism in hopes that a buyer may one day remodel them.

These photos show the house at 1105 N. Huron St. in Toledo before and after the mural project.

Jardine’s mural consists of panels that cover the windows and doors of the structures. Each panel has a unique design that connects in color scheme and concept to the other panels.

The project was initiated by Reginald Temple, director and vice president of community development for First Federal Bank of the Midwest. Temple, a UToledo College of Arts and Letters alumnus who received a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2003, often partners with the Lucas County Land Bank on various projects.

Jardine

Temple said this mural is similar to other board-up projects the Lucas County Land Bank and the Arts Commission have done, like the one for the former residence of Art Tatum, Toledo’s legendary jazz pianist.

The Huron Street project was organized through the collaborative efforts of First Federal Bank of the Midwest, the Lucas County Land Bank and the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo. First Federal Bank provided volunteers, plus lunches and restrooms for the volunteers. The Lucas County Land Bank provided the properties, and the Arts Commission commissioned an artist and provided the paint and boards.

Ryan Bunch, communications and outreach coordinator for the Arts Commission, asked Jardine to design 16 murals for the North Huron Street properties.

“I designed the panels so that they would function as individual pieces and as a whole,” Jardine said. “Lindsay Akens [creative place-making facilitator with the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo] and Ryan Bunch showed the Vistula community members the designs and received their approval to move forward with the project.”

Volunteers painted the panels for the houses on N. Huron Street.

Jardine added that her design was inspired by her own work and the houses themselves.

“I chose to include abstracted, minimalist figures that look out to the viewer,” she said. “The vacant houses are given character and life through these figures. The house at 1109 N. Huron was partially blue to begin with, so I brought in blue as one of the colors in this mural.”

Temple arranged for nearly 60 volunteers from his company to carry out the painting.

Jardine said she was impressed with the volunteers because they did so much more than paint: “The houses that the murals were installed on needed a lot of work. Volunteers cleared brush, mowed the lawns, picked up trash, pulled weeds, and cleaned the porches.”

Volunteers did some brushwork, too. Some of the large panels were four feet by eight feet.

“Once we finished priming each of the 16 panels, I outlined the designs and color-coded them so that the volunteers could begin painting them,” Jardine said. “We had two to three days of painting, one and a half days of touch-ups and detail work, and one and a half days of installation. Finally, we clear-coated the panels and installed them on the first floors of the houses.”

Three young girls from the neighborhood came by daily and watched as the project unfolded. Lindsay Akens and Liam Johnson of the Arts Commission suggested the scope of the project be increased so the girls could participate.

Jardine designed several additional panels to cover the basement windows for the girls to paint. Temple noted that the girls were thrilled to be included. “The excitement on their faces was phenomenal,” he said.

The houses are adjacent to each other at 1105 N. Huron and 1109 N. Huron St.

UToledo to Present Art Day Camps for Kids Aug. 5-9

The University of Toledo Department of Art will host two weeklong art day camps for kids ages 7 to 11.

There will be a morning camp and an afternoon camp Monday through Friday, Aug. 5 to 9. Children can be registered for one or both sessions.

These children participated in a UToledo art camp in June.

The morning session is called Wizard Camp. Projects will include wand making, dark forest terrariums, flying dragons, dragon eggs and more.

Afternoon campers will explore Art Around the World as they make projects celebrating the artwork of several global regions, including Mexico (Día de Muertos masks/piñatas), Andes Mountains (collage painting), France — Notre Dame (stained-glass window suncatchers), Egypt (painted rocks and scarab paintings) and China (dragon puppets and paper lanterns).

There will be a supervised lunch break between the morning and afternoon sessions. Those staying all day are encouraged to bring a lunch and beverage; lunch is not provided.

The camps will be held in the Center for the Visual Arts on the University’s Toledo Museum of Art Campus.

The cost of the workshops is $60 for either morning or afternoon camps or $105 for both camps and includes all materials and supplies needed for the projects. Workshop fees are due prior to the first day of the workshops.

To register, go to the UToledo Department of Art website.