Arts | UToledo News








Women & Philanthropy Awards Grant for Art Studio

Women & Philanthropy, a volunteer organization that promotes The University of Toledo through grants to UToledo, has given its 2020 grant in the amount of $65,000 to Barbara Miner, professor and chair of the Art Department.

The grant will assist in the creation of the University’s Axon Lab/Studio, which will be the first dedicated digital design and fabrication studio on campus.

The new lab/studio space will build on collaborations across multiple academic disciplines and colleges, and will provide new opportunities for collaboration in STEMM fields and in new curricula development, according to Miner. It will serve as an innovative learning hub where technology, creativity and interdisciplinary practices converge, as students are provided with resources that meet the newest industry standards in relation to software and hardware, and community partnerships are enhanced with new tools and resources.

“The creation of this lab space is pivotal to bringing together traditional skills and contemporary practices in order to prepare our students for the meteoric pace of job/life changes globally. We are so very grateful for this support from Women & Philanthropy,” Miner said.

With this grant, Women & Philanthropy has given a total of 21 grants totaling $623,687 to The University of Toledo over the past 10 years.

“Our mission is to support the University while building relationships among a community of generous, forward-thinking women,” Dee Talmage, chair of Women & Philanthropy, said. “Through this grant, we are excited to provide students with state-of-the art technologies as they prepare for contemporary careers or admission to graduate studies.”

Women & Philanthropy at The University of Toledo was chartered in 2006 and made its first award to UToledo in 2008. Through this giving circle, members of diverse backgrounds and interests work collaboratively to make positive, meaningful and immediate impacts at the University.

Applications and guidelines for 2021 grants will be available in late fall.

For more information, go to the Women & Philanthropy website.

Staff Members’ Poetry in Spotlight in Local Contest

Home is where the art is — in this case, poetry. Three UToledo employees were honored in the Toledo City Paper’s Ode to the ZIP code 2020 contest.

Paying tribute to where you live is the goal of the contest, which is open to area residents who submit poems inspired by their ZIP codes — the number of words in each line determined by the corresponding digit in the postal reference tool.

Works by Amal Abdullah, coordinator of doctor of pharmacy admissions in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Charlene Gary, secretary in the World Languages and Cultures Department, and George Hayes Jr., electrician journeyman, were among those selected this year.

By Amal Abdullah

big-box retail stores
restaurants and plazas
the intersection of neighborhoods and consumerism
birds perched
on cable wires

“I consider poetry to be a medium for creative expression that encourages one to reflect on the nuances and the ordinary through engagement with the written word,” Abdullah said. “The poetry contest provided a unique opportunity to write and share a succinct reflection on the space that constitutes my ZIP code. I have an affinity for writing, so it is an honor for my poem to be recognized.”

By Charlene Gary

come time for harvest
loud lumbering combines
growl and grumble and wake the
reminding us we are of earth

“We are kind of rural here in Oregon; there are a lot of farms. What really struck me when I first moved here is at harvest time, I would see these huge rolling machines just driving down the road like this is an everyday thing; it was surreal. The magnificent size of these machines, and the noises that they make driving by, was really striking,” Gary said.

“Poetry is succinct and efficient. When talking, I tend to be too wordy, so writing poetry forces me to use different words, $2 words, in the smallest way possible in order to express what I’m thinking,” she said. “It’s really a challenge, but I like challenges.”

By George Hayes Jr.

Four twenty, birds singing
Gunshot sounds too
Life in the hood not good
Mayor says change is going to come

“Toledo is like two cities, the inner city and the rest of Toledo. It’s always been that way in my adult life here,” Hayes said. “This poem is just some of the many things that happen in the hood, daily sometimes, but weekly all of the time.”

He added, “I love poetry because it’s from the heart, sometimes life experiences, sometimes words to encourage others in a time of need. I love performing spoken word as well, kind of like poetry, but on steroids if it’s done with passion and heart.”

See all of the poems selected in the adult category of Toledo City Paper’s Ode to the ZIP code 2020 contest.

Dr. Jim Ferris, UToledo professor and the Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies, was one of the judges for this year’s contest. He is a former Lucas County poet laureate.

“The Ode to the Zip code is a great way to encourage us all to think creatively about where we live,” Ferris said. “It is particularly important in these unprecedented times to use the imagination to stay grounded and keep connected to our neighbors and our community.”

UToledo Faculty Members’ Play Wins 6 Theatre Awards in Chicago

The Chicago production of a play written and directed by Dr. Matt Foss and designed by Stephen Sakowski, both associate professors of theatre at The University of Toledo, has won six out of the seven nominations it received for the prestigious 2020 Non-Equity Jeff Awards.

Similar to the Tony Awards in New York, the Jeff Awards recognize Chicago’s top theater each year.

This battle scene is from the 2019 production of “All Quiet on the Western Front” at the Red Tape Theatre in Chicago.

“This is the first time a production that began in this department has ever gone on to a professional version and several professional awards,” said Dr. Edmund Lingan, professor and chair of UToledo’s Department of Theatre and Film. “We are extremely proud of Matt Foss and his team.”

“All Quiet on the Western Front” won for Best Production of a Play and for Best Ensemble —two of the top awards in Chicago theater each year. Two UToledo alumni, Austin Rambo (Theatre 2019) and Bianca Caniglia (Environmental Science and Women’s Studies 2018), were part of the Chicago production’s ensemble cast.

The production also was won awards for Best Choreography (Leah Urzendowski) and Sound Design (Dan Poppen).

Sakowski received the award for Best Lighting Design of the year, and Foss the prize for Best New Work.

Foss adapted Erich Maria Remarque’s historic novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” for the stage, and it premiered at The University of Toledo with a student cast in fall 2018 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, the war in which the novel is set.

The professional premiere of the play featured a unique collaboration between The University of Toledo co-producing the production with Red Tape Theatre and the Greenhouse Theatre Center — two professional companies in Chicago. UToledo’s support resulted in an extension of classroom learning in a professional setting, with Sakowski and a number of former students also participating in the project. The opening of the production culminated in a showcase event highlighting the UToledo College of Arts and Letters’ commitment to the arts, student experiences and innovation.

In 2019, the play received the Kennedy Center’s David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award, recognizing the year’s outstanding new work premiered at a college or university.

More information about the 47th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards can be found at

UToledo Art Faculty Work Published in International Research Journal

University of Toledo Art Department faculty Eric Zeigler and Brian Carpenter received international recognition for a course they designed.

Their paper, “Engaging Tools,” was published this spring by the international research organization, Architecture_Media_Politics_Society (AMPS), in its conference publication, “AMPS Proceedings Series 17.1. Education, Design and Practice — Understanding Skills in a Complex World.”

Students get hands-on training in tool use in the UToledo Department of Art Foundations of Art Studio Technologies course.

Zeigler and Carpenter’s paper covers the development and implementation of a course they designed for The University of Toledo Department of Art: Foundations of Art Studio Technologies (FAST). The purpose of the course is to enhance students’ understanding of themselves as “tool-users” and to reinforce the importance of agency that is developed through the process of “making.”

The paper’s introduction states, “The paper examines … our approach for creating an environment where students understand the physical, historical and philosophical relationships between tools; can operate and discern the components of tools; and begin to create a foundation to become a manually competent knowledge worker.”

“I would add that the course is a foundational component in a college career where an understanding of the components of the systems we live within needs more scrutiny and analysis than ever before,” said Zeigler, assistant professor of art and coordinator of the Art Print Center.

The FAST course has been offered at UToledo since 2016, according to Carpenter, assistant professor of art and gallery director.

Students have appreciated the class. One wrote anonymously in a course evaluation, “I love that we are able to learn something conceptually and then immediately apply it hands-on. This isn’t common in most classes, and I really appreciate this.”

A compilation of all the papers presented at the AMPS conference was published this spring on the AMPS website.

UToledo Students Examine Human Consumption in International Biodesign Challenge Summit 2020

Four University of Toledo students have teamed up to critically investigate the behaviors of human consumption. Their project is competing in the international Biodesign Challenge Summit 2020, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The competition is being held online June 15-19, but the video presentations are available for view anytime. Winners will be announced June 19 on the Biodesign Challenge Summit website.

The UToledo project, “Wastr: Reassessing Our Trash,” was the brainchild of students Jarrett Cunningham, who graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in film and video in May; Madalyn Jones, a senior majoring in environmental science; Michael Miller, a bioengineering major with an economics minor; and Mohamed Nawras, who received a bachelor of science degree in biology in 2018 and is a doctor of medicine candidate for fall 2020.

The team developed a presentation highlighting the paradox of creating an eco-friendly product that adds to consumptive behaviors. The ultimate goal is to get people to become more aware of the amount of waste they personally generate.

A video presentation of the project states, “Landfills are reaching capacity at alarming rates, impacting the environment tremendously while also contributing to a culture of consumption.”

Students from UToledo prepare for the competition every year through a class offered in the Department of Art. The spring 2020 Biodesign Challenge course brought together students from multiple disciplines into the Department of Art under the direction of faculty members Brian Carpenter and Eric Zeigler. Students worked in interdisciplinary teams to research real-world problems and then sought to solve those problems with biotechnology and/or biomaterials. This year’s groups addressed potential eutrophication solutions, antimicrobial structures, innovative health testing devices, and consumption.

The Biodesign Challenge course asks students to stretch their known capabilities by making meaningful connections between disciplines and designing unique solutions to complex problems in a normal year. As the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the course moved to virtual learning, the teams continued to work extensively on their projects.

“We are truly amazed at the tenacity of our students, and the outcomes from remote research they were able to accomplish in such a difficult time,” Carpenter, assistant professor of art and gallery director, said.

“We are proud of the work every student has done, and we are excited to compete internationally again,” Zeigler, associate lecturer of art, said.

UToledo Alumnus’ Film Gets National Play on Amazon Prime

The film “Dream Runner” (2020) by University of Toledo alumnus James Aponte is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

The film’s national debut on Amazon is a major step forward in Aponte’s effort to take his film to mainstream audiences.

“It’s been two years of navigating distribution, but I am so happy to say that … my feature film ‘Dream Runner’ is now streaming on Amazon Prime!” Aponte, who received a bachelor of arts degree in film and video in 2016, wrote on Facebook announcing the film’s release.

Dr. Edmund Lingan, UToledo professor and chair of theatre and film, said he is thrilled that Aponte’s film is receiving national play, but not surprised.

“As a UToledo student — and later as a professional filmmaker — James always proved to be that rare blend of artist and entrepreneur that leads toward professional success. Our department has been proud and happy to support his work from the beginning, and I am sure this is only the beginning of a series of successes in his career that I will enjoy watching.”

The film’s subject matter leans toward sci-fi, as the opening text makes clear: “Humans no longer dream. Now man-made, dreams are sold in supermarkets, drug stores and fueling stations. Certain dreams are declared illegal by world governments and organizations. Patrons turn to dream runners to attain these illicit fantasies.”

Watch the “Dream Runner” trailer.

A host of UToledo and Theatre and Film Department grads star in and helped create the film.

Cast members include 2016 theatre alumna Olivia Pierce as Dana; 2014 UToledo alumnus Ian Davis as Drake; 2016 theatre graduate Nolan Thomaswick as Robbie; 2016 theatre alumnus Jeffrey Burden II as Julian; 2017 theatre graduate Christina Pinciotti as Rene; and 2017 theatre alumna Samantha Campbell as Victoria Kingsley.

Production team members include Nick Kostelnak, 2015 film/video graduate, producer; John Eidemiller, media producer/director in the Communication Department, producer; Stephen Mariasy, 2015 film/video alumnus, music; Andre Lewis, 2018 film/video graduate, cinematography; Marcus Jordan, 2017 film/video alumnus, production management/assistant director; and Ryan Dalton, 2017 music graduate, guitar.

Theatre Faculty Member Translates Play to Online World for Interactive Learning Experience

Dr. Matt Foss, assistant professor of theatre with The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film, wrote and directed a play that was originally intended to be performed live and taken on the road to elementary schools.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down performances, he translated the production to the online performance space and lesson plan to help learners at home. The play premiered online in April.

Cast members from “Faithful Friends” are, from left, Sarah West as Julia, Gabe Taurman as Valentine, Emily Hawkins as Silvia, and Crabbe.

Foss originally created the play, “Faithful Friends: An Adaptation of the ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona,’” in January and worked with the company’s staff and leadership to build the interactive modules and workshops that accompany it. The work was created for pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade students and to tour elementary schools. It was developed in partnership with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, a theater he has worked with in the past, and its Montana Shakes! program, an elementary school outreach tour to make Shakespeare and other classic works accessible to young people.

“Working with Montana Shakespeare in the Parks was a foundational experience early in my career. They provide free and public art across the mountain west, and their mission relates closely to what I have found and seek to do here in Toledo” Foss said.

Four of Montana Shakespeare in the Parks’ teaching artists, who were safely quarantined together, filmed the play and created lesson plans through the interactive learning platform FlipGrid.

To convert the project to online, Foss enlisted the help of UToledo film student Jarrett Cunningham.

“I’ve been teaching myself to edit as fast as I can, but Jarrett was able to work remotely and close my learning and ability gap to help get the performance out to students and their families as quickly as possible,” Foss said.

The play and lessons are available on Montana Shakespeare in the Parks’ YouTube channel.

UToledo Art Student’s Work Receives National Recognition

Alaina Coote, a sophomore studying graphic and interactive design at The University of Toledo Department of Art, has received national and local exposure for her work. Three of her color pencil drawings were chosen by a hospital for display, and one, which also appeared locally on digital billboards, has been selected to be published in a national calendar.

“Alaina is putting her work out there, just as we discussed in class,” Barry Whittaker, UToledo associate professor of graphic and interactive design, said. “I’m glad she is getting recognition for all her hard work.”

“Summer Daze,” color pencil drawing, by Alaina Coote

Coote’s “Summer Daze” appeared in the Art Department’s annual Toledo area digital billboard exhibition. The exhibit featured 21 pieces that were displayed on area digital billboards in January and February.

In addition, the drawing was chosen to be in the 2020 CURE calendar, a piece created by CURE magazine, a national cancer information publication serving nearly 1 million readers among cancer patients, cancer centers and advocacy groups.

The CURE webpage announcing the calendar winners stated, “Selected by a panel of judges, the artwork of the 12 winners exemplifies the beauty and creativity that can arise from the challenges of the cancer experience. Created using a variety of media, the pieces served as a therapeutic outlet for the artists and will inspire all those who view them.”

“Summer Daze” is from a collection of Coote’s drawings that feature women. The collection was inspired by her personal life; she witnessed the experiences of her mother and grandmother who both battled cancer.

“I saw how cancer had the ability to shape and change a woman’s self-esteem and femininity. Cancer shaped their ideas about themselves and gave me a mature perspective about the psychological impact of the disease,” Coote said.

“This work is to serve as an encouragement to the women as they are battling cancer, portraying the power, beauty, femininity and strength that each woman has within themselves.”

“Summer Daze” also is among three of Coote’s drawings that soon will hang in the Women’s Specialty Center of Wooster Community Hospital in Wooster, Ohio.

Focus on Nature: Winners of Lake Erie Photo Contest Announced

A total of 135 spectacular shots were submitted for the 10th annual Lake Erie Photo Contest.

Winners in three categories were announced recently during a ceremony at the Lake Erie Center.

The contest’s theme, “The Nature of Our Region: From Oak Openings to Maumee Bay,” invited photography enthusiasts to submit up to three shots featuring nature scenes throughout northwest Ohio.

First-place winners received a $25 prize, and the best of show honoree took home $100. Entries are on display in the lobby of the Lake Erie Center.

Listed by category, the winners are:

• Best of Show — Eric Crowther;

• Adult — Phil Cogar;

• Teen (13 to 18 years old) — Eric Crowther; and

• Youth (7 to 12 years old) — Jessica Watts.

“We look forward to seeing the amazing submissions for this contest every year,” said Rachel Lohner, education program manager for the Lake Erie Center. “Local photographers explore our wonderful region and capture cool aspects of nature to share.”

Eric Crowther won Best of Show for this photo of a great blue heron.

Phil Cogar took top honors in the adult category with this shot.

Eric Crowther also won first place in the teen category with this photo of a muskrat.

Jessica Watts placed first in the youth category with this photo taken at Maumee Bay State Park.

Reception for Health Science Campus Artist Showcase Set for Feb. 21

The 15th annual Health Science Campus Artist Showcase will take place from Monday, Feb. 17, through Wednesday, April 8, on the fourth floor of Mulford Library.

This year’s exhibit features work from more than 30 artists who are students, faculty and staff in the health sciences from Health Science and Main campuses, as well as The University of Toledo Medical Center.


On display will be a variety of 2-D and 3-D artwork, including paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture and mixed media.

An artist reception will be held Friday, Feb. 21, from 4 to 6 p.m. on the fourth floor of Mulford Library. Dr. Donna Woodson, professor emerita of medicine, will give a talk, “Art is Good for Your Health,” at 4:30 p.m.

Woodson teaches the elective course Art and Medicine: Using Visual Literacy to Improve Diagnostic Skills in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. She is a longstanding participant in the Health Science Campus Artist Showcase; three of her pieces will be featured in this year’s exhibit.

Light refreshments will be served at the reception, where attendees will have the chance to win books on art and medicine.

Visitors can view the artwork during regular library hours: Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight.

For more information on the free, public exhibit and reception, visit the University Libraries’ website or contact Jodi Jameson, assistant professor and nursing librarian at Mulford Library, and member of the artist showcase committee, at 419.383.5152 or