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Science and Art Weave a Story on Climate Change

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Science and Art Weave a Story on Climate Change


By Jessica Castillo
UM News

Changing PlanetA fluid multi-platform exhibition examines the impacts of climate change through art, research, media, and curated archival items at UM’s Richter Library.

A traveling exhibit of 26 colorful and intricate climate-focused art quilts by 22 Florida artists, “Piecing Together a Changing Planet,” survived wildfires and a hurricane to open on Wednesday evening at the Otto G. Richter Library at the University of Miami.

Seamless complements to the art quilts, interactive multimedia displays and curated library items invite guests to explore a range of climate change issues and how a changing planet is particularly affecting South Florida.

Though certainly one of the most pressing and extremely relevant issues of our time, especially in Miami, climate change and its impacts are not insurmountable.

“The drive to overcome adversity is embedded in the University of Miami’s history,” said UM President Julio Frenk during the exhibit opening. “And now, in the face of growing vulnerability to rising sea levels, we are mobilizing vital resources to protect and preserve our home, while also sharing our innovative solutions to benefit people and places around the world.”

Frenk was introduced by Charles Eckman, dean of UM Libraries, whose team researched and selected the various materials on display to illustrate progress made to protect the environment, risks posed to people and property, and even tools to help us better understand and provide answers to the questions posed by our changing planet.

At the reception held in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavillion of the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), Dean Eckman remarked that the CHC “is an ideal setting for the conversation of climate change research, science and art as it represents an important resource created through sustained collaboration and dialogue across the academy and the community.”

The textile artwork has been visiting National Parks throughout the United States since 2014. Each unique piece examines climate change impacts such as sea level rise and coral bleaching, water and air pollution, and flora and fauna habitat loss—many of which are impacting some of the nation’s 400 landmarks managed by the National Park Service.

Representatives from the exhibit’s first stop in 2014—Biscayne National Park—were at the UM opening and were joined by several of the exhibit’s textile artists from Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), an international nonprofit dedicated to promoting art quilts and the fiber artists who create them. Maya Schoenberger, project curator, had the initial idea for “Piecing Together a Changing Planet” and first approached Gary Bremen, park ranger for Biscayne National Park, three years ago.

On behalf of SAQA, Linda Eads, a UM alumna, artist, educator and founder of the nationally acclaimed MAST Academy, spoke during the opening reception and was grateful to UM for “the creative adventure of blending science and art to communicate our mutual concern for changing environmental conditions.”

In an engaging and interactive multimedia display, University Communications and UM Libraries highlight work by researchers, faculty, students and alumni in the areas of climate change and sustainability through a digital presentation and a curated exhibition using historic and contemporary collection items, ranging from environmental zines and archival photograph albums to a Mosquito vs. Human card game meant to describe vector-borne diseases.

The opening welcomed a diverse crowd of curious and conscientious guests, including faculty, staff, artists, community members, and students.

A cohort from the student group, Energy and Conservation Organization (ECO-Agency), engaged with the exhibit and other attendees about the work their organization is accomplishing in the UM community. They were also there to support their chair, Josh Lomot, a UM senior in environmental management, business, and policy. As chair, Lomot remarked, he receives weekly requests from students and faculty alike on how best to become involved in finding sustainable solutions for our changing planet.

“These messages give me hope, and they give me confidence that even as we begin to see more dramatic effects of climate change in our everyday lives, there are enough people at UM alone, willing to not just sit back and admit defeat, but rise to the challenge and find a solution,” said Lomot.

“The passion and eagerness of others in the UM community to take problems into their own hands, find solutions, and make an impactful change,” Lomot added, “make me optimistic for our generation’s role in solving the issues of climate change.”

The art quilts traveled to Miami from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where the pieces survived raging wildfires that ripped through the Great Smoky Mountains in late 2016. The exhibit will be on display on the first floor of the Richter Library through April 7.

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Mellon Grant Supports Library-Museum Collaboration


CORAL GABLES, Fla. (January 11, 2017)—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to the University of Miami to support collaboration between the Lowe Art Museum and UM Libraries on their joint effort to further faculty engagement with historical and artistic collections.

“This significant investment by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is vitally important and recognizes the immense potential of a strong library-museum collection to enhance learning and stimulate innovative and collaborative scholarship,” said UM President Julio Frenk.

The grant will enable the Lowe and the Libraries to establish two new faculty fellowships—one devoted to campus engagement and the other to the conservation of art and archival works on paper. In addition, it establishes a new programming fund to incentivize faculty to engage with University collections and enable the development of joint public programs that highlight these collections.

“We could not be more thrilled to have received this remarkable gift, and we are deeply grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generosity,” said Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts director and chief curator of the Lowe. “This transformative grant speaks to the value of higher education, the arts, and the humanities, generally. It equally affirms the power of collaboration and impact of leveraging resources for the benefit of a broad range of audiences.”

Charles Eckman, dean of the University of Miami Libraries, said the partnership was envisioned through the inaugural Academic Art Museum and Library Summit, held in January 2016, which brought together 14 pairs of library and museum directors from North American academic institutions to address opportunities for deep intra-institutional collaboration. “Through the support of the Mellon Foundation, the Lowe and Libraries will be able to work with faculty to carry out our vision for new curricular, interdisciplinary, and collaborative engagement and shared collection stewardship opportunities while providing invaluable experience to emerging professionals in the field,” Eckman said.

A white paper co-authored by Deupi and Eckman that reports on the findings of the 2016 AAML Summit is available in UM Libraries Scholarly Repository (scholarlyrepository.miami.edu).

 

 

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Aida Levitan Elected Chair of Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection


Aida Levitan

Aida Levitan

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (December 2, 2016) – Aida T. Levitan, a nationally recognized marketing communications leader and philanthropist, has been elected chair of the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) at the University of Miami Libraries. She is the first woman to take on the role since Elena Díaz-Versón Amos served as the organization’s founding co-chair from 1995 to 2000. During her two-year appointment as chair, Levitan, a UM alumna, will work to generate awareness of the CHC and its archival resources while collaborating with UM Libraries leadership and UM Advancement in fundraising efforts to develop programs related to the CHC’s mission.

The Amigos is a volunteer group founded in support of the CHC’s efforts to document and preserve the history of Cuba and the Cuban diaspora. In addition to Díaz-Versón Amos, former Amigos chairs include Aldo Leiva, Horacio Stuart Aguirre, Carlos P. Quintela, Ignacio Carrera-Jústiz, José F. Valdivia, Jr., and Henry King Stanford.

Levitan led the No. 1. U.S. Hispanic advertising and public relations agency and is now the president of ArtesMiami, Inc., dedicated to supporting and promoting Hispanic artists and cultural organizations. She is also president of The Levitan Group, Inc., a consulting firm that provides strategic branding services to international and local companies.

A recipient of numerous national and local awards, Levitan is vice chair of the Smithsonian Latino Center and serves on the boards of U.S. Century Bank and the Spanish Cultural Center. She is trustee emerita of the Pérez Art Museum Miami and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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New Directions Conference Explores Cuban Heritage Collection Treasures


By Bárbara Gutiérrez
UM News

newdirectionsCORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 26, 2016)—Lydia Cabrera was the Margaret Mead of Cuba. The Havana-born, Paris-educated anthropologist and literary figure was an authority on Santería and other Afro-Cuban religions, earning the trust and respect of its practitioners.

Cabrera, who died in Miami in 1991, left a precious treasure trove to the University of Miami Libraries’ Cuban Heritage Collection that served as the centerpiece for the first discussion at the New Directions in Cuban Studies Conference held October 20 and 21 at the Donna E. Shalala Center.

The conference, sponsored by the CHC and the Miami Institute for the Americas (MIA), highlighted the works of top academics, many of whom have used the CHC for research.

In its second rendition, New Directions  featured 21 scholars who presented their research papers on topics ranging from “Making Ends Meet: Women’s Small-Scale, Home based Informal Employment in Post-Soviet Cuba” toThe Symbolic Century XIX in Cuban Literature after 1959.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to host this event and showcase the work of emerging scholars in Cuban studies,” said Dean of Libraries Charles Eckman in his welcoming remarks. “This event represents our essential mission as a library, that of supporting education and personal development through research, collaboration, and inspiring discussion.”

Felicia Knaul, director of MIA, also welcomed the audience, saying that she found the CHC to be a space that “evokes leadership and thought around key issues.” She added that the University and MIA have a “commitment to identify ways that through academia, learning and policy discussions ways can be found that lead to peace, to knowledge and better access for the many in our world to economic development here and in the future.”

During the first panel, three scholars presented “The Ontology of Lydia Cabrera’s Archive: Sexuality and the Spirit” by delving into how the noted ethnographer explored and developed images of queer, feminist, and non-traditional roles in her writings about Santeria, the African religion brought over to Cuba by African slaves.

Sarah Piña, a doctoral candidate at University of Houston who studied the Lydia Cabrera Papers as a Goizueta fellow at CHC, said that although Cabrera never openly revealed her identity as a feminist or a lesbian, she was drawn to issues of the marginalized of Cuba society, such as blacks and queer elements within the Santeria religion, a religion that gave access to the LGBTQ communities.

There was ample evidence of this in her books, including the seminal El Monte and Yemayá y Ochun, said Piña. Cabrera also kept many notebooks on the role of women Santeras.

Cabrera also seemed to have a great identification with Yemayá, the mother goddess, who was said to protect homosexuals, Piña explained. In Cabrera’s personal papers, documents, diaries, and even recipe cards, she often wrote the name of the deity in the margins. She also often used the name jicotea (turtle), even signing letters to friends with the name Jicotea Lydia. The jicotea is one of very few animals who have an androgynous nature, said Piña.

Martin Tsang, a Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Miami Libraries, offered a bold take on the Afro-Cuban orisha, or deity, Inle, considered both a wise medical healer and a protector of the queer.

In the Santeria religion, Inle is associated with the Catholic saint San Rafael, whose feast falls on October 24. Tsang pointed out that Cabrera wrote in El Monte about a group of lesbian santeras who had Inle as their patron deity. On his feast day, they would burn a straw fish (one of his symbols) in his honor and sell “tortillas de San Rafael” on the streets around Havana’s La Loma del Angel neighborhood. Tsang believes that the term tortillera, commonly used by Cubans to describe lesbians, may have stemmed from that practice.

The two-day conference, last held in 2014, was attended by about 300 people and concluded with a special event at HistoryMiami Museum. Dean Eckman noted that financial support for the conference came in large part from the 1-year-old Goizueta Graduate Research Fellows Program.

 

 

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Camner Family Donates Rare Musical Treasures to the University of Miami

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Camner Family Donates Rare Musical Treasures to the University of Miami


By Sarah Block
Special to UM News

Finding hard-written notes on original scores, like this notation in the Rossini book,

Frost School Dean Shelton Berg said finding old, hand-written notes, like this one in a book of Rossini scores, is exhilarating for present-day musicians.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (October 13, 2016)—University of Miami Trustee Alfred Camner, his wife, Anne Camner, and their four children, all of whom are UM alumni, have made a donation to the University of rare and valuable scores composed by musical giants—from Beethoven to Gershwin—that were printed and bound during the composers’ lives.

Alfred, J.D. ’69, and Anne, J.D. ’72, along with children Danielle Camner Lindholm J.D. ’95, Errin Camner L.L.M. ’99, Lauren Camner Winter M.B.A. ’98, and Andrew Camner B.A. ’09, donated several hundred scores, collectively forming the Camner Family Music Collection, to the Marta and Austin Weeks Music Library and Technology Center at the Frost School of Music, where it will be available to UM students, researchers, and the public.

“It is our family’s desire that this collection of first and early printed music editions form the true start to creating an extraordinary musicological resource, unmatched by modern editions,” said Alfred Camner, who, with his wife, also endowed UM’s Camner Center for Academic Resources.

The collection features historical works spanning three centuries and with origins in many parts of the world. Collection materials include rare lithography-printed and leather-bound editions of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Alceste (1767), Georges Bizet’s Carmen (1875), and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913), among many others published between the 18th and 20th centuries.

Shelton Berg, dean of the Frost School, calls the gift a “transformative” resource for members of the Frost School and beyond. “When we look at a recently published score of a musical work from 100 years ago or more, we are seeing the music as something ‘from the past,’” Berg says. “Conversely, when a student performer or researcher examines an original edition score, with the marginal notations, the music is suddenly ‘in the present.’ They are experiencing it in the time of its creation. It’s hard to describe the exhilaration that produces.”

The Camner Collection arrives as the University is preparing to carry out new initiatives supporting educational innovation and encouraging new pedagogical approaches in the classroom. Frank Cooper, research professor emeritus at the Frost School, says this timing is important. “In an age where electronic media have taken over, there are no research materials to compare to original objects, in this case, printed scores from the times of the composers themselves. How invaluable for researchers today and for many generations to come.”

In details such as marginal notations, Camner says, the collection reveals how scores were studied and used in practice, in concerts, and in opera houses through time. Additionally, notes may point to how the music has evolved. “There is no substitute for the feeling a scholar or music student gets from handling a score that might have been used by Beethoven or Verdi or Puccini or Stravinsky, scores published in their lifetimes, edited by them, and often later corrected or changed,” Camner says. “These first and early editions are the closest we get to a sense of the time and place and world of the composer, a time when the composers often depended on the sales of these scores for their livelihoods.”

Nancy Zavac, who heads the Weeks Music Library, says that the Camner Collection brings a new level of research prestige to the library, which houses a wide range of musicology resources, including modern books, journals, and recordings, as well as unique and distinctive materials. “All music librarians are eager to have treasures in their collections. The Camner Collection is such a thing. It is exciting for me and my staff to care for, and greatly enhances our holdings.”

Dean of Libraries Charles Eckman expressed deep gratitude to the Camner Family for donating this important collection. “Miami is notable for the presence of several individual collectors of rare and unique cultural and bibliographic treasures,” he said. “The Camner Family is to be commended for their appreciation of the scholarly and teaching value of this private collection, and we celebrate their generosity of spirit in enabling the exposure and application this collection will have at the University of Miami for current and future generations of researchers and students.”

 

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