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The Summer Experience in the Arts (SEA) Awards have funded student explorations and projects in the arts for the past three years. Here’s a look back at SEA 2013 and 2012 projects. The text is taken from students’ own writing for their SEA 2013 and SEA 2012 final presentations.

SEA 2013

William Appleton PO’14 Music Composition
Objectivism in Mid-Century Music
For my project I studied and created music from an objectivist standpoint. The first half of the project consisted of research into the objectivist trains of thoughts prevalent in art music during the 50’s and 60’s in the Total Serialist and Minimalist movements. Through studies of scores and music theory readings, I sought to show that these two very different sounding styles of music actually share a common composition philosophy. This common thread is the objectivist mindset, which manifests itself in the use of impersonal systems to generate musical material with limited influence from the composer himself. I then took this research and used it for inspiration in composing a work for orchestra, with multiple movements, the first movement inspired by the Minimalists’ systems, and the second by the Serialists’ systems. I am in discussions with Eric Lindholm, the conductor of the Pomona College Orchestra, to have the piece performed by that group in March.

Ian Byers-Gamber PO’14 Media Studies
Video documentation of The Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture
I worked with Professor Mark Allen at Machine Project, a non-profit educational art space in Echo Park, Los Angeles to create video documentation of a wide range of art performances and events. This summer I participated in the documentation of The Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture, as part of The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. The Field Guide was a series of performances by various artists in different architecturally or culturally significant places in Los Angeles. I helped to create documentation that attempted to capture the feel and aesthetic of the art, as well as make the documentation accessible to a wide and primarily internet-based audience. For this project, the documentation is an analogous artistic work to the performances themselves.

Maurissa Dorn PO’14 Fine Art
Dua Bulan (Two Months/Two Moons)
Most would be hard pressed to believe that the familiar rolling twang of the banjo has any resemblance to a set of bamboo tubes on the small island of Bali quite literally on the other side of the earth, but that’s why I am so excited to share my work from this summer. After having studied the music of the rindik (Balinese bamboo xylophone) in Bali for two months, I have taken traditional American banjo songs, and arranged rindik parts for them, in addition to writing banjo parts for traditional rindik songs. With these arrangements, I aim to shed light on the surprising technical and stylistic similarities between the two instruments and respective styles.

Joaquin Estrada PO’14 Studio Art
Stitching Historias
For my ten weeks, I had a daily working practice revolving around merging hand embroidery and autobiographical writing. I aimed to add physicality to my words through a labor-intensive embroidery process, and the women of color feminist idea that the personal is the political to my interest in textile art. As the summer went on, my project became about defining and rendering parts of my particular and layered life story through the use of bilingualism and familiar, but reinterpreted, visual imagery. My hope is that in doing this, I have begun to develop my own (un)docuqueer art practice, and created something that individuals like myself can look at and come away with a sense of being recognized and represented.

Sana Javeri Kadri PO’16 Visual Art
Hinduism in 21st century India: A Photographic Journey
I set out to travel across India by myself and look at the relationship between religious and modern India through photography. I wanted to discover the country that had eluded me through my sheltered childhood in elite South Mumbai and that I had shunned all through my high school years in Italy. I wanted to come out of my journey with a deep understanding of my country, a pride for my roots and a strong sense of connection to India, religious and modern as it is. Beginning in Mumbai, each place on my itinerary was chosen specifically for its contribution to the Religion vs. Modernity debate. My primary aims was to create a strong body of beautiful, striking, and meaningful images, that conveyed the greater role of religion within Indian society today, to grow and challenge myself as a photographer, marking the beginning of my own journey towards photographic storytelling, and to share my work and the final result of this with the greater Claremont Colleges community. I believe that each student here is grappling with similar issues, of representing a generation stuck between times, and who remain unsure of what to retain and what to forge ahead without. I hope that my journey will expose them to the global magnitude of this issue, and act as a starting point for meaningful and constructive discussion on the role of religion, and religious traditions within any and all democratic, secular states.

Paul Koenig PO’14 Music
Four Voices over Newport
Inherent in the phrase “Elemental Arts” is the idea of bridging disciplines artistically, and I was first drawn to the possible parallels between the arts and the hard sciences. In the course of my initial research I discovered Charles Dodge’s 1971 composition Earth’s Magnetic Field, one of the first forays into sonification. Essentially, sonification is the process of representing information sonically, i.e. turning data into sound. Dodge used a single data stream to determine a sequence of pitches, and the question I ask with this project is whether a composition in which all musical elements — not just pitch — are determined by a (multi-variable) data set can be successful. My source data was taken from a year of NOAA weather balloon readings over Newport, Rhode Island, and I attempted to assign each variable (temperature, pressure, refractive index, humidity, and vapor pressure) to a relevant musical parameter, with the hope that this piece conveys some sense of the tale of turbulence and calm that occurs over our heads, mostly without our knowledge, each day. The piece was realized using the computer program Max MSP with the kind oversight of Professor Tom Flaherty.

SEA 2012

Zachary Belok PZ’15
Zac Belok worked on a 10-week apprenticeship with Yozmit, performance artist / singer / songwriter / fashion designer in New York City exploring site-specific performance installation, costume design, and a new connection music to the music industry. As a result of the experience, Zac is now experimenting with dualistic performance, combining the intangible and amorphous with fundamental human emotions.

Cesia Dominguez-Lopez PO’14 Studio Art and Neuroscience
This summer I was based in the Bay area where a thriving community of Flow performance live and create. Becoming part of this community allowed me to expand my hoop/flow skills while gaining experience in the performance-based aspect of flow.

Sydney Dyson PO’14 Studio Art
Project Summary: Thrifty Transformations is the research of the complex clothing industry from point of manufacturing to the after life of resale, repurposing, and discarding. Through repurposing clothes I want people to learn about recycled fashion, new ways of filtering clothes in and out their wardrobes, and how this aspect can have a positive impact on our world.

Evelyn Saylor PO’13 Music and Religious Studies
This project is an experiment in electronic soundscapes and music, which is conceptually based on tectonic plates. The piece responds to various geological phenomena related to the movement of tectonic plates, and uses data from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, which has been made audible through the process of sonification.

Lucas Wrench PO’13 Studio Art
This summer I worked with the Joshua Tree based artist Andrea Zittel at A-Z West, her Institute of Investigative Living, exploring the notion of an integrated art and life practice. I will be synthesizing this experience in a two week art-vacation in Washington’s San Juan Islands, test riding the prototype of my bike-cart distillery.

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The Summer Experience in the Arts (SEA) Awards have funded student explorations and projects in the arts for the past three years. Here’s a look back at them. The text is taken from students’ own writing for their SEA 2014 final presentations.

SEA 2014

David Connor PO’15 Neuroscience
Air and Empty Space from the Southwest
I am a senior at Pomona College and interested in considering empty space as a nonphysical agent that moves the physical world. I am interested in empty space, specifically empty space as a manifestation of absence/loss – and additionally as ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ matter. My desire with the SEA grant has been to explore spaces of emptiness in the Southwestern United States. My project uses sound recordings and various stuff-containing boxes to recreate specific locations in the Southwest. I hope that the project develops ideas and feelings of loss, specifically as they relate to the land and the people. But I also hope the project explores the ghosts and fantasies that have formed from this loss/absence. I traveled for a month through California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. I spent most of my time in Marfa, TX, where I stayed for ~3 weeks.

Kulsum Ebrahim PO‘15 Studio Art and International Relations
Stories from a Pakistani art classroom: The role of the visual arts in primary and secondary education
I’m from Karachi, Pakistan and I’m interested in visual language and storytelling. I like to explore conversations, memories, and play. I spent the summer in Pakistan researching the role of the arts in primary and secondary education. I focused on the visual arts and was interested in what an arts education means in a developing urban city in South Asia and the perceptions that different people have about the arts. What does an art classroom in Karachi look like? I spoke with art educators, art students, and art critics about their personal stories and opinions about art and education.

Elicia Epstein PO’15 Studio Art
In There Out Here
I am interested in social art practice, often involving photography or sculpture. Most recently my work has revolved around our relationship with the land. This summer I travelled around the United States, using digital photograph to explore different spiritual traditions and peoples’ relationship with their environment. Leaving Claremont in late May, I biked up to the Oregon border, and then caught rides to the east coast, where I continued to travel out of my car. I was initially drawn to the sacred spaces, objects and rituals of established spiritual traditions, however, my interest also grew around the idea of aspirituality– a sense of the natural world around us as separate, random and other. The tension between these two outlooks proved to be the central inspiration for my photographic and personal work.

Nidhi Gandhi PO’15 Neuroscience
My Dearest Mind: The View From Here
Nidhi Gandhi is a senior who looks ​to apply creative and interdisciplinary thinking to her work in both neuroscience and art. An aspiring educator, she seeks ways art can be used instead of standard educational materials to explain scientific enquiries and human experiences. This project began as a way to show the beauty of the brain, despite what are commonly defined as malfunctions – mental disorders. But through studying the effects and the day-to-day reality of someone with a mental disorder, I realized that it was impossible to hold myself at a distance and think simply in neurological terms. As I began to interview people with mental disorders and to attend group therapy, I found that their problems are familiar to all of us – amplified due to uncontrollable circumstances, and without the absolute certainty that what they perceive is real. Mental disorders distort and change perceptions, and the dissonance between our versions of reality cause frustration, confusion, and insecurities for those people affected. For my project, instead of allowing the audience to maintain a distance, I’m depositing them in the middle of the experience – the meeting with friends that emphasizes your difference and loneliness, the moment alone on a street corner that reveals the beauty and menace of the world and people around you, and the chaos caused by a few aberrant neurons, a self-consciousness that comes with the knowledge that you see the world differently. We can’t slap a diagnosis on a life and move on – their reality has to become ours. We have to see from the inside, make the perception personal.

Nissa Gustafson PO’15 Studio Art
Bread and Puppet Theater Company
I find artistic inspiration in the use of multi-media creations to gather people together and communicate stories and events in a manner that actively invites the viewer into the spectacle. I am interested in the ways in which the barrier between the viewer and a performance/presentation can be dissolved, and spaces in which “art” blends into experience. My summer SEA consisted of a ten-week apprenticeship with the Bread and Puppet Theater Company, a political theater group founded in the 1960s, based in Glover, VT. During my ten weeks at Bread and Puppet, I helped in the construction of large-scale, multi-person, paper mache puppets, participated in the creations and performances of five productions, worked in the Bread and Puppet print shop (all wood-cut prints), and played music in various performance settings. I was involved in all stages of production for the company’s shows and parades. I also participated in various street performances and actions made in response to different political situations that were of relevance and importance this summer. While at Bread and Puppet, I was able to explore puppetry and mixed-media performance as an inclusive and engaging art form while being part of a community of inspiring individuals from various backgrounds and areas of interest/know-how.

Karen Alejandra Herrera PO’15 Studio Art
Karen is a Southern California native who grew up in the city of La Puente. The daughter of two Mexican immigrants, Karen works to reclaim the narrative of the immigrant family by inserting the personal into the visual and literary canons. Karen recently divorced her primary medium and is exploring multi-media art forms. In dialogue with Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands text, the photo series depicts in-between-ness. Mujeres in transition. Mujeres in their borderlands. The photos are manipulated in order to locate the borderlands in the everyday, in an effort to have the borderlands manifest themselves. The borderland, an in-between space of neither here nor there, lends itself to the clashing of political, cultural, and personal margins. It is a place where those who inhabit the margins dwell. A place where those who act as bridges between worlds find a settling place. The manipulations work to confuse space and evoke the tension of the borderlands.



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Weather Stations, a set by chris.kallmyer on Flickr.

As part of the ongoing Elemental Arts projects on the theme of AIR, guest artist Chris Kallmyer created a Meditative Weather Opera for the courtyard shared by the Pomona College Museum of Art, Thatcher Music building, and Rembrandt Art building.

The installation was featured in Pomona College Museum’s Art After Hours on November 14.

See the video!

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CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Elemental Arts Inspiration Grants

Calling all students! Bring your cross-disciplinary, art+anything, research and presentation, or senior thesis projects. Arts Inspiration grants for student-initiated projects are now open for application.

Submissions for Fall should be received by Tuesday, November 12, and for Spring 2014 by Tuesday, February 4.

Arts Inspiration grants are small grants up to $300 for interdisciplinary projects with an arts component. The grant may be considered for completion of senior thesis projects.

  • Grants of up to $300 for student-initiated projects.
  • Grants are available to all 5Cs students in Pomona College courses and performance ensembles.
  • Interdisciplinary projects containing an artistic component are welcome and encouraged.
  • Projects must be completed within 12 months of the approval of a grant.

More information and grant application guidelines here:

Previous Arts Inspiration projects include:

Stream of Conscience by Elicia Epstein PO’15

TERRA-rise! A Club Kids Tribute by Gabriela Guerra PO’14 (photos by Sana Javeri Kadri PO’16)

you are [not] alone by Andrew Hong PO’13 and Juliette Walker PO’13

Walking LA by Zoe Carlberg PO’12

YT Wong, Grant Coordinator, Mellon Elemental Arts Initiative, Pomona College


you are [not] alone from Andrew Hong on Vimeo.

The first in a series of events for the social practice project “you are [not] alone” by Andrew Hong and Juliette Walker.

The piece explores the range of thoughts of the imminent future conceived by seniors in college on the brink of leaving the bubble of undergraduate life.

The project is supported by an Arts Inspiration grant from Elemental Arts.


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The Food Justice Film Series continues with this film about small, family farms and the misguided government enforcement that keeps them from providing safe, healthy food choices to their own communities.

Farmageddon – Movie Trailer from Kristin Canty on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 25th, 7:00–8:30 pm. Rose Hills Theatre, Pomona College.

Join us for a discussion after the film with Char Miller, Director of Environmental Analysis Program, and Samantha Meyer, Sustainability and Purchasing Coordinator for Dining Services.

The Food Justice Film Series is hosted by Elemental Arts, the Environmental Analysis Program of the Claremont Colleges, and Pomona College Dining Services.

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The Sacred/Sites course for Fall 2012, sponsored by Elemental Arts, will explore indigenous sites and practices in the local area. Field trips, special guests, performances, and hands-on activities are integral components of the course.

San Gabriel Mountains

San Gabriel Mountains (Photo credit: Josh LeClair)

The focus of this course is to investigate the natural history and ancient indigenous cultures that shape Claremont as a homeland and to translate this study into performances that map our personal sense of place in the world. Intention is to inspire performances (acted, written, sung, photographed, painted, danced, cooked, filmed or otherwise expressed) as personal responses to the course materials.

The course is jointly taught by writer, performer, director Susan Suntree, author of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California, and Professor Betty Bernhard, Pomona College Department of Theatre and Dance.

Field trips: Coastal Ancestor Walk, Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens, Native American Resource Center in Big Bridges and the Museum of Art at Pomona.

The course is open to all Claremont Colleges students. Course number is THEA 189A PO-01.

For more information on the course please contact Prof. Bernhard:

Enhanced by ZemantaRelated links: New course offering, Pomona College Department of Theatre and Dance.
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USDA Forest Service

Angeles National Forest


Image of Aldo Leopold

Image of Aldo Leopold (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ARCADIA, Calif.— On Thursday, April 26 at 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Hahn 101 building at 420 N. Harvard Ave.  Pomona College, Claremont, CA 91711.  The Angeles National Forest will co-sponsor a free screening of a new film called Green Fire, the first full-length, high definition documentary film ever made about legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold.     The film shares highlights from Leopold’s life and extraordinary career, explaining how he shaped conservation in the twentieth century and still inspires people today.

The film is part of the “Thinking Like A Watershed” film series presented by the Mellon Elemental Arts Initiative, and the Pomona College Environmental Analysis Program.    Green Fire is one of three films that will be shown during the screening.  Forest Service Film makers Ann and Steve Dunsky along with Forest staff will be on hand to talk about the movie and how watersheds are an integral part of the Angeles.

Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time is a production of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the US Forest Service, and the Center for Humans and Nature. Although probably best known as the author of the conservation classic A Sand County Almanac, Leopold is also renowned for his work as an educator, philosopher, forester, ecologist, and wilderness advocate.

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Symposium & Film Series on Watersheds, April 26th & 27th

Presented by the Elemental Arts Initiative and Environmental Analysis Program of the Claremont Colleges.

A two-day event on water and water resources that are right beneath us. Join us for a provocative set of documentaries that probe the politics and cultural meaning of watersheds, an essential feature of life in the American West. Meet some of the filmmakers who crafted these compelling films. And on Friday join an interdisciplinary discussion about the water beneath our feet.

Poster for Thinking Like A Watershed

Thinking Like a Watershed: A Film Series
Thursday, April 26
PO Hahn 101

4:00 p.m. Green Fire: Aldo Leopold (filmmakers: Steve and Ann Dunsky)
co-sponsored with the USDA Forest Service: Angeles National Forest
6:00 p.m. Reception: food and conversation
7:00 p.m. Chasing Water, a short film on the Colorado River
7:30 p.m. Rock the Boat, on revitalizing the Los Angeles River
(filmmaker Thea Mercouffer)
9:00 p.m. Q&A

The Water Beneath Our Feet: A Symposium
Friday, April 27
PO Hahn 101
4:00 p.m.

Char Miller, Environmental Analysis Program (EA)
Robertjohn Knapp Seneca, Tubatulabal, Ohlone Ceremonial Leader
Trevor Bisset, EA’10 India Water Authority
Na’ama Schweitzer, EA’13
Martha Davis, Inland Empire Utility Agency
Ava Untermeyer, Dance’12

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