Faculty In the News

UC Irvine theater professor’s new production tells a story through physical movement

The runaway wanders the cold streets of Los Angeles grasping for meaning in the uncompromising urban sprawl. Fleeing a life of evangelical conformity, the girl hopes to find something valuable hidden within the city's outer husk. The perennial theme of the directionless child's search for identity is told in the book "She" by author and UC Irvine English professor Michelle Latiolais. The 2016 book has been successful, receiving rave reviews from various outlets, and the tale will unfold in a new medium Jan. 25 through 28 with a free theater production adapted by fellow UCI professor Annie Loui.

Nicole Mitchell, an Innovative Flutist With an Afrofuturist Vision

Nicole Mitchell, 50, the artist-in-residence at this week’s Winter Jazzfest in New York, brings an eclectic ear and a frothy vigor to her instrument. The flute is rarely given much of a chance in jazz — maybe it seems too quiet, too liquid, too fey — but she has transcended all that, becoming a leading voice of the music’s cutting edge.

Yet Ms. Mitchell has the demeanor of an author more than a protagonist. Her projects typically begin with a conceptual narrative and end as a group endeavor, with many voices spilling into a collective expression. What can sometimes be forgotten is that Ms. Mitchell is probably the most inventive flutist in the past 30 years of jazz. So too can the fact that all her music — from its fetching melodies and shadowy harmonies to the synergistic resolve of her bands — flows from her careful engineering.

That was the case with Bamako*Chicago Sound System, a group that Ms. Mitchell coleads with the Malian kora player Ballake Sisoko, but that...

Eli Simon named The Daily Pilot/TimesOC Man of the Year in Theater for 2017

The Daily Pilot/TimesOC Man and Woman of the Year in Theater for 2017 are the artistic director of UC Irvine’s New Swan Shakespeare Festival and the executive director of One More Productions at the Gem Theater in Garden Grove, Eli Simon and Nicole Cassesso.

Simon is a Chancellor’s Professor of acting at UCI, where he chaired the drama department for five years and spent another 11 years as head of acting. Since 2012, he has overseen the New Swan festival and directed one of the two shows presented each summer.

Simon wrote a book on his theatrical specialty, “The Art of Clowning” in 2008 and describes it as “illuminating a complete system of clowning that encourages the exploration, expansion and fortification of your distinct clown persona.” He’s also the artistic director of the original clown troupe Clownzilla.

He has directed more than 100 productions at major Shakespearean festivals, regional theaters and international venues. His New Swan shows during...

Sheron Wray, Artist Residency with Wisconsin-Madison Interdisciplinary

"The Art of Improvisation" with Dr. Sheron Wray at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Spring 2018

This course will reveal how to apply improvisation methodologies to enable productive interdisciplinary collaborations, while also showing how to tap into your personal creativity, bound within everyday life. Students are expected to form an active and integrated web-based community to facilitate group research and sharing of resources. The class will combine practice-based workshops, interdisciplinary guest lectures, fieldwork, journaling, and performance.

Sheron Wray's residency is hosted by the Art Department with Faisal Abdu’Allah as lead faculty. Co-sponsors include the Departments of Art History, Dance, Afro-American Studies, and African Cultural Studies.

Nicole Mitchell Top Best Jazz Concert of 2017

The Chicago Tribune named Nicole Mitchell and Malian kora virtuoso Ballake Sissoko's September performance at the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts one of the top jazz performances of the year for the "daring world premiere" of “Bamako*Chicago Sound System," calling it "intensely contrapuntal, lustrously sonorous music-making."

Artforum names UCI faculty and alum in the "Best of 2017" issue

Congratulations to the Department of Art faculty and alumni from the were recently named in Artforum's “Best of 2017” issue.

Rhea Anastas (faculty)
Curator Jamillah James selects Cauleen Smith’s  "Lessons in Semaphore", curated by Rhea Anastas at UCI’s University Art Galleries, as one of the years 10 best exhibitions. (p.160)

Alice Wang (lecturer)
Curator and writer Venus Lau selects exhibition at Capsule Shanghai as one the year's 10 best. (p.171)

Amanda Ross-Ho (faculty)
Cat Kron reviews her recent exhibition “My Pen is Huge” at Mitchell, Innes & Nash. (p.194)

Keith Mayerson...

Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble was Awarded an International Grant

Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble was awarded an international grant by USArtists International, a program of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, to perform at the Edison festival in Sweden. For more information on the final grant recipients.

Nicole Mitchell was awarded top jazz album of the year by the New York Times

Nicole Mitchell was awarded top jazz album of the year by the New York Times for Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble, “Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds” on FPE records.

For Women in Jazz, a Year of Reckoning and Recognition

This year women in the music industry, especially jazz, has managed to break through the barriers of sexism and stereotypes.

Espereza Spalding is a bassist and vocalist that has recorded an entire album titled "Exposure", a portrayal of self expression and form of breaking social norms. For 77 hours straight she has produced this piece beautifully crafting and gradually transitioning to a public spectacle. This project was meant to be a challenge to herself, as she was the only woman in the room in a male dominated space. This piece became the representation of women in the workplace, including the women in the jazz industry. Although difficult and tedious the making of the album was, "Exposure" became the reflection of progression for all women.

The awareness of it not being equitable for men and women in jazz has really come to a bit of a head,” said Terri Lyne Carrington, 52, an esteemed drummer who has long spoken out about sexism in the music industry...

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