Monday, January 31, 2011

Writing the Play His Curiosity Led Him To // Playwright Matthew Lopez and 'The Whipping Man'

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Felicia R. Lee

Matthew Lopez is ready for the question but continues to refine the answer. How did he, a self-described “foxhole Episcopalian” from the Florida Panhandle, the son of a Puerto Rican father and a Polish-Russian mother, come to write a play about a Jewish Confederate soldier and two former slaves raised as Jews who, in the charred wreck of a Virginia home after the Civil War, celebrate Passover together?

Keep reading...


On a similar subject (sort of), a book club at Judea Reform Congregation in Durham looked this past month at Dara Horn's novel All Other Nights, about a Jewish spy in the Civil War.

15th-Cent. English Composer vs. Kinetic Typography // New York Polyphony's Rendition of Beata Progenies - Video + Free Download

Full article here // Excerpt below

It’s safe to say that Lionel Power (d. 1445) could never have imagined the digital world we live in. I doubt he even dreamed that his music (handwritten in a few books) would survive beyond his death much less be sung by a group of guys living in city 3,000 miles away more than 500 years in the future.

[See video below. Sidebar: This song will be part of (and actually the theme of) the Duke Chapel Vespers Ensemble's spring concert in April. Stay tuned.]

Keep reading...

Cairo Photographer Sees Hope in Turmoil // Scott Nelson Tells What It's Like

Full article here // Excerpt below

By The New York Times

Scott Nelson, 40, is a freelance photographer who works regularly for The New York Times. He’s from Denver but has been based in Cairo for a decade. For this post, he spoke with James Estrin late Saturday and followed that by elaborating on his experiences and expectations as a photojournalist and as a Cairo resident.

Keep reading...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Encounter 11 // Be Generative

Another conference deadline has been extended - this one for, Encounter 11 at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City, March 3 - 5, 2011. Do you know about the International Arts Movement?

Move On Up // Angélique Kidjo’s Songs that Inspire the Struggle

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Nancy Rosenbaum

In our interview yesterday morning, Vincent Harding spoke about the galvanizing power of song during the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s. He also lamented that today’s “hip-hop young people” have not produced a soundtrack for their generation that can express the “great need and desire for a better world.”

Keep reading...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

“A Stone in Aberdaron” – Artist Reception

Artist, Nathaniel Hester, will speak about his work at a reception held at the Divinity School Library on Wednesday, February 2 at 12:20pm. Refreshments will be served. The exhibit, “A Stone in Aberdaron,” a collaborative bookmaking project of Daniel Tobin (Interim Dean of the School of Arts; Emerson College) and Nathaniel Hester (MDiv, Duke Divinity School, ’14) will be on display at the Divinity School Library through February 25, 2011.

In Britain, Separation of Art and State // David Wojnarowicz Ruckus

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Michael Kimmelman

For all the talk about one big, globalized art world, the trans-Atlantic gulf reasserted itself the other evening via a small but telling event. An overflow crowd of several hundred people, young and old, men and women, gay and straight, packed Starr Auditorium at the Tate Modern here to pay tribute to David Wojnarowicz, the artist and AIDS activist who died, at 37, from AIDS, in 1992.

Last week, on a visit to Los Angeles, the secretary of the Smithsonian, G. Wayne Clough, was still struggling to account for why he caved two months ago to Republican lawmakers and the leader of the Catholic League, a group that calls itself a defender of free speech. Mr. Clough told The Los Angeles Times that, among other things, fear of retaliatory budget cuts caused him to remove a video by Wojnarowicz from “Hide/Seek,” at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, a show about same-sex themes in American portraiture.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, had declared an excerpt from the video, featuring ants crawling on a crucifix, “hate speech.”

Keep reading...

The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum // The National Museum of African American History and Culture

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Kate Taylor

In the late 1970s, when Lonnie G. Bunch III had his first job at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, veterans of the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black squadron, accused the museum of playing down their contributions during World War II. In response, the museum asked some of the African-Americans on staff to allow their faces to be used on mannequins, increasing the “black presence” in its exhibits.

“I didn’t do it,” Mr. Bunch said recently, who was among those asked. “That’s not the way I wanted to be part of a museum.”

Thirty years later Mr. Bunch, and African-American history itself, are part of a Smithsonian museum, but in a very different way. As the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Mr. Bunch, 58, is charged with creating an institution that embodies the story of black life in America.

Keep reading...

Art Exhibit Stirs Up the Ghosts of Zimbabwe’s Past // Exhibit at National Gallery Becomes a Crime Scene

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Celia W. Dugger

The exhibit at the National Gallery is now a crime scene, the artwork banned and the artist charged with insulting President Robert Mugabe. The picture windows that showcased graphic depictions of atrocities committed in the early years of Mr. Mugabe’s 30-year-long rule are now papered over with the yellowing pages of a state-controlled newspaper.

But the government’s efforts to bury history have instead provoked slumbering memories of the Gukurahundi, Zimbabwe’s name for the slaying and torture of thousands of civilians here in the Matabeleland region a quarter century ago.

“You can suppress art exhibits, plays and books, but you cannot remove the Gukurahundi from people’s hearts,” said Pathisa Nyathi, a historian here. “It is indelible.”

Keep reading...

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Charles Wesley of Sudan // The Muse of Church Revival in Sudan

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Jason Byassee

I think I met the Charles Wesley of the church of Sudan.

Just as Charles’ hymns powered the Methodist movement across the British Isles, the Americas, and now the Global South, so too did Mary Alueel Garang’s songs power a revival in the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS), helping to bring in millions of members during that country’s brutal two-decade long civil war. “I just found myself singing,” she explained when asked how she wrote so much and so movingly. If songs come to her, she writes them down, “if they are meaningful.” She herself describes their themes this way: “During the war there was suffering, we ran from place to place, but we encouraged people not to give up and to come to church. You can’t save your life on your own.”

Keep reading...

Saturday in Durham // New Creation Concert Series featuring David Johnston and Reynolds Chapman

New Creation Concert Series: Re-Imagining Contemporary Christian Music will kick off this weekend with a performance at Copa Vida Coffee, near West Campus. The idea of the concert series is geared toward providing opportunities for songwriters, both DDS students and others, to interface through performances and discussions about what it means to be a Christian songwriter. We'll start by hearing from Senior M.Div. David Johnston and recent DDS alum Reynolds Chapman. Come join us!

Saturday, January 29
6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Copa Vida
2816 Erwin Road #201
Durham, NC

For more information, email or check out the Facebook event here.

Wednesday at Duke // Documentary Screening: 'Soldiers of Conscience'

Duke students, staff, and faculty are invited to a screening of the Emmy award-winning documentary Soldiers of Conscience (also endorsed by the US Army), hosted by a Divinity School working group that hopes to hold an event next fall on Veterans Day to honor the consciences of and heal moral injury among our service men and women. The documentary will be followed by a brief discussion and our first official planning meeting for the event.

Wednesday, January 26
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
0014 Westbrook

For more information, contact or visit the Facebook event page here.

‘Tukutendereza Yesu’ // Notes from the Global Church

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Philip Jenkins

I'm never convinced when Protestants claim to be people of the Bible alone. They are people of the Bible and the hymnbook, and the two volumes complement each other splendidly. As you sing, so you believe and so you pray—and so you learn much of your theology.

As Christian churches grow around the world, it is not surprising to find an astonishing efflorescence of hymn composition. We must avoid the loose term hymn writing, as so many of the creators are primarily oral art­ists, and only gradually do their works find their way into written form. But however they are made, the sheer abundance and quality of those hymns is overwhelming, whether in Yoruba or Swahili, Tamil or Zulu. Argu­ably, we live today in the golden age of Christian hymn-making.

Keep reading...

Bhargava Calls Prayer Space a Place to “Strengthen Oneself” // New Joint Space for Hindus and Buddhists at Duke

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Sony Rao

In a show of religious unity, Hindu and Buddhist student groups came together Saturday to inaugurate a new, shared prayer room in the Bryan Center.

Students, faculty and members of the Durham community gathered in the Breedlove Room to celebrate interfaith collaboration on campus and the official opening of the Hindu-Buddhist prayer space. Events included prayer ceremonies in the afternoon followed by a reception sponsored by the Duke University Faith Council.

Keep reading...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reynolds Price // A Southern Writer, A Lyrical Gift

Full article here // Excerpt below

Reynolds Price, the acclaimed writer known for his evocative novels and stories about rural North Carolina, died in Durham yesterday. He was 77.

Keep reading...

Painting in Deadly Oil // From The NY Times' Lens Blog

Full article here // Excerpt below

Oil-soaked pelicans. Turtles caught midstroke in black ooze. Floating schools of dead fish. And then fishermen throwing out their catch.

In the visual coverage of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill last year, certain tableaus became pervasive. An image would move over the wires and photojournalists on the scene competed to match it. “Everyone was trying to make the same picture,” said Benjamin Lowy, “because it was very hard to articulate visually.” For one thing, he said, the spill was so vast.

Mr. Lowy, 31, a photographer with Reportage by Getty Images, found another way to capture the story. He focused on the oil itself as it collected on the water’s surface in phosphorescent, psychedelic swirls and paisleys, the result of different chemical mixtures, rates of oxidation and lighting angles.

Keep reading...

Tracy Radosevic: The Sounds of a Living Tradition // From Faith and Leadership

Full article here // Excerpt below

Because Bible stories were initially communicated orally -- with breath, sound and movement -- the sounds of the story still matter today, said storyteller Tracy Radosevic. Asking questions such as “Who was the audience?” and “What was going on socially, politically and economically?” when the story was first told allows the current meaning of the story to express itself through the teller, she said.

Keep reading...

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Interested in hearing Andy Crouch, Makoto Fujimura, and Paul Weston (among others)? The student rate (100.00) for the C3 Conference, February 24 - 26, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee makes this an affordable road trip and a great way to network. Check it out.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

For Gay Arabs, a Place to Dance, and Break Down Walls // Crowds Come Out to Monthly New York Dance Party

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Chadwick Moore

Around midnight, upstairs in a small club on Avenue of the Americas, the pitch-black dance floor resounded with the rapid stomps and warbling, high-energy cries of the dabke, an Arab folk dance performed at weddings and other celebrations.

When the strobe lights flashed, they revealed a sea of raised hands. A man in the crowd removed his kaffiyeh, the traditional headdress worn by some Arab and Kurdish men, and whipped it around in the air.


This was a recent Saturday night at Habibi, a floating monthly dance party of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Arabs in New York. In a city that seems to offer activities for every conceivable gay subculture — one 700-entry directory lists support groups for, among others, gay vegans, pilots and sailing enthusiasts, along with 62 religion-based groups — Habibi is perhaps the only opportunity in New York for gay people of Middle Eastern descent to interact openly in an organized setting.

Keep reading...

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Vote In Sudan // On APM's The Story

All this week, people from Southern Sudan have been casting their vote in a referendum to decide if they should become their own nation. Twenty-year-old Nyuol Tong was born in Sudan. He spent much of his childhood surrounded by civil war and living in refugee camps, often writing poetry to express his hopes and desires for his country. He is now a student at Duke University, and will be traveling to Alexandria, Virginia on Friday to vote.

Listen here

The Healing Power of Music and Haiti Noir // The Arts in Haiti, One Year After the Earthquake

Click here to listen American Public Media's The Story's recent program on the healing power of the arts in Haiti one year after the devastating earthquake:

The healing power of music

Jean Montes grew up in Haiti. He attended the Holy Trinity School of Music before coming to the States to become a conductor and musician. When the earthquake struck one year ago this week, his thoughts were of his beloved school and students. Jean knew his country needed food, water and shelter - but they also needed hope. Since then he has taken hundreds of instruments to Holy Trinity to give to young students through the Haitian Youth Music Relief.

Haiti Noir

Patrick Sylvain is a Haitian - American writer. He had planned to fly into Haiti on the day of the earthquake - but he did not. When the quake happened, Patrick was safe in the US. Later, he went to Haiti to help the people. He's made some sense of his own emotion through his contribution to the new book Haiti Noir.

International Arts Movement

"The world is not as it ought to be:"

This is the vision of the International Arts Movement whose focus is to call on art to address dehumanization. If you're interested in learning more about how you can be a part of a movement interested in wrestling with issues of art and faith with the hope of inspiring and engaging the culture, check out their website and mark your calendars for their upcoming conference, Encounter 11 - Be Generative, March 3 - 5 in NYC.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Handwritten Letter, an Art All but Lost, Thrives in Prison // Magazine Gives Prisoners a Link to World Outside

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Jeremy W. Peters

To the Georgia Department of Corrections he is inmate No. 544319, in prison on a five-year sentence for drug possession. But to the editors of Maxim, he is Mike Bolick, a faithful reader and regular letter writer who has loopy penmanship and an eye for beautiful cover models.

Mr. Bolick has become known at Maxim over the years for sending cover girls letters through the magazine with the hope that they will agree to be his pen pals. He is gracious and self-effacing, complimenting their beauty while asking them to please excuse his poor spelling and punctuation. He has plans to get his G.E.D. to remedy that, he explained in a recent letter to the pin-up girl Rachelle Leah.

Keep reading...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Poetry Is Not a Luxury // Words That Shimmer

Below is an excerpt from an essay referenced by Elizabeth Alexander in the show "Words That Shimmer" from Krista Tippett On Being.

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Audre Lorde

The quality of light by which we scrutinize our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realized. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding.

As we learn to bear the intimacy of scrutiny, and to flourish within it, as we learn to use the products of that scrutiny for power within our living, those fears which rule our lives and form our silences begin to lose their control over us.

Keep reading...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Going Naked as a Sign // Jon Watts' "Clothe Yourself in Righteousness" Project

Clothe Yourself in Righteousness is a pretty interesting project that completed its fundraising just last month and is now in the production stage. Check out the video and/or brief description below, and "like" it on Facebook.

The Early Quakers (“Friends”, as they are often known) sought to break down the apathy of their countrymen, reminding them that Christianity began as a radical movement of action and personal commitment, now diluted by the rites, rituals and power dynamics of the modern church.

In order to make their point, Quakers often found themselves creating spectacles, such as interrupting a Sunday service in a large Anglican Church to loudly debate the theology of the church with the presiding pastor. Such behavior was often rewarded with arrest, and many Early Friends spent time in jail, sometimes losing their lives and often losing their property or other valuable resources.

After reading a research paper for the Earlham School of Religion by his friend Maggie Harrison, Jon Watts decided to dedicate his creative energy to exploring "going naked as a sign", both literally and figuratively.

More info

Sunday, January 2, 2011

This Month in Raleigh // Shen Yun Performing Arts Preserves Ancient Forms

On January 22, the Shen Yun Performing Arts group will be in Raleigh at Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center. The performance is a sort of blending of the arts with culture and spirituality--the musical, dance and other techniques cannot be separated from the performers' lifestyles and mindset. The company is also making a bit of a political statement in seeking to recover art forms that the Chinese Communist Party has destroyed.

From the group's website:

Over the past 60-plus years under Chinese Communist Party rule - and especially during campaigns such as the Cultural Revolution—much of China’s traditional culture has been destroyed. But China has a 5,000-year history steeped in rich values and the idea that humanity and the divine are intertwined. This idea is built right into the name "Shen Yun," which in context translates as “the beauty of divine beings dancing.”

At a time when the influence of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism was strong in the Middle Kingdom, art was a means of connecting with the higher universe. Artists cultivated virtue and engaged in study and meditation, because they believed that to create true art worthy of the heavens, there must first be inner beauty and purity. Today, Shen Yun’s artists follow in this noble tradition.

Click here for ticketing info.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Our New Band Of The Day 2010 Playlist // From Guardian.Co.UK

Full article here // Excerpt below

By Paul Lester

From oOoOO to How To Dress Well to DJ Nate to Teengirl Fantasy to Drake, many 2010 artists shared a penchant for messing with R&B, playing with the tempo or, literally in Nate's case, taking a soul tune like Deniece Williams's 1977 hit Free and putting it through the studio mincer. What I really like is the way it all drifts together so seamlessly – it might be more down to accident than an active free exchange of ideas, but you can play MillionYoung's Pilfer, Toro Y Moi's Freak Love and Washed Out's Belong next to Drake's The Resistance and they sound as though they all used the same producer. There was also confluence between Girl Unit's dubstep, DJ Nate's fancy footwurk and the witch house/drag of people like Salem (not featured here) and Balam Acab.

New Band Of The Day - Best of 2010

Keep reading...