ARAD’s own Dr. Dubin took a moment to share with us what he’s been up to while on sabbatical this past year. Dr. Dubin spent time in South Africa, completed a one-month residency at Ucross (an artist/writer retreat in Clearmont, Wyoming), spent 5 weeks in Italy, and completed another one-month residency at the Rockefeller Foundation – sponsored retreat, Bellagio. Following the opening of his photography exhibition in early June, Dr. Dubin will finish his sabbatical with another trip to South Africa before returning to Teachers College for the Fall semester.
ARAD’s own Dr. Jennifer Lena recently published an article titled “US Cultural Engagement with Global Muslim Communities: Contours and Connections in an Emerging Field” with co-author Erin Johnston. The article, released in the Winter 2015 edition of GIA Reader, looks at the challenges Muslim artists experience when producing art to engage US audiences. In addition to surveying the difficulties the field faces, the authors also note that these challenges highlight opportunities for future cross-cultural exchanges, collaborations, and expansions of Muslim/Islamic art in the United States.
To read the full article, click here!
In early February, ARAD program coordinator and professor Dr. Steven Dubin was able to take a break from the cold and dreary New York weather to take part in a TEDx event held in Caserta, Italy. The theme, Global Contamination, brought together a wide variety of speakers from Italy, Sicily, the US, Portugal, and Belarus who presented on topics as diverse as their backgrounds. The mastermind behind this event was none other than ARAD alum Valerio Borgianelli Spina, who graduated from the program in 2007! Continue reading “Faculty News: Prof. Steven Dubin talks “Global Contamination” at TEDxCaserta”
The ARAD program congratulates our faculty member, Dr. Jennifer Lena, on a new book series she will be co-editing!
The series, Culture and Economic Life, acts as a forum for discussing the evolution, creation, and consequences of commerce and culture. Current theoretical and empirical debates span a wide variety of topics, and this series seeks to advance and stimulate discussions across these disciplines to provide an interdisciplinary look at how culture and economic life intersect. The series also informs a larger audience of policy and public debates in the for- and not-for-profit sectors.
This great news comes just after Dr. Lena’s book, Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music, was released as a paperback earlier this month.
Congratulations on these achievements, Dr. Lena!
By Alyssa Foster
Current ARAD Student, Arts & Humanities Writer
Dr. Jennifer Lena: Scholarly Muse
At the start of the Fall semester, Teachers College proudly welcomed Dr. Jennifer Lena as Associate Professor of Arts Administration. After receiving both her Masters and Ph.D. of Sociology at Columbia University, Dr. Lena ventured beyond New York for myriad academic pursuits around the country. Currently an active researcher and participant in many remarkable arts projects, Dr. Lena says she was beckoned back to Teachers College by “the prestige and wide spectrum of learning opportunities that an Ivy League school located in a world-renowned city offers.” Impressed by the wealth of knowledge and the boundless possibilities she encountered herself as a sociology student, Dr. Lena is enthusiastic that returning as a professor will allow her to positively influence the next generation of arts leaders.
The arts have always been intertwined with Dr. Lena’s academic interests since childhood. Growing up she was influenced by her uncle Benny Andrews, one of the African American artists and leaders in the Black Arts Cultural Coalition, and his efforts towards the inclusion of black curators in shows at the MET and the Whitney. Further influenced by the work of her sociologist father, Dr. Lena quickly became interested in studying the privileges that racial status can either provide or withhold. The inspiration for her research was later shaped by the mentorship of scholars she worked with as a graduate student, such as Peter Bearman and Harrison White.
As recent as 2010, Dr. Lena worked in collaboration with College of Charleston Professor Jonathan Neufeld to become the first sociologist to have commissioned a Grammy-nominated album. A collection of ensemble pieces by composer Gabriela Lena Frank, the album titled “Hilos” was the product of a $50,000 research grant made available to Vanderbilt faculty. At the time Dr. Lena applied for the grant, her co-commissioner, philosopher of aesthetics Professor Neufeld, had been reviewing the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and the ALIAS Chamber Orchestra. ALIAS, an admirable chamber group of volunteer musicians donating their revenue to charities, was currently working with Frank to prepare music that would later be part of “Hilos.” Receipt of the grant provided Dr. Lena and Professor Neufeld the opportunity to finance Frank’s CD, as well as to benefit the charitable work of ALIAS. The Schubert Club soon decided to co-sponsor the album and Naxos Records was then involved to handle the formal recording process. Dr. Lena’s role in the MAC project is a quintessential example of how financial and academic support can benefit the artistic ventures of others.
While an arts patron, active researcher, academic advisor, and sociologist, Dr. Lena is also a prolific author. Her new book, Banding Together, was published in 2012 and examines in-depth how musical styles gain popularity along with the creative collaboration which permits it. As stated on her book jacket, Dr. Lena finds commonalities amongst 60 styles of American popular music to provide “a rare analysis of how music communities operate.” While conducting her research, primary and secondary sources were referenced to investigate the international music scenes of China, Nigeria, Serbia and Chile, in order to juxtapose their genres with those of the United States. Ultimately, Dr. Lena investigates the concept of what constitutes a genre from a sociological lens, positing that her definition is applicable not just to music but to the most inclusive spectrum of arts: from social movements to academia.
Dr. Lena is devoted to enriching the learning process through her dedication to her students and to her continuous socio-artistic research. Her passion is already felt and cherished as an invaluable presence within the Arts Administration department.