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Art Exhibition, Sale to Benefit Painting Scholarship

“Meaningful Painting: The Legacy of Pat Walker,” an exhibition showcasing the works of Pat Walker, professor emeritus in the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art (BFSDoArt) at Georgia Southern University, will be on view Nov. 27 – Dec. 15 at the Center for Art and Theatre’s University Gallery. An opening reception, silent auction, and gallery talk will be Nov. 30 beginning at 5 p.m. in the Center for Art and Theatre.

Walker (1949-2015) was a professor of painting and drawing at Georgia Southern for 27 years and was awarded professor emeritus status in 2014. During her tenure, Walker influenced hundreds of students, many of whom went on to be distinguished artists and art faculty. Throughout her career, she exhibited her work both nationally and internationally and received many awards, grants and scholarships. Her work also was included in numerous art publications.

This exhibit will feature works from Walker’s studio that span more than 35 years of her artistic lifetime, including work that has not been exhibited before. It will include a range of mediums, from large oil paintings and drawings to very affordable small studies, along with Giclees (high quality copies of work printed on canvas) of one of her most celebrated works, “Oysters in Morning Light.” Additionally, two current BFSDoArt Master of Fine Arts students, Zak Kelley and Jessamy McManus, will exhibit paintings at the reception and discuss  the impact Walker had on their aesthetic development at Georgia Southern.

“Pat was an award-winning painter and pastel artist; above all, she inspired art students in the department with her sustained commitment to hard work in the studio,” said Elsie Hill, associate professor of Painting and Drawing and Foundations in the BFSDoArt. “The establishment of the Pat Walker Scholarship in Painting as well as the Student Resource Center in the Visual Arts Building, which houses all of Pat’s art books, makes her legacy ever present in the department.”

The exhibit, gallery talk and opening reception are free and open to the public, and all proceeds from the silent auction sales of Walker’s work will help endow the Pat Walker Scholarship in Painting, which will provide needed financial support for painting students in the BFSDoArt.

For more information, contact Elsie Hill at elsiehill@georgiasouthern.edu.


Connecting us to the past: Georgia Southern anthropologists bridge gap between past, present Native people

What can we learn about practices of Native people thousands of years ago and connect it to our culture today? Georgia Southern anthropologists seem to think quite a bit.

From early agricultural practices to eating habits and social gatherings, research by professors at Georgia Southern shows many connections to present day. Studying historical artifacts like pottery, animal bones and even petrified seeds can help anthropologists tell the story of these connections.

“As anthropologists, we’re fascinated by these artifacts, but beyond that, one of the ultimate goals we serve is to help tell about that patchwork and fabric of humanity all around the world,” said Jared Wood, Ph.D., assistant professor of anthropology at Georgia Southern.

Telling the story of Native peoples from an anthropological perspective is important because it provides scientific insight to life hundreds or thousands of years ago, Wood noted. It is also important to remember the cultural perspective, especially with Native American history, because there are many descendants still alive today.

Pointing to preserved arrowhead points, Wood said, “If you asked me what these points tell about these peoples, I’d have a scientific story for you that talks about quarrying of resources, using these to hunt game or technologically as knives or scrapers. As anthropologists these are among the stories we tell.

“But if you asked a Native person, ‘What does this mean to you?’ they could give a story about the meaningfulness of materials they made and used, and how it tied into the complex structure of their culture,” he continued. “Both of these stories would be true … it is just different ways of looking at human behavior.”

Associate Professor of Anthropology Heidi Altman, Ph.D., agreed.

“What we do as anthropologists, is look at what makes humans the same, and also what separates us,” Altman said. “We are trying to figure out the connectedness between then and today so we see social structures and cultural features that were present then and today. It helps people relate to the past.”

Altman has helped connect past and present Native American generations in a number of ways, most notably by helping communities who are working to preserve the Native language of the Cherokee Nation in North Carolina and Oklahoma. A small percentage of Native speakers are still alive today, she said.

“For about 10 years, I worked on helping them develop community programming to revitalize the language,” said Altman. “We started an immersion school, made community programs for elders and speakers, and began a whole process of culture of linguistic revitalization that is long and complicated.”

Archaeological Curator, Matthew Compton, Ph.D., who specializes in zooarchaeology, the study of animal remains, has studied the contents of pits from Native American archaeological sites. He said researchers have found animal remains, charred seeds, sherds of pottery and other artifacts at Hartford, an archaeological site in Pulaski County, Georgia. These artifacts, thousands of which are stored at Georgia Southern’s R M Bogan Archaeological Repository, tell a lot about the daily lives of Native Americans who inhabited the site and even how the inhabitants interacted with other groups in different regions of the state.

Compton said researchers have collected items like deer antlers that not only indicate Native Americans were hunting and eating deer, but also what time of year the deer were harvested. Additional findings like catfish, bass, duck, and squirrel bones, as well as charred acorns, persimmon seeds and hickory nuts show they relied on a diverse array of plants and animals for their diet.

One very interesting find, Compton said, was a tooth from a black drum.

“The black drum is a coastal fish, and this site is just south of Macon [Georgia], so this tooth is from a fish that doesn’t live around that area,” Compton said. “Just like our evidence from the pottery that shows interactions between groups from different areas, this shows an interaction with the coast either through trade or travel.”

“I think people have a real misconception that Native peoples were simple and they weren’t very advanced, but they’re just as intelligent and complex and adaptive as people anywhere in the world,” said Wood.

(Photo by: Scott Clark) Georgia Southern is home to these Cumberland regional points dated in the range of 11,000 – 10,500 years ago.

The best way to avoid these misconceptions, according to Wood, is to continue to study and learn. He says south Georgia is the perfect place to do so.

“I stayed in the southeast for a reason,” said Wood. “We have access to so many sites, surveys and opportunities that I will die happily never having gone to all of the places in south Georgia that I want to study. That’s a good problem to have, and a tremendous boon to our students who can actually go out and do meaningful archaeology research and contribute to larger questions of human complexity in really unknown areas.”

For more information about the Department of Anthropology and the many Native American history courses offered, visit http://class.georgiasouthern.edu/socianth/.


Faculty, Students Attend Women and Girls in Georgia Conference

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Georgia Southern University sponsored two professors and six students trip to the Nov. 11 as they attended the Women and Girls in Georgia Conference at the University of Georgia.

Attending the conference were Baker Rogers, Ph.D., Clare Walsh, Ph.D., Katie-Anne Arnoldy, Angelique Jennings, Megan Hairald, Ashley Strickland, Raisa Gallegos, and Erin Maurer.

The overall theme of this year’s conference was Justice and Resistance and sessions reflected this theme.

Topics covered included:  “Breaking Barriers though Community Organizing,” “Resisting Violence and Silence,” “Women and Elected Office in Georgia,” “Educational Inequalities in Higher Education,” and “Feminist and Womanist Approaches to Activism and Organizing.”

The keynote speaker was Angy Rivera who is the co-director at the New York State Youth Leadership Council. She spoke of her own experiences as an undocumented immigrant who became an activist for immigration rights.

The day ended with a roundtable titled “Intersectional Social Justice Activism in Georgia” where representatives who were activists in economic, racial, reproductive, social, and environmental justice spoke of their challenges and successes.


Theatre Alumna Named Kenny Leon Fellowship Recipient

Theatre alumna Ibiwumi “Ibi” Owolabi (‘15) has recently been awarded the Kenny Leon Fellowship.

The Kenny Leon Fellowship, named after the Tony Award-winning Broadway director Kenny Leon, is given annually to an early-career theatre artist of color. As a recipient of the fellowship, Owolabi will have the opportunity to work as an assistant director and even direct some shows at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, where Leon previously served as the former artistic director.

As a student Owolabi worked on and off stage in the theatre program. She developed as a young director during her undergraduate program in major program productions such as “Metamorphosis” and her student one act “The Dutchman.” She was also involved with the productions of “Death of a Salesman,” “The Birds,” “Barefoot in the Park,” and “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” among others.

In addition to these shows, Owolabi also participated in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC) fellowship. Through this program she was invited to Washington D.C. to participate in the National Festival as one of 10 students nationwide.

“It’s an amazing, life-changing opportunity at the biggest theatre in Atlanta, which has already given me so many opportunities to direct, and work with renowned directors from across the U.S.,” said Owolabi. “I feel very blessed to be the fellow. It’s an amazing feeling to do what you love, and even more amazing when you’re encouraged to do it.”

According to Owolabi’s former professor Lisa Abbott, associate chair of the Department of Communication Arts, it’s no surprise Owolabi was selected for the Kenny Leon Fellowship.

“This is a very high profile fellowship and is a great example of how successful our students are in the professional industry,” said Abbott. “The Theatre and Performance program at Georgia Southern is a generalist program that helps students develop an overall competency in theatre while giving them the freedom to select specific courses that help identify their focus. For Ibi this included faculty recognizing her potential as a director, creating specific opportunities for her to learn the craft and practice it, and guiding her toward internships, conferences and other outside programs that would help her post graduation.”

Owolabi credits her time at Georgia Southern for much of her success as a young director.

“I can definitely say with full confidence that the things I learned at Georgia Southern gave me a great head start in my field,” said Owolabi. “When I was in school, I learned the technical parts of theatre as a whole and directing, but I also learned how to be present in a room, how to be collaborative with my fellow technicians and how to analyze a script down to it’s bones.

“I also was introduced to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival through my school, and with guidance from Lisa [Abbott],and great actors from our program, went on to the nationals in Washington [D.C.], and got invited back the year after for a playwright intensive,” she added. “That festival put me in contact with Freddie Ashley, who is the artistic director of Actor’s Express in Atlanta, which started my career there after graduation.”

Owolabi plans to continue her theatre career with hopes of creating theatre pieces that reflect modern-day politics.

“I love developing that collaborative atmosphere with my creative team and my actors,” said Owolabi. “I love the discoveries made in the text when everyone is focused on making the play live. And mostly, I love that I’m still learning.”


French Week to Take Place at Georgia Southern, Armstrong Nov. 3-9

French Week, a celebration of  French culture, history and diversity, will return to Georgia Southern University for the 19th year Nov. 3-9.

Coordinated by faculty in the Department of Foreign Languages Olga Amarie, Ph.D., Virginie Ems-Bléneau, Ph.D., William Holley, Ph.D., and Martha Hughes, Ph.D., French Week will include a variety of events from guest lecturers and a talent show to film showings and themed meals at the Dining Commons. Events will take place on both the Savannah and Statesboro campuses and are open to the public.

“The first French Week, which took place in 1999, was the initiative of Professor Emerita of French Clara Krug, Ph.D.,” said Ems-Bléneau. “Since that time, departments across campus have come together to celebrate the diversity and richness of the francophone world. All events (except for the meals) are free of charge and open to the public.”

French Week will open with a concert by French singer, guitarist and songwriter Eric Vincent at the Fine Arts Auditorium at Armstrong State University on Friday, Nov. 3, at 10 a.m. Georgia Southern music students will perform “An Afternoon of French Song” at 3 p.m. on Nov. 5 at the Carol A. Carter Recital Hall on the Georgia Southern campus.

On Monday, Nov. 6, and Tuesday, Nov. 7, the Dining Commons will join in the celebration and serve French meals for lunch and dinner.

A number of lectures on French topics will be presented during the week including “Political Polarization in French Presidential Elections” by Jamie Scalera, Ph.D., from the Department of Political Science on Nov. 7; “Immigration and West Africa” by Cathy Skidmore-Hess, Ph.D., from the Department of History on Nov. 8; and two lectures by Rangira Béa Gallimore, Ph.D., from the University of Missouri on Nov. 9.

For a full list of events and activities, visit http://class.georgiasouthern.edu/foreign-languages/activities/frenchweek/.