Instruments Come to Life at “Carnival of the Animals”



Though you weren’t, as you might expect, greeted by little furry animals at the Boston College Music Department’s “Carnival of the Animals,”  the beautiful opera music sung by BC students along with the shrieks and laughs of the young children in attendance proved to be a wonderful alternative.

This year, the Music Department held its family opera in Lyons Hall.  The show began when two young women emerged on stage to sing a duet that mimicked different “meows”. The performers expertly — and hilariously — enacted a competition for the best “meow,” to the delight of the younger members of the audience. Then the artistic director, Barbara Gawlick, stepped on stage to introduce the show wearing a zebra costume that most of the children loved (except for the one little girl who started crying).  Throughout the performance the director interacted with the audience asking the children questions about duets, conductors, and instruments.  At one point she asked a few of the kids to come up and sing for her an A note.  When the crowd erupted in applause after each note, the smiles on the children’s faces were priceless.  Later in the show, the orchestra emerged and played small refrains following a narration of animal stories.

The performers were all very talented and were able to bring animals to life through music in a very creative way.  Many children that attended were younger students of Gawlick and therefore were in awe of the talented college-aged students.  Great job, Music Department!

BC Visiting Lecturer Sammy Chong’s AMIDST to run in Bapst Gallery

Sammy Chong, Visiting Lecturer (Painting)

Sammy Chong, Visiting Lecturer (Painting)

Sammy Chong, visiting lecturer in the Boston College Fine Arts Department, will show an exhibition in the Bapst Gallery throughout the month of February. In the exhibition, Amidst, Chong explores the ways people experience the world in urban spaces.

He confronts the idea that close contact with millions of strangers can, paradoxically, leave the individual feeling distanced. “Common spaces make objective the different forms of solitude that are linked to the ever-expanding modern urban centers,” says Chong, “As we are forced to inhabit public spaces with others, the visible distance between people can be a reflection of an intangible, yet deeper, personal disjunction.”

CHECKED, 2012, Mixed media on plexiglass, four panels, 23” x 38” x 11”

CHECKED, 2012, Mixed media on plexiglass, four panels, 23” x 38” x 11”

In addition, Chong considers the meditation or suspension we might find in the safety of isolation in modern technology. Imagine, for example, a person on a crowded train, surrounded by people and yet absorbed in a smart phone.

“The name of the show,” says Chong, “connotes both the inner mindset and the physical environment we find ourselves in when we are on the move, in our routines. Instead of uncomfortable feelings of alienation and loss, I attempt to gain awareness of the meditative nature of being both immersed in and removed from the activity around us.”

GOLDEN CALF, 2011, Mixed media on plexiglass, three panels, 20” x 24” x 9”

GOLDEN CALF, 2011, Mixed media on plexiglass, three panels, 20” x 24” x 9”

Amidst is a multimedia collection of three-dimensional paintings on plexiglass. Each layer of plexiglass is meant to be viewed both as an individual painting and as a part of a multidimensional work.

In Chong’s pieces, the plexiglass layers emphasize the day-to-day collision of human experiences and indicate the metaphorical separation between people in public spaces. Chong uses the plexiglass to imply this separation—“its transparency points to the invisible barriers which isolate individuals from one another and from the self.”

Unlike two-dimensional images, the three-dimensional complexity of the pieces encourages viewers to take an active role in making meaning of the whole.

ENDLESS, 2012, Acrylic and oil on plexiglass, two panels, 19” x 36” x 36”

ENDLESS, 2012, Acrylic and oil on plexiglass, two panels, 19” x 36” x 36”

The exhibition also evolves from Chong’s theological and philosophical interests. Chong, who currently teaches “The Art of Portraiture” in the Fine Arts Department at BC, holds degrees in philosophy, theology, and fine art. As part of his Jesuit education, he studied philosophy at Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Columbia, and theology at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, MA. He began his work as an artist as a self-taught painter, but now holds an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

SIX ITEMS, 2011, Acrylic and oil on plexiglass, three panels, 18” x 25” x 9”

SIX ITEMS, 2011, Acrylic and oil on plexiglass, three panels, 18” x 25” x 9”

On Tuesday, February 5, at 4:00pm, an opening reception will take place in the Bapst Gallery. Admission is free and open to the public. Amidst will run February 4 – February 28, 2013. For more information, email, or call 617-552-4935.

BC Profs Curate Paul Klee Exhibition at McMullen

Paul Klee, Nomad Mother, 1940.

Paul Klee: Philosophical Vision: From Nature to Art
McMullen Museum of Art
September 1–December 9, 2012

Paul Klee (1895–1940) was an early twentieth-century painter known for his cerebral, introspective style. Born in Bern, Switzerland, Klee was a painting master at the renowned Bauhaus, a German school of art, design, and architecture. Also a respected theorist, Klee attracted the attention of many of the most prominent European philosophers of the twentieth century. As the artist himself acknowledged, Klee was, “perhaps, without really wanting to be, a philosopher.”

Paul Klee, Äliup, 1931.

Professor John Sallis, in consultation with Professors Claude Cernuschi and Jeffery Howe, curated the exhibition Paul Klee: Philosophical Vision: From Nature to Art, which will be on display in the McMullen Museum this fall. The exhibition is the first to focus on the relationship between Klee’s artistic oeuvre and contemporary philosophical thought, exploring the ways in which Klee’s groundbreaking theories of nature, words, and music translate into form, line, and color in his artwork.

Klee completed over 9,000 works during his lifetime, and Philosophical Vision: From Nature to Art represents his prolific output with a collection of more than 65 watercolors, drawings, etchings, illustrations, and oil paintings. In addition, the exhibition includes facsimiles of his complex notebooks and personal writings.

Paul Klee, Eidola—Erstwhile Philosopher, 1940

Klee was profoundly affected by his experiences with nature, and the exhibition explores how Klee’s early appreciation of interaction with the natural world affected his works and teaching style. His notes, sketchbooks, and diagrams from his Bauhaus classes (1921–1931) appear in the exhibition, providing insight into his multifaceted, complex philosophies. His themes include creation and visibility; the ways in which line, form, and point capture movement and balance; notions of fantasy and the imaginary in art; art’s relationship with words and music; and theories of existence.

The exhibition also covers a dark era of Klee’s career—his 1933 work depicting the Nazi invasion of Germany. Laden with violent imagery, these works portray Klee as an astute critic of society, particularly of political events that led to the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. The Nazi regime branded Klee’s art as “degenerate,” his work was denounced in the newspapers, and he was dismissed from his teaching position at the Düsseldorf Academy in Germany, prompting him to return to his hometown of Bern for the remainder of his life.

Philosophical Vision: From Nature to Art concludes with a display of later works that bring the union between art and philosophy full circle. A 1940 sketch of a philosopher whimsically recalls Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, for example. As curator Sallis notes, Klee complicates the distinction between artist and philosopher “because [he] delves beneath the surface, because he seeks to make visible the hidden origination of things from their primal ground.”

Paul Klee, Printed Sheet with Pictures, 1937.

The exhibition includes an audio tour and a theatre showing films depicting Klee’s life and works. The McMullen Museum has also published a catalogue with contributions from 15 prominent art historians and philosophers, with color reproductions of each work in the exhibition, as well as a new translation of Klee’s famous lecture, “On Modern Art.”

An international conference on Klee will be held at Boston College on October 17–19, featuring Peter Schubak in a concert performance of works inspired by Klee. All events are free of charge and open to the public. Visit for more information on the conference and concert.

McMullen Museum of Art
Exhibition Hours and Tours:
September 1 – December 9, 2012
M – F: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sa – Su: 12 – 5 p.m.

Note: Extended hours and dates closed are listed at
Free Docent Tours: Available on Sundays at 2:00 p.m. starting September 2.

Paul Klee. Untitled. c. 1937.

Faculty Member Andrew Krivak Wins Chautauqua Prize for “The Sojourn”

Boston College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program faculty member and noted writer Andrew Krivak is the inaugural winner of the Chautauqua Prize, a new national literary award, for his first novel, The Sojourn. The Chautauqua Prize celebrates books that offer a rich and rewarding reading experience and recognizes the winning author for his or her significant contribution to the literary arts. “I feel honored to be part of this new tradition at Chautauqua Institution, and to be recognized by a place with such a long-standing commitment to art and literature in America,” Krivak said.


Inspired by Andrew Krivak’s personal family history, The Sojourn is the story of Jozef Vinich, who was uprooted from a 19th-century mining town in Colorado by a shocking family tragedy to return with his father to an impoverished shepherd’s life in rural Austria-Hungary. When war comes, Jozef joins his cousin and brother-in-arms as a sharpshooter on the southern front, where he must survive a perilous trek across the frozen Italian Alps and capture by a victorious enemy.

As poetic as Cold Mountain and The English Patient, this novel grips readers with chilling scenes of death and survival as it evokes a time when Czechs, Slovaks, Austrians, Hungarians, and Germans fought on the same side while divided by language, ethnicity, and social class in the most brutal war to date. It is also a poignant tale of fathers and sons, addressing the great immigration to America and the desire to live the American dream amid the unfolding tragedy in Europe.

Krivak is also the author of A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life, a memoir about his eight years in the Jesuit Order, and editor of The Letters of William Carlos Williams to Edgar Irving Williams, 1902-1912, winner of the 2009 Louis Martz Prize. The grandson of Slovak immigrants, he grew up in Pennsylvania, has lived in London, and has taught at Harvard, Boston College, and the College of the Holy Cross. Krivak lives with his wife and three children in Somerville, Massachusetts. The Sojourn is his first novel.

Mary Armstrong’s “Any Given Moment” Exhibition at Victoria Munroe Gallery

Mary Armstrong

Until January 21, 2012, Mary Armstrong’s exhibition, Any Given Moment, will show at the Victoria Munroe Gallery on Newbury Street. Armstrong, a local artist and Boston College painting professor, has worked with the gallery since 1985, giving four solo exhibitions in New York and three solo exhibitions since 2006 at Victoria Munroe’s Boston location.

Any Given Moment, which opened December 8, showcases Armstrong’s most recent paintings and her attempts to make sense of sweeping political change as well as the terror and awe she felt after the Japanese tsunami in March 2011. In these paintings, which feature shifting cloud forms juxtaposed against the reflected spaces of marine landscapes, Armstrong drew inspiration from Japanese screens and prints from the Edo period, as well as Georgione and Caspar David Friedrich.

Near Here, 2011, wax and oil on panel, 22x24

Armstrong sees the paintings in her collection as earth anthems and earth elegies. “At my age,” she says, “times is dwindling, and, as I prepare to leave this beloved earth, I am drawn to celebrate it and express my admiration and anxiety.”

Armstrong’s paintings in Any Given Moment, which explore depth of space, differ from her past work. In a 2010 collection, Armstrong did not limit herself to the single rectangle of a canvas, but painted freely, adding paper to the edges of her painting as it expanded. Her 2010 paintings showed grids spanning empty space. “The work was a visual meditation on the impulses of our human brains to calibrate, measure, and, thus,” Armstrong says, “to declare rights over the earth and its atmosphere.”

As Armstrong approached her latest works, however, she limited her painting area to a single rectangle, impelling her visual imagination to explore space and depth. “Gradually over a year’s time I struggled to make very deep and vast spaces on a small scale.” The painting “Near Here,” with its dark clouds in the foreground and ocean stretching into the distance, best demonstrates her breakthrough.

When, 2011

While Any Given Moment explores Armstrong’s longstanding fascination with water and the meeting points of water and earth, she also acknowledges the effects of social and political changes that influenced her paintings. In works such as “Wave” and “When,” waves are a visual metaphor for geo-political and geo-physical changes.

Since she began teaching in the ‘70s, Armstrong has balanced artistic and academic roles. “I am teaching something that I am passionate about,” she says about her experiences teaching painting at Boston College, “and, at the same time, mystified and curious about. I simply point out possibilities of ways to my students and then retreat to my own studio to find my own way.”

The Victoria Munroe Gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and is located at 161 Newbury Street in Boston. For more information and for holiday hours, visit the gallery’s website.

BC English Professor, Author and Poet Suzanne Matson Receives 2012 NEA Fellowship

Suzanne Matson

Boston College Professor of English Suzanne Matson is among the recipients of the 2012 Creative Writing Fellowship in Prose from the National Endowment for the Arts for a work of fiction currently in progress. Competition for these awards is extremely rigorous; this year the Creative Writing Fellowships Panel reviewed 1179 eligible applications.

Matson, currently chair of the English Department at BC, has taught at the University since 1988.

In addition to the NEA award, she has received fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the American-Scandinavian Foundation. Her most recent novel is The Tree-Sitter, published by W. W. Norton in both hardcover and paperback (2006). Her previous two novels, also from Norton and reissued in paperback by Ballantine, are A Trick of Nature (2000) and The Hunger Moon (1997).

Her books of poems are Durable Goods (1993) and Sea Level (1990), published by Alice James Books. Many of the poems collected in these volumes were previously published in journals including The American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Boston Review, Poetry Northwest, The Southern Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Indiana Review and Shenandoah.

Her autobiographical, literary, and op-ed essays have appeared in periodicals such as The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, Child, The Seattle Times, The American Poetry Review, Harvard Review and Mid-American Review.

She also is credited with spearheading a revival of the Greater Boston Intercollegiate Undergraduate Poetry Festival, now held annually at Boston College.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Matson holds a bachelor’s degree from Portland State University, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Washington, where she was awarded the Robert B. Heilman Dissertation Prize, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and the Susannah McMurphy Fellowship.

Originally posted by the Boston College Office of News and Public Affairs.

Opening of BC Student Art Exhibition: Binding Friendship & Memory Palaces

This week, October 19 through 26, the Bapst Student Art Gallery will display an exhibition of student work, Binding Friendship & Memory Palaces, in response to the Burns Library Exhibition, Binding Friendship: Ricci, China, and Jesuit Cultural Learnings. This evening, Wednesday, October 19, a public reception will be held in honor of the opening of the exhibition from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Click on the image for a full size version.

Tonight’s exhibition opening launches a multi-media student art show inspired by Jesuitana materials from the John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections. The show displays a range of artistic styles and scales. One student to keep an eye out for in the exhibition is Joon Sung Park ’12. A senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, Park submitted a collection of ambitious ceramic sculpture that explores the conflicts and cultural exchange between East and West. Working towards a major in Psychology and a minor in Art, Park recently completed time in the Korean army.

The student art exhibition is the result of collaboration between two BC faculty members—Associate Professor of Fine Arts Sheila Gallagher and Assistant Professor of History Father Jeremy Clarke, S.J. Father Clarke curated the Burns exhibit to explore the role of images in the history of East-West cultural relationships and the transfer of ideas.

Gallagher and Clarke came together with a number of goals for Binding Friendships & Memory Palaces. They wanted to engage students in the Burns exhibit’s conversations regarding the East-West relationships and history, as well as give students from different departments, such as History, Fine Arts, and Asian Studies, a chance to create a space for transdisciplinary conversations. They also wanted to support academic thinking outside of the classroom in a community supportive of a cultural and creative discourse.

The Bapst Student Art Gallery hours are Mon-Fri 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Sat 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on Sundays.