Master Mask Maker to Present Demo on Feb. 11

Master Mask Maker to Present Demo on Feb. 11

Jonathan Kipp Becker, a master mask maker, teaching artist and performer, will visit University of the Ozarks as an artist in residency in the theatre program from Feb. 9-15.

As part of his visit, Becker will present a production titled, “Facing Humanity: Masks of History and Culture, a Performance Demonstration,” at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday Feb. 11, in the Seay Theatre. The performance is free and open to the public and there will be a reception following the event.

Becker, who is currently an adjunct professor at Ball State University, will also be leading a mask workshop for Ozarks students and serving as fight choreographer for the University Theatre’s spring production of “Extremities.”

Becker has created hundreds of masks for theatre companies, producing organizations, individual artists and training programs in over 50 countries. His clients include Disney Theatrical in association with The Lion King, Focus Films, NBC, The Bravo Cable Network and Theater of Enchantment in Philadelphia.

Becker has performed throughout Europe, Asia and the United States and has worked as a member of the SunDance Institutes Playwrighter’s Lab, a laboratory founded by Robert Redford for the development of new works for theatre and film. He has appeared as an actor in programs with most of the major symphony orchestras in the U.S. and Canada. Since 1988, Jonathan has helped in the development of 16 original works for theater. He co-founded and was Co-Artistic Director of two theatre companies: Les Senokrates in Luzern, Switzerland and The Brodeur Brothers in Paris, France.

In addition to performing and teaching, he is the owner/operator and master mask maker at Theater-Masks.com, a full service production shop creating masks for the international theatre community. Educational institutions, professional theatres and individual artists in 50 countries are currently using Becker’s masks. You can visit the studio on line at www.theater-masks.com.

Becker recently founded The North American Laboratory for the Performing Arts (NALPA).  The intention is to create an incubator space in which artists can develop new work and learn from each other. In the first four years, NALPA has assisted artists developing dozens of new musicals and new plays and more than 3,000 people from the local community and the nation have visited NALPA’s spaces supporting the effort to build a community of change.

In his current hometown, Becker was the recipient of the first annual mayors’ arts award in Muncie, Indiana, where he lives as a Muncie Maker. His masks have been featured in gallery shows throughout the United States. Becker is a graduate of The International School of Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France. He has a BA in Theatre from The College of Wooster, an MA in Acting and Directing from The University of Akron where and an MFA in Theatre Pedagogy from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is also a recognized advanced actor combatant with The Society of American Fight Directors and has completed the level one professor training in the Margolis Method. His teaching is inspired by the principles of Lecoq, Grotowski, Roy Hart, Rodenburg and Alexander.

The American Shakespeare Center will present William Shakespeare’s masterpiece, “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, as part of the 2019-20 Walton Arts & Ideas Series.

The production will be held in the Walton Fine Art Center’s Seay Theatre on campus. The event is open to the public and there is no cost to attend.

Written by Shakespeare in 1595-96, the comedy portrays the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the former queen of the Amazons. Shakespeare casts a theatrical spell powerful enough to make audiences of all ages believe in anything. This mischievous comedy of lovers, heroes, fairies, and rude mechanicals is his tribute to humankind's power of imagination, and reveals that the “course of true love can alter with just one touch of magic.”  

The play is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world.

Based in Staunton, Virginia, the American Shakespeare Center recovers the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare’s theatre, language, and humanity by exploring the English Renaissance stage and its practices through performance and education. Year-round in Staunton’s Blackfriars Playhouse — the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre — the ASC’s innovative programming and “shamelessly entertaining” (The Washington Post) productions have shared the delights of Shakespeare, modern classics and new plays with millions over the past 30 years.

Beyond the Playhouse, the ASC is a hub for Shakespeare education and scholarship and also tours from Texas to Maine each year with a repertory of three plays. Founded in 1988 as Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, the organization became the American Shakespeare Center in 2005 and can be found online at www.americanshakespearecenter.com.

University of the Ozarks conferred degrees upon 24 graduating seniors during the 2019 Fall Commencement, held Saturday, Dec. 14, in Munger-Wilson Chapel.

Dr. Angela Wheeler Spencer, a 1998 U of O alumna and an accounting professor at Oklahoma State University, served as the keynote speaker. Dr. Jim Bruning, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, also commended the graduates on earning their diplomas.

Janae Williams, an environmental studies major from the Bahamas, gave the students’ welcome address and classmate Micaela Winters, a psychology major from Fort Smith, Ark., provided the scripture reading.

The Fall 2019 graduates were:

Bailey Sierra Albertson
Shell Knob, MO
BS, Marketing

Shelby Lynn Bosken
Valley Center, KS
BA, Art
Magna Cum Laude

Lillian Marie Bostic
Rogers, AR
BA, Art

Johnathan Scott Bowen
Hartman, AR
BS, Political Science

Madison Carol Chaney
Sikeston, MO
BS, Health Science

Fielder Thomas Dufrene
Clinton, AR
BS, Physical Education

Monica Flores
Clarksville, AR
BS, Health Science
Summa Cum Laude

William Merrem Forbes
Houston, TX
BS, Mathematics

Brittany Alexis Holt
Mansfield, Texas
BS, Biology
Cum Laude

Jordan Alexander King
Moore, OK
Bachelor of General Studies

Rebecca Anne McCarron
Covington, LA
BS, Health Science
Magna Cum Laude

Alec Daniel Mertin
New Blaine, AR
BS, Mathematics
Summa Cum Laude

Jaret Kyle Milligan
Hillsboro, AL
BS, Health Science

Abigail Rae Mork
Aurora, CO
BS, Chemistry

Siaygnoun Somphone Nhamnhouane
Van Buren, AR
BS, Health Science

Cecilia Marie Pearson
Clarksville, AR
BA, Communication Studies

Aaron Elliott Smith
Bentonville, AR
BS, Health Science

Taylor Antionette Snellback
Lonsdale AR.
BA, English

Manuel Tambriz Sac
Aldea Palacal, Solola, Guatemala.
BS, Management, International Business
Magna Cum Laude

Amber Lennex Taylor
Tulsa, OK
BS, Business Administration

Jacob Austin Toland
Little Rock, AR
BS, Health Science

Cody Lane Walters
Rogers, AR
Bachelor of General Studies

Janae Danielle Williams
Nassau, Bahamas
BS, Environmental Studies
Magna Cum Laude

Micaela Elizabeth Winters
Fort Smith, AR
BS, Psychology

University of the Ozarks senior art major Kirsten Endicott of Rogers, Ark., will present her Senior Exhibit, “Patchwork Through Time,” from Nov. 24 through Dec. 4 in the Stephens Gallery.

There will be a reception to meet the artist from 6-7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2. Endicott will also present an artist talk from 2-3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8, in Baldor Auditorium.

Endicott said “Patchwork Through Time,” is a tribute to her late grandmother, who first introduced her to the world of quilting and art.

“The warm memories that I have of my grandmother before she passed away from cancer are ones that I will keep in my heart for the rest of my life, such as re-painting a garden bench, going around neighborhoods looking at other people’s houses decorated with Christmas lights, and helping her do little things like re-filling the bird feeder outside her dining room window,” Endicott said. “I even remember the time when my sister and I made a few quilts with our grandmother from old denim jeans and cotton fabric. Since gardening and quilting were my grandmother’s favorite hobbies, I wanted to put those two things together in one huge scene, as seen in ‘Bench in Grandmother’s Garden.’ I wanted to challenge myself with a different quilter’s skill in each of these cotton fabric pieces.”

Endicott said she uses numerous quilting skills and tools in manufacturing her quilts.

“For the smaller quilts, I use a needle and thread to hand-sew them together, but for the larger quilts I would apply fabric with my sewing machine,” she said. “I was inspired to give hand-sewing a try and challenge myself to this new way of making these masterpieces. I also incorporate found objects such as dolls' clothes, buttons and different styles of beads onto the quilt in order to give dimension, instead of being flat like other traditional quilts.”

Many of Endicott’s quilts utilize the skill of appliqué, a method of sewing a piece of fabric to another larger piece of fabric.

“Appliqué gives me the option of using organic shapes rather than using geometric shapes throughout the entire quilt,” she said. “Another technique I used to make some of my quilts is to take some old photos I found and print them onto a special fabric paper. In ‘A Birdwatchers’ View,’ I used applique on the birds, feeders, and the tree leaves. After cutting out all the necessary pieces, I then used basting spray in order for the fabric to stay in place while I ran it through the sewing machine. If the applied fabric moved even a little, then it would be very difficult to fix without accidentally tearing the fabric.”

Endicott said some of her larger quilts took several weeks to make.

“The ones that I make by just using a needle and thread sometimes takes me only around five days, so not as long as making one huge quilt,” she said. “The one important thing that I keep in mind, while sewing, is to ask myself, ‘why am I making this quilt? What purpose does it serve or who will it benefit?’ Mostly, I have been making quilts based on memories of important events and the people I love.”

Following graduation, Endicott plans to return to Northwest Arkansas and pursue a career in teaching art.

University of the Ozarks senior art major Willow Stratton of Fayetteville, Ark., will showcase her Senior Art Exhibit, titled, “Flock Life,” from Nov. 18-23 in the Stephens Gallery.

Willow, who is minoring in education and psychology, will present an artist talk at 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, in Baldor Auditorium. There will be a reception to meet the artist at 5 p.m. on Nov. 23 in the gallery, which is located in the Walton Fine Arts Center.

In her exhibit, “Flock Life,” Stratton honors her life-long attraction to birds.

“Most of my childhood was spent watching the birds and wishing for the ability to fly,” she said. “Now, birds are the main focus of the works due to my natural draw towards them. Each bird that I depict has a meaning, some from Celtic, European and Native American cultures. In each culture, items have different significance, occasionally sharing similar symbols. The cultures and symbols I am inspired by connect to my family lineage, making the works more personal to me.”

Stratton said each bird in her artwork represents a person in her life.

Wilow Stratton artwork“For example, the hummingbird represents my mother,” she said. “A hummingbird symbolizes endless insight and wisdom, and it seeks out the good and beauty in life. My mother, to me, has endless knowledge about the world and she is always the person I reach out to for problems. In addition to the bird totems, the drawings include items that represent each person, whether it is something they like or something in their possession. Each symbol and bird is researched and noted so that the imagery will represent the person before I start the piece.”

Stratton said that in Native American culture, the yellow cactus flower represents motherhood and unconditional love. 

“The Native Americans described the yellow flower as symbolizing patience and endurance,” she said. “My mother forever acts maternal towards me; taking care of me when I am sick or giving me motherly advice. The hummingbird and flower together represents her infinite patience and love for her children, resulting in its name, ‘Infinite Infinity.’ After the imagery is determined, sketches are created to plan a layout that includes their personality through cultural symbols and objects.  Colored pencils are used to form the bird while an array of mixed media are used to create the background.  The bird is drawn separately and then meticulously cut out and attached to the background. Other pieces are cut out and collaged in.”

Stratton said that not all of her artworks in “Flock Life” represent a positive relationship.

“One of the pieces, ‘You Ran Over Me,’ presents a dead owl, symbolizing the destruction this person caused on my life and self-esteem,” she said. “The background embodies the feeling of slowly being consumed by the feeling of dread and hopelessness, which ended up being a healing experience. The pieces will represent the positive and negative relationships in my life, some past and some present.”

The University of the Ozarks Theatre will host the Arkansas Festival of the 2019 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region 6 on Nov. 14-16.

University Theatre will present its production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, in the Walton Fine Arts Center’s Seay Theatre.  

In addition, the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (UAFS) theatre program will present “Ghost Sonata” at 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, and “Side Man” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, in the Seay Theatre.

The Arkansas Festival will also include forums, workshops and an awards ceremony on Saturday.

The University of the Ozarks Theatre is vying to get its production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” selected for the Region 6 2020 Regional Festival, scheduled for Abilene, Texas, in February. A total of five productions will be selected for the regionals from the five-state region, which includes collegiate programs in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a national organization that exists to celebrate the educational and creative process of university and college theatre. KCACTF promotes professional standards and provides students and faculty with opportunities to bridge the academic and professional worlds.

University of the Ozarks will welcome a record 40 businesses, organizations and graduate schools to campus on Thursday, Nov. 14, for the University’s annual Career Fair.

The Career Fair, which will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Rogers Conference Center, is an opportunity for University students to connect with local, state and international businesses and organizations as well as graduate and professional schools.

Ruth Walton, director of career services, said she estimates that more than 250 students will attend the event.

“I am excited that we reached our goal of 40 organizations and businesses to attend our annual Career Fair,” Walton said. “It is refreshing to experience so many companies understanding how important it is to have a presence at a university career fair.  Not only is it a cost effective way to recruit; it is building and fostering a collaborative partnership. We are a small, yet, mighty school.  As our University grows its enrollment, companies and graduate schools can depend on University of the Ozarks to provide them with top candidates for their programs.”

U of O students are encouraged to dress in interview attire and bring their resumes to the event.

The University of the Ozarks will present a pair of family-friendly events for the local community during the week of Halloween.

The music department will present the 19th annual All Hallows’ Eve Concert on Monday, Oct. 28, in Munger-Wilson Memorial Chapel. In addition, the Office of Student Affairs will sponsor a Trunk-or-Treat event from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31.

The concert begins at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Audience members are encouraged to come in costume.

The All Hallows’ Eve Concert is traditionally one of the University’s most popular musical events of the year and will feature music by the U of O music ensembles, under the leadership of choral director Dr. Jonathan Ledger, as well as by Walton Professor of Music and University organist Dr. Sharon Gorman. Bethany Walker will serve as collaborative pianist and Dr. David Strain, professor of English and classics, will be the event’s narrator.

Gorman will present organ music that will include the traditional Toccata in D minor of J. S. Bach, as well as selections from Harry Potter, Hocus Pocus, The Phantom of the Opera, Jurassic Park and other popular movies.

Presented by the University’s Eagle Productions and Residential Life, Trunk-or-Treat will be held in the parking lot of the Walton Fine Arts Center. Children are encouraged to dress in costume and candy will be handed out by U of O students and employees.

For more information on these events, please contact the Office of Public Relations at 979-1433.

Clarksville Mayor David Rieder and Johnson County Judge Herman Houston joined University President Richard Dunsworth and alumna Lisa Gruben-Inness in a proclamation signing event declaring October 14-20 as University of the Ozarks 2019 Homecoming Week throughout the city and county.

The proclamation signing took place on Oct. 14 in front of the Johnson County Courthouse and was part of a pep rally that included more than 100 students from the University. Following the pep rally, many of the students decorated downtown businesses with University signs and decals in a Paint the Town Purple event.

Houston is a 1973 graduate of U of O and Gruben-Inness is a 1993 graduate of the University.

Homecoming 2019 will include a variety of events and reunions. For a complete schedule, please visit www.ozarks.edu/homecoming.

By Jake Sawyer

Fourteen years ago, University of the Ozarks English Professor David Strain had an idea only a mad poetry scientist could cook up. Strain and his fellow English professors were looking for a way to boost submissions to the department’s annual Falstaff literary magazine when inspiration struck from an unlikely source: the reality TV show Project Runway. That epiphany would eventually become the annual Project Poet competition, which is currently enjoying its 14th season as a cornerstone of Ozarks campus life.

No one has seen the impact of Project Poet more than English Professor Brian Hardman, who served as the host for nine seasons of the event, more than any other host.

“I was interested from the start because of how unique the event was, and I loved the idea of giving students across campus a creative space to push themselves and to share their voices,” Hardman remembers.

Project Poet’s run at Ozarks has seen a number of transformations on campus and has changed itself along the way.

“The event has moved locations several times, which has allowed it to grow and evolve. The show is also more sophisticated in its use of atmosphere and production quality, and the talent has increased year after year,” Hardman says. “I hope it continues to grow and evolve, and I hope that it continues as a powerful venue for students to express their talents, voices, and experiences.”

Though the venue and atmosphere may have changed over the years, the competition itself is essentially the same. Each fall semester, one member of the English department sends out a poetry challenge to the campus community, and the students who enter must submit an original poem that meets the challenge, which may vary from a poetic self-portrait to a sonnet or haiku. There are five separate challenges over the five-week competition, and the poets must write a new poem for each challenge.

The poets themselves come to Project Poet from all walks of campus life and for all sorts of reasons. Some, such as Jarret Bain, a junior psychology major from Nassau, Bahamas, enter Project Poet as a way to get out of their comfort zone. “I didn’t expect to get very far, but whether or not I made it far, I was in it for the experience,” Bain explains.

For Bekah Moore, a senior biology major from Alma, AR, what was initially an extra credit opportunity quickly became a new passion. Though Moore’s high school had largely treated poetry as “a necessity that students and teachers alike were more than willing to cross off of their to-do list,” she was blown away by the inclusive artistic community she found at Ozarks through Project Poet. “The reverence this campus has for the arts, and its various forms, will always amaze me,” Moore says.

Both Bain and Moore placed among last year’s five finalists, and their diverse backgrounds and motivations are not unusual in the competition.

“Project Poet draws students from across campus and from all disciplines,” Hardman says. “It really says something that, as often as not, English majors aren't the ones who always win the crown of Poet Laureate of the Spadra Valley.”

Entering a poem for the challenge is only the beginning though. After writing their original poem, the poets must perform it before an audience of their peers and a panel of three faculty judges, all of whom vote for their favorite poems. For most contestants, this performance is the most stressful component of the competition. On the night of Project Poet, many of the poets arrive early to Munger-Wilson Chapel, pacing the flagstones of the chapel plaza or rehearsing their poem one last time. Then there is nothing to do but watch the trickle into the room until the host pulls a name from a faded tweed cap: “Next up, welcome to the mic”— and the applause roars.

The stress is real too. As the Project Poet motto goes, “In poetry, one day you’re a bestseller, and the next you’re out of print.” Each week’s challenge ratchets up the difficulty to a new level, and each week a few of the poets “go out of print.”

This season’s contestant pool has narrowed to the five poets who survived the semifinal round, or “Winter Formal,” which is arguably the most difficult round, as it requires the poets to compose in strict poet forms such as a sonnet or villanelle. The five who “stayed in print” qualified for the Project Poet Finale during Homecoming Weekend. There they will vie for the title of Poet Laureate of the Spadra Valley, as well as the $1,000 cash prize that comes with it.

Despite the high stakes involved, for most contestants Project Poet is as much about collaboration and personal expression with other poets as it is about competition.

“Every time I come into this project, it’s with the mindset that I am able to share parts of my unique human experience through a healthy platform that encourages creative thinking and honest expression. The fact that I get to participate for one week, or three, or five makes no difference,” Moore explains. “I consider myself extremely lucky to have stood beside such a unique and admirable set of poets.”

Bain seconds her opinion. “I’m honestly not a huge fan of competition,” he says, “but being able to go up against other talented poets has been an enlightening experience.”

For Bain, the moments before he steps to the mic are often ones of humility. “I usually think about how great everyone else is, and that if I lost then I deserved it because everyone else has worked hard to earn their spot.”

If the past years of Project Poet have proven nothing else, it is that no one can predict who will end up with the Poet Laureate crown, and if asked, the current poets will agree. One thing is certain though: they will be at the final round on October 19th, either to perform their own work or to support their friends. As Moore sums up, “One thing Project Poet never fails to do is surprise me. Participating or not, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

(Editor’s Note: The Project Poet Finale will take place in the Robson Library rotunda at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, during Homecoming Weekend and is open to all students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni. The five finalists are, Jarret Bain, Lily Marlow, Bekah Moore, Chava Roberts and Maddy Windel.)