Monthly Archives: October 2018

Southern sculpture students have collaborated on “Silence the Violence,” a three-dimensional work referencing the national debate about 3D printed guns. Their socially engaged work is being presented in the #Unload: Pick Up the Pieces exhibition at The Ely Center for Contemporary Art in New Haven.

The work encompasses a human-shaped target with circular vignettes representing the different viewpoints of each of the artists. Each vignette becomes a point on the target that can be interpreted as either a bullet hole or as a lens detailing the student’s personal thoughts, feelings, and opinions about guns.

The individual vignettes are constructed as 3D prints to serve as a formal reference to the 3D printed gun debate. Guided by Professor Art Rachael Vaters-Carr, Southern’s student collaborators include: Karen Daye, Evan DiGiovanni, Danielle Fleuriot, Tyãnna Garner, Sammi Huang, Tyler Kopeck, Isabelle Louime, Duke Pierre, Amber Pindulic, and Jenna Reeser.

#Unload: Pick Up the Pieces, which runs through November 11, is an unjuried, inclusive, community-driven exhibition that explores issues surrounding gun control laws and the impact of guns on society. The exhibition aims to raise questions regarding violence, safety, gender, equality, and the influence of media on violence and mental health stigmas.

Artists from diverse backgrounds and working across media have created material-driven and conceptually-charged works either from decommissioned gun parts from a Hartford buy-back program or works inspired by the theme. The artworks reflect society’s divided attitudes towards gun control, gun safety, gun reform, the Constitutional right to bear arms, as well as recent events relating to gun use, ownership, safety, and violence.

The exhibition is a highlight of Artspace New Haven’s 21st annual City-Wide Open Studios festival  complemented by artist talks, panel discussions, presentations by political candidates and other community notables, and a voters’ registration table leading up to November 6 mid-term elections.

 

Doris Kearns Goodwin is a world-renowned presidential historian, public speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning, New York Times #1 best-selling author. She will talk about her newest book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, at the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, November 3, at 7 p.m. Purchase tickets.

Her seventh book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, published in September 2018 by Simon & Schuster, is the culmination of Goodwin’s five-decade career of studying the American presidents. The book delivers an illuminating exploration into the early development, growth, and exercise of leadership as exemplified by Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. It provides an accessible and essential road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field and for all of us in our everyday lives.

Goodwin’s career as a presidential historian and author was inspired when as a 24-year-old graduate student at Harvard she was selected to join the White House Fellows, one of America’s most prestigious programs for leadership and public service. At the White House celebration of the newly chosen Fellows, she found herself sharing the dance floor with President Johnson. He told her he wanted her to be assigned directly to him in the White House. But it was not to be that simple. For like many young people, she had been active in the anti-Vietnam War movement and had co-authored an article that called for the removal of LBJ, published in the New Republic several days after the White House dance. Despite this, LBJ said: “Bring her down here for a year and if I can’t win her over no one can.” Goodwin worked with Johnson in the White House and later assisted him in the writing of his memoirs.

She then wrote Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, which became a national bestseller and achieved critical acclaim. It will be re-released in spring 2019, highlighting LBJ’s accomplishments in domestic affairs that have stood the test of time: The three historic Civil Rights bills that he steered through Congress—ending segregation in the South, providing the precious right to vote to African Americans, and Fair Housing—changed the face of our country, as did the host of bipartisan landmark bills that comprised the Great Society—including Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, PBS, NPR, federal aid to education and immigration reform.

Goodwin followed with No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. She also authored a bestselling memoir Wait Till Next Year and The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, which was adapted into an award-winning five-part TV miniseries.

Her last book was the critically acclaimed and The New York Times bestselling The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism (November 2013). Winner of the Carnegie Medal, The Bully Pulpit is a dynamic history of the first decade of the Progressive era, that tumultuous time when the nation was coming unseamed and reform was in the air. Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners has acquired the film and television rights to the book.

Spielberg and Goodwin previously worked together on Lincoln, based in part on Goodwin’s award-winning Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, an epic work that illuminates Lincoln’s political genius, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president. Team of Rivals was awarded the prestigious Lincoln Prize, the inaugural Book Prize for American History, and Goodwin in 2016 was the first historian to receive the Lincoln Leadership Prize from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.

The film Lincoln grossed $275 million at the box office and earned 12 Academy Award® nominations, including an Academy Award for actor Daniel Day-Lewis for his portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln.

Well known for her appearances and commentary on television, Goodwin is seen frequently on all the major television and cable networks and shows including Meet the Press and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Most recently she played herself as a teacher to Lisa Simpson on The Simpsons and a historian on American Horror Story.

Goodwin has served as a consultant and has been interviewed extensively for PBS and HISTORY’s documentaries on Presidents Johnson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, the Kennedy family, and on Ken Burns’ The History of Baseball and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. She served as a consultant on HBO Films’ All the Way starring Bryan Cranston as President Johnson.

Goodwin graduated magna cum laude from Colby College. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in government from Harvard University, where she taught government, including a course on the American Presidency.

Among her many honors and awards, Goodwin was awarded the Charles Frankel Prize, given by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Sarah Josepha Hale Medal, the New England Book Award, as well as the Carl Sandburg Literary Award.

Goodwin lives in Concord, Massachusetts. She was the first woman to enter the Boston Red Sox locker room, and is a devoted fan of the World Series-winning team.

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In the heart of New Haven, two Southern graduates are lifting up their community through separate organizations — both dedicated to the greater good.

Once labeled a "difficult' high school student, Adam Christoferson, '10, now uses his talent to help others through Musical Intervention, the New Haven-based nonprofit organization he founded.

During the worst days of his childhood, Adam Christoferson, ’10, turned to music as both his anchor and escape hatch. As a kid, he recalls living with his mom, who had schizophrenia, in a rent-subsidized apartment on Rock Street in New Haven, on the edge of one of the city’s roughest neighborhoods. His father, a Vietnam veteran, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. When his mother’s illness progressed, Christoferson spent time in foster care and eventually moved in with his grandmother.

Music became a lifeline. Coming from a musical family — his uncle is New Haven-born singer-songwriter Michael Bolton — Christoferson learned to play drums as an 8 year old and later took up several other instruments. “It was my expression. It was the way I communicated in the world,” says Christoferson, now 34. “When there was absolute chaos all around, music kept me together and kept me healthy. It kept me, me.”

“I wanted my life to contribute more than a job.” — Erik Clemons, ’04, CEO and president of ConnCAT
Erik Clemons, ’04, grew up poor in Norwalk, Conn. By the time he was a teenager, his father had disappeared and his family moved to Stamford, where he shared a cramped, one-room apartment with his mother and three siblings. In the next few years, the family moved a lot. Clemons bounced from school to school — a different one for each year of high school — and the instability was reflected in his grades.

In spite of those experiences, both men persevered. Today they are each successful social justice entrepreneurs in the Elm City, running organizations that help people, including many facing extremely difficult life challenges. Clemons, 52, helms the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT), a nonprofit that provides after-school arts programming for at-risk youth and job training for unemployed and underemployed adults in the health and culinary fields.

Christoferson, meanwhile, shares the therapeutic power of music with New Haven’s homeless and recovery population through Musical Intervention, a drug and alcohol-free space in a downtown storefront on Temple Street, where people can write, record, and perform their own music. He is now working to expand the concept nationally.

Both men say Southern played a big role in their success, citing mentors who recognized their potential and steered them toward life-changing internships. “What happened to me at Southern is that I found out I had some ability. I had some competence,” says Clemons. “There were just some incredible people who left an indelible mark on me.”

Erik Clemons, ’04, CEO and president of ConnCAT

Following the call
Clemons says his upbringing left him ill-prepared for college, so after high school, he worked various jobs to support himself before landing a position as a mail sorter at the U.S. Postal Service in Stamford. Married and raising four girls, he’d stay there for 16 years, but always had bigger dreams. “I wanted my life to contribute to something greater than a job,” says Clemons.

After 12 years at the post office, he decided to follow his calling. He enrolled at Southern as a full-time sociology major, driving to New Haven for classes after work and returning home at night so he could be back at the post office for his 6 a.m. shift.Knowing his desire to work with young people of color, Shirley Jackson, a former Southern sociology professor who was also Clemons’ adviser, recommended him for an internship at the youth-development organization LEAP (Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership) — where he would eventually rise to become a board member and then Connecticut executive director.

In 2009, his work at LEAP caught the attention of Carlton Highsmith, a retired New Haven businessman who was trying to replicate an acclaimed New Hampshire job training program in the Elm City.Highsmith asked Clemons if he would help him build and run the program. Clemons said yes, and in 2011, he became ConnCAT’s founding chief executive officer. The nonprofit began with the after-school program and adult courses in phlebotomy and medical billing and coding, and has since added a culinary program, a student-run restaurant, and a high school entrepreneurship camp. Southern hosted the camp in July. In January, ConnCAT scored a $1 million grant from KeyBank to further grow the program.

Asked about his favorite success story, Clemons points to two of his adult students, one in phlebotomy and another in medical billing and coding, who now are teachers in the program.“It’s not just about job training. It’s about how can we get people to see that there are possibilities beyond the conditions they see. That’s kind of the story of my life as well,” he says. “I never thought about being a CEO or founding CEO of anything,”adds Clemons. “I was able to do some really amazing things because people noticed me. That’s it.”

Adam Christoferson, ’10, founder of Musical Intervention

‘He gave me a shot’
On paper, Christoferson says he didn’t appear to be “college material” either. Branded a difficult student” and channeled into special education, he knew his GPA and test scores couldn’t get him into Southern. So he pleaded his case to Richard Farricielli, then the interim vice president for student and university affairs. Christoferson told him about a teen center he was trying to launch in East Haven and how he wanted to one day do something that would change the world.”

“He gave me a shot,” recalls Christoferson, who was granted conditional admission. Once on campus Christoferson immersed himself in student life, becoming a resident adviser, joining student government, and starting an Ultimate Frisbee team. But a few years in, he lost his way. He took time off to live in Hawaii. He fell into depression. “I was reading Deepak Chopra and trying to get my life together. I really didn’t know what my path was,” he says.

Eventually he returned to Southern, still unsure about his future, until he accidentally stumbled on a link for information on recreation and leisure studies while registering for classes. (Today, it’s the Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management.) “I just clicked on it and it opened up all these key courses that were, basically, what I’m all about,” he says. He decided to pursue recreation therapy and began to excel academically.

His adviser, James MacGregor, now chair of the department, set him up with an internship at Yale New Haven Children’s Psychiatric Inpatient Service unit, where he was later hired as a recreation therapist, a job that sowed the seeds for Musical Intervention. His first week there, Christoferson noticed a girl drawing a picture of someone singing. “I asked her if she wanted to make music with me,” he recalls. His supervisor gave him permission to bring some recording equipment onto the unit.

“And it was a hit,” Christoferson says. “This girl completely transformed, being able to make music and record it.” His work was later featured in the World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Christoferson would be invited to speak at international symposiums. In 2015, he won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to work with the homeless population.

The following year he opened Musical Intervention, where he continues to see miraculous transformations through music. “There are people who have been homeless for such a long time, they haven’t had a guitar to play. That’s what we provide. There are people who are in crisis with drugs or mental illness and they let [music] go years ago and missed it,” Christoferson says. “While they’re in treatment, they’re able to come to us and regain all of that passion and creativity that was lost.” ■