Print in the Public Sphere : a conversation with artists Swoon and Jordan Seiler

Thursday, April 8, 6 pm
Tyler School of Art, B004
12th and Norris Streets, Lower Level South
Free and open to the Public

What does it mean to take art out of gallery spaces and embed creativity in public spaces? Independent curator Sheryl Conkelton will talk with artists Swoon and Jordan Seiler about their artwork and its placement beyond the gallery. The discssion is part of an ongoing series of events connected to  Philagrafika 2010: The Graphic Unconscious; a four month city-wide exhibit focused on print in the public sphere, issues of accessibility, collaboration  and audience.

Both Swoon and Seiler make public space their canvas. Seiler, who lives and works in New York, is inspired by his surroundings and public spaces. He  founded the Public Ad Campaign, which acts on the assumption that public space and the public’s interaction with that space is a vital component of a city’s health. By visually altering and physically interacting with the public environment, residents become psychologically invested in their community.

Swoon, who also lives and works in New York, creates  life-size, wheat-pasted prints of people, architecture, and motifs. Her recent collaborative projects include the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea and Miss Rockaway Armada, and she has exhibited her prints and installations internationally, including at the Yerba Buena Center, Brooklyn Museum of Art, P.S. 1, and the Museum of Modern Art.

– Jazmyn Burton

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Research from Temple University’s Department of Criminal Justice was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog Percolator. Temple’s study, conducted in collaboration with the Philadelphia Police Department, showed that foot patrols reduced violent crime by 22 percent in some of the city’s most dangerous locations. According to researchers, even after accounting for displacement, there were 50 fewer violent crimes last summer in Philadelphia than there would have been without the foot patrols.

One thing that makes Temple’s study so unique, according to lead researcher Jerry Ratcliffe, is the level of collaboration with the police department. Temple’s graduate student/ researchers actually walked the beats with the officers for the study, which involved over 200 police officers.

Their findings may spark a revision in a long-held view of foot patrol–that it makes people feel good but doesn’t actually prevent crime.

To summarize, first professor Ratcliffe and his research team analyzed and mapped out the most violent street corners to identify the areas in greatest need of intervention.

Next foot patrols walked their beats for a three month period and the team then analyzed the crime rates. What they found–a 22 percent reduction in violent crime–shows that walking the beat works.

During the first phase of the project, researchers accompanied police on their beats. Now, in phase two, researchers are conducting interviews with officers to determined what types of interventions were most effective. For example, some officers engaged in considerable community-oriented work, speaking to community members and visiting child care centers and juvenile hangouts, while others were more crime oriented, stopping vehicles and conducting field interviews of pedestrians.

Here’s the research brief.

–Kim Fischer



In a recent article published in Ergonomics Today Judith Gold, professor of Epidemiology at the College of Health Professions and Social Work at Temple University, explains that young adults who spend enough time to acquire such dexterity might be laying ground for overuse injuries.

The warning from Dr. Gold, who directs the Ergonomics and Work Physiology Laboratory in the college and whose primary focus is work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), could fall on deaf ears: She notes that individuals aged 18-21 prefer texting over e-mail or phone calls.

The reasons are easy to explain. Texting appears to be the easiest way to stay connected for a generation that attaches great value to connectedness. And it’s relatively inexpensive. According to UPI, the 13-year-old’s 14,528 text messages generated only an extra $5 over the family’s unlimited calling plan.

For the complete article visit ErgoWeb.com

Professor Samuel R. Delany talks to Locus; the magazine of the science fiction and fantasy field, about the comforts of capitalism, High Modernism and the future of fiction.

Samuel Delany, English professor and Director of the Graduate Creative Writing Program at Temple University, is featured in March edition of Locus.

“When I talk to people with MFAs who are now working as editors for literary publishers, they say, ‘What we learned in college is a kind of writing that our current bosses do not want to let in the door.’ They want nothing to do with ‘good writing.’ These are places like Random House; Harcourt Brace; Knopf; and Farrar, Straus & Giroux, who are the epitomes of literary publishing in this country, yet they’re willing to say, ‘I’m sorry. That’s not what we’re interested in anymore. We have a couple of slots a year for novels like that.’

“This is not a healthy situation for writing in general. It’s not healthy for science fiction, not healthy for anyone. I think we have five publishers left in New York, and 25 years ago there were 79! So when we’re talking about ‘commercial’ versus ‘art’ publishing, we’re using a leftover vocabulary. We’re still looking at the world through 1955-colored glasses.”

For more excerpts from the article visit Locust Online

-Jazmyn Burton


Many of us know Our Bodies, Ourselves simply as a popular series of handy guides to women’s health. But, in fact, the book is credited with revolutionizing the way women think about their bodies and with transforming the doctor-patient relationship.

According to Temple English Professor Sue Wells, the text established an entirely new way of talking about the female body and the scientific and medical disciplines that attend to it. Wells explores the development of this new discourse in her book, Our Bodies, Ourselves and the Work of Writing (Stanford University Press, 2010).

First published in 1973, OBOS grew out of a small discussion group on “women and their bodies” in 1969 Boston and by 1999 had sold more than 4 million copies, been translated into 29 languages and generated numerous related projects.

For her research, Wells interviewed  the writers and pored over 200 cardboard boxes of archives from the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective–the group formed to write OBOS–noting the doodles on their notes and the menu for their potluck on the margins of the meeting minutes.

According to Wells, one source of the book’s power was its tone. “Women did not respond to the book because it gave clear information about what it called ‘venereal disease,’ but because it presented sexually transmitted diseases matter-of-factly, as a part of sexual life, and because the chapter’s critique of failures in the public health system was provocative, connecting a woman’s struggle to find dignified treatment with broader social forces.”

For more: English professor studies landmark book on women’s health

–Kim Fischer

Peter d’Agostino's experiment in film and media art turned into a 40-year record of the changes that the planet

For School of Communications and Theater professor Peter d’Agostino, what started as an experiment in film and media art turned into a 40-year record of the changes that the planet has undergone due to climate change and erosion.

More than 40 years ago, after watching the Apollo 11 astronauts take their first steps on the moon, the filmmaker and media installation artist was inspired to use his camera to record city environments in San Francisco.

Although he didn’t realize it at the time, the resulting work would provide a springboard for his “World Wide Walks” series, an interactive installation of video digests recorded in cultural spaces and natural habitats on five continents since 1973. The series includes footage from d’Agostino’s recent travels through India and parts of Canada and Europe, where he visited the same environments over a period of years and visually documented how climate change has affected the landscape over time.

Now D’Agostino has received a Lovely Weather: Art and Climate Leonardo Project award to produce a new World Wide Walk video and web installation focused on global climate change. A collaboration with cultural researcher Deirdre Dowdakin and Muhlenberg College Media and Communication professor David Tafler, the project combines visual art with science to explore a range of natural, cultural and virtual issues regarding climate change.

A public art exhibition is scheduled to open at the Regional Cultural Center, Letterkenny, Ireland in November.

“Generally speaking, humans are very interested in the weather, but have less interest in the weather we make,” said d’Agostino. “We live in a close relationship with climate phenomena, but our intimate ‘weather report’ is not sufficiently developed to create the changes that may be necessary to avoid the potentially catastrophic effects of global warming.”

For more information on d’Agostino’s work visit http://www.peterdagostino.net/

– Jazmyn Burton

Roberta Sloan prepares to present her one-woman show on Benjamin Franklin’s feisty wife, Deborah

Roberta Sloan, a first-generation American whose father emigrated from Russia, has always had a love for history, particularly the history of Colonial

Roberta Sloan, chair of the theater departments at Temple University, recreates the life of Deborah Franklin in her one woman show.

America. Her interests in the historical beginnings of America coupled with her experience on the cusp of the women’s movement in the 1970s led her to pursue the little-known story behind the life of Benhamin Franklin’s dynamic wife, Deborah Franklin.

“The more research we did, the more interested and excited I became about discovering that Deborah Franklin was, indeed, the woman behind the man — a feisty, opinionated, capable businesswoman, who was a respected citizen of Philadelphia,” said Sloan.” I came to believe that Benjamin Franklin could not have become the famous Benjamin Franklin we recognize today without Deborah Franklin. So I was determined to tell her story.”

Temple Times talked with Sloan about her new production, First Lady of Philadelphia: The Life and Times of Deborah Franklin, which stages March 31 through April 11 at Temple’s Randall Theater.

Portrait of Deborah Franklin, First Lady of Phialdelphia

Probably one that comes from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. It describes when he first met Deborah. He was a runaway from an apprenticeship to his brother, a Boston printer, and supposedly, he had no money in his pocket when he arrived in Philadelphia. Hungry, with his last few pence, he bought three loaves of bread, which he carried under his arms. This is how Deborah first met him. It was a meeting that would change both their lives.

Where there any unexpected findings as you began to put the pieces of Deborah’s story together?
One really synergistic aspect of the piece that took me completely by surprise is that Professor Terry Halbert’s husband Bill is a direct descendant of the Franklins. It is because of him that we have permission to use the very famous portrait of Deborah Franklin on our posters and programs. Now how incredible is that! By the way, some people have told me that Deborah Franklin and I look alike. I do think that there is a resemblance.

What was the most challenging aspect of bringing her story to life?

The most challenging aspect, I believe, is the one ahead — the actual acting of the play. One-woman shows are very challenging to learn and present. You only have yourself up there on stage to depend upon, and you want to make the play amusing, sad, interesting, entertaining and always engaging. I want to do justice to the person whose life I am portraying, Deborah Franklin. To my mind, she has a story to be told. As she says in the play, “My story has mystery and majesty like his…” I hope to be able to share that story with the audience.

How will Deborah Franklin’s story appeal to a modern audience?

Some characters are universal. I believe Deborah Franklin to be one of them. Here is a woman who lived in a different time, and yet she faced some of the same challenges that women today face. Her story is the untold story of the wife of one of the most famous of all Americans.
Are their plans to stage this piece outside of Temple?

Yes, there has already been a lot of interest about staging the play elsewhere. As they say in theatrical terms, this play seems to have “legs.” I am already scheduled to present it at Ursinus College in the fall. Cape May Stage and Hedgerow Theater, two professional theatrical venues, are interested in me presenting it at their theaters. Historic Philadelphia, the organization that presents all of the historical figures and storytellers in Old City every spring through fall, is very interested in the play. I think there will be a lot of added interest because the character is a Philadelphian and such a great part of the history of our city.

For information on show times and dates visit Temple Theaters on the web.

– Jazmyn Burton