Arts & Humanities

USU's Communitas Brings Artists, Designers, Scholars to Logan Campus for Fall 2023

By Steve Kent |

"The Final Ascent" by Ann Cunningham portrays Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to summit Mount Everest, standing on the mountain's south summit. Cunningham, who creates tactile illustrations for blind audiences, will speak at USU on Oct. 12. (Photo Credit: Ann Cunningham)

Utah State University's Communitas lecture series returns for the Fall 2023 semester with another batch of artists, designers and scholars whose work promotes diversity, equity and togetherness.

Art History Professor Laura Gelfand, series coordinator, says this semester's lectures will start off strong with the "phenomenal" work of Sasha Su-Ling Welland, the Chair of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington.

"She's doing this work on toxic waste grounds and artistic responses to that — which for me as someone who's a native Utahn is really exciting, because I count as a down-winder, as do lots of people who are my age, from all of the testing in the West Desert," Gelfand says.

Communitas is presented by the Department of Art + Design in the Caine College of the Arts. Lectures are free and open to the public but also offered to USU students for credit.

"Communitas has been one of the most unique and enriching courses that I have taken," USU art history major Radeyah Kaplan said. "The speakers are always engaging, and the stories they tell still manage to be applicable to the lives of the modern art student. We've heard from a variety of perspectives, including a photographer who spoke of her battle with M.S., and an Irani artist who shared her struggles assimilating to America. I have left every seminar with a page or two full of invaluable advice."

Each lecture will be from 5-6 p.m. in the Russell-Wanlass Performance Hall on USU's Logan campus.

Sept. 21: Sasha Su-Ling Welland

Sasha Su-Ling Welland will present her current research, which focuses on the themes of embodied ecologies, nuclear colonialism, racial capitalism and "the Anthropocene production of everyday carcinogenic relationships" in her hometown of St. Louis.

Oct. 12: Ann Cunningham

Sculptor Ann Cunningham creates low-relief slate pictures dedicated to making information about the world more accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired.

Oct. 19: Arlene Goldbard

Arlene Goldbard is a visual artist and the author of In the Camp of Angels Freedom and The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists & The Future. She focuses on the intersection of culture, politics and spirituality.

Oct. 26: Ala Hason

Ala Hason, office director of HKS Dubai, works with clients to discover ways that architecture can help them achieve their goals. He defines a successful project as one that is influenced by local context and heritage, and he brings a global perspective and expertise in urban design to his work.

Nov. 16: Brooks Oliver

Ceramic artist Brooks Oliver aims to reimagine and reinterpret the familiar functional vessel.

"My work inherently blurs the boundaries between craft, design, industry, and technology as I am inspired by the charged grey areas between these binaries," Oliver says.

For more information on Communitas, visit the Caine College of the Arts website.


Steve Kent
Utah State Today


Laura Gelfand
Professor of Art History
Department of Art + Design


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