Arts + Letters

A Voiceless Opera Based on French Literary Theory? Berkeley’s Got That

For a young composer, it can be difficult not to seem derivative. The problem is getting beyond one’s background and influences. Caroline Shaw, who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for musical composition, faces this dilemma head-on. In her composition notes  she often explains which work formed the grounding of a piece. She acknowledges when inspiration for a piece came from Chopin or Hayden.

Creating Art Piece a Day in 2013, Business Lecturer Discovers the Art of Everything

Clark Kellogg, a lecturer in innovation and design thinking at the Haas School of Business, had an epiphany on New Year’s Day 2013. Actually, a friend of his had the epiphany, and he co-opted it.

“With her consent, of course,” Kellogg says. “She told me she planned to post a photograph a day on Instagram. And when she said that, it came to me: I wanted to do the same thing, but with art, not photos.”

The Road Not Taken: A Berkeley Bard from the 60s Became Rare Breed—the Trucker Poet

There are cowboy poets, of course—so many that cowpoke poesy conferences, or “gatherings,” are held regularly in most of the western states. But while there are plenty of country and western song lyrics about truckers (“I got ten forward gears and a Sweet Georgia overdrive;  I’m taking little white pills and my eyes are open wide”), trucker poets are a scarcer breed.

Cal Performances Explores Why World War I Coincided With Feverish Artistic Creativity

The First World War was an early preoccupation of Cal Performances’ director Matias Tarnopolsky, who lately rediscovered a book of poems he treasured as a child in England. At age 11, he had written his name inside.

“I was profoundly impacted by the British war poets—Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon,” he said, speaking in his office in UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall on a recent chilly afternoon. As a music student, he would soon learn that the cataclysm of war accompanied a period of feverish experimentation in all the arts—in fact, the birth of modernism.

Would Twain Have Tweeted?

Would Mark Twain tweet if he were around today? Quite likely—he was an enthusiastic early adopter of the high-tech media of his era and an aphoristic genius. “Not that he’d tell the world what he had for breakfast,” says the Bancroft Library’s Harriet Smith, one of the editors of the two recently published volumes of The Autobiography of Mark Twain.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

Sculpting Geometry

Carlo Séquin lives in a world of impossible objects and mind-bending shapes. Visiting the computer science professor emeritus’s office is like taking a trip down the rabbit hole. Paradoxical forms are found in every corner, piled on shelves, poised on pedestals, hanging from the ceiling—optical illusions embodied in paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal.

From the Winter 2013 Information Issue issue of California.

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