Monday, February 28, 2011

Pianist Valenti Performs Friday for Washington College Concert Series

CHESTERTOWN—Accomplished Chicago-based pianist Mark Valenti will perform Friday evening, March 4, at 8 o’clock as part of the Washington College Concert Series. His performance will take place in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. The program will include pieces by Aaron Copland and Jon Fisher, along with Debussy’s Estampes and Beethoven’s Sonata no. 28 in A Major, op. 101.
Valenti holds a bachelor of music degree from the Philadelphia Musical Academy and a master of music degree from Northwestern University and has studied with Benjamin Whitten, Zoltan Kocsis and Mary Sauer. Formerly Professor of Music at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Xavier University in Chicago and the Loire Valley Music Institute in France, he now teaches at his private studio in Chicago.
He has soloed in cities throughout the U.S. and has performed in France, Belgium, Hungary and Luxembourg. He also has worked extensively in jazz, including performances with Gregory Hines, Frank Foster and Al Grey. For more:
Tickets, available at the door, are $15 for adults and $5 for youth ages 18 and under. Washington College students are admitted free with a valid ID.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Washington College Announces Finalists for $50,000 George Washington Book Prize

CHESTERTOWN—Washington College has announced the three finalists for the 2011 George Washington Book Prize. President Mitchell B. Reiss revealed the news during the College's annual George Washington's Birthday Convocation held Friday afternoon, February 25.
The honored books include the first comprehensive account of the political contests behind the ratification of the Constitution, a new analysis of the American Revolution, and an illuminating history of the War of 1812. They are Pauline Maier's Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (Simon & Schuster), Jack Rakove's Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and Alan Taylor's The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies (Knopf).
The $50,000 award—co-sponsored by Washington College, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and George Washington's Mount Vernon—is the largest prize nationwide for a book on early American history, and one of the largest literary prizes of any kind. It recognizes the year's best books on the nation's founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of American history.
"The United States was born amid debates and conflicts that engaged not just a few so-called 'Founding Fathers,' but also millions of ordinary men and women," said Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the prize. "Each of this year's finalists captures how Americans participated in the often fractious – and sometimes dangerous – process of creating a new nation."
The winner will be announced at a dinner on May 25 at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens in Virginia.
The finalists were selected by a jury of three distinguished historians: Mary Beth Norton, the Alger Professor of American History at Cornell University, who served as chair; David Armitage, the Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard University; and Daniel Walker Howe, the Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus at Oxford University and Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. They selected the finalists after reviewing 59 books published last year on the founding period in American history, from about 1760 to 1820, the time of the creation and consolidation of the young republic.
Pauline Maier's Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution 1787-1788, "demonstrates the author's mastery of a subject that has not previously received such sustained treatment, despite its importance," noted the jurors. Maier is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of American History at M.I.T. She is the author of several books and textbooks on American history, including From Resistance to Revolution: Colonial Radicals and the Development of American Opposition to Britain, 1765-1776 (W.W. Norton, 1992); The Old Revolutionaries: Political Lives in the Age of Samuel Adams (Knopf, 1980); and American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, (Knopf, 1997), which was on the New York Times Book Review "Editor's Choice" list of the best 11 books of 1997 and a finalist in General Nonfiction for the National Book Critics' Circle Award.
In praising Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America, the jury wrote, "One can readily imagine a reader who loves history curling up in bed with Jack Rakove's engaging, accessible, and well-written book," adding that it "imaginatively integrates his narrative of the Revolution and its aftermath with a series of biographical sketches of leading American revolutionaries." Rakove is the W.R. Coe Professor of History and American Studies and professor of political science at Stanford University. He has taught at Colgate University and has been a visiting professor at the New York University School of Law. Rakove won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for History for Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (Knopf, 1996). He is also the author of The Beginnings of National Politics: An Interpretive History of the Continental Congress (Knopf, 1979); James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic (revised edition, Addison, Wesley, Longman, 2001); and Declaring Rights: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford Books, 1997).
Alan Taylor's The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies is "the most illuminating and original history of the conflict ever written," the jurors wrote. "Taylor's masterly effort to rethink the War of 1812 is strikingly successful in its own terms, as a balanced, superbly grounded, analytically rich, and literarily compelling account of a conflict which, as Taylor says, 'looms small in American memory.' " Alan Taylor teaches American and Canadian history at the University of California, Davis. His books include The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderground of the American Revolution (Knopf, 2006); American Colonies (Viking, 2001); and William Cooper's Town (Knopf, 1996), which won the Bancroft and Pulitzer prizes for American history. He is a contributing editor to The New Republic.
More information about the George Washington Book Prize is at
The 2011 George Washington Book Prize Jurors
Mary Beth Norton, chair, is the Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History at Cornell University. Norton's book Founding Mothers & Fathers: Gendered Power and the Forming of American Society (Knopf, 1996) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. She is also the author of The British-Americans: The Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774—1789 (Little, Brown & Co., 1972); Liberty's Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750—1800 (Cornell University Press, 1980); and In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 (Knopf, 2002), which was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize in History and which won the English-Speaking Union's Ambassador Book Award in American Studies. She has received four honorary degrees, and in 1999 was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Starr Foundations, and the Henry E. Huntington Library. In 2005-2006, she was the Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at the University of Cambridge and Newnham College.
Daniel Walker Howe is a historian of the early national period of American history and specializes in the intellectual and religious history of the United States. He is Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus at Oxford University in England and Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles. He won the Pulitzer Prize for History for What Hath God Wrought (Oxford University Press, 2007). Other books include The Political Culture of the American Whigs (University of Chicago Press, 1979) and Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (Harvard University Press, 1997.) He has been president of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. In 1989–1990, he was Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History at Oxford and a Fellow of Queen's College. In 1992, he became a permanent member of the Oxford History Faculty and a Fellow of St. Catherine's College, Oxford until his retirement in 2002.
David Armitage is the Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History at Harvard and an Honorary Professor of History at the University of Sydney. Among his eleven books to date are The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (2000), which won the Longman/History Today Book of the Year Award, and The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (2007), which was chosen as a Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year. He is co-editor of the Cambridge University Press series Ideas in Context, co-chair of the International Conference for the Study of Political Thought, and a member of the Steering Committee of the Center for the History of British Political Thought at the Folger Shakespeare Library. In 2006, the National Maritime Museum in London awarded him its Caird Medal for "conspicuously important work ... of a nature that involves communicating with the public," and in 2008, Harvard named him a Walter Channing Cabot Fellow for "achievements and scholarly eminence in the fields of literature, history or art."
About the Sponsors of the George Washington Book Prize
Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, founded in 2000, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs.
Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the study and love of American history. The Institute serves teachers, students, scholars, and the general public. It helps create history-centered schools, organizes seminars and programs for educators, produces print and electronic publications and traveling exhibitions, sponsors lectures by eminent historians, and administers a History Teacher of the Year Award in every state. The Institute also awards the Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and George Washington Book Prizes, and offers fellowships for scholars to work in the Gilder Lehrman Collection. The Institute maintains two websites, and the quarterly online journal
Since 1860, over 80 million visitors have made George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens the most popular historic home in America. Through thought-provoking tours, entertaining events, and stimulating educational programs on the Estate and in classrooms across the nation, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington's place in history as "First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen." Mount Vernon is owned and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, America's oldest national preservation organization, founded in 1853.

Click photographs to display high resolution image.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Career Diplomat Eagleburger, Educator Invernizzi to Receive Honorary Degrees at Washington College Convocation

CHESTERTOWN—Washington College will award honorary degrees to former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and noted educator Marcia Invernizzi at the annual George Washington’s Birthday Convocation, Friday, February 25. The College also will recognize alumni, staff, and prominent community members for their contributions. President and Mrs. Mitchell Reiss, the Board of Visitors and Governors, and the Alumni Board of Washington College serve as hosts of the annual event, which begins at 3:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre, the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts. A reception will follow the ceremony.

An American statesman who climbed the Foreign Service ladder to the highest rank ever achieved by a career diplomat, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger remains one of our country’s leading experts in foreign policy and global diplomatic affairs. Tapped to be the personal aide to Henry Kissinger early in his career, Mr. Eagleburger went on to serve under four U.S. Presidents. After joining the first Bush administration, he was one of the envoys sent to China after the Tiananmen Square massacre to help restore relations with the rulers in Beijing.

Eagleburger is known throughout the world for his role during the Gulf War, when he kept the U.S.-led coalition together by persuading the Israeli government to show restraint against Saddam Hussein’s scud missiles. He remains a key adviser on the Middle East and an outspoken figure on the public stage, raising the alarm of nuclear weapon development in North Korea and Iran, as well as concerns over waning U.S. relations with Israel. In his recent assignment as Chairman of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, he oversaw the distribution of more than $300 million in awards to more than 48,000 Holocaust survivors and their heirs. Eagleburger will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws from the College.

Dr. Marcia Invernizzi, a 1972 graduate of Washington College, has devoted her career to understanding how children acquire language and then providing early childhood educators with effective instructional techniques. She is the primary author of four literacy assessments used nationwide and co-author of 10 books, including Words Their Way, a comprehensive look at phonics, spelling and vocabulary development and instruction.

Invernizzi is the Henderson Professor of Reading Education and Director of the McGuffey Reading Center at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. She wrote Virginia’s statewide literacy assessment program and is principal investigator of a $1.6 million grant from the Institute of Educational Sciences to develop a comparable literacy assessment for Spanish-speaking children in the primary grades. As a founder of Book Buddies, a nationally recognized reading tutorial for struggling readers, she continues her campaign to build a nation of readers. Washington College will award her the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

The Alumni Service Award will go to George Buckless, ’69, retired Regional CEO of Lincoln Financial Advisors and a member of the College Board of Visitors and Governors from 1996-2004. One Alumni Service Award is given annually to an alumnus who has given outstanding and continued support to the College. Chosen by the Alumni Board’s Awards Committee, Buckless has dedicated much of his time and talent to the Alumni Council, Hall of Fame Committee, and Stadium Committee. He most recently helped to spearhead the Athey Baseball Park construction as committee chair.

Matthew Mullin, ’97, Chair of Washington College’s Center for Environment, will receive the Alumni Horizon Ribbon Award at the ceremony. This award is given to a graduate from the past 15 years who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, service, or scholarship in a particular area. Mullin has made great strides in the field of environmental consulting from his time as the College’s first environmental studies major. He went on to work for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Commission, and in May 2010 joined the Environmental Defense Fund as the Chesapeake Bay Director in the Oceans Program. He also co-chairs the Washington College Annapolis Alumni Chapter.

The President and Chairman of the Community Food Pantry, James Fouss, is this year’s recipient of the President’s Medal, which recognizes an individual or group’s significant contributions to the advancement of the community. Fouss played an integral part in Chestertown’s 300th Anniversary celebration as a committee co-chair and has received a Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award for Kent County for his dedication to the Chestertown community.

Additional honorees at the George Washington’s Birthday Convocation will receive the President’s Distinguished Service Award for their work on behalf of the College. Associate Professor of Mathematics Louise Amick, faculty secretary Catherine Naundorf, John Toll Professor of Psychology George Spilich, Director of Waterfront Activities John Wagner, and Advancement Office secretary Patsy Will are the 2011 honorees.

In addition, the ceremony will recognize faculty and staff for long-time service to the College, including 44-year veteran of the Drama Department, professor Tim Maloney, who also serves as Director of the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts.
And the Washington College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society, will introduce its 2011 inductees.

Photo: Washington College alumnus Marcia Invernizzi will be honored for her work in education.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Frick Biographer to Share Personal History Behind Great-Grandfather's Famous Art Collection

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Henry Clay Frick, the famous art collector and industrialist, lived a life that combined glittering masterpieces with dark personal demons. In a March 9 presentation at Washington College, sponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History, Frick’s great-granddaughter, Martha Frick Symington Sanger, will reveal how death and tragedy helped inspire one of the greatest art collections in the world, now enshrined in New York's famous Frick Collection.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 5 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts, on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

Sanger is the author of the 1998 biography Henry Clay Frick: An Intimate Portrait (Abbeville Press), which explores the impact of events in Frick’s personal life on his collecting — especially the tragic 1891 death of his 5-year-old daughter and an attempted assassination of the tycoon the following year. The paintings Frick acquired after 1892, including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Ingres, and Vermeer, were notable for recalling people, places, and events from his own past.
At his death, Frick bequeathed the majority of his extensive art collection to the American people, establishing the public gallery now known as the Frick Collection, but his legacy was counterbalanced by his reputation as a strikebreaker and an enemy of the working class.
“Walking into the Frick and exploring the masterpieces there, a casual visitor would never guess at the collection’s deeper, hidden meaning,” said Starr Center director Adam Goodheart. “But thanks to Martha Frick Symington Sanger’s detective work, we know how those paintings form a kind of secret autobiography of their owner.”
Martha Frick Symington Sanger has researched the Frick family for more than twenty years, and is the author of two other books, Helen Clay Frick: Bittersweet Heiress (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007) and The Henry Clay Frick Houses: Architecture-Interiors-Landscapes In the Golden Era (Monacelli Press, 2001). She served as a consultant for the 1995 PBS documentary Andrew Carnegie: The Richest Man in the World. In a 2007 article for the Wall Street Journal, Carnegie Corporation president Vartan Gregorian cited Henry Clay Frick: An Intimate Portrait as one of the best books ever written on America’s Gilded Age philanthropists.
Sanger’s talk, “Henry Clay Frick: Mourning Became the Art Collector,” will juxtapose artistic masterpieces with archival photographs to illustrate how her great-grandfather’s psychological complexities produced one of the world’s greatest art collections.
Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Based in the Custom House along the colonial waterfront, the College’s C.V. Starr Center fosters the art of written history and explores our nation’s past — particularly the legacy of its Founding era — in innovative ways, through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach. For more information on the Center, visit

Monday, February 21, 2011

Books-into-Film Event at WC To Screen and Discuss Robert Altman's "Short Cuts"

CHESTERTOWN—Miller Library at Washington College will host three free screenings of Robert Altman’s 1992 film Short Cuts beginning Friday, Feb. 25, and then follow up March 2 with a discussion of the film and the Raymond Carver short stories that inspired it.

The film will be shown Friday, Sunday and Monday, Feb. 25, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Norman James Theatre on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

The following Wednesday, March 2, at 5:30 p.m., Christopher Ames, Provost and Dean of the College and a professor in the English Department, will lead a discussion of the book and the film in the Sophie Kerr Room of the College’s Miller Library. He will guide the group in exploring literary and film devices (plot, characterization, setting, etc.) and examining how the subtleties of language in a novel can be reinterpreted through image, music and sound. The discussion will take place in the Sophie Kerr Room of Miller Library.

Altman based his Short Cuts on ten short stories written by Carver. In an unusual twist, those ten stories were later published as a collection and titled Short Cuts. The movie is a fascinating example of cinematic adaptation. Set in Los Angeles, it interweaves the characters from the ten stories into a remarkable performance that won a special Golden Globe award for Best Ensemble Cast and earned Altman an Oscar nomination for Best Director. The cast includes Tim Robbins, Julianne Moore, Robert Downey, Jr., Frances McDormand, Jack Lemmon, Andie MacDowell, Lily Tomlin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Peter Gallagher, Lyle Lovett, and Tom Waits.

The screening and discussion are part of a statewide Books-to-Film project sponsored by five college libraries and the Maryland Humanities Council through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Friends of Miller Library organization is offering a free copy of the Short Cuts book to the first 25 persons who sign up to participate in the screening and discussion. To sign up, please contact Ruth Shoge at or 410-778-7292. For more information go to:

Photos: Top, Madeleine Stowe and Tim Robbins in a scene from Robert Altman's film Short Cuts. Middle, Washington College dean of faculty Chris Ames, who will lead the literary/cinematic discussion March 2.

New Funding to Enhance Washington College's Crime Mapping, Analysis for State

CHESTERTOWN—The Crime Mapping and Analysis Program (CMAP) at Washington College has received $177,847 in additional funding to expand and enhance the crime mapping and analysis it provides to the State of Maryland.

Part of the College’s Center for Environment and Society, CMAP has produced timely mapping, analysis, and reporting of criminal justice data from a variety of state and local sources since 2008. It works directly with the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) and also collaborates with local, state, and Federal law enforcement agencies on geospatial analysis and training. The goal is to use the power of computer mapping to reduce violent crime and property crime, making Maryland communities safer places to live.

One of the key initiatives spearheaded by CMAP is the Maryland Offender Management System, or MOMS. This innovative web-based application centralizes justice information and shares it with designated law-enforcement and criminal justice agencies. The new funding will provide a number of technical enhancements to MOMS, increase the ability of the application to handle additional datasets, and improve the security and reliability of the system.

The FBI actively supports the development of intelligence tools such as MOMS “to better protect the citizens of Maryland and Delaware through the integration of law enforcement data,” says James Costigan, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, FBI Baltimore Field Office. “This collaborative leveraging of information results in safer and more synergistic investigative results."

Washington College students also play an important role in CMAP projects. Several highly qualified interns in the Geographic Information Systems lab work on assignments that include crime analysis, map creation, and data-quality improvement projects. All students, staff, and faculty involved with the project must pass state and federal criminal backgrounds checks as part of the security protocols that ensure that sensitive data is not disclosed.

One recent project requested by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services was completed by Tracie Bienemann ’11. The Washington College senior mapped the residential locations of released offenders with drug abuse and mental health concerns, and then compared that data with the current locations of treatment facilities that address addiction and mental-health issues. With Bienemann’s data, the state can evaluate where to target new resources for treating the offenders and, thus, reduce recidivism rates

Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist, Photographer Chronicle Working Class America

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College continues its “New Labor Journalism” series on Monday night, February 28, with a visit from the Pulitzer Prize winning collaborative team of journalist Dale Maharidge and Washington Post photographer Michael Williamson. The event begins at 7 p.m. on the LitHouse porch, 407 Washington Avenue.

Maharidge, who began his journalism career at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, started collaborating with Williamson when they met while on the staff at the Sacramento Bee. Their first book together, Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass, is a seminal look at the underside of American prosperity. The book inspired Bruce Springsteen, who eventually wrote an afterword to the reprint of the book, to pen two songs on The Ghost of Tom Joad: “The New Timer” and “Youngstown.”

In 1990, Maharidge and Williamson received the Pulitzer Prize in General Non-fiction for And Their Children After Them, a book that re-visits three Alabama tenant share-cropping families fifty years after they became the subjects of James Agee and Walker Evans’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Maharidge and Williamson’s collaborations continued in such recent volumes as Denison, Iowa: Searching for the Soul of American Through the Secrets of a Midwest Town (a book students are reading in both an undergraduate and a graduate class at Washington College) and their post-9/11 collection Homeland.

This spring, the University of California Press is releasing a compendium of the multi-decade collaboration between Maharidge and Williamson, Someplace Like America. The publisher describes the book as taking the reader “to the working-class heart of America, bringing to life—through shoe leather reporting, memoir, vivid stories, stunning photographs, and thoughtful analysis—the deepening crises of poverty and homelessness.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WC’s Timely Play, "Death and the Maiden" Examines Journey from Dictator to Democracy

CHESTERTOWN—The Washington College Department of Drama will present Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman’s 1990 play Death and the Maiden on February 17, 18, and 19 at 8 p.m. in Tawes Theater, Gibson Center for the Arts. Professor Dale Daigle, assisted by sophomore Ellen Huffman, directs the production starring juniors Louisa Kathleen Muldowney, John Lesser, and Michael Zurawski.
Set in the present and in a country that has recently undergone the transition from dictatorship to democracy, Death and the Maiden examines not only the political fallout from such turmoil, but also the personal cost.
“The [recent] events in Egypt make the issues that the play wrestles with particularly poignant and relevant,” says director Daigle. It also reminds us that issues of torture and abuse of power are always present and imminent, and that we must constantly remind ourselves that whether we participate directly or not, we are all complicit in any torture or abuse of power that we allow.”
Seating in Tawes Theatre is limited; to reserve free tickets call 410-778-7835 or e-mail The Gibson Center for the Arts is on the main campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

Kohl Gallery Hosts Multi-Media Installation by Internationally Acclaimed Artist and Washington College Faculty Member Monika Weiss

CHESTERTOWN—On Friday, February 25 the Kohl Gallery will open a one-person show by internationally acclaimed artist and Washington College faculty member Monika Weiss. “Lamentations (Sustenazo): Recent Works by Monika Weiss,” will run through April 15 at the gallery, which is located in the Gibson Center for the Arts on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.

Weiss is a Polish-American artist who works in drawing, projected video, musical composition, performance and sculpture, often combining these elements in her public installations. The new exhibition, which is being shown for the first time in the U.S., is drawn from a larger exhibition of 2010, “Monika Weiss: Sustenazo,” held at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw. Weiss completed the work while on junior sabbatical leave from Washington College, where she serves as assistant professor and coordinator of the studio art program in the Department of Art and Art History. The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw provided a major grant for “Sustenazo,” which also received support from the Central Medical Library, Warsaw, the Warsaw Rising Museum, the Historical Museum of Warsaw, Media in Motion, Berlin, and a number of individuals, including a physician. The exhibition later traveled to Berlin.

“Lamentations” is curated by Donald McColl, the Nancy L. Underwood Associate Professor of Art History at Washington College and former Director of Kohl Gallery. The first of several special events planned around the show will be the opening reception, Friday, February 25 at 6 p.m. On Wednesday, March 2, from 4 to 6 p.m., the Kent County Arts Council will host a “Town & Gown” event for the local arts community that will include a talk by the artist, a walk-through of the exhibition and a reception. And on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 30, internationally renowned art historian, critic and curator Dr. Julia P. Herzberg will come to Chestertown for a lecture on Weiss’s work and a conversation with the artist. Each event is free and open to the public; some content may not be suitable for children.

Sustenazo is a Greek word meaning to sigh or to lament inaudibly together. Weiss’s exhibition on this theme was inspired by a specific event that took place at Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, when it was a hospital—and actually was installed there, in the cellar, the only portion of the castle to survive. On August 6, 1944, during the onset of the Warsaw Uprising, the German Army forced more than 1,800 patients and medical staff to evacuate the hospital overnight. With that incident as its reference point, Weiss’s art explores visual and musical aspects of the ancient ritual of Lament and its historical connection to feminine expression, especially as contrasted with the notion of the heroic myth within the narrative of war. “An important part of this work is the motif of lament as a form of expression outside language,” she says.

“Lamentatons” speaks to the essence of a hospital as a metaphor for healing, but in the context of the specific horrors of the Nazi evacuation of Ujazdowski Hospital and the general oppression of human rights throughout history. The artist’s original sound composition (Weiss trained for many years at Warsaw’s Conservatory of Music) incorporates the voice of a surviving witness of the hospital’s expulsion along with voices of average Germans reading passages from the second part of Goethe’s classic play “Faust.”

Weiss’s installation also juxtaposes original objects and documents related to the hospital’s exodus—mostly old books and small pieces of medical equipment—with other images, including video. The interplay of all these visual layers in video projection with the mix of voice and music creates a poetic environment in which viewers can form their own assumptions and conclusions. “Much of my art investigates the relationships between memory and history, but I build it from multiple narratives in order to leave the meaning open to interpretation,” says Weiss, who teaches drawing and new genres at Washington College.

London-based art critic Guy Brett has written of Weiss, “Her work is a remarkable, individual counterpoint between technological media (video projection) and the ancient activity of drawing. Sound is also an important element, meticulously composed by the artist. It lifts the silent filmed actions into another emotional register.” The result, he says, “is an alternative experience of space and time, … steady and enduring, establishing and deepening a human presence.”

Curator McColl adds that Washington College is “exceedingly fortunate” to have Monika Weiss on the faculty. “She not only maintains a complex, thoughtful, and highly successful international practice—one based on cutting-edge trends in media and culture, as well as a deep-rooted knowledge of history, literature, language and myth, let alone everything from philosophy to medical theory—but she also holds such deep convictions about teaching and the mentoring of our students,” he says.

Weiss’s past exhibitions include the 2005 “Monika Weiss: Five Rivers,” a comprehensive survey of her work at Lehman College Art Gallery, City University of New York, which was favorably reviewed in The New York Times, and a two-person exhibition with the pioneering filmmaker and performance artist Carolee Schneemann at Remy Toledo Gallery, New York, in 2004. She has also exhibited at such venues as the Muzeum Montanelli in Prague, the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation in Miami, the Frauenmuseum in Bonn, and the Kunsthaus Dresden in Dresden; examples of her work are also in the permanent collections of places from Vienna’s Albertina Museum to the Drawing Center, New York.

Weiss’s work is featured in the book on contemporary drawing practices Drawing Now: Between the Lines of Contemporary Art, (I.B. Tauris, London). Her papers have been published in books and journals, including Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research (Intellectbooks, Bristol, UK) and Being Syncretic (Springer, Vienna/New York). She co-edits the contemporary drawing magazine Tracey, published by England’s Loughborough University.
Weiss is represented by Galerie Samuel Lallouz (Montréal) and Remy Toledo Projects (New York). A member of the Washington College faculty since 2006, she lives in Chestertown and New York City.

"Lamentations" is sponsored in part by the Chestertown Spy. To learn more about the artist and her work, please visit: and

Kohl Gallery is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 5 p.m., Fridays noon to 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays).

On exhibit in the William Frank Visual Arts Hallway outside the Kohl Gallery through Sunday, Feb. 27 is the photography exhibit, “Photography Exposed,” curated by Brian Palmer, manager of the Multimedia Production Center at Washington College. Each photograph has an accompanying QR Codes, or “Quick Read” matrix barcode, that can be scanned by any iPhone, Android phone or new generation iPod (those with cameras) to gain access to a video or text message from the photographer.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Career Counselor Sawyer Receives High Honor

CHESTERTOWN—Vicky Sawyer, Associate Director of the Career Center at Washington College, has received the highest award of professional recognition from the Maryland Career Development Association. Sawyer was presented with the Lifetime Contribution Award at the MCDA’s annual conference in Bowie, MD on February 4 for her commitment and her impact on the career development field.

Jim Allison, the College’s Director of Career Development, says the award is well deserved. “Vicky Sawyer has been a credit to Washington College for more than 20 years. She’s to be admired for her tireless efforts and the dedication she has shown to the innumerable students she has assisted.”

It is this dedication that led to her nomination and eventual win, says MCDA Awards Chair Natalie Kauffman. “Throughout Ms. Sawyer’s professional life she has always incorporated an intensely personal and supportive approach that stretches the limits of her students' and alumni's talents and potential,” said Kauffman, who also noted that Sawyer’s influence reaches beyond Washington College. As an active member of the MCDA, Sawyer has “woven her coaching strength into the very fabric of the association,” helping them to improve the standards of career development services throughout Maryland. “We at MCDA are in her debt!” says Kauffman.

Sawyer, a resident of Worton, holds a degree in secondary education from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and a master’s degree in human development and counseling from Eastern Carolina University. She continued her studies at Loyola College to become specialized in career development and counseling. In addition to serving as Associate Director of the Career Center, she is also the Center’s Internship Coordinator and Master Career Counselor.

Bead by Bead, WC's First Lady Puts Her World's Record to Good Use to Fight Breast Cancer

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Elisabeth Reiss set out to break a world record when she single-handedly strung 40,000 pink beads—each bead representing one of the 40,000 American lives lost each year to breast cancer—into one continuous strand. She finished the project in the fall of 2009 and learned this past November that she had, indeed, earned recognition from the Guinness World Records organization.
Now that she has the world’s attention, the First Lady of Washington College wants to put those 40,000 beads to good use, raising funds for breast cancer research and education. Her goal: to raise at least $40,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation by selling sponsorships for every bead. Reiss has created a Web site for the fundraiser,, where anyone who donates at least $1 can dedicate a bead to a friend or family member affected by the disease.
Reiss, who became First Lady of the College on July 1, 2010, became motivated to advocate for breast-cancer causes soon after marrying Mitchell Reiss and moving to the United States from her native England. Her mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law are among the many women she would watch battle breast cancer. Reiss has participated in a number of breast-cancer related fundraisers over the years, especially in Williamsburg, where the family lived for 11 years while Mitchell taught law and diplomacy at the College of William & Mary.
But the idea of doing something on her own came while she was volunteering as a tutor in the Rita Walsh Literacy Center in Williamsburg. One day she found herself trying to persuade a young man who was just learning how to read that he could make a big difference in younger students’ lives by, in turn, helping them learn to read. “He was making all these unrealistic, impossible plans for himself, and I was trying to convince him that sometimes doing one very simple thing could make a big difference,” she explains.
Soon afterward, she decided to take her own advice when it came to breast health. “I read in the Guinness Book of World Records about a young girl in England who had set a record by stringing what was then the world’s longest strand of beads. And I thought, now that’s a simple thing that I could do—I could string beads. And I could break the record for beading in a way that called attention to the staggering number of people the disease claims each year.”
The task took approximately 400 hours, during which the Reiss dining room and front parlor became her beading workshop. She refused the many offers of help from family and friends. “I wanted to make sure that I met the Guinness standards by doing all the work myself,” she explains.
The end result, officially unveiled and notarized in October of 2009, stretched 1,048 feet, greater than the length of three football fields. With help from her husband and members of the Phi Mu sorority at William & Mary, Reiss laid out the strand in a continuous pattern on the floor of a meeting room on that campus. “It really had an impact on people when they realized that each of those beads represented a life,” she says.
Now she hopes her fundraising efforts will make a significant difference in the Komen Foundation’s work to eradicate breast cancer. And in the meantime, she’s brainstorming about what to do with that 1,048-foot colossus of pink beads. First, she wants to create an easy way to transport it without tangling or breaking so it can be displayed at events such as Race for the Cure and Relay for Life. She might eventually shape it into a large halter bra, an outsize symbol of the need to get mammograms, to do breast self-exams, to fund research for a cure.
An oversized pink-beaded brassiere? Sounds like another one for the record books.
(To learn more about the Buy a Bead project, visit the Web site ( or email your questions to To contribute, send a check, along with the name of the cancer survivor or victim you wish to honor, to Buy A Bead, P.O. Box 771, Chestertown, MD, 21620. )
Photos: Top, Elisabeth with her record-breaking strand of 40,000 beads, representing the lives lost to breast cancer each year in the United States. Middle, Daughter Michael and husband Mitchell were on hand to help Elisabeth Reiss tie off her 1,048 foot-strand the day her feat was officially measured and notarized for submission to the Guinness World Records. Bottom: Friends in Williamsburg helped Elisabeth lay out the immense strand of pink on the floor of a conference room.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Famed Composer Joins Librettist and Actor to Discuss Collaboration on The Scottsboro Boys

Chestertown—Broadway comes to Washington College on Tuesday, February 22, when the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the Department of Drama join forces to present “History on Broadway: The Scottsboro Boys.” In this special program, legendary Broadway composer John Kander, librettist David Thompson and actor Forrest McClendon will discuss the creation of The Scottsboro Boys, a new musical based on one of American history’s most infamous racial dramas.
The program will begin at 5:30 p.m., onstage at Decker Theatre in the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts, on the Washington College campus. Associate Professor of Drama Michele Volanksy will moderate.
The Scottsboro Boys, which ran on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre this fall, is the final collaboration by musical theatre giants John Kander and Fred Ebb, (Chicago, Cabaret,) with a book by David Thompson, who adapted the script for Chicago’s current revival. This daring musical explores a fascinating and dark chapter in American history with arresting originality.
Deliberately adopting the structure of the early 20th century minstrel shows, a deeply racist form of theatre, the musical tells the story of the notorious 1930’s “Scottsboro” case, in which nine African-American teenagers, ranging in age from 13 to 19, were pulled from a box car in Alabama and unjustly accused, tried and convicted of a terrible crime. The case electrified the nation, and the young men languished in jail for years, while the case was tried, and retried, ultimately reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.
On stage, the cast of the The Scottsboro Boys, which included Forrest McClendon as Mr. Tambo, subverts the form of the minstrel show to highlight the injustice of the accusations and the hypocrisies of the American criminal justice system. At times shocking and controversial, The Scottsboro Boys is also raucously funny and deeply moving in its portrayal of race and justice in 1930’s America.
Prior to the public conversation, Forrest McClendon will conduct a special master class. This master class, exclusively for current Drama students at Washington College, has been made possible by the Maxcy Family Visiting Artist Endowment.
John Kander is one of the most esteemed and prolific composers in the American theatre. In 1962, he teamed with the late Fred Ebb to forge one of the longest-running and most successful creative partnerships in Broadway history. Together they wrote music and lyrics for some of the late 20th century’s most popular and provocative musicals, including Cabaret, Chicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. Together, Kander and Ebb have garnered three Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards and two Grammy Awards for their songs, as well as countless other honors including an Academy Award nomination for New York, New York, which has become the official song of New York City. In 1998, Kander and Ebb were recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors.
David Thompson, a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, has collaborated with Kander and Ebb on scripts for the revivals of Flora, the Red Menace and Chicago. He has also written the librettos for And the World Goes ‘Round, Steel Pier, The Scottsboro Boys, Thou Shalt Not (with music by Harry Connick, Jr.,) and The Look of Love, a revue of the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. He is currently working on adaptations of two films, The Blue Angel and Little Miss Marker. He is the recipient of the Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and was nominated for a Tony award for Steel Pier.
Forrest McClendon made his Broadway debut last fall in The Scottsboro Boys, playing ‘Mr. Tambo’ and several other roles. Prior work includes Off-Broadway’s James Baldwin: A Soul on Fire and Swoony Planet. He has extensive credits in regional theatres from Texas to Connecticut, and has received the Barrymore Award for his work in Avenue X at the 11th Hour Theatre Company in Philadelphia, a Central Texas Critics Table Award for The America Play at the Zachary Scott Theatre, and an Audelco Award nomination for James Baldwin: A Soul on Fire. He studied music at the University of Connecticut, and has taught musical theatre at Temple University and Philadelphia’s University of the Arts.
Michele Volansky is Associate Professor of Drama at Washington College and Associate Artist for the PlayPenn New Play Development Conference. Volansky also served on the artistic staffs at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Philadelphia Theatre Company. She has worked on over 150 new and established plays, including the Broadway productions of Buried Child and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She is the 1999 inaugural recipient of the Elliot Hayes Award for Dramaturgy and is a past President of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. She is also a doctoral student at the University of Hull (England), writing about the critics Kenneth Tynan and Frank Rich.
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About the Starr Center
The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores our nation’s history – and particularly the legacy of its Founding era – in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown’s colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. For more information on the Center, visit
About the Department of Drama
Washington College drama students play many different characters and many different roles behind-the-scenes, while learning about the theatrical arts and about themselves. Courses exploring the history of theater, acting, directing, design and dramaturgy prepare students for internships, graduate school and careers in theater. In Fall 2009, the renovated Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts became the centerpiece of the drama department, providing a state-of-the-art environment for performers, technicians and audiences. For more information visit
About the Maxcy Family Visiting Artist Endowment
Established in 2001 by Edward M. Maxcy, a co-founder of The Washington College Friends of the Arts, the Visiting Artists Endowment provides support for the drama Department to bring to campus a guest actor, director, stage manager, set designer, or other gifted theater professional. The visiting artist will provide instruction and/or performances and will interact with the students and faculty to enhance the quality of the theater program at the College.

Photos: Forrest McClendon (at right) performs in "The Scottsboro Boys" during its fall 2010 run at the Lyceum. Photo by Paul Kolnik.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

DuPont Executive’s Talk on Innovation Launches WC’s Celebration of Chemistry

CHESTERTOWN—A senior executive at chemical giant DuPont will deliver the J. C. Jones Seminar in American Business on Friday, February 18 as Washington College opens its year-long celebration of the 2011 International Year of Chemistry. Thomas M. Connelly, Jr., Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer of E. I. duPont de Nemours and Company, will lecture on “Hard Facts and Soft Skills for the Innovator of Tomorrow,” beginning at 5 p.m. in the Decker Theatre of Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue.
Dr. Connelly graduated with highest honors from Princeton University with degrees in chemical engineering and economics. As a Winston Churchill Scholar, he received his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Cambridge.
At DuPont, Connelly has responsibility for Applied BioSciences, Nutrition & Health, Performance Polymers, Packaging & Industrial Polymers businesses, and Science & Technology. He also oversees the company’s business in geographic regions outside the United States and serves in advisory roles to the U.S. Government and the Republic of Singapore.

The International Year of Chemistry (IYC-2011) was proclaimed by the United Nations to increase public appreciation of chemistry and chemical engineering in meeting the world’s needs; to encourage interest in chemistry and chemical engineering among young people; to generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry and chemical engineering; and to celebrate the achievements of Marie Curie and the contributions of women to chemistry and chemical engineering. Washington College IYC-2011 events will focus on the interactions, integration, and involvement of chemistry with business, medicine, energy needs, and the environment. It will conclude with a special ceremony on November 3, 2011 at which 1995 Chemistry Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina will receive an honorary doctor of science degree and deliver an address on “The Science and Policy of Climate Change.”
The J. C. Jones Seminar in American Business was established in honor of the late James C. Jones, Jr., a Baltimore businessman and 1947 graduate of Washington College who remained active in alumni affairs and served on the Board of Visitors and Governors of the College.
Admission to the February 18 Jones Seminar, cosponsored by the Departments of Business Management and Chemistry and SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in the Underwood Gallery.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Jasper String Quartet Performs Saturday, Feb. 19

CHESTERTOWN—The acclaimed artists of the Jasper String Quartet will appear at Washington College on Sat., Feb. 19 as the third installment of the college’s 59th Concert Series. The “Jaspers,” recently named quartet-in-residence at the Oberlin Conservatory, will perform Beethoven Op. 18, No.3; Conrad Tao’s Quartet No. 2 (a 2010 commission for the Jasper Quartet by the teen-aged composer); and Brahms Op. 51, No. 2. The concert begins at 8 p.m. in the Hotchkiss Recital Hall of the Gibson Center for the Arts.

Quartet members J. Freivogel, Sae Chonabayashi, Sam Quintal, and Rachel Henderson Freivogel formed the group as students at Oberlin College and have since performed worldwide. Called “an impressive young ensemble” by The New York Times, the quartet won the 2009 Horatio Parker Memorial Prize from the Yale School of Music, where they studied under the Tokyo String Quartet. In 2008 it won top prizes at the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, the Coleman Competition, Chamber Music Yellow Springs, and the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. In addition, the four musicians served two years as the Ernst C. Stiefel String Quartet in Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and Arts in Katonah.
Washington College students are admitted to the performance free with a valid ID. Tickets will be sold at the door at $5 for youth ages 18 and under and $15 for others. The Gibson Center for the Arts is located on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Ave., Chestertown.