Rebound from disaster inspires art
Jan29

Rebound from disaster inspires art

THE BELLS — Out of the wreckage of a city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina comes a new collection from artist John Barnes Jr.  The solo exhibition, Eschatology, is on display in the Baugh Center for the Visual Arts until Feb. 5.  Barnes uses scorched wood and mixed media from the rebuilding of New Orleans to create a mood of sinking ships, urban youth and the struggle to survive and dwell after disaster. “Eschatology has to do with end times, the ultimate destiny of humankind. These works emulate my ideas concerning the… aggregate decrepitude… of the new New Orleans,” Barnes said. Having survived the disaster, Barnes had much to say about the crisis while working through his own creative and personal issues. “Art is about being honest…. My last collection I was just making cool stuff because, let’s face it,… it was cool stuff. I had to grow up.  I’m still dealing with my past.” Barnes kept his collection on a small scale: most works are no larger than 30 inches. The sculptures look like a hybrid of the hull of a sinking canoe and a shotgun-style home typical of New Orleans. The dwellings were painted in graffiti style with phrases like “Looters will be shot” and “Whitness,” a play on words alluding to the idea that if people from certain neighborhoods reported to the police, they could lose their credibility and would be shot. Barnes does not just tell the story of a city battered by nature, but the demolition that came afterward as residents fought to endure. The collection speaks of a society forgotten by government: a post-apocalyptic world. The artist presented a gallery talk to students and faculty  Jan. 14 in the Baugh Center. He told students to be honest with their art. They should be able to speak at length about anything they create. “In your work, you should be able to explain every mark you make. You should be able to talk about it for days.” Barnes said. He encouraged students not  to be afraid to take risks and that insecurity is vital to the artistic process. “Uncertainty is where you get the juice. If you’re approaching your work with certainty, then you’re just seeking acceptance. You can get really good at one thing. You can be the best metal worker around, but you won’t be able to explain the human experience.” Students who attended the lecture took away insights on using creativity and form to speak about social issues. “I enjoyed how he was able to capture so many different ideas about subjects like poverty with one simple shape,” senior psychology major Kelsey Knowles...

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Texas Navy SEAL’s story hits big screen
Jan29

Texas Navy SEAL’s story hits big screen

THE BELLS — 2013. What a great year for the movie industry. And what better way to end the year than with an action-packed war movie? Although it was one of the last movies to come out last year, Lone Survivor really made an impact on those who were willing to see this true story-turned-book-turned-movie. UMHB students gathered  at Grand Avenue theater Jan. 16 for a CAB event letting students in for free with their Cru Cards. The theater in which Lone Survivor played was completely filled. Director Peter Berg wrote the movie script after spending a month in Iraq with a group of Navy SEALS. Berg wanted to film sooner, but Universal Studios asked him to direct Battleship first. Marcus Luttrell, who also made a small appearance in the movie, wrote the book about his experiences going into Afghanistan on a mission to bring down a terrorist leader and being ambushed. He fought to stay alive and to save his brothers, but ended up watching them die during that fatal task. Hence the title Lone Survivor. Luttrell has spoken at numerous places around America, including UMHB’s McLane Lecture on March 31, 2011. He talked about his experiences in Afghanistan. Mark Wahlberg said he had never played a role like this, but took the audience by surprise by portraying the main character, Luttrell. It was an incredibly difficult and dramatic role, but he nailed it. The book and movie are amazing portrayals of the brotherhood the men formed during training. If you’re not a fan of dramatic movies, Lone Survivor is not for you. You also might want to rethink seeing this if you’re not into loud gunshots, grenades or bombs. Maybe even wait until it’s released on DVD so you can watch it in your living room with the lights on and the volume turned down really low. It’s almost an understatement to say Berg really did bring this movie to life. If you’re a war movie fanatic and have yet to see the movie, you’re definitely missing something. Don’t wait to see this when it comes out on DVD – it’s worth seeing on the big screen. This movie isn’t for the fainthearted. If you are in the mood for a tear-jerking movie and if you can look past the cursing and noise, you won’t regret seeing Lone...

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Hogan recital teaches students, glorifies God
Jan29

Hogan recital teaches students, glorifies God

THE BELLS — Penny Hogan gazes softly into the distance while the piano and clarinet elegantly set the scene of a maiden preparing to begin a journey to find joy after having endured deep grief. Vibrato spins off her lips and fills the room. Raw emotion on her face depicts the German piece by Schubert. George Hogan takes the stage next and is warmly welcomed by a cheering, supportive audience. His deep, bass voice passionately sings Ella giammai m’amo by Verdi, a story of a heartbroken man, in perfectly enunciated Latin. At Hughes Recital Hall on Jan. 21, Penny and George Hogan, assistant professors of music, performed an operatic recital before an audience so large that every orange chair was called for. Penny Hogan, soprano, enjoys the opportunity to perform on campus and demonstrate what she is teaching her students. She said, “If you are teaching students to be better performers and craft their skill, they need to see that you can also do it. We have walked the walk.” The Hogans charmed the audience with impressively advanced pieces in various languages. The pair was accompanied by Nelda Milligan and Dr. Michelle Rouche, piano; Michelle Palmer, clarinet; and Doug Fischer, cello. Each presented solo performances with the exception of Mendelssohn’s “Elijah/Widow Duet” and the final piece of the night, “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken,” arranged by Ovid Young. Freshman history major Austin Shuffield attended the Hogan recital and is a fan of the professors. “The Hogans are really nice,” Shuffield said. He liked that “they were singing hymns about the things that the university stands for.” They are far from strangers to the stage.  Each have impeccable resumes.  George served as stage manager at Carnegie Hall in New York City, where Penny has been featured as a guest soloist. The duo stays busy performing at churches, businesses and benefit concerts. As a musician and performer, Penny Hogan hopes to bring music to life for her audience and share her talents. At the conclusion of the  Jan. 21 recital, George Hogan said that they “have been so blessed over the...

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Chapel speaker shares inspiring story of past struggles
Nov20

Chapel speaker shares inspiring story of past struggles

Sarah Thebarge has a unique story. The soft-spoken cancer survivor, Yale graduate and author made her first trip to Texas from Portland, Ore.,  Nov. 6 to share it with students during chapel. She said, “I missed the day God gave out voices in Heaven.” The distinguishable characteristic had the audience members sitting at the edge of their seats, hanging onto every word that came from the petite woman’s mouth. Thebarge grew up in an Amish community in Pennsylvania where she constantly struggled to overcome social  expectations that limited her as a woman. She attended Yale University and graduated with a master’s degree in medicine. Her next stop was Columbia University to pursue a master’s degree in journalism. While in New York, Thebarge was diagnosed with breast cancer and became very ill. Her lifelong dream of traveling to Africa crumbled apart just as her life seemed to be doing. In the parking lot of Starbucks, her boyfriend of three years broke up with her. Thebarge said, “I wish I could’ve driven cancer to Starbucks and told it ‘we’ve had a good run, but this isn’t working out for me anymore.’” With a broken soul and empty heart, Thebarge thought she was worthless. She bought a one way ticket to Portland, Ore., and landed there with just a suitcase of clothes. On a train, a Somali girl curled up in Thebarge’s lap. She made eye contact with the mother of five girls who turned out to be refugees. Thebarge got their address and visited a few days later. She found the family enduring horrible living conditions. The mother dumpster-dived for food. Many meals consisted of moldy bread and ketchup. They had one blanket to share and inadequate clothing for the winter. Thebarge created a relationship with the Somali family. With the help of her church, she gave them food, clothes and heat. She showed the girls Disney movies. What Thebarge really wanted to give the girls was an opportunity to go to college. Unable to write a check that large, she began turning the blog she had been keeping about the family’s story into a book called Invisible Children. The proceeds would benefit the girls’ college funds. Junior marketing major Joy Watson attended chapel and the question-and-answer session with Thebarge. Watson was most inspired to hear “how Sarah learned to use her past to inspire people.” She said, “It’s a reminder to not let the past get in the way of the future. God uses the broken.” Thebarge is passionate about emphasizing the importance of inner beauty in women. She said, “In fairy tales, women are always waiting to be saved....

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Deck the halls with boughs of duck calls
Nov20

Deck the halls with boughs of duck calls

The Robertson family from the hit show Duck Dynasty is at it again. They showed the world that their talents don’t end with making duck calls and hilarious television. On Oct. 29 they released their first Christmas album, Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas. Listen to one song, and you will quickly see that the humor in the show has transitioned into fun Christmas carols. The album has 14 songs, with some of the more popular  being “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Christmas,” “Hairy Christmas” and “Duck the Halls.” Every song on the track has its own personality. For instance, in the song “Christmas Cookies,” Phil Robertson talks about Miss Kay’s Christmas cookies, which will surely bring some laughter. You might think that the songs would be poorly done, but in reality the Robertson family can sing. Not only do they do a fantastic job themselves, but they brought in some of the most notable and sought-after voices in the country music industry to accompany them in this album. Luke Bryan, Josh Turner, Alison Krauss and last, but not least, the king of country music himself, George Strait, make an appearance. The songs are a mixture of traditional Christmas hymns with a southern twist, to the Robertsons’ very own construction of Christmas carols.  As many know, they are a religious family and not afraid to confess their love for Christ. This is evident throughout the album. It is currently #1 on the Top Country Albums chart. This should be encouraging—that people who may never listen to Christmas music are getting a true feel of the season The album ends with Phil Robertson saying a prayer that  emphasizes what  Christmas  is all about. Yes, some of the songs are a bit goofy, but a number of songs on the track clearly point out the reason for the season. There is a song for everyone on this album. It mixes country music and Christmas carols perfectly with relevant and meaningful lyrics. I am usually not a fan of Christmas music, but this album is different. “Camouflage and Christmas Lights” stood out to me because it paints a picture of the Christmas season that only people from a small, southern town can appreciate. As well done as these songs are, they could stick around for some time and maybe even become Christmas carols your kids will be listening to. Really, how do you make a better Christmas album than one that has Si Robertson and George Strait in the same song? If you don’t want to buy the whole album, which I strongly encourage, make sure you at least check out some of their...

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Thor smashes big screen
Nov20

Thor smashes big screen

In Thor: The Dark World, the god of thunder takes on ancient foes thought to be long extinct. The Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, led by their ruler Malekith (played by Christopher Eccleston of Doctor Who), have been awakened from a long slumber and have returned to see the Nine Realms fall into darkness. To make things more problematic, astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster, Thor’s human love interest, has become infected with a deadly substance known as the Aether and may not survive much longer without Asgardian help. With enemies at the gate and a damsel in distress, Thor must fight to bring balance back to the Nine Realms before Malekith uses the imminent approach of the Convergence (a rare alignment of the Nine Realms) to wreak havoc on the entire universe. From the very beginning, this movie is big. The landscapes are huge, the cities (including a larger, revamped Asgard) are magnificent, and the battles have an epic feel to them; the movie as a whole is noticeably bigger in scale than the first Thor. However, while it may provide some great eye-candy and make for a few solid battle sequences, the frequent Lord-of-the-Rings-esque tones cause TTDW to feel as though it lacks an identity. The film switches between superhero, action, and epic fantasy feels and never quite gets them to synchronize perfectly. The other main issue of the movie is that it seems to contradict the first film concerning the character of Odin, who, after standing firm for peace in the first film, seems overly anxious to ride into war this time around. The inconsistencies aren’t glaring, but they do create a small gap in the usually steady storyline of the Marvel universe. On the plus side, the film features plenty of what viewers have come to love about Marvel films. The humor, a good portion of which is contributed by Dr. Foster’s intern, Darcy, is far and above that of most other action films, and Darcy’s interaction with her own intern, Ian (yes, the intern has an intern) provides laughs that range from needed comic relief to rolling in the aisles. The storyline features just enough surprises to keep the viewer intrigued (don’t worry, no spoilers here) and the battles, as CGI-heavy as they are, are ultimately enjoyable; the final battle, in particular, is especially thrilling. The best part of the film comes once Thor recruits Loki to help him complete his task. While this part of the movie, unfortunately, doesn’t come around as early as it should, watching the brothers’ witty banter and god-sized quarreling is endlessly entertaining, and Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki is nothing short...

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