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By Karen Nikos-Rose on January 22, 2021

Design professor receives NSF grant from NSF 

By New and Media Relations Intern Hayley Morris

Tom Maiorana, assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Design, has been awarded a Stage 1 Civic Innovation Challenge grant from the National Science Foundation. The Civic Innovation Challenge is a research and action competition that aims to fund ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects that have the potential for scalable, sustainable and transferable impact on community-identified priorities.

Maiorana
Tom Maiorana

Maiorana and his collaborators Kenichi Soga, professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at UC Berkeley, and Louise Comfort of the CITRIS Policy Lab, received this grant to extend their work on their “Rehearsing Natural Disasters through Games and Simulations” project. Maiorana, Soga and Comfort have been working with the community of Bolinas to help prototype ways of dealing with evacuations in case of wildfires.

Read more here.

KQED and other media spotlight Bogad's activism

Professor Larry Bogad, Department of Theatre and Dance chair, has been featured by KQED, San Francisco public television and radio, in an article titled, “The People’s WPA Isn’t Waiting Around for a Future ‘New Deal’” for his efforts in spearheading the creation of Delivering Democracy, a cohort of dancing mailboxes first deployed in Pennsylvania in order to encourage voting by mail.

“You create an image that tells your idea... it contains your point that you’re trying to make and it’s so beautiful or troubling or weird that everybody reproduces the image, including people who don’t like you. That’s when you know...ok we’re onto something.” With Delivering Democracy, photos of his band of merry mailboxes showed up in the New York Times, while on the ground, they distributed flyers in Joe Biden’s birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania detailing how to get votes in by mail.

The article also discusses his long-running “economusic” project, which uses charts of economic data translated into music scores to create live performances of dissonance with an audience participation component.

“It’s a different way (for the audience) to get the numbers and learn the data,” he explains, adding that he himself is no economist — and no musician. But by encouraging the audience to embody the charts he presents, they’re able to internalize their peaks and valleys, highs and lows. He and his dancers took to the streets on Inauguration Day (pictured) too to celebrate that mailboxes were instrumental in the election results. They danced in Berkeley and three other cities throughout the nation. 

Read the full article here. Read the Department of Theatre and Dance mention here. Read more about his project, which he deployed in four cities on inauguration day, here.

Theatre and Dance graduate student featured in New York Times

UC Davis alumna Jennifer Grace was among eight actresses who were featured in the New York Times for her role as Emily Webb in Thorton Wilder’s “Our Town” in 2009. At that time, Grace played the character in Tony award-winning director David Cromer’s critically acclaimed production, which she performed in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. The article features an excerpt of a conversation with Grace where she shares her experience playing the character.

“I was engaged when we started the show. It was three months after I got married that I got the call to go to New York. My new husband stayed behind in Chicago. So it was this strange thing of leaving to go to New York, a newlywed, alone, to do this play about this girl who doesn’t leave. The sort of longing that I was having was the almost polar opposite of her longing. But I was accessing those fears and that feeling of loneliness and yearning in service of Emily.

As I stand now in my life as a mother and as a widow, I’m really grateful that I had those years with that play and with Emily. I didn’t know at the time that it was preparing me for my own experience with death and with saying goodby. Not many years after having stopped — my child was a toddler, near the same age as George and Emily’s child — my husband died. And I had this sensation: All of that time preparing as Emily, only to find out that I’m George.”

Read the New York Times article here. Read about the Department of Theatre and Dance mention here.

Graduate student awarded commission for new work

UC Davis graduate student Josiah Tayaq Catalan has been awarded the 2021 commission for a new work, which will be composed for solo piano. The commission, offered through SF Search for Scores, provides for a “private score reading and feedback session with the Contemporary Players and SF Search panelists, a premiere of the commissioned work on [their] at the CROSSROADS series concert held in San Francisco on April 10, 2021, plus an archival recording.”

Applicants this year were asked to consider two works by the late Bay Area composer Olly Wilson, which will be performed on the same program: Echoes (1974) for solo clarinet and tape, and A City Called Heaven (1988) written for septet.

Josiah’s music has been performed across North America by individuals and groups such as the Empyrean Ensemble, the Lydian String Quartet, Ensemble Mise-en, Chris Froh, Lucy Fitz Gibbon, Jennifer Ellis, and Miranda Cuckson.

Read more here.

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