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Apr. 2007: Arts As a Creative Catalyst

Friday, April 6, 2007
3-5 PM
Gildenhorn Recital Hall, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

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What does creativity look like?  How do we nurture it?

For the opening roundtable on creativity, World Wise joined Artists-in-Residence in sponsoring  a stimulating and inspiring conversation on creativity with 2007 Artists-in-Residence Laurie Anderson, Russell Banks, Walter Dallas, Joe Goode,  Liz Lerman and an audience of about 200.  Moderated by University of Maryland poet Michael Collier.

Free and open to the public

Reception immediately following event
Welcome and Introduction

Michael Collier, Professor of English, UM, poet


Laurie Anderson, performance artist, musician

Russell Banks, novelist, poet

Walter Dallas, director, UM Senior Artist-in-Residence

Joe Goode, choreographer, writer, director, founder of the Joe Goode Performance Group

Liz Lerman, choreographer, founder of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange


Michael Collier

Michael Collier’s poems often reveal a fascination with objects and their significance; they are populated with, according to poet and critic James Longenbach, a “sinister and yet oddly comic cast of misfits, ogres and giants.” One of his poems from The Neighbor (1995) juxtaposes a map of Vietnam, bread balls, and fish hooks for catching bluegills; in “All Souls,” macabre, costumed revelers watching a raccoon are dressed as historical and political figures. Collier himself has noted, “I suppose . . . that I believe almost literally in Williams’ notion of ‘no ideas but in things.’ I’m a consumer. I like things.” Beyond the surfaces of the things and characters, Collier’s poems reach for moments of truth and clarity.

As an editor and director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference since 1995, Collier has been an influential member of the writing and teaching community, saying in a blackbird interview about teaching poetry, “I think poetry does have this ability to help us deal with things that aren’t black and white and make our thinking more subtle.” He is the editor of two acclaimed anthologies of poetry, The Wesleyan Tradition: Four Decades of American Poetry (1993) and The New American Poets: A Bread Loaf Anthology (2000).

Michael Collier grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, studied with William Meredith as an undergraduate at Connecticut College, teaches at the University of Maryland, and has served as Maryland’s poet laureate. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Thomas Watson Fellowship.

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Laurie Anderson
Laurie Anderson is one of America’s most renowned—and daring—creative pioneers. Her work, which encompasses music, visual art, poetry, film, and photography, has challenged and delighted audiences around the world for more than 30 years. Anderson is best known for her multimedia presentations and musical recordings. Anderson’s first album, O Superman, launched her recording career in 1980, rising to number two on the British pop charts and subsequently appearing on her landmark release Big Science. She went on to record six more albums with Warner Brothers. In 2001, Anderson recorded her first album with Nonesuch Records, the critically lauded Life on a String.

Anderson’s tours have taken her around the world, where she has presented her work in small arts spaces and grand concert halls—and everywhere in between. She has numerous major works to her credit, along with countless collaborations with an array of artists, from Jonathan Demme and Brian Eno to Bill T. Jones and Peter Gabriel. Anderson is recognized worldwide as a groundbreaking leader in the use of technology in the arts: she was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA in 2002. Anderson was also part of the team that created the opening ceremony for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. More recently, she received the prestigious Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for her outstanding contribution to the arts.

Laurie Anderson’s new work Homeland presents the vast landscape that is contemporary American culture through the lens of one of the world’s foremost and critically acclaimed artists. The piece—part political dialogue, part poetry song cycle combining words, electronics and live music—has received critical praise from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, The Times of London, and others following Anderson’s tour with Homeland in concert halls and theaters across the globe.

The foundations of Homeland were created on the road through a series of performances and improvisations at venues ranging from small clubs to an ancient theater on the Acropolis in Athens. The piece draws on an array of influences collected along the way—Tuvan throat singers, jazz improvisers, and New York experimental artists contribute voices to what has become one of Anderson’s most political works to date. Her recent sonic experiments with the violin, along with groove-oriented electronics and traditional instruments such as the Chinese erhu, shape the piece as well. Homeland is as much a process as it is a statement, as each version is unique.

The themes Anderson explores with Homeland cover a breadth of contemporary issues, from the war and the media to America’s growing surveillance culture and the environment. In 2004, while making a film commissioned for the World Expo in Japan, Anderson began to contemplate the meaning of place via the short stories she was using in the work. One of the stories touched on losing things, or the feeling of losing things. “‘I knew I had lost something but I just couldn’t put my finger on it,’ was one of the lines in the story,” Anderson explains. “Like when you feel bereft and you don’t know whether it’s because you lost your keys or your job or because your grandfather just died,” she continues. “But I started to think about when I wrote that story and I remembered that it was when we began the invasion of Iraq. And what I’d lost was my country.” Anderson applies that notion to Homeland’s thematic threads.

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Russell Banks
Russell Banks grew up in a working-class world that has played a major role in shaping his writing. Through a dozen novels and short story collections that have won him Guggenheim and NEA grants and a St. Lawrence Prize for fiction, Banks has made a life’s work of charting the causes and effects of the terrible things “normal” men can and will do. He writes with an intensely focused empathy and a compassionate sense of humor that help to keep readers, if not his characters, afloat through the misadventures and outright tragedies in his books. A deep appreciation for his work has led the cities of Seattle and Rochester to each select his book The Sweet Hereafter as a "book in common" for their communities to read.

A prolific writer of fiction, Russell Banks’s titles includeThe Darling, The Sweet Hereafter, Cloudsplitter, Rule of the Bone, Affliction, Success Stories, Continental Drift, Searching for Survivors, Trailerpark, The Book of Jamaica, The New World, and Hamilton Stark. The Angel on the Roof is a collection of thirty years of Banks’ short fiction. His latest novel, The Reserve, was published in early 2008; it is set in the Adirondacks in 1936-37, at the height of the Great Depression. Also in 2008, Seven Stories Press published Dreaming Up America, an American edition of his nonfiction book of essays, which was previously published in France under the title Amerique Notre Histoire -- his meditation on American history. In May 2008, HarperCollins published Outer Banks (which includes three of his previously published novels: Family Life, Hamilton Stark, and The Relation of My Imprisonment). Russell Banks has contributed poems, stories, and essays to The Boston Globe Magazine, Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, Harper’s and numerous others.

His novels, Affliction and The Sweet Hereafter, were adapted into feature films which received widespread critical acclaim: James Coburn won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and Nick Nolte was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for their roles in “Affliction;” “The Sweet Hereafter” won three awards, including the Grand Prix and the International Critics Award at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. Currently, Martin Scorsese has plans to produce the film of Cloudsplitter, with a screenplay by Banks, and Raoul Peck directing, for HBO; Raoul Peck is also directing the feature film of Continental Drift, with a screenplay by Banks, which will star Josh Hartnett. The Darling (selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of 2004) is being adapted for Focus Features; it will be directed by Martin Scorsese and will star Cate Blanchett.  A film of Rule of the Bone, with a screenplay by Banks, is in development, to be directed by Alain Berliner. His next novel, The Lost Memory of Skin, will be released in fall of 2011.

Included among the numerous honors and awards Russell Banks has received are the Ingram Merrill Award, the John Dos Passos Award, the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Laure Bataillon Prize for best work of fiction translated into French, for the French edition of The Darling. Continental Drift and Cloudsplitter were Pulitzer Prize finalists; Affliction and Cloudsplitter were PEN/Faulkner Finalists. Banks was New York State Author (2004–2008) and is the founder and President of Cities of Refuge North America.

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Walter Dallas
Walter Dallas, director, playwright, and musician is considered a major figure in the American theatre, a legend in African American theatre, and is quickly becoming a nationally respected photographer. He is considered a major figure in the American theatre, a legend in African American theatre, and is quickly becoming a nationally respected photographer. His work in the arts has taken him to major theatres including the New York Shakespeare Festival, Yale Rep and the Westport Country Playhouse, and to Africa, Canada, the Dominican Republic, England, France, Ireland, Russia, and South America.

He has directed over 25 world premieres, including August Wilson’s Seven Guitars at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago which was hailed as one of the Top Ten Best Theatre Events of the Year by Newsweek Magazine. His production of Charles Smith’s Pudd’nhead Wilson received a highly celebrated national tour before opening at Off-Broadway’s The Acting Company. His Lorraine Hansberry Theatre production of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye was named one of San Francisco’s Top Ten Theatre Events of 2007.

For his production of Having Our Say at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum he received an NAACP Theatre Award Nomination for Best Director. His off-Broadway production of Moms garnered an Obie Award for its star, Clarice Taylor, and resulted in two successful national tours. Mr. Dallas also directed the premiere of John Henry Redwood’s The Old Settler at the McCarter and Hartford theatres.

Other honors include a Doctorate of Fine Arts honoris causa, from the University of the Arts, Creative Genius Awards, a California Emmy Award for his first play, Willie Lobo/Manchild, Mayoral Proclamations, including Atlanta’s Walter Dallas Day, New York Audelco Awards, several Atlanta Bronze Jubilee Awards for Outstanding Direction, and The Mover and Shaker Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Promotion of South African Arts and Culture. Dallas also was awarded the title, Director Fellow, by the National Endowments for the Arts.

He was lead-writer for Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a film about Motown’s house band, the Funk Brothers. This documentary features Joan Osborne, Chaka Khan, Ben Harper and Gerald Lavert. Narrated by Andre Brougher, it won several major international accolades including Best Non-Fiction Film from the New York Film Critics Circle and three Grammy Awards.

Dallas made his opera directorial debut with a record-breaking Porgy and Bess for the Opera Company of Philadelphia. At New York’s Whitney Museum he work-shopped Mr. Mystery, The Return of Sun Ra to Save Planet Earth! a new-age opera conceived by Fred Ho with libretto and lyrics by Quincy Troupe.

In Spring 2010, Dallas directed a wildly successful, record-breaking production of Lydia Diamond’s The Bluest Eye (adapted from the Toni Morrison novel) for the University of Maryland, College Park. At the Arden Theatre earlier that season, he directed Tanya Barfield’s Blue Door, for which he received a 2010 Barrymore Nomination for Best Director. During the three-month run of Blue Door, the Arden hosted live and virtual exhibits of Dallas’ West African photography in the theatre’s lobby.

A graduate of Morehouse College and the Yale School of Drama, Dallas studied music and theology at Harvard University, traditional theatre at the University of Ghana, View Points Training in Philadelphia and, most recently, photography in Ireland. In 1983, he created and became Director of the School of Theatre for Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. In 1993, he left this position, and tenure, to become Artistic Director of New Freedom Theatre. In 2008 he left Freedom Theatre and is now, as Senior Artist-in-Residence, mentoring in UMD’s newly created School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies.

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Joe Goode
Joe Goode is a choreographer, writer, and director widely known as an innovator in the field of dance for his willingness to collide movement with spoken word, song, and visual imagery. He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007, and the United States Artists Glover Fellowship in 2008. In 2006 Goode directed the opera Transformations for the San Francisco Opera Center. His play Body Familiar, commissioned by the Magic Theatre in 2003, was met with critical acclaim.

The Joe Goode Performance Group, formed in 1986, tours regularly throughout the U.S., and has toured internationally to Canada, Europe, South America, Africa, and the Middle East. Goode is known as a master teacher; his summer workshops in "felt performance" attract participants from around the world, and the company's teaching residencies on tour are hugely popular. He is a member of the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley in the department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies.


Goode's performance-installation works have been commissioned by the Fowler Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles, Krannert Art Museum, the Capp Street Project, the M.H. de Young Museum, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. His dance theater work has been commissioned by Pennsylvania Ballet, Zenon Dance Company, AXIS Dance Company and Dance Alloy Theater among others. Goode and his work have been recognized by numerous awards for excellence including the American Council on the Arts, the New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie), and Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (Izzies).

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Liz Lerman
Liz Lerman is a choreographer, performer, writer, educator, and speaker. Described by the Washington Post as "the source of an epochal revolution in the scope and purposes of dance art," her dance/theater works have been seen throughout the United States and abroad. She founded Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976, and has cultivated the company's unique multi-generational ensemble, with dancers whose ages span five decades, into a leading force in contemporary dance. Liz has been the recipient of numerous honors, including the American Choreographer Award, the American Jewish Congress "Golda" Award, and Washingtonian magazine's 1988 Washingtonian of the Year. In 2002 her work was recognized with a MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship, and she was recently designated for the National Foundation for Jewish Culture's Achievement Award and induction into the University of Maryland's Hall of Fame. Her current projects include Ferocious Beauty: Genome, an investigation of the impact of genetic research in our lives, and a commission from the Harvard University School of Law for a work observing the human rights legacy of the post-WWII Nuremberg Trials. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Milwaukee, Liz attended Bennington College and Brandeis University, received her B.A. in dance from the University of Maryland, and an M.A. in dance from George Washington University.
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