International Visitors Bring the World to the College

Whether from Syria, Uganda, Jerusalem or the UK, visiting artist-educators inspire global perspectives on the arts

One of the most memorable experiences afforded to a College of the Arts' student is the study-abroad trip -- a chance to go to another country and earn college credits while, at the same time, gain exposure to a different language, culture, and way of life. But, for those who can’t study abroad, there’s the next best thing: a chance to experience some of the sights and sounds of an international destination without leaving the country. Over recent months and the past year, prestigious guests from across the globe – including visiting professors, artists and performers – have come to the College’s academic departments and schools to expose students to innovative cross-cultural ideas, mores and modes of artistic expression.


Department of Art and Design

This semester, the Department of Art and Design is hosting Prof. Jumana Jaber, from Syria. Prof. Jaber comes to Montclair State through the Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF), an organization that provides fellowships for those in academia who face persecution for their scholarship, and whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. Through such fellowships, the rescued scholar is given temporary refuge at host universities, colleges and research centers anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work in safety and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues and the community. In addition to her teaching duties in the Department of Art and Design, Prof. Jaber is also teaching a class in the Department of Theatre and Dance. (Read an article about Prof. Jaber here and in "The Record" here; for more information about Montclair State University’s involvement with the SRF, visit here.)

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Other recent visitors the Department hosted include a professor from Uganda.  

Prof. Philip Kwesiga of Makerere University was invited to create new works on site and to exhibit and discuss his work with the university community during a five-week residency last fall.  Prof. Kwesiga also participated in faculty meetings and was hosted by the department Chair for a weekend in New England to attend openings at the Doris Duke Mansion in Newport, R.I., and The Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Conn.

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More recently (spring 2013), another faculty member was invited from the country of New Zealand.  Noel Ivanoff of Whitecliffe College of Art & Design, NZ, came for a limited residency in conjunction with the department’s commitment to fostering  important international faculty exchanges.


School of Communication and Media (SCM)

Last March, the School of Communication and Media hosted faculty members Stuart Allan and Mark Shufflebottom from the Media School at Bournemouth University, in the United Kingdom (UK.)

Allan, who is professor of Journalism and director of his university’s Centre for Journalism and Communication Research, guest lectured on "Citizen Journalism" in Prof. Joel Penney's course New Media and Participatory Culture.

He is widely published on a range of topics, including the emergence and development of news on the Internet, the online reporting of war, conflict and crisis, science journalism (special interest in nanotechnology), and citizen journalism. He is also currently conducting a research study examining the use of digital imagery in news reporting during times of crisis and authored his most recent book, Citizen Witnessing (Polity, 2013).

Shufflebottom, an interactive design lecturer and program leader of his school’s BA in Digital Media Design and also an Adobe Education Leader, guest lectured on "Alternate Reality Games & Transmedia Campaigns" in Prof. Beverly Peterson's course Transmedia Projects. In addition, he has experience in web design and development, online animation and rich Internet applications (RIA) and has worked in the print sector for a leading international magazine publisher as a senior designer, and art editor.

The SCM is currently working out final details for the launch of a student-exchange program with the Media School at Bournemouth University scheduled to be launched next year.


John J. Cali School of Music

The Cali School of Music is currently hosting pianist Vadim Monastyrski, a professor from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, as part of the School’s newest International Exchange initiative. Prof. Monastyrski, a Visiting Artist Scholar of MSU’s Global Education Center (which is funding this visit), is in residence for the fall semester teaching piano master and accompanying classes, and coaching chamber music groups. He also gave a piano recital on October 17 on campus at Chapin Hall.

Prof. Monastyrski received his musical education from the Moscow Gnessin Institute under the guidance of Theodor Gutman (pupil of the legendary Henrich Neihaus). He has won several awards and accolades during his career and is highly sought after as a piano teacher and performer throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and North America. He has performed on stages in Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, USA, China and Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, Russia, Ukraine, Bashkortastan, and Hungary.

"This semester, the Cali School of Music has had the rare privilege of hosting pianist Vadim Monastyrski as a distinguished member of our piano and chamber music faculty," said Prof. David Witten, Coordinator of Keyboard Studies. "Maestro Monastyrski brings to our students his enormous experience and deep musicianship.

"The Cali School prides itself on strong connections with the MSU Global Education Center, which has helped us develop a number of partnerships with music schools in other countries. Bringing Vadim Monastyrski here to our campus for a semester allows even the students who are not traveling abroad to experience the benefits of a global experience," he added.

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Upcoming - from December 1-9, the School will be hosting a contingent of students and faculty from the East China Normal School (ECNU), in Shanghai, China. Prof. Ken Lam, director of Orchestral Studies and conductor of the MSU Symphony Orchestra and the Cali School Opera Orchestra, said the group will be participating in master classes, recitals and joining the MSU Symphony Orchestra at the Beatrice Crawford Memorial Concert on December 8 in the Kasser Theater.

“In this concert, we will be performing Celebration Overture, composed by ECNU composition faculty member Xia Liang and conducted by an ECNU faculty conductor,” said Lam.

Lam said the group’s visit came about during his 2012 visit to China where he met Prof. Chang Lin, vice chair of ECNU's music department. 

“We discussed potential collaborations between the two schools of music and this resulted in an invitation from MSU to ECNU for the visit,” Lam said. “This visit is generously sponsored by MSU’s President Susan Cole and supported by College of the Arts’ Dean Gurskis here at CART.”
While not “officially” an exchange program between the two institutions, the visit, Lam said, is envisioned to lead to something more.

“It is anticipated that reciprocal visits of this kind may occur in the future,” Lam said. “This visit is important to us as it will no doubt open up more dialogues between the two schools to deepen our relationship.”

Lam said the group, which consists of around 20 college-age students, five faculty members and the vice president of ECNU, will visit local attractions as part of their visit.


Department of Theatre and Dance

For the past two years, freshman BA and BFA majors in the Department of Theatre and Dance have been taking master classes in voice and speech from Leonor Lopehandia, a professional actress/voice and speech coach from Chile. Lopehandia, currently professor of voice and coordinator of general training in the School of Theatre at the Universidad Mayor, in Santiago, Chile (one of Montclair State's international partner universities), also incorporates physical/movement work in her teachings. In addition, she appeared alongside BA and BFA students acting in the New Play Festival reading of Carlos Murillo's Dark Play, playing the role of the eccentric drama teacher Mrs. Spiegel. She is collaborating with Theatre and Dance department Prof. Debbie Saivetz on a production of Wajdi Mouawad's play Incendios, which will open in Santiago in June of 2014. (Read a previous article about Lopehandia and other noteworthy professionals who offered their expert guidance to the Department’s students here.)

In addition, Chair Randy Mugleston said the department maintains ongoing relationships with the Shanghai Theatre Academy in China for theatre, and the Wonkwang University in South Korea, and Moholy Nage School of Design, in Budapest, Hungary for design.


Arts and Cultural Programming

Serving the community as well as the classroom, the College of the Arts’ Arts and Cultural Programming (ACP) unit continues to bring a wide range of internationally acclaimed artists and productions to campus through its Peak Performances series.  Events include on-stage performances and in-classroom master workshops/discussions aimed to support teaching and learning in the College.  Students have opportunity to work alongside and learn from cutting-edge professional artists in music, dance, theater, film, and visual arts. 

Last season included some unique master classes, workshops, and discussions for the College’s students:such as:

  • Via Katlehong Dance (pictured above), which provided workshops on South African Gumboot (rhythmic physical percussion) and Pantsula (street dance) for students in World Dance and Modern Dance classes
  • UK-based Jasmin Vardimon Company’s Estéban Fourmi and Júlia Robert Parés, which offered a physical-theater workshop for Dance, Theater, and Theatre Studies student majors

Prof. Lori Katterhenry, deputy chair of dance for the Department of Theatre and Dance, said such interactions are a hit with students.

"We are always looking for ways to expand our students' appreciation of dance from other countries,” said Katterhenry. “The workshops provided by Peak Performances over the years give our students an expanded view of the role dance plays in our world. The students absolutely love it."

Looking Ahead

The College of the Arts is building strong partnerships with institutions across the globe, including those in Europe, New Zealand, Africa and Asia to develop joint projects as well as student- and faculty-exchange programs. Recent visitors come as a result of flourishing collaborations that are expected to continue to yield worldly educational experiences -- without borders -- for all students and faculty.