Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fall 2008 Senior Show and Reading

Three seniors will present their senior shows in Wadleigh Gallery Monday, November 24 through Wednesday, December 3. The exhibition will feature work by Ramon Perez, Madison Mastri and Sarah Gaertner and will close with a reception from 6-7:30 p.m.

The reception also will feature graduating seniors from the Department of Writing and Literature reading from their senior projects. The readings will begin at 7 p.m. in the gallery.

2 Bit Players Present "The Eight"

The 2 Bit Players will present The Eight: Reindeer Monologues by Jeff Goode at 7 p.m. Friday, November 21 and Saturday, November 22, and at 3 p.m., Sunday, November 23 in the Wadleigh Library. Admission is free for students with ID. A $5 donation is suggested for all others to benefit Circle K. The Eight contains material no suitable for children, and parental discression is advised.

For more information about The Eight and upcoming production, send an email to

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Crayon Box Hosts Poetry Slam

Chester College's Queer Straight Alliance, The Crayon Box, is hosting it's first Poetry Slam on Tuesday November 18th in Dal, starting at 9:30 p.m. The theme is based on sexuality, and participants are encouraged to explore over the entire sexual spectrum, not just homosexuality.

The event will feature two sessions, starting with non-competitive readings, where faculty and students who just want to read for fun can present their work. After, our competitive poets will be competing for 1st 2nd and 3rd place, each place rewarded with 15, 10, and 5 dollar gift cards to Dunkin' Donuts, respectively. Dunkin' Donuts will be served throughout the event!
For more information, contact Vanessa Laboy.

Second Annual Freshman Reading

Freshmen Chelsea Paige, Joe Campisi, Maura-Cathrine Keaney, and Roman Zyck will read work from their Intro to Fiction classes Monday, November 17 at 6 p.m. in Powers 29.  Come out and support the new kids! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Attention Artists! Compass Rose Needs Art!

Compass Rose is looking for photography, painting, printmaking, illustration, or mixed media to consider for the cover of the 2008-2009 issue. Please send high resolution images (at least 300 dpi) as email attachments to by December 1, 2008. If they are larger than 100 M, save them on a CD and give it to Jenn Monroe. When you make your submission, please include your name, your class year (if you are a student), the medium, the title of the work, and the best way to contact you this and next semester. We plan to have our decision made before the end of the semester, but we will need to be in contact with you next semester as the magazine is being put together.

There is a possiblity that additional work by the selected artist will be featured inside the magazine as well. This call is open to students, faculty, and staff, as well as artists you may know who are not affilitated with the college.

Chester Students Show Art at Roger Williams University

Photographer Jeffery Silverthorne recently visited our campus. This past Monday two of CCNE’s students returned the favor. On November 10th Jessica Eastman and Samantha Croteau visited Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island to show their work. They attended Silverthorne’s Aesthetics and Advanced Photo classes and discussed their art, their inspiration, and their experience here at CCNE.

Eastman is a senior photography major. Before visiting RWU, she felt “really excited” about going to RWU as a visiting artist and showing her work to a new group of people in a different environment.

When asked what kind of work she does, Eastman said, “I feel more comfortable finding things and photographing them as commentary. I do commercial photography, but I like making art.” Eastman also photographs weddings in the summer.

After her visit, Eastman said it was a really positive experience to show her work at a large university. It’s a very different atmosphere than what we’re used to at CCNE, but Eastman felt welcome and got a good response from Silverthorne’s students.

Junior Matty Williams Gets Published

Junior Matty Williams was recently published in the online magazine Soundzine with his poem "75 cent Thought." is an online journal that specializes in the spoken word. This was a contributing factor to Williams' submission.

"I try to pay attention to the work that is in the publications I submit to and soundzine pretty consistently had good poetry," Williams said. "It also offers a venue for the spoken aspect of the poetry which is very important for me because poetry is meant to be heard."

Williams believes that being at Chester College has greatly contributed to his writing ability.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the quality of my work has gone up and I think that's symptomatic of having a supportive environment at Chester but also learning how to really workshop your own pieces," Williams said. "In the long run you need to look at your own work and say this is bad, this is good, this needs to change and I think that skill I can really attribute to being at Chester."

Williams' poem and audio file can be accessed

Photographer Pipo Nguyen-duy Closes Out Visiting Artist Symposium

Photographer Pipo Nguyen-duy will round out the 2008 Visiting Artist Symposium Lecture Series with a lecture at 2:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 18 in the Wadleigh Library conference room. The event is free and open to the public.
Nguyen-duy was born in 1962 in Hue, Vietnam. Growing up within thirty kilometers of the demilitarized zone of the 18th Parallel, he describes hearing gunfire every day of his early life. In 1975 he immigrated to the United States.

Nguyen-duy has taken on many things in life in pursuit of his diverse interests. As teenager in Vietnam, he competed as national athlete in table tennis. In 1983 he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics at Carleton College, a liberal arts college in Minnesota. He then moved to New York City, where he worked as a bartender and later as club manager. While living in the East Village, or as Nguyen-duy describes, “the crux of creativity in New York,” and meeting people such as Don Cherry and Keith Haring, Nguyen-duy’s interests turned to art. Before devoting himself to the study of fine arts, Nguyen-duy spent several years in the late 1980s living as a monk in Northern India. In 1992 he earned a Master of Arts in Photography, followed by a Master of Fine Arts in Photography in 1995, both from the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque.

Nguyen-duy has received many awards and grants, including the Artist’s Angel Award from the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont; an En Foco Grant; a fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission in Salem, Oregon; a B. Wade and Jane B. White Fellowship in the Humanities at Oberlin College; and an Individual Artists Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council in Columbus, Ohio. He completed an artist residency in Giverny, France in 1998 and at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California. He participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in 2004.

Among other venues, his work has been exhibited at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio; Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland, Oregon; Wooster Art Museum in Wooster, Ohio; SPACES in Cleveland, Ohio; Camerawork in San Francisco, The Bronx Museum in New York;Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art in Buffalo, New York; Faaborg Museum in Denmark; and The Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego.

Nguyen-duy teaches at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. When not teaching, he lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife and two sons.

Monday, November 10, 2008

SO Good Interviews Michelle Tea

Writer/performer Michelle Tea will visit the Chester College campus on Wednesday, November 12 and Thursday, November 13. She'll give a reading at 6 p.m. Wednesday, and work with the advanced fiction students on Thursday evening. SO Good had the chance to talk to her before her arrival.

SO Good: What made you decide to start writing?

Michelle Tea: I didn't decide to write! I just have always written, ever since I was very young, and always with the same feelings of urgency and, if lucky, inspiration. I did decide to make writing my priority, when I moved to San Francisco in 1993 and wanted to find something meaningful to occupy my time with besides falling in love with girls. There was a wild open mic poetry scene exploding all over the city that made the notion of being a writer feel very accessible, like an identity that was deep and profound and exciting and that could be assumed by anyone as long as you had the inspiration to write, which I had in droves.

SG: What specific issues come with writing "gay literature" and how do you deal with

Tea: I don't believe any issues come with writing gay literature, and I don't sit down or set out to write gay literature. I just sit down and write what I'm inspired to write, and because I'm queer and have mainly written about my own life, the books wind up being queer. Now that I'm writing fiction I have to consciously ask myself what the character's sexuality is. I would rather they be queer but that doesn't mean that they are. But as far as issues go, you just have to follow the story and allow the story to reveal itself and rise to the occasion of what problems and challenges the story puts forth. But I don't consciously seek to tackle any issues, though I hope that my stories do. Writing is just too subconscious an activity to be so strategic.

SG: How do you deal with the issue of censorship? Do you feel you censor your work?

Tea: I haven't been censored really, aside from not being able to swear on the radio, which is the same for everyone. Once I wrote an article about my period for Curve magazine and they wouldn't let me include a part about how I flung a tampon at a guy who was bugging me, so I wouldn't let them run it because that felt very censorial and messed up. I gave it to Girlfriends magazine and they published it. I've had editors cut pieces from books but honestly I think it was a smart editorial choice. Sometimes I can try to be shocking or weird or gross just for the sake of it, and it doesn't always work. It's good to be able to take that sort of objective look at your work and be honest about when something is dragging down the story. I don't think I censor myself too bad. I will write anything but I don't always want to read it out loud on a mic because I get shy and don't want to deal with whatever the imagined social repercussions might be.

SG: What privacy issues arise from writing memoir?

Tea: All sorts of privacy issues arise from writing memoir — your privacy, other people's. My stance on it and my own comfort levels shift and change. Sometimes I don't give a fuck and then suddenly I feel very private. I don't care about revealing other people's experiences and then I have a swell of compassion for how they might feel. Through it all I just keep writing, being true to how I feel in the moment. Right now I'm not writing about my sister anymore because she's been a true champ and I think she's over it, though she would never ask me to stop. I'm also beginning to write about an ex who did not want me to write about him during the 8 years we were together, but now that we're broken up I feel like that can change. I just always try to be honest about the truth of the situation, have some humility and make myself look like a bigger dingdong than everyone else.

SG: Has writing about such personal experiences been difficult for you?

Tea: No, it has only been rewarding to write about personal stuff. I love it, it's absolutely what I feel most drawn to write about and most inspired by.

SG: How has growing up working-class affected your writing?

Tea: Growing up working class has totally affected my writing in every way possible. Since I write about my own experience I write about working class experience. I didn't go to college and that is the result of my family's class background and the coping mechanisms my mother had and passed down to me. So it determined my path as a writer, that I would not be a writer who studied writing or came into publishing via the academy. I would be an entirely different writer if my class background was different. Probably all writers would.

SG: How much do you revise your work?

Tea: I don't revise my work as much as I should, probably. When I sit down to work I comb through what I already have and edit, so it gets a lot of passes, though I'm never sure how many. You could revise a piece for your whole life, I like letting it go and allowing it to be the imperfect draft it is destined to be.

SG: What are you working on currently?

Tea: Right now I am working on a crazy weird novel about the end of the world that is based on the songs of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust novel. I've also written myself into it as a character and so there are elements of memoir in it but it is heavily fictionalized because my character, Michelle Tea, is dealing with the end of the world, which is not happening. At least not in the way I'm writing it. I'm also working on magical young adult novel that involves empathy, salt, mean mermaids and talking pigeons. And I am writing Beth Ditto of the band Gossip's memoir with her. And awaiting the completion of the illustrations for a graphic novel, Carrier, about a girl who is a criminal runaway who becomes part pigeon and finds family among punk mutants squatting in a dystopic San Francisco-esque city of the future.

SG: How did you come up with the idea of Sister Spit?

Tea: Sister Spit the open mic was Sini Anderson's idea. She noticed that San Francisco, which was having such an open mic heyday in the 90s, needed a girl's only one cause they tended to be so full of loser dudes. I thought up the tour after having played drums for a band, Dirt Bike Gang, and gone on a Pacific Northwest tour. I loved touring but didn't love the music scene like I loved the literary scene. I wanted to have that amazing tour experience with writers, and so we organized the first one in 1997 and were blown away by how successful it was. I'm still blown away by it.

SG: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Tea: The only real advice for writers is, write. Write every day, put your writing before everything else, before relationships and jobs. Do it for free, do it because you love doing it and because you are lucky to be a writer and have a writer's mind and have an occupation to give meaning to your life. Be part of a literary community, be friends with other writers, and don't compete with them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Photographer Jeffrey Silverthorne Focuses on the Unusual

Photographer Jeffrey Silverthorne focuses on the more unusual aspects of life that many people oversee. In his more than 40 years as an artist, he has continued to shed a different light on his subject matter.

“I don’t think about photography when I take a picture," he said. "I think from photography I learn what I don’t want.”

His first major work, Morgue Work, was started in 1972 as a response to the Vietnam War. He found dead bodies very interesting, especially those handled by the state, those who had died "unexpectedly or from unknown causes.” Along with the Vietnam War, some inspiration to work with and photograph the dead came from Diane Arbus, who had been photographing these subjects with other intentions. Silverthorne photographed dead bodies from real morgues. He did not change their positions or do anything to alter the situations. What the audience sees in the photograph is exactly how he first found the bodies. “I had no expectation for collaboration,” he said. He called the Morgue Work, “a border of society, of life and not life.”

Silverthorne focuses often on the transitions of life and other transitory subjects photographed include transvestites. These photographs were taken in 1973, but Silverthorne noted, "not shown that much.” He explained that they were first shown in a gallery in New York City, but other than that they were “not particularly notable. It’s less usual than landscape, but it’s still more usual than, I don’t know, a picture of John McCain French kissing a dog,” he said with a laugh. When asked if it was difficult for him to get these people to participate in the photographs he responded, “People who are proud of their transformation are often happy to display it.” He explained that the models were happy just to be recognized, and even more so back in the 1970s. .He paid them in prints of the photographs they were in.

Although the transvestites were not in it to make money, Silverthorne said otherwise of the prostitutes he photographed for his Texas-Mexico Border prints. “They were more than happy to have their pictures taken, but I took up business time,” he said. He explained that the prostitutes in the pictures were prostitutes only because of their financial situation. “If they had the means to have a job that paid, with dignity, I don’t think anyone would prostitute themselves if they didn’t have to.”

The important thing about his photographs is not the controversy they could bring, but rather the psychological message behind them. Silverthorne said that with Morgue Work, he learned that it is much more difficult to make a photograph with such strong or unusual content matter that really says something beyond its subject. “The picture had to be a picture further psychologically,” he said.

Although Silverthorne’s photography has been displayed throughout America and Europe--most recently in a solo exhibition in Arles, France-- he admitted he creates his art for himself. “I like it at first because I’m a part of the idea," he said. "That doesn’t mean I’ll like them in six months from now.”

Recently he revisited photographs that were part of the Texas-Mexico Border project, but never printed. “It’s interesting to see them freshly," he said. "Thirty five years later and I looked at some of it and it was very interesting to me.”

Not everyone, of course, likes what he does. Recently he found a blog in which someone had responded to Morgue Work with a comment like,“He would do anything for a photograph – even step on dead bodies."

“No one asks me for accuracy,” Silverthorne said. “It’s really important to separate me from my work. The work is of me, but it is not me.”

As unique an artist as he is, Silverthorne has done some commercial work, but he tries to put a unique spin on it. “Recently I did a portrait, a picture of a writer, for his dusk jacket for his book coming out in November," he said. "I wanted to satisfy his wants. It’s sort of commercial. It’s not product photography. It still asks questions of identity.” Along with this dust jacket, he has also done another, for an audio cassette. The most commercial piece of work he’s done was that jacket for Nine Inch Nail’s Pretty Hate Machine in 1989. "I really thought of [photography] as a career, one you never expect to make money at,” he said. “To expect to make money is ludicrous. It’s more important to have skills than to make money, and to be less fettered by public taste.”

Silverthorne is heading back to France in January and although traveling has been rewarding, he holds something else up as more important. “At a photography conference in the early '80s--it was a beautiful setting on the water--I was walking back to my bungalow where I was staying and this thinnish, smallish woman came up to me and asked ‘Excuse me, are you Jeffrey Silverthorne?’ And every time I hear someone ask that I think, ‘Oh no, what did I do now? It wasn’t me.’"

But Silverthorne said "yes" and the woman thanked him for making the morgue pictures. "It turns out that her husband was lost during the Vietnam War and she always wondered if he was ever going to come back," he explained. "After she had seen Morgue Work, she realized he wasn’t.

"That freed me," he continued. "The real work was what she did. What I did was, well, just what I did. But she did the very strong work.”

Michelle Tea to Visit Chester College

Michelle Tea will round out Chester College of New England’s Fall 2008 Visiting Writers Series with a public reading at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 12 in Powers 29. The event is free. She also will be conducting workshops with Chester College students on Thursday, November 13.

Tea is a founder of the original Sister Spit experience, which began as an all-girl open mic in the early 90s and morphed into a national tour which dragged Eileen Myles, Beth Lisick, Katastrophe and countless others across the country at the end of the decade. She is the author of four memoirs, including
The Chelsea Whistle, the award-winning Valencia, and the illustrated Rent Girl. Her first fiction work, Rose of No Man's Land was published to acclaim in 2006. She is currently at work on the graphic novel Carrier, illustrated by Laurenn McCubbin and set to be published in 2008 by MacAdam/Cage Press. Tea has edited four anthologies, most recently It's So You: 35 Women Write About Personal Expression Through Fashion and Style.

Students Exhibit Large Work in Wadleigh Gallery

6' x 6' x 5, a group exhibition of large drawings and paintings by five Chester College advanced drawing and painting students, is being featured in Wadleigh Gallery through November 14. It will conclude with a reception from 6-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 13. The students, Jessica Alford, Nicole Gonzalez, Peter Isherwood, Ramon Perez and Shannon Sopha, are instructed by Christina Renfer.

Sculptor Jonathan Kirk Visits Campus

Chester College of New England will welcome sculptor Jonathan Kirk to campus on Tuesday, November 11 as part of its 2008 Visiting Artists Symposium Lecture Series. He will give a free public lecture in the Wadleigh Library conference room at 2:30 p.m.

Kirk was born in Saffron Walden, in 1955. He earned his BFA from St. Martin’s School of Art, London in 1978 and his MFA from Syracuse University in 1980. Kirk has received grants and awards from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Pollock Krasner Foundation, the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. He has shown widely in group and solo exhibitions and has work in permanent collections throughout the East Coast. From 1980 to 2000 Kirk was the Studio Manager at Sculpture Space Inc. He continues to live and work in Utica, New York, and is represented by Robert Steele Gallery in Chelsea, New York City.

The Visiting Artists Symposium Lecture Series features guest speakers throughout the fall semester. Lectures are held at 2:30 on Tuesdays in the Wadleigh Library conference room. After the public session, the artists will be available to the students formally registered in the College's Visiting Artist Symposium (Course #IDS.301). The Fall 2008 series is coordinated by Darrell Matsumoto, Chair of the Department of Photography/Media Arts and Design. The 2008 series will conclude on Nov. 18 with a lecture by photographer Pipo Nguyen-duy.