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College of Liberal Arts News

Professor Ellis to explore the intersection between discrimination and freedom of association

College of Liberal Arts professor and author Richard Ellis was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a new book project.

The $6,000 summer stipend will fund Ellis' investigation into a 2000 Supreme Court case -- Boy Scouts of America and Monmouth Council v. James Dale -- that starkly pitted the freedom of association against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The book will examine the legal arguments and judicial decision-making processes in the case, and it will tell the story of Dale's personal journey and its intersection with the evolving gay rights movement. Ellis will also consider the rationale behind the Boy Scouts' policy that ultimately jeopardized the organization's iconic place in American culture.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has designated the book a "We the People" project because it deepens our understanding of American culture and advances knowledge of the principles that define America.

Professor Fourie to serve as cultural envoy in Namibia

With support from the U.S. Department of State, Willamette's Center for Sustainable Communities, the University of Namibia and Windhoek College of the Arts, professor Andries Fourie will serve as cultural envoy in Namibia this summer for the U.S. Department of State.

Fourie will teach Namibian art students and regional arts extension officers through two week-long workshops focusing on the use of recycled materials in sculpture. The extension officers will then teach throughout the country, passing on what they learn from Fourie.

“I feel very fortunate,” Fourie said. “This is an opportunity to have a small influence on the development of a generation of Namibian artists. I also appreciate the fact that I’ll learn as much from my students in Namibia as they’ll learn from me.”

Fourie often creates art from found objects. Though widely accepted in the U.S. as a popular medium, the Namibian African-art market, which is often aimed at visiting European and American tourists, still favors more traditional media. Fourie’s workshops will allow Namibians without access to traditional media to express themselves using readily available resources.

This is not Fourie’s first experience teaching workshops in Africa. Fourie is an Afrikaner, a white South African of Dutch descent, who has previously taught in his native country.

Combining sculpture, painting, printmaking and digital media, Fourie intentionally challenges viewers’ expectations and creates tension between flatness and dimensionality. His art deals with issues of memory, identity and cultural hybridity in contemporary South African culture.

“The goal is to try to challenge preconceived notions,” Fourie said. “Ideally, art is about opening new possibilities.”

Willamette theatre premieres kabuki play in English

The theatre department performed the English-language premier of Yukio Mishima's kabuki play, "The Sardine Seller's Net of Love," from mid-April to the beginning of this month.

The production showcased classical Japanese kabuki, known for stylized drama and elaborate makeup.

The play was directed and translated by Laurence Kominz, a professor of Japanese at Portland State University. He has served as artistic director of Japanese performance festivals, directs PSU's Center for Japanese Studies and writes extensively about kabuki, kyogen and Japanese dance. This production also features Portland musician Mitch Iimori playing the shamisen, and original buyô choreography by the University of British Columbia's Colleen Lanki.

Press coverage:

The Statesman Journal featured a behind-the-scenes article and photo gallery of the show.

The Oregonian recently chose the play as one of the five best live performances of the week.