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Art and Art History

Writers@Grinnell: Stephanie Ford

Stephanie Ford '95 is next in Writers@Grinnell series.

Stephanie Ford will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, March 3 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Stephanie_Ford image

In addition, Ford will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at  4:15 p.m., March 3 in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 209.

Stephanie Ford is the author of All Pilgrim (Four Way Books, 2015). Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Tin House, Boston Review, Harvard Review, and The Iowa Review. She holds a bachelor's degree in studio art from Grinnell and a masters in fine arts in creative writing from the University of Michigan; her honors include the Hopwood Award as well as fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she now lives in Los Angeles, where she has worked as a high school creative writing teacher and, most recently, as a freelance museum editor.

Writers@Grinnell: Edwidge Danticat

Haitian American best selling author and social activist Edwidge Danticat will read from herEdwidge Danticat image work and discuss writing on Thursday, Feb. 25 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

In addition, Danticat will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. Feb. 25 in Mears Cottage Living Room.

Edwidge Danticat has written ten books and has received numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Story Prize, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Edwidge Danticat published her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, at the age of twenty-five. The book was selected for Oprah’s Book Club and was immediately recognized by readers and critics alike as heralding the emergence of a shining new literary talent. Danticat’s profound connection to her native Haiti has not only informed her literary output, but has made her a powerful and passionate advocate.

Her newest book, Claire of the Sea Light, is a stunning new work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl has gone missing. It was published in 2013, to much critical acclaim.

Previous works include Brother, I’m Dying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a National Book Award finalist; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize. Danticat has also received the MacArthur “Genius Grant” and been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere.

Striking a Balance

In their first year at Grinnell, twins Vrishali Sinha ’19 and Vidushi Sihna ’19 led women’s golf to its third consecutive conference title. For added emphasis, they finished one-two individually at the Midwest Conference tournament in October.

The Sinhas’ games were “on” from the start of the season. In their very first competitive rounds for Grinnell, Vrishali and Vidushi shot the second and third best scores in program history at 74 and 76, respectively. Grinnell team scoring records fell three times in the first three tournaments.

The twins’ first-year success was not entirely unexpected. Both Sinhas have practically lived on the links since they were 10. As teens they were among the best women players in the Indian Golf Union, the governing body for amateur golf in all of India.

Vrishali and Vidushi had always planned to attend college together, but some were surprised that they would opt for Division III golf at Grinnell. The choice initially stunned their lifelong golf coach in India.

“Our coach wanted us to go Division I,” Vrishali says.

“When he found out Grinnell was Division III, he was like, ‘Why?’” Vidushi says.

Wanted a Balance

The Sinhas’ father fielded the incoming appeals from Division I programs, but Vrishali says, “I have a lot of friends who went to Division I and they did not have a really good experience. We were always certain that we wanted to go Division III so we didn’t even consider the Division I and II offers.”

“We are really uncertain whether we want to turn professional or not,” Vidushi adds. “You sacrifice your academics if you go Division I.” 

So, does that mean academics were always their first consideration in choosing a college?

“I wouldn’t say first,” they say in unison, laughing at the common occurrence in their conversation.

“… but we wanted a balance,” Vidushi finishes.

Coaches Influential

One of the Sinha sisters sets up a shot while the other watchesGrinnell golf coaches David Arseneault and Jennie Jackson can attest to the importance of tools like Skype and FaceTime in communicating with student-athletes, especially when prospective students live more than 8,000 miles away.

“We were in contact with a few coaches, and out of all of them we liked Coach A. and Jenny the most,” Vrishali says. “I think that influenced our decision to come to Grinnell a lot.”

The Sinhas also talked with teammate-to-be Lauren Yi ’18 to find out about life at Grinnell from a student perspective, Vidushi says.

“For me, golf and academics are at par, but at a Division I, academics become secondary,” Vrishali says. “People who I know (in Division I) have to choose an easier major so that they can balance out the study and travel.”

“Also, there is just the one tutorial requirement here,” Vidushi says. “I want to do a double major, and I think it’s much better that way.”

Liberal Arts Options

The Sinhas are a year away from declaring majors, and when asked what they might presently choose, they answer together: “Econ.”  

“I want to double major in studio art and econ,” Vidushi says. “There are a lot of artists in our family. My mom’s an artist, my brother paints, I paint.”

“Oh, no,” Vrishali says about the possibility of two majors. “I’m fine with one.”

Both sisters say they’ll probably return to India after college, but for now they are comfortable keeping long-term plans open-ended.

“That is also why we came to a liberal arts college,” Vrishali says, “because you have so many options here. I’m taking an intro to psych course and that’s pretty interesting, so I might do something related to psychology, or stick with econ, I’m not sure.”

Responding to Change

The Sinhas seem relatively undaunted by all they’ve experienced in a few short months, including the differences in American golf courses, the stateside approach to team play, and an academic system that requires a new way of doing things.

“Academics here are tough, definitely,” Vidushi says. “The education system in India is a lot different from what it is here. Out there we just have …”

 “One exam…” Vrishali says.

“…twice a year,” Vidushi finishes.

“You have to do well on your exams because that is 100% of your grade,” Vrishali explains.

Dad Likes Decision

The biggest adjustment of all, however, was coming to a place the size of Grinnell from one of the largest population centers in the world.

“Delhi is huge,” Vrishali says. “It’s a lot colder in the interaction between people, which is more formal, like, just when it’s required or necessary. Out here the people are a lot more friendly.”

While their coach back home now has come around to approving of the twins’ decision to come to Grinnell, their father was never in doubt.

“Oh, he’s happy,” Vidushi says.

“My dad is so happy,” Vrishali says.

Vrishali Sinha ’19 and Vidushi Sinha ’19 attended The Shri Ram School in Gurgaon, Haryana, India. 


Writers@Grinnell: Jeffrey Harrison

Jeffrey Harrison Award-winning poet Jeffrey Harrison will read from his work and discuss writing on Thursday, Nov. 19, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

In addition, Harrison will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. Nov. 19 in Rosenfield Center, Room 209.

Harrison is the author of five full-length books of poetry, including The Singing Underneath, selected by James Merrill for the National Poetry Series and Into Daylight, winner of the 2014 Dorset Prize. His poetry also has been featured in popular publications, such as The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The Nation.

Harrison's poetic narratives tackle challenging themes such as intimacy and loss with nuance, clarity and dark humor. His many honors include the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, two Pushcart Prizes, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. 

Harrison has taught at George Washington University, Phillips Academy, the University of Southern Maine and Framingham State University. He lives in Massachusetts with his family.

Double the Fun

At Grinnell, students are encouraged to find ways to pursue as many of their interests as they can. This can mean participating in clubs and athletics in addition to academics, but some students want to take their interests even further by declaring a double major.

A double major may seem overwhelming, but it’s actually very common for students to merge two seemingly unrelated interests into a major that fits their aspirations.

Becoming a better doctor

Micah Iticovici ’16 working at a table with books, papersMicah Iticovici ’16, a biological chemistry/economics double major, arrived on campus intending to be a philosophy major. However, he soon discovered an interest in biochemistry and the medical profession.

Then, during his Introduction to Economics course, he began to see an overlap between how economists study decision-making and how medical professionals and their patients interact.

“Patients are really not great decision-makers,” Iticovici says. “They make a lot of really small decisions without looking at the overall impacts of those choices.”

Using the principles he learned in economics, Iticovici has pursued independent research to try to gain a better understanding of how and why patients make decisions that aren’t in their best interests. By delving into behavioral economics with a medical spin, he hopes to be able to advise and relate to his future patients more effectively.

Combining economics with a medicine-oriented biochemistry major may be unexpected, but it has many practical applications. But a down-to-earth major like economics can add a lot to a major that is less logic-oriented as well.

The economics of art

Alex Neckopulos ’17 is a studio art/economics double major who was interested in art from a young age. Her talent was encouraged until high school, where she got very different feedback from her teachers. They viewed artistic pursuits as less valuable than math and sciences, and her interest in art faded.

Neckopulos regained her passion for art when she came to Grinnell, but she discovered that the analytical side she developed in high school was still calling. At first, the notion of combining her interests in art and economics seemed unrealistic. “Honestly I had no idea how they would work together! It felt like I was trying to stick a circle in a square hole,” Neckopulos says.

After taking a job as an assistant in the Faulconer Gallery, however, Neckopulos discovered that her knowledge of economic models and principles came in handy. “Working in a gallery, you have the art that you’re passionate about, but it’s also a business, and you have to know how to get people in the door and really manage your funds,” Neckopulos says.

She hopes to obtain an internship at a larger, public gallery in the future to see what it’s like to pursue those interests on a grander scale. “My advice to anyone who has multiple interests would be to seek out that job that you think might combine them, because there’s nothing more eye-opening than applying what you learn to real life,” says Neckopulos.

Look for the overlap

“Double majors are really doable,” Iticovici adds. “You can combine anything and there will be some kind of overlap, as long as you’re willing to look for it. And that makes everything you learn more fulfilling and interesting.”

For Grinnell students, the ability to delve deeply into more than one subject helps to transform their varied interests into new, more fulfilling career paths. So if you’re having trouble deciding what you want to do, fear not! You just might be able to do it all.

Do The Right Thing: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

The Cultural Films Committee is sponsoring a free, public screening of Spike Lee's  "Do the RIght Thing" at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26, at The Strand Theatre, 921 Main St. Grinnell, Iowa.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with:

In a 1989 New York Times movie review, critic Roger Ebert said, ”Anyone who walks into this film expecting answers is a dreamer or a fool. But anyone who leaves the movie with more intolerance than they walked in with wasn't paying attention.”

“Do the Right Thing doesn't ask its audiences to choose sides;" he added, “it is scrupulously fair to both sides, in a story where it is our society itself that is not fair.”

Read more of Ebert's review and join us for the screening.

Sameness and Difference

Paul Vanouse at microscope

 As 21st century racism unfolds and recedes under scientific scrutiny of human sameness and differences, the American studies concentration in collaboration with the art & art history and biology departments, have invited Bio-Artist Prof Paul Vanouse. 
 Over the last decade, Vanouse's work has been specifically concerned with forcing the arcane codes of scientific  communication into a broader cultural language. 
 In "The Relative Velocity Inscription Device" (2002), he literally races DNA from his Jamaican-American family members, in a DNA sequencing gel, an installation/scientific experiment that explores the relationship between early 20th Century Eugenics and late 20th Century Human Genomics. The double entendre of race highlights the obsession with “genetic fitness” within these historical endeavors. Similarly, his recent projects, “Latent Figure Protocol”, “Ocular Revision” and “Suspect Inversion Center” use molecular biology techniques to challenge “genome-hype” and to confront issues surrounding DNA fingerprinting.  
Vanouse will present "Sameness and Difference," at 4 p.m. Thursday, September 17, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The talk is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available.


Welcome, Class of 2019

Curious about the new group of first-years?

Here are a few facts about the class of 2019:

  • 81 percent graduated in the top 10 percent of their secondary school class.
  • 40 percent were varsity athletes.
  • 54 percent participated in the fine arts (music, theater, dance, visual art).
  • 24 percent are U.S. students of color.
  • 16 percent are first-generation college students.
  • 18 percent participated in student government.

Want to know more? Take a peek at a virtual conversation with two of them.

Grinnell College Grinnell College: We’re excited to begin the 2015–16 academic year. Renowned faculty and transformative research experiences here and abroad await you. Ready?

Haley Jo CutroneHaley Jo Cutrone ’19:  I’m both nervous and excited. I love the people — every interaction I’ve had with students and faculty has been friendly and everyone seems so excited about the school. And, my roommate seems wicked cool, so that’s very exciting.

Hasan ThompsonHassan Thompson  ’19I’M very anxious and eager to study at Grinnell. One of my passions is traveling, and I’d never been to Iowa before. Grinnell will be my home for the next few years. This will be a huge culture change for me.

Grinnell College Grinnell College: What do you plan to study your first year of college?

Hasan ThompsonHasan Thompson  ’19I plan to major in physics. My primary goal is to get mentally ready for both the academic year and football season by letting it sink in that Grinnell will be my home.

Haley Jo CutroneHaley Jo Cutrone  ’19I’m undecided on my major. I enjoy history so I could potentially major in something related to that field of study.

Grinnell College Grinnell College: We had a great summer in Grinnell preparing for your arrival. What adventures did you have last summer?

Haley Jo CutroneHaley Jo Cutrone  ’19I spent my summer working as a camp counselor in Maine. I also got outside a lot on the weekends — hiking in Acadia National Park and the White Mountains, kayaking, biking.

Hasan ThompsonHasan Thompson: I’m both a Posse Scholar and a Gates Millennium Scholar. Other than working at Popeye’s fast food restaurant, I spent the summer attending pre-collegiate training with 10 other future Grinnell scholars who are my Posse. We spent our entire summer learning more about each other and just creating moments and bonds that has brought us closer and will last a life time.

Grinnell College Grinnell College: If you had to describe yourself in 160 characters or less, what would it say? We’ll go first.

Liberal Arts College located in the middle of everywhere. Home to social justice crusaders, status-quo challengers, and investigative globetrotters. Go.

Hasan ThompsonHasan Thompson: A genuine and gracious leader who is confident, trustworthy, and creative. Also, sees no need for violence when you can kill them with success.

Haley Jo CutroneHaley Jo Cutrone: Outdoorsy reader intending to travel the world, hoping to make an impact, and aiming to discover new passions and new ideas.

Grinnell College Grinnell College: Good luck, Haley Jo and Hassan, and the entire of the Class of 2019. We’ll get to know each other better during the next four years. We know you’ll do great.

Haley Jo Cutrone is from Hollis Center, ME, and Hassan Thompson is from New Orleans, LA.

Why Grinnell?

Students come to Grinnell College for any number of reasons. We asked three current students to tell us theirs.

  • James Marlow ’16 is an art history and history double major from Staten Island, N.Y.
  • Lisa Oyolu ’17, a history major who’s also studying education, is from Houston, Texas.
  • Meghna Usharani Ravishankar ’17 is an independent major in global development and entrepreneurship from Bangalore, India.

How did Grinnell get to the top of your list of colleges?

James: Grinnell was at the top of my list the whole time. When I visited, I was struck by the social justice vibe, and the broad range of socioeconomic and cultural diversity made it a different liberal arts experience. The energy was progressive and collaborative and there was a passion that I just felt wasn’t present at other schools I’d visited. There’s this engagement present at all levels between the faculty and the students.

Lisa: I was considering two other small liberal arts schools and one of them I didn’t feel was rigorous enough. The other, I didn’t think that I would melt into as well socially. So Grinnell became the choice.

Meghna: I was considering a big research university in Canada and Grinnell — basically two ends of the spectrum — and I hadn’t visited either one. I knew that the university had huge classes and a huge campus and a huge student body. It’s okay to say there’s 200 people in a class, but I didn’t understand what it felt like to be in a class like that. On the other hand, I knew what it was like to be in a class of 15 people or eight and have personal, meaningful relationships with the person who’s teaching. That was one big plus for Grinnell, that I knew it would be easy for me to settle in and thrive academically.

When you were making up your mind to go to Grinnell, what would have made it easier?

James: Knowing how amazing the programming is. I’m on the concerts committee and we have a budget of about $100,000 per year. What I really appreciate is the acts that we book don’t necessarily have an audience in mainstream venues, so we try to support outsider music. I think Grinnell’s social justice mission even permeates student controlled entertainment programming. That demonstrates one of the strongest distinctive aspects of Grinnell’s community.

Lisa: Students have a voice in what happens on campus. They’re not just bystanders who let things happen to them for their four years here.

Meghna: If I had been able to visit, I would have understood what the atmosphere was like. I was able to get a little bit from videos and the website. I wanted to know what it was like to be a part of this school.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Meghna: Some people don’t believe me when I say I had a great discussion the other day, that it was so cool and I got a kick out of it. It’s a really great time, but people need to know that they’re gonna be on their toes.

James: You never stop learning here. It’s not like class is over and you stop. In the dining hall, in meetings, selecting programming on campus, all that stuff. That’s one of the great things here: I feel like I’m learning the entire day here. It’s a continuous process and I feel it’s been really wonderful.

Lisa: Be prepared for change. As you come to a new place and interact with different people who have different experiences and come from different backgrounds, your perspective after the first semester of college might not be the same one you had at the beginning of the semester.


“Don`t Let That Shadow Touch Them”

War BondsLawrence Beall Smith, an artist known for his lithographs of children, created the poster titled “Don`t Let That Shadow Touch Them.” It was printed in 1942 for the Government Printing Office for the U.S. Treasury NARA Still Picture Branch. This poster is part of the S. Eugene Thompson ’58 Papers housed in Special Collections and Archives.

The term propaganda was first commonly used in Europe, after Pope Gregory XV created the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome in 1622. However, it was not until the 1790s that the term was used to refer to secular activities as well. Propaganda posters became a very popular means of influencing public opinion during wartime, and were especially prevalent during the two World Wars.

During World War II, the United States Government printed posters such as this one as a means of encouraging and persuading the public to support the war. The posters advocated for everything from buying war bonds and enlisting, to promoting efficiency in factories, carpooling, and planting victory gardens. Unlike many of the European posters that depicted the ugly enemy, the U.S. posters tended to focus on patriotism to in order to garner support.

This particular poster portraying three children standing in the shadow of a swastika was modeled on a Canadian poster of a mother and child, which also advocated for the purchase of war bonds with the purpose of keeping children safe. The U.S. Government conducted a study of commercial posters, which included the Canadian one, and found that images of women and children were most effective in eliciting an emotional response from viewers. Public relations specialists advised the U.S. Government that emotional responses were much more successful in ensuring that posters had an impact on the opinions of the viewer.

We encourage anyone with an interest in seeing how powerful propaganda images can be to stop by Special Collections to learn about Grinnell College’s role in World War II. Special Collections and Archives is open to the public 1:30-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and mornings by appointment.