Visions & Voices Fall 2019

Theme Guides to selected programs from the Fall 2017 Visions & Voices program were created in partnership with USC Libraries faculty and staff.
Look for recommended books and readings on the people, performances and topics covered by these events.
Visit the current season of: USC Visions and Voices


Photo: David Ohmer from Cincinnati, USA - Cincinnati – Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum "Autumn Reflection", CC BY 2.0

Architectures of Light: The Drone Photography of Reuben Wu (Theme Guide PDF)

Related Event: Drone Photography and 3D Modeling Workshop
Tuesday, September 10, at 3 p.m., Ahmanson Lab, Leavey Library

Main Event: Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 7 p.m.
USC Brain and Creativity Institute's Joyce J. Cammilleri Hall (BCI)

USC Libraries Contributor: Stacy Williams

V&V Event Information

Event Description: Join us for an artist’s talk by Reuben Wu, who uses light-carrying drones to create sublime and otherworldly photographic landscapes. Wu’s photographs evoke conventions of Romantic painting and the wonder of planetary discovery in vintage sci-fi films, and draw on his unique understanding of time and memory as a musician and co-founder of the British electronic band Ladytron.

In conversation with author and BLDGBLOG creator Geoff Manaugh, Wu will present pieces from his photo series Lux Noctis and Aeroglyphs, as well as new artworks inspired by drawings and models in the USC Libraries’ architectural collections and featuring landmarks of the USC campus.

In conjunction with the event, the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study will offer hands-on workshops on drone photography and the creation of interactive 3D models of the USC campus.

John Leguizamo: Latin History for Morons (Theme Guide PDF)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m., Ahmanson Theatre

USC Libraries Contributor: Eimmy Solis

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: A sold-out run at the Public Theater. A record-breaking engagement at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Endless critical and audience acclaim direct from Broadway. Chalk it all up to the mad genius of Tony and Emmy Award winner John Leguizamo, standing at the head of the class in his one-man show, Latin History for Morons.

When his son gets a school assignment on heroes, John seizes the chance to teach him all about the great figures of the Latinx world. But once he sets out on his irreverent crash course across three continents and 3,000 years of history—from conquistadores to cumbia, Montezuma to Menudo, and taking on the characters in all of it—he uncovers provocative truths that shock even him.

Perla Batalla in the House of Cohen (Theme Guide PDF)

Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 7:30 p.m., Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

USC Libraries Contributor: Andrew Justice

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: “Onstage, offstage, digital or analog, I love Perla Batalla.”—Leonard Cohen. Since the former Leonard Cohen back-up singer launched her solo career with Cohen’s encouragement, Perla Batalla has consistently earned critical acclaim for her unique voice and culture-merging compositions.

Performed on Leonard Cohen’s birthday, “Perla Batalla in the House of Cohen” will pay tribute to her friend and mentor with selected songs and rare personal anecdotes. Batalla’s first CD of Cohen covers, Bird on the Wire, was produced with Cohen’s blessing. He attended the recording session, weighed in on the selections and arrangements, and uncharacteristically participated in a photo session at his Los Angeles home to promote the project. Cohen’s passing in November 2016 reaffirmed Batalla’s mission of sharing his lesser-known songs with a younger audience and demonstrating the lighter side of the “Godfather of Gloom.” Don’t miss Batalla, who has also performed with Nick Cave and Julie Christensen, as she reveals the timelessness of Cohen’s art and shares her sincere respect and deep love for the music, the poetry, and, most of all, her dear friend.

Sell/Buy/Date: A Performance by Sarah Jones (Theme Guide PDF)

Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 7 p.m., Bing Theatre (BIT)

USC Libraries Contributor: Stacy Williams

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: In Sell/Buy/Date, Tony and Obie Award–winning playwright and performer Sarah Jones portrays a dazzling medley of characters inspired by the real-life experiences of people affected by the sex industry. Brimming with Jones’s masterful, multicultural characterizations, the exuberant show presents an honest, moving, and humorous look at a complex and fascinating subject—all while preserving the full humanity of voices seldom heard in the theatre. The acclaimed show will be followed by a discussion with Jones and Q&A with the audience.

Art Deco Walking Tour (Theme Guide PDF)

Friday, September 27, 2019 at 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Downtown Los Angeles

USC Libraries Contributor: Bryn Ziegler

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: Everyone knows that L.A. is a glamorous city. But few know that true Old Hollywood glamour lies in the streets of Downtown L.A. This walking tour will focus on the Jazz Age elegance of Art Deco. Its clean lines and geometric patterns proved a perfect style for L.A. in the 1920s and ‘30s, and an extraordinary collection of these masterpieces still stands in the heart of the city.

In a stroll through one of the jazziest parts of town, you’ll marvel at the incredible detail of these structures, with their brilliant colors and lush materials. You’ll learn how Art Deco made its way to L.A., and why it became such a defining architectural style in the city.

WET: A DACAmented Journey: A Performance by Alex Alpharaoh (Theme Guide PDF)

Monday, October 7, 2019 at 7 p.m., USC Brain and Creativity Institute's Joyce J. Cammilleri Hall (BCI)

USC Libraries Contributors: Barbara Robinson and Javier Garibay

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: WET: A DACAmented Journey is the story of what it means to be an American in every sense of the word except one: on paper. Chronicling Anner Cividanis’s journey living his whole life in the United States as an undocumented American, the solo performance by Alex Alpharaoh captures the desperation that DREAMers feel when forced to navigate a broken U.S. immigration system with very limited options, and examines the mental, emotional, and psychological hardship one man has to endure in order to secure his livelihood in Los Angeles, the only home he has known. USC students are also invited to attend a special pre-show dinner featuring foods from several of Los Angeles' immigrant communities and conversation led by USC faculty and guests.  Further details are available at the RSVP page.

Alex Alpharaoh earned his reputation as an emcee and spoken word artist by honing his skills in Los Angeles outlets such as KPCC’s Unheard LA as well as venues around the country, including New York’s renowned Nuyorican Café. The award-winning performer is also the founder and creator of SP!T: Spoken Word Theatre, a Los Angeles–based ensemble that combines hip hop culture, spoken word, acting, and dynamic movement to tell original stories centered around societal issues with the city of Los Angeles as the backdrop.

Racial Radical: Generating New “Woke” Words  (Theme Guide PDF)

Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 7 p.m., USC Brain and Creativity Institute's Joyce J. Cammilleri Hall (BCI)

USC Libraries Contributor: Alyssa Brissett

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: Join us for a multimedia event featuring Milwaukee-based visual and spoken word artists Fondé Bridges, Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, and Dasha Kelly. Drawing from hip hop and the Black urban experience, they will bring their linguistic, cultural, and collaborative talents to USC, where they will work with audience members to identify familiar-but-unnamed racial experiences and generate new language to describe them. Building on experiences working with USC students in classes taught by Taj Frazier (Communication), Lanita Jacobs (American Studies and Ethnicity), and LaVonna Lewis (Public Policy), the artists and attendees will brainstorm, sprout, and spread new vocabulary for a new era.

Paths of Glory, Visions of Horror: The Music and Art of World War I (Theme Guide PDF)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 7:30 p.m., Newman Recital Hall (AHF)

USC Libraries Contributor: Anthony Anderson

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: Organized as a prelude to the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival, this event will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and the formal conclusion of World War I. Focusing on the years before, during, and immediately following the Great War, USC history professor emeritus Elinor Accampo and Piatigorsky chair Ralph Kirshbaum will explore the impact of the shattering upheaval on the social fabric and artistic sensibilities of Europe and America.

Visual art, juxtaposed with emotionally laden musical masterpieces featuring the cello by composers who were deeply affected by World War I, will serve as a masterful, beautiful, and cautionary tapestry revealing the wide-ranging human and societal turmoil that arose from this previously unimaginable and brutal military conflict. The program, featuring performances by some of the brilliant young artists of the USC Thornton School of Music, will be followed by a Q&A.

An Evening with Doug Aitken (Theme Guide PDF)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 7 p.m., Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

USC Libraries Contributor: Rebecca Michelson

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: American artist Doug Aitken defies definitions of genre and explores every medium, from film and installations to architectural interventions. Utilizing a wide array of artistic approaches, Aitken leads us into a world where time, space, and memory are fluid concepts.

Aitken’s work challenges the boundaries between normally codified disciplines and art practices, and confronts many of the world’s pressing issues, including climate change, nature/artifice, technology, and the mediation of culture through screens and the moving image.

The Los Angeles–based artist and filmmaker’s career-spanning, multimedia presentation will touch on architecture, art, public space, the environment, and more.

Emotionally Intelligent Robots: More Human than Human? (Theme Guide PDF)

Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 3 p.m., Doheny Memorial Library (DML)

3 p.m.: Interactive Showcase at USC Sidney Harman Polymathic Academy, DML 241
4 p.m.: Discussion at Friends of the USC Libraries Lecture Hall, DML 240

USC Libraries Contributor: Danielle Mihram

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: Humans have been fascinated by robots and automata for millennia. There are ancient Greek myths about artificial humans and animated statues coming to life. But as developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and the creation of AI companions and helpers bring these once mythological creatures closer to reality, our perceptions of ourselves and our relationships with others are being fundamentally altered. Jonathan Gratch, Rachel Severson, and Sidney D’Mello—experts in robotics, psychology, and cognitive science, respectively —will highlight the evolution of robotics and AI technologies in an interactive showcase and discussion exploring our increasingly complex interactions and emotional bonds with machines, and what they tell us about what it means to be human.
Jonathan Gratch is a world leader in the study of emotions in human-machine interactions and the director of virtual human research at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies.

Rachel Severson studies the social and moral consequences of attributing emotional states and other human qualities to technologies—including voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa––and is the director of the Minds Lab at the University of Montana.

Sidney D’Mello is a professor at the Institute of Cognitive Science and Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he develops educational technologies that show emotional intelligence while adapting to boredom, confusion, and other emotional states.

USC Kaufman MinEvent (Theme Guide PDF)

Friday, November 1, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center

USC Libraries Contributor: Rebecca Michelson

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: Groundbreaking dancer Merce Cunningham (1919–2009) was one of the most influential choreographers of the twentieth century. Known for his longtime collaboration with avant-garde composer John Cage, Cunningham danced with Martha Graham until he formed his own company in 1953. He garnered wide acclaim over seven decades for his constant innovation as he expanded the boundaries of contemporary art, visual arts, performing arts, and music. This year, we celebrate his 100th birthday and legacy around the world.

Climate Change Theatre Action LA: At the Intersection (Theme Guide PDF)

Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 2 p.m.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

USC Libraries Contributor: Christy Kane

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA) is a global action that takes place every two years to coincide with the UN’s International Conference on Climate Change, which will take place this year in Santiago, Chile. “CCTA LA: At the Intersection” will feature short plays, monologues, music, puppetry, and spoken word exploring the effects of climate change on Los Angeles communities. “At the Intersection” uses theatre to start a conversation about the impact of climate change on Los Angeles neighborhoods, especially low-income communities of color that often don’t have the political clout or resources to fight back against policies that may have a negative impact on air quality, the availability of water, and how land gets used (and misused) in our city.

Live performances at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County will inspire audiences to take action and participate in the global discussion on climate change.

Hysteria or Misogyny? Women, Madness, and Mental Health (Theme Guide PDF)

Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 4 p.m.
Doheny Memorial Library (DML), Friends of the USC Libraries Lecture Hall, Room 240

USC Libraries Contributor: Lisa Crow

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: From the “hysteria” of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to neurotic and mood disorders in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, women far outnumber men in being given diagnoses of madness. But what does the statistic really mean? This conversation will unearth the long-silenced narratives of female patients suffering under the societal and medical constraints imposed upon them using arcane and, in many cases, inconsistent standards of sanity.
In conjunction with an exhibition of rare items from Patton State Hospital and Rockhaven Sanitarium tracing the history of women’s mental health treatment collected by the USC Libraries, an extraordinary panel of artists and advocates will offer modern perspectives on healthcare for women and personal reflections on journeys toward wellness.
Imade Nibokun is a mental-health advocate and founder of Depressed While Black.

Shanghai Jazz: A Culture Mix (Theme Guide PDF)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Bovard Auditorium (ADM)

USC Libraries Contributor: Andrew Justice

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: In 1935, Los Angeles–based musician Buck Clayton formed a jazz band called Harlem Gentlemen to perform in Shanghai. Li Jinhui, who is considered the father of Chinese popular music, had been performing in the “Paris of the East” for years when Clayton and his colleagues arrived. Clayton and Li eventually worked together to form a new and unique blend of American jazz and Chinese traditional music.

This boundary-breaking performance will celebrate Li Jinhui and Buck Clayton’s collaboration. USC Thornton School of Music professor Ron McCurdy and alum Gary Shields have reimagined and orchestrated three suites of Li Jinhui’s folk songs. Blending three cultures—Western art music (classical), American jazz, and traditional Chinese music—the concert will feature the Ron McCurdy Quintet, Feng Bian on piano, and Min Xiao-Fen on pipa, a traditional Chinese string instrument. The performance will also include historical video footage reflecting the artists, iconic buildings, and culture of Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Four Immigrants: From Manga to Musical (Theme Guide PDF)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 7 p.m.
USC Brain and Creativity Institute's Joyce J. Cammilleri Hall (BCI)

USC Libraries Contributor: Andrew Justice

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga is an award-winning musical about the adventures of young Japanese immigrants in early-twentieth-century San Francisco. Based on Manga Yonin Shosei, a semi-autobiographical series of comic strips written and drawn by Henry Yoshitaka Kiyama from 1924 to 1927, the show follows Charlie, Frank, Fred, and Henry as they pursue the American Dream in the face of numerous obstacles. Both the musical and the original manga it’s based on contrast the gag-driven humor of Western comic strips with the discrimination faced by first-wave immigrants, and explore what it means to find home in a foreign land.

Visions and Voices is proud to present a concert performance of The Four Immigrants preceded by a special discussion about the show and its unique source material. Panelists include the play’s author/composer, Min Kahng, and director, Leslie Martinson, along with translator and manga historian Frederik L. Schodt and moderator Julia Cho, co-founder and co-producing artistic leader of Artists at Play, a Los Angeles–based theatre company that focuses on Asian American narratives.

Turning Limitations into Opportunities: An Evening with Ali Stroker,  A Visions and Voices Signature Event (Theme Guide PDF)

Monday, December 2, 2019 at 7 p.m.
Bing Theatre (BIT)

USC Libraries Contributor: Kelsey Vukic

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: In an inspiring and intimate presentation, the Tony Award–winning Broadway and television star Ali Stroker will discuss her life and career and the importance of inclusion, representation, and ending ableism. Stroker became the first wheelchair user to star in a Broadway production when she originated the role of Anna in Deaf West’s acclaimed 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. In 2019, she made history again by winning a Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Ado Annie in the smash Broadway revival of Oklahoma! On television, Stroker starred in 12 episodes of Oxygen’s The Glee Project. She placed second in the competition and won a guest role on Fox’s Glee. She also starred in the Kyra Sedgwick ABC series, Ten Days in the Valley.

A co-chair of Women Who Care, which supports United Cerebral Palsy of New York City, and founding member of Be More Heroic, an anti-bullying campaign that tours the country, Stroker works to improve the lives of others—whether disabled or not—through advocacy as well as the arts.

Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, An Experience L.A. Event (Theme Guide PDF)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 6:15 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Ahmanson Theatre, Downtown Los Angeles

USC Libraries Contributor: Anthony Anderson

V&V Event Information:

Event Description: Retaining all the iconic elements of the classic production loved by millions around the world, British choreographer Matthew Bourne and award-winning designers Lez Brotherston (set and costumes) and Paule Constable (lighting) have reimagined Tchaikovsky’s beloved tale by replacing the female corps-de-ballet with a menacing male ensemble.

Shattering conventions and turning tradition upside down, their Swan Lake collected over 30 international theatre awards including an Olivier in the UK and three Tonys on Broadway and took the dance world by storm. The thrilling, audacious, witty, and emotional production is a passionate, powerful, and contemporary ballet for our times.