It’s A Dean’s Life Vol. 22

This issue of Expressions celebrates the amazing range of arts that we teach, create, and present in the College of Humanities and the Arts at San José State University. From the beauty of Professor Emeritus Harry Powers’ work to the technical challenges of blowing glass to innovation on the stage at the Hammer Theatre, the articles testify to our students’ talents and our faculty’s commitment to arts education. Our focus in the College is providing rich experiences for our students. Our glass studio is one of only three in the entire CSU system, and it is the oldest one in the state of California. This means our students can add an entirely different media to their artistic repertoire; our other excellent facilities include ceramics studios, small metals facilities, and the foundry. That focus on work across media is especially clear in the work of Professor Emeritus Harry Powers: his work integrated sculpture, painting, collage, and metals to produce innovative and beautiful pieces.

In the dance area, we have been blessed by generous patron, Kyle Abraham, who has supported our artist-in-residence program over the last two years. Our students have benefited from master classes with Abraham’s dance company, A.I.M, while the SJSU community and the city of San José and the South Bay have experienced the beauty of these companies perform; this last performance included our own students on the Hammer Theatre stage this February.

The Hammer Theatre Center is entering its fourth year as a laboratory space for our student performances and as a venue for diverse and innovative programming. Kid Koala’s Nufonia Must Fall is a perfect example of what we can offer to our students and to the community with performances that expand traditional boundaries and understanding of the arts. As the article explains, puppeteers, musicians, a DJ, miniature sets, and a cinematographer shared the stage to show the audience the making of a “movie” in real time. Intellectually intriguing, technically fascinating, as well as genuinely heartwarming, the production offered an entirely new vision of what the performing arts can do.

We value the arts for how they can inspire and expand our view of the world. In our college, we leverage the arts and humanities to ask the most important questions of our time. Our Deep Humanities and Arts initiative brings in speakers illustrating how the arts and humanities often ask ethical questions about technology before the science even exists. We will be bringing Jamie Metzl on April 10th to talk about the ethical issues in our growing ability to bioengineer human beings. Twenty-two years ago, the film Gattaca imagined and explored these very issues in the medium of film. Before Jamie Metzl’s 7:30pm talk at the Hammer Theatre, we will have students across the university discuss the issues with Jamie, starting that conversation through this film. The arts are a fundamental part of imagining and creating an ethical world that places humanity at the center of the decisions we make.


This issue is dedicated to the wonderful College of Humanities and Arts emeriti faculty and to the memory of Professor Harry Powers, whose art pushes us all to imagine a better world. 

shannon miller