American Studies Draws Inquisitive Crowd

American Studies curriculum has changed recently, broadening its focus to include social movements and encouraging students to engage more with their community. The Winter Quarter showing of the acclaimed documentary “Ivory Tower,” created an outlet for exactly that kind of social engagement.  


Directed by Andrew Rossi, the 2014 film questions the cost of higher education and explores the societal value placed on traditional four-year universities. 


Ingrid Walker, associate professor in American Studies, led the film viewing/forum as an event to signify that the American Studies major is new and improved and ready to re-engage.


Art Students Featured at Museum of Glass

This past March, a group of students came together to build a sculpture overlooking the Thea Foss Waterway. The project, inspired by the book The Boys in the Boat, was installed at the Museum of Glass as part of the Pierce County Library’s Pierce County READS program.

The art piece, created as part of T ARTS 367 Objects and Art taught by AMC Senior Lecturer Tyler Budge, is a tribute not only to the book, but to the “boys” who hailed from University of Washington and went on to win the gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in the rowing competition against Nazi Germany.

Budge was contacted by the UW Library and asked if he would like to be a part of the presentation. He said if his class could be a part of it, then he would most definitely be willing to create a piece to commemorate the book and the story behind it. Once the decision was made, Budge tossed his syllabus aside and his class and he began the process of creating their masterpiece.

Arts Alive at UWT

CAC hosted several events at UWT recently that united students and invigorated the campus community.

 Bread and Puppet Theater

Last October, the Bread and Puppet Theater paid a visit to UWT. The theater is well known for performing shows that exhibit social relevant storytelling through puppetry, street and community theater, and song. The politically radical theater is based in Glover, Vermont, but tours all over the world.

CAC faculty members Beverly Naidus (Arts, Media, Culture) and Michael Kula (Writing Studies) helped organize and facilitate the visit to campus, where the group performed their Vietnam War era protest piece: Fire.

Dia de los Muertos with UWT & TAM

Every November the Tacoma Art Museum holds a Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos free community festival and for the fifth year in a row UWT’s Hispanic studies professors and students joined in.                      

The Day of the Dead is a time of year when the two worlds–the world of the living and the world of the dead are close enough where spirits can come back to this world and have some type of communion with them. 

“It’s important to note that not everyone believes and celebrates it the same way, but the idea is to remember family members that have died,” said Hispanic Studies professor Augustus Machine. 

This year’s 11th annual festival included “a Calavera costume contest, traditional foods, and outdoor memorials.” Community members can also set up altars remembering their lost family members, or celebrate the holiday with a themed altar. 

Ecuador’s Added To The UWT Study Abroad List

Have you ever wanted to learn a new language? Some say immersing yourself in the culture is the only way to learn fast and fluently. The University of Washington Tacoma has intensive programs that allow you to do just that.

According to the UWT international program’s webpage, “The University of Washington Tacoma's Spanish immersion program in Quito, Ecuador, offers Spanish language and culture classes at all levels from beginner to advanced.”

This is a new program at the UWT and is the first time the Hispanic Studies Program is taking students. Seventeen students have signed up and are anxiously awaiting the trip.

The program’s purpose is to give students a sense of what the Latin American culture represents as well as allow students to expand their Spanish-speaking skills. The participating students will receive 12 credits, two of which count towards a service-learning internship.

La Fountain Addresses The Drag of Poverty

In April, nationally recognized scholar Larry La Fountain presented to faculty, staff, students and Tacoma community members his work entitled “The Drag of Poverty: Erika Lopez, Holly Woodlawn, Monica Beverly Hillz, Welfare Queens.”

La Fountain, a scholar, writer, and performer, born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and now teaching at the University of Michigan, focused on the issue of being a drag queen and the effects it could have on other social issues such as race, class, sexuality and gender. His visit to UWT was made possible through efforts of American Studies and AMC assistant professor Ed Chamberlain.

Much of La Fountain’s presentation focused on Holly Woodlawn in Andy Warhol’s film “Trash,” Monica Beverly Hillz commonly known from the reality television show RuPaul’s “Drag Race,” and Erika Lopez’s, “The Welfare Queen.”

Matt Kish: Moby-Dick in Pictures

In March, the CAC welcomed self-made artist Matt Kish to campus.

Kish talked with students and faculty about his book, Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page. What started for Kish as simple desire for a fresh, creative outlet quickly gained a following.

Kish currently works as a librarian, but never attend art school. He has always had a strong interest in art and has been published in several collaborative illustration projects. However, feeling a lack of creativity in his life, he decided embark on a new endeavor. His mission: create one picture for every page of a book that had inspired him throughout his life—Moby-Dick.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Speaks at UWT

In April, Pulitzer Prize winner for feature writing and author of Enrique’s Journey, Sonia Nazario, spent a day at UWT, interacting with students and faculty and giving a lecture, all as part of the acclaimed UW Walker-Ames Lecture Series.

Enrique’s Journey is the story of one Honduran boy looking for his mother, after she left her starving family to find work in the United States.

“Braving unimaginable peril, often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops. But he pushes forward, relying on his wit, courage, hope, and the kindness of strangers,” according to

She echoed her discussion from her book of her three-month journey made on top of trains across South America to chronicle the story of Enrique, and how her experiences changed her view of unaccompanied, undocumented child migrants.

Student Poets Storm Campus

Faculty and students embraced April as national poetry month and set the precedent for years to come.

Weekly readings included flash mobs and open mic nights featuring the likes of the poetry of Walt Whitman and experimental poetry from the 20th century.

One week, poetry enthusiasts held up signs on the grand staircase and recited them out loud.

“We took sections of Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’ and performed those sections,” said Janie Miller, a writing studies lecturer and award-winning poet. “Then we threw our signs down and walked away in true flash mob style.”

While Miller didn’t attend all the events, she the ambition and creativity of the students for really taking charge and made the month count.

“I was really lucky to have a group of poets who took over national poetry month without my attendance,” Miller said. “It’s a student-centered movement.”

Students Express Employment Anxiety through Art

All students have the same concerns when they see graduation on the horizon. We often wonder whether or not we are going to get a job that falls within our desired field, or if we’ll find employment at all. Students in Professor Beverly Naidus’ Labor, Globalization, and Art course had the opportunity to create digital art pieces that helped them express those concerns. Thanks to a “smART grant” from the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural affairs, students were able to share those pieces at the Hillman City Collaboratory in a showcase titled “Help Wanted.”

In addition to pieces dealing with employment, the artists also created images that touched on the issues of the human cost of corporate globalization or their own personal work stories.

Student Hunter Merriman had a particularly enlightening experience while in the class.