Artists of the Black Community/AZ to present exhibit at ASU Gammage

April 14, 2014

A wide variety of artwork by emerging and established local African-American artists will be on display at ASU Gammage May 8-June 12. The Artists of the Black Community/AZ will present a vibrant collection of watercolor paintings, layered wood work, oil and acrylic paintings, and artwork in ceramics, glass and metal.

Six artists will be represented, including Stephen Marc, photographer and professor of art at Arizona State University; William H. Palmer, sculptor, painter and woodworker; Khandra Howard, an emerging ceramic artist working in clay, glass and metal; oil and acrylic painters Frederick Hodge and Richard Retter; and Rhonda Shakur Carter, who works in constructed wood oils and acrylics. Shakur Carter artwork Download Full Image

Marc is known for his digital photo montages that address the historical African Diaspora, with an emphasis on pre-1935 African-Americans. His research project, Passage on the Underground Railroad, is a traveling exhibition that was shown throughout the country and resulted in a book published in 2009.

Palmer, who passed away in 2011, began to find his voice in the 1950s, when he attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and Cocoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. His sculpture and paintings have been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

Howard, who is educated as an electrical engineer and computer scientist, began working in clay 11 years ago. She draws inspiration from African textiles, African art and culture, everyday life, the colors of nature, sea life, insects and vegetation, as well as random shapes and patterns, and the unpredictable nature of clay.

Hodge specializes in acrylic painting, sketching, and pen and ink drawing, especially realistic and figurative portraits. He grew up in Texas, and was largely self-taught, though he later earned a bachelor of fine arts from ASU. He has exhibited at a number of local art shows and galleries.

Retter’s works are large acrylic paintings full of color and movement, which are detailed in stylized dots, reminiscent of pointillism art. Each one conveys a story about the beauty of our world. He worked with special needs populations for more than 20 years as creator and creative arts director of the “Drawn Together” art program.

Carter is a self-taught artist from Glendale, Ariz., who works in several mediums, and will exhibit pieces that are oil and acrylic paint on layered wood. She is inspired by life all around her, the good and the bad.

Exhibit hours at ASU Gammage are 1-4 p.m., Mondays, or by appointment. Due to rehearsals, event set-up, performances, special events and holidays, it is advisable to call (480) 965-6912 or (480) 965-0458 to ensure viewing hours, since they are subject to cancellation without notice.

The street address is 1200 S. Forest Ave., Tempe. Parking is available at meters around the perimeter of ASU Gammage. Entrance is through east lobby doors at the box office.

Bioarchaeologists link climate instability to human mobility in ancient Sahara

April 14, 2014

Over millennia, the Sahara has gone through cycles of greening and aridity. During times when this region was lush and covered with bodies of water, it supported a wide variety of life, including human.

Arizona State University bioarchaeologists Christopher Stojanowski and Kelly Knudson are studying the remains of some of these ancient humans to understand how their changing climate affected their ability and need to move across the landscape. ASU associate professor Christopher Stojanowski at the Gobero site in the Sahara Download Full Image

Stojanowski and Knudson’s research site is located in central Niger. Known as Gobero, it was home to a large lake during the middle Holocene, roughly five- to seven-thousand years ago. The humans who made their homes around the lake at this time depended on hunting, gathering and fishing, and some kept cattle.

Along with collaborators at the University of Chicago, Stojanowski directed excavations at the Gobero site, which offers a rich mortuary record.

Back at ASU, in the Archaeological Chemistry Laboratory, Knudson sampled bone and teeth enamel, and used their chemical signatures to determine individuals’ origins, as well as where they resided during the course of their lives.

The results suggest that individuals chose different mobility strategies but that near the end of the lake area’s occupation, as their environment dried out, Saharan peoples became more mobile.

“To me, what is exciting about this research is that we are able to use information from science – including anthropology, chemistry and geology – to understand how people in the past responded to a drier environment,” Knudson says.

Adds Stojanowski, “The data seem to indicate this shift to greater mobility occurred only at the very end of the archaeological sequence, which may suggest that responses to increasingly arid conditions may have occurred only under the direst of circumstances.”

Stojanowski and Knudson, who are associate professors in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, recently published their findings in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Though the research subjects lived and died thousands of years ago, Knudson believes they have much to teach us. Understanding how they adapted to drier conditions can help human populations today and in the future to solve their own climatic challenges.

Stojanowski points out that one lesson to be learned might be that it is human nature to ignore a problem like a degrading environment until forced to face it.

“In this case, the Sahara was always going to win. The result was that a bustling center of human life and experience, one that existed for over 5,000 years, was completely abandoned and ceded to the sands,” he illustrates. “I might also note that the offset of habitability may have been very quick in the sense of a human lifespan. As the Sahara dried and ecosystems adjusted, imagine the abundance of fish left in the lake, the animals drawn to the surface waters that were dwindling across northern Africa. It may have seemed like the best of times to the people that lived there – easy and plentiful food until the Rubicon was crossed and life became unsustainable.”

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change