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Best of Curo 2009

Humanities, Social Sciences, Policy, and the Arts

Humanities

News in the Black Belt: Teaching Journalists How to Cover Poverty in Persistently Poor Counties

 

Carolyn Crist

Faculty Advisor: Prof. John Greenman, Department of Journalism, University of Georgia

In the 1990s, many larger newsrooms across the nation employed reporters on a "poverty beat" to discuss financial difficulties in their communities. Now, as large newsrooms lay off hundreds of employees and reduce specialized beats, newspapers are increasingly focusing on local communities. As the trend continues, journalists must learn how to convey information through their local identities and sense of place to explain poverty in persistently poor locations. I pinpointed 14 newspapers in middle and southern Georgia that are located in generationally-poor areas and attempted to discern whether a workshop would be beneficial to teach them how to cover poverty in interesting and relevant articles. Because poverty affects all aspects of the community—crime, health, business and education—we propose coverage should be taught to all reporters as a "horizontal" beat to be covered in all areas rather than as a "vertical" beat that is given only to one reporter. Through articles explaining history, narratives, and tradition, reporters can draw in readers and educate them about the effects of poverty in their community. National statistics, surveys, and legislation can be used at a local level to explain poverty trends, and this paper gives specific ideas to incorporate poverty coverage in beats across the newsroom. The 14 newspapers observed in this study were divided on how they currently acknowledge and cover poverty, and each must find its own way to correctly cover the issue in its market. All agreed on one idea - in times of economic recession, a workshop that would cost money and take time from the office is not ideal. I propose to create a Web site in fall 2009 that will teach newspapers from all backgrounds and paths how to cover poverty simply in their communities through several stories that can be published at any time. If followed, increased poverty coverage will reflect local struggles with the diminished economy, highlight areas where the local government can aid community members, decrease stereotypes associated with poverty, and increase understanding about the poverty cycle usually located just down the street.

  

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Translating "The Jews" in the Fourth Gospel

 

Betsy Katz

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Wayne Coppins, Department of Religion, University of Georgia

Since over half of the references to "the Jews" in the Gospel of John suggest a negative literary association, it is not surprising that the text has been used in anti-Semitic rhetoric throughout the centuries. While scholars today verbally acknowledge that certain verses from the Fourth Gospel have been used to denigrate ethnic Jews, little work has been done to explore such discriminatory uses. In this paper, instead of assuming the historical-critical focus on original meaning and context, I will assume the focus of reception history, which is on such historical interpretations and uses. This paper will examine the way the Gospel of John has been interpreted and used anti-Semitically at influential points in its history such as in the Early Church documents, Luther's writings, and Nazi rhetoric. It seems these earlier interpreters read the term "the Jews" in its original context in John to apply to all ethnic Jews and then applied this interpretation to contemporaneous Jews. This analysis will inform the way contemporary scholars engage the brutal history of the Fourth Gospel's use, as they seek to be faithful to the original situational text and mindful of the way the text has been exploited. Whether or not scholars agree with defamatory uses of the Gospel of John, the importance of understanding the particularities of such uses cannot be disregarded in this age of fundamentalism.

  

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Bolivian Wrestlers in Skirts

*Awarded Best Paper in the Social Sciences*

 

Abigail Wilson

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Katalin Medvedev, Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Interiors, University of Georgia

Dress serves as a symbolic metaphor of the relationship of the individual to the cultural system and thus is an important means of constructing and articulating gender norms. The analysis of the sartorial practices of indigenous female wrestlers, known as "cholitas luchadoras", provides insight into the social/political tension that exists in the contemporary Bolivian society, where domestic and political hostility is rampant. What differentiates the cholitas from (fe)male wrestlers in the Western world is their distinctively feminine and historically grounded dress style. The cholitas consciously choose to wrestle in a lace petticoat, a Spanish-style skirt (also known as a "pollera") and a colorful, fringed shawl because they embrace and choose to highlight their femininity in such a traditionally masculine and often brutal activity. The pollera is the typical dress of native women in Bolivia, thus the cholitas' decision to wear the garment underscores the strength and perseverance of these women in the face of all forms of violence in their lives. Through their impractical use of traditional female dress, they not only contest the misogynist treatment of women but the political and economic disenfranchisement of indigenous people as well. Through their acrobatic acts of wrestling these female wrestlers prove that they can fight without sacrificing their femininity or compromising their ethnic identity. In the process, they are actively reshaping and redefining contemporary gender and political roles in Bolivia. The analysis of the cholitas' practices is informed by Judith Butler's work on the performativity of gender.

  

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Defining and Regaining the Human Identity: queries of existence in Frederick Douglass's Narrative

*Awarded Best Paper in the Humanities*

 

Anna Wilson

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ron Miller, Department of English, University of Georgia

This paper explores the process of dehumanization imposed upon African American slaves within the system of American chattel slavery as it is depicted in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. What does it mean to be human and, conversely, what does it mean not to be human? My research has revealed that Douglass's portrayal is distinguished by animal-related metaphors that the author utilizes to identify the qualities crucial to human identity and thereby the features that are most devastated by the slavery system. This paper also examines Douglass's rebirth into humanity and endeavors to recognize and elucidate the processes by which these vital human traits are reimplemented into the author's life. My paper asserts that this journey can be clearly separated into two major stages: the reacquisition of a personal identity and the acceptance of the right to toil for upward social mobility. Both phases are initiated, fueled, and shaped heavily by Douglass's personal literacy. By clearly differentiating between brute, man, and, perhaps most importantly, the process of transformation from one to the other, Douglass's Narrative creates a standard scale that can be utilized to evaluate the process of human progress. My paper reapplies these historically transcending findings in order to examine several notable individuals and events that have taken part and place within the most recent years of the African American timeline.

  

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A Sense of Self: Questions of Identity in Contemporary Novels by Second-Generation Turkish-German Women Writers

*Awarded Best Paper with an International Focus*

 

Laura Wynn

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Martin Kagel, Department of Germanic & Slavic Languages, University of Georgia

As the largest minority, the Turkish-German population plays an important role in contemporary Germany. Turkish citizens first came to Germany in the wake of a guest worker agreement forged in 1961, which allowed Turkish workers to assist in the rebuilding of Germany during the post-war economic boom. Many guest workers chose to remain in Germany and, over time, the group grew into the largest minority living in the country today. The integration of Turkish guest workers into German society has been difficult and caused much political controversy. Questions about what rights should be afforded these "Fremde," or foreigners and their role in German society as a whole prompted many Turkish-Germans to begin putting their ideas to paper. During the 1970s, literature by Turkish-German authors began to emerge and attract attention and recognition when Emine Sevgi Özdamar won the Ingeborg Bachmann prize in 1991. Since the reunification of Germany in 1989, the publication of literature written by Turkish-German authors has increased significantly, especially as the second generation of Turkish-Germans has come of age. Three novels written by female authors of this second generation of Turkish-Germans depict many of the issues the minority as a whole faces. Alev Tekinay's Nur der Hauch vom Paradies, Yade Kara's Selam Berlin, and Dilek Güngör's Das Geheimnis meiner türkischen Grossmutter also cast light on the specific struggles of Turkish-German women of the second generation. The question of self is the most prominent of the thematic elements in the novels, which can be found in feelings and thoughts the characters express about family, gender, and a missing or incomplete sense of belonging in what remains a foreign country. My analysis of the novels against the historical background of both the individual authors and the Turkish-German minority as a whole traces the conflicts and discusses the answers the authors attempt to provide.

  

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Social Sciences

A Season of (Info) Sharing: An Empirical Assessment of Intelligence Reform

 

Rocky Cole and Chris Chiego

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Loch Johnson, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia, and
Dr. Keith Dougherty, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Georgia

Following the Iraq weapons of mass destruction (WMD) intelligence failure of 2003, Congress enacted the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA). The legislation reorganized the intelligence community to facilitate greater cross-agency sharing of raw intelligence and more frequent inter-agency cooperation, creating a Director of National Intelligence and a National Counterterrorism Center. Though IRTPA marginally improved information sharing practices, it failed to address the flaw in the intelligence process which was most responsible for leading policymakers to believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction: the threat of consensus thinking, commonly known as groupthink. To test the hypothesis that groupthink played a role in the 2003 Iraq WMD intelligence failure—and that it is not receiving comparable levels of attention from intelligence professionals as information sharing—we conduct an empirical investigation of IRTPA by developing an Intelligence Reform Lexicon, or a dictionary of terms associated with intelligence reform. We use intext computer software to machine code government agency, think tank, and academic literature, as well as Congressional testimony, from 1993 to 2008. We then use the data to derive "Lexicon Scores," or percent values, of the average amount of annual coverage devoted to specific aspects of intelligence reform. Our results support our hypothesis that groupthink played a role in the recent intelligence failures, and that in order to mitigate the negative affects of groupthink, the intelligence community needs to conduct more extensive academic outreach.

  

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Moving Waste Management to the Future: Implementing a Facultative Bioreactor in Athens-Clarke County

 

Shanell Davis and Malin Dartnell

Faculty Advisor: Brian Drake, Assistant Professor of Environmental History, University of Georgia

Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas that is over 20 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide (CO2) and can stay in the atmosphere up to fifteen years once released. The methane released in landfill gas comprises 23-34% of atmospheric methane and is one of the largest human-related sources of methane emission. However, it makes up a large percentage of natural gas and is an excellent source of energy. By trapping the methane released from solid municipal waste landfills, it is possible to make positive use of it. Our research suggests the installation and implementation of a Landfill Gas to Energy program (LFGE), specifically a facultative bioreactor, on the Athens-Clarke County landfill. This would entail piping landfill gas out of the landfill. Once extracted, the methane will be processed and readied for use as an energy source. A partnership with the University of Georgia as the consumer of the gas will offset some of the cost of the facility. The landfill gas to energy program will reduce landfill gas emission and will allow Athens-Clarke County to use the methane gas as a source of energy and revenue for the county.

  

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A Study of the Effects of Aerobic Exercise on the Executive Cognitive Functioning of Overweight Children

 

Anne Kimball

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jennifer McDowell, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia

Evidence has suggested that exercise can have a variety of beneficial effects on cognition. This study investigates whether exercise benefits children's executive control (EC). EC constitutes supervisory control of cognitive functions, including inhibition and allocation of attention and memory. The participants were 25 sedentary, overweight (BMI = 85th percentile) children ages 8-11 years old. Subjects were randomly placed into either an attention control group, which engaged in instructor-led sedentary activities, or an exercise intervention group, which participated in aerobic training for 40 minutes/day, 5 days/week for 9 months. An antisaccade task and Eriksen flanker task were used as behavioral measures of EC and were tested at the beginning of the intervention and at 9 weeks. Antisaccade tasks involve the suppression of a prepotent visual response and generation of eye movement towards the mirrorimage unmarked location. The flanker task requires suppression of interfering responses and selective attention to a central target. Because antisaccade and flanker tasks are relatively well understood measurements of EC, observing changes in antisaccade and flanker performance over time for both groups could provide evidence for an effect of exercise on cognition. It is hypothesized that the exercise group will demonstrate increased performance on both antisaccade and flanker tasks as compared to the control group. By providing evidence for the positive effects of exercise on cognition, this study would support the implementation of aerobic exercise programs in schools so that children in America would be healthier, both physically and mentally.

  

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The Absence of Term Limits in the Constitution

*Awarded Best Paper with a Civic Focus*

 

Caitlin McLaughlin

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Daniel Kapust, Department of Political Science, University of Georgia

Following the Revolutionary War, the Framers of the American Constitution sought to establish a new government free from the tyranny of monarchy. Arguably, however, their new system enabled the creation of a new aristocracy through perpetual reelection. This paper examines why the Framers, with their great fear of entrenched power, did not include term limits in the Constitution. In studying contemporary American government charters, it appears clear that this decision went against the common practice of the time. Since the absence of controls on reelection was a radical departure from the norm, this paper examines pamphlets from the early American period to highlight the powerful defenses of term limits. Using notes from the Constitutional Convention as well as personal correspondence, it appears that the Framers themselves were divided on the issue. The ultimate decision to exclude term limits was the result of several arguments, including the belief that the possibility of reelection would encourage good service, the view that voters should have the right to elect whomever they please, and the expectation that other institutional safeguards would prevent the development of tyranny. Indeed, the existence of such a multiplicity of rationales is one of the most important results of this study. With the intent of the Framers functioning as common evidence in modern Constitutional jurisprudence, it is critical to gain a clear understanding of their opinions. This paper suggests that elements of the Constitution were not always the result of unanimity of opinion, making the "Framers' intent" difficult to discern.

  

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THE DEVELOPMENT OF DIRECTIONAL UNDERSTANDING IN THREE- TO FIVE-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN

 

Stephanie Lenae Stansky and Krisztina Varga

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Janet Frick, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia

Endogenous orienting occurs when a meaningful cue, such as an arrow, is used to direct attention toward a peripheral target. Adults and children as young as four years of age respond faster to a target that is cued by a central arrow than to an uncued target. However, the nature of the understanding of the arrow by young children is not well understood. Therefore, the current study explores this issue by setting the perceptual "weight" (which is usually heavier on the side of the arrow head) of the arrow cue against its symbolic meaning (directional indication). In this project, 3- to 5-year-old children were tested using various centrally located arrow cues to test the hypothesis that as development progresses, there is also a progression of understanding of arrow cues from a perceptual to a symbolic understanding. Children sat in front of a computer monitor and were presented with arrow cues followed by peripheral targets. The time it took them to make an eye movement to the target was measured using frame-by-frame coding. The results showed that 3- to 5-year-olds do not rely entirely on either the perceptual characteristics or on the symbolic nature of an arrow, as no reaction time differences were observed between valid and invalid trials (p>.05). Future research is proposed to investigate the understanding that young children have of important directional cues such as arrows.

  

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Power and Influence in Southeast Asia: A Study of the Methods of China, India, United States, and Japan

 

Giridhar Subramanian

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Brock Tessman, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia

States use either hard or soft power to influence events around them. Hard power relies on military and economic incentives and punishments; soft power uses more abstract aspects of economic dependence or moral authority to reach the desired outcome. This study looks at India, China, Japan, and the United States, known as power countries, and their influence on Southeast Asia. In order to measure hard and soft power's effectiveness, the independent variables are bilateral trade and arms percentage. Bilateral trade measures soft power by looking at what percentage of a Southeast Asian country's GDP comes from bilateral trade with a power country. Arms percentage, which measures hard power, is the percentage of the military expenditure that a state spends on bilateral arms transfers. These variables are then compared with bilateral events data and UN disagreement percentage through a statistical analysis program, STATA. The study seeks to find the relative efficacy of both types of power for a given year. The analysis shows that cooperation is positively correlated with arms percentage and negatively correlated with bilateral trade, which implies that hard power is more effective than soft power over time. It also indicates that both independent variables' significance as factors for increased cooperation rise when they are used together. Therefore, soft power is more effective when it is used with hard power. These results show that soft power, although important, is not a strong factor in influencing other nations, as select items of literature within the field imply. Hard power is still an important factor in affecting other states' decisions.

  

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POLICY

H-1B Visa and Green Card Reform

 

Joshua Gloster

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Scott Atkinson, Department of Economics, University of Georgia

H-1B visas and green cards for high-skilled foreign workers have had an almost entirely positive effect on the American economy. H-1B visas, which are temporary non-immigrant visas, and green cards, which allow for permanent residence, are being issued at too low of a rate, even considering the decline in growth of the American economy. Support for removing the cap on H-1B visas and green cards will be based on analysis of current literature regarding the shortage of high-skilled labor in America, free market solutions to immigration issues, and the failure of other policies to solve the labor shortage. Due to the need for a greater number of skilled workers, and to lessen the problem of outsourcing, Congress should pass legislation to enact both H-1B visa and green card reform. Currently, corporations like Google and Microsoft have to get around H-1B visa restrictions by outsourcing jobs overseas. Lifting the cap on H-1B visas will help end this detrimental process. Also, the green card application process should be simplified so H- 1B workers who deserve green cards can obtain them. Positive effects will include an increase in the sense of acceptance among H-1B workers, an increase in their sense of civic responsibility, and incorporation of these workers within the tax base. The complaints of American highskilled workers should be taken seriously and properly addressed, but the potential benefits of H-1B visa and green card reform suggest that they outweigh the costs. 

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Food for Thought: A Comprehensive Overhaul of American Food Aid Policy

 

Catherine Mencher

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Stacey Mitchell, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia

In 2008, global food prices nearly doubled from the year before. Already, hunger kills more people annually than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Despite U.S. efforts aimed at resolving global food insecurity, the inefficiencies of the United States' food aid programs actually compound the problem. Currently, U.S. food aid constitutes nearly two thirds of worldwide food donations, yet roughly 60 percent of food aid appropriations are misspent on domestic subsidies. From a qualitative analysis of historical and economic data provided by United States Department of Agriculture and United States Agency for International Development budgets, the United Nations World Food Programme, and various non-governmental organizations, this study proposes three U.S. food aid reforms: (1) that food aid programs be streamlined and moved under the jurisdiction of an Office of Food Security, whose mandate emphasizes the agricultural development of the recipient country; (2) that those aspects of food aid programs solely benefiting influential U.S. constituencies be eliminated or reduced; and (3) that a food security database be created and made accessible to food aid recipients and stakeholders, allowing for a more cohesive, country-specific approach to hunger. This study contends these improvements will benefit the U.S by lowering U.S. taxpayers' long and short-term American aid costs, and by increasing global security through the enhancement of recipient governments' legitimacy. 

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Preventing Binge Drinking among University of Georgia Students

 

Bobby Rosenbleeth

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Elaine Weeks, Department of Sociology, University of Georgia

Each year in the United States 1,700 college students aged 18 to 24 die from alcohol-related injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes. Such accidental injuries are the leading cause of death among people 15 to 24 years old. In light of these alarming statistics, many universities, including the University of Georgia, have taken significant steps to reduce binge drinking—drinking five or more drinks within two hours. This study will assess the effectiveness of alcohol-related policy changes that affected UGA students from 2001 to 2007 based on survey data over the same time period and recommend future policy changes to reduce high-risk drinking among UGA students. From 2001 until 2007, Athens-Clarke County significantly increased enforcement of the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA). UGA also increased enforcement of the MLDA on campus, stiffened penalties for students caught violating the MLDA, and increased educational programs targeting underage students and highrisk groups. National College Health Assessment survey data, collected at UGA during the fall semester of odd numbered years, show that these changes are correlated with a large decline in underage drinking rates and a slight decline in binge drinking rates among underage students who report drinking. However, binge drinking remains a significant problem. Many underage students continue to binge. Students of legal age binge drink at even higher rates. And importantly, UGA students continue to perceive a heavy drinking culture. To further combat binge drinking, Athens and UGA must implement a tiered penalties structure based on blood-alcohol content for underage drinking and public drunkenness violations and launch a sustained social norms campaign to combat prevalent misperceptions about UGA's drinking culture. 

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Simplification of Eligibility Requirements for PeachCare for Kids: Increasing Health Insurance Coverage for Georgia's Children

 

Tracy Yang

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Phaedra Corso, Department of Health Policy and Management, University of Georgia

PeachCare for Kids (PCK), part of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), provides low-cost health coverage for children residing in Georgia. PCK is administered by the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH). In 2007, the DCH increased documentation requirements regarding proof of income, citizenship, and identity. These measures were not instituted in response to abuses of the program by ineligible individuals according to DCH officials. State and national legislation, academic literature, information from the DCH, and other sources were analyzed to research enrollment patterns of eligible but uninsured children across the U.S. after the implementation of increased documentation requirements to determine SCHIP eligibility. Various nationwide studies have found that increasing required documentation for enrollment in SCHIP has mostly resulted in coverage gaps and denials for eligible children. Analysis of these studies suggests that administrative hurdles regarding eligibility for PCK will result in decreased coverage of eligible children in Georgia, increased administrative costs, and decreased health outcomes for children overall. The reinstatement of simplified verification methods could help maintain and improve child health in Georgia. It is more cost-effective to insure children and provide them with preventive care than to treat later health problems through uncompensated care, especially in light of the recent SCHIP bill signed by President Obama providing potential funding. The basic goal of PCK is to provide health insurance for low-income children in order to improve health outcomes. Increasing enrollment of uninsured children already eligible for PCK will help Georgia reach this goal. 

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THE ARTS

 

In The Field: Understanding Science Through The Book Arts

 

Talia Bromstad

Faculty Advisor:  Prof. Amanda Burk, Department of Printmaking, University of Georgia

 

 

The work I find most fascinating is that of scientists, as it tends to remain a large mystery to me, a student of the fine arts. I recognize the importance of what these people learn and do, but I know that, ultimately, it is a field I will never completely understand. It is with this in mind that I am exploring the idea of creating artwork that begins with the tools and artifacts of the world of science. More specifically, I am taking the field and lab books of students and professors of science and deconstructing them, reducing them to their basic parts. The calculations and notations within the books were once essential and significant—albeit cryptic to me—but without their bindings and order their meaning is erased, thus reducing them to their inherent visual structure. I am interested in how the physical remnants of the mental process become an abstract field of mark-making, and it is this field that I respond to, reworking and building upon it until I have reconstructed the journal in a new fashion that combines the mystery of the science with my attempts to understand it. The finished product is also a field book, but it is completely transformed; choices were made based upon visual aesthetics rather than facts and practicality. Throughout the process, I am reminded of the impact science has on how we perceive the world around us, but also of the impact art has on how we understand that science.

 

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: In her piece In The Field: Understanding Science Through The Book Arts, Bromstad tackles a subject of which many artists tend to be wary. What to some might be a boring and even intimidating textbook, to Bromstad becomes an object of intrigue and opportunity to demonstrate her artistic ability. She states, "in deconstructing and then reconstructing [the] field book, I wanted to highlight the apparent mystery that surrounds science…To me, these numbers and pictures are not information, but rather they are imagery." Turning science into an art exhibits an interest in seeing the beauty in complexity, while giving an appreciation to the nature of everything. Thus she encourages future artists to "have a thread of meaning behind everything, even if that meaning is as simple as the search for beauty in expression."

 

 

Altered Surfaces: Fabric Manipulation and Design

 

Malorie McCloy

Faculty Advisor:  Prof. Clay McLaurin, Department of Fabric Design, University of Georgia

 

 

The main focus of my research is fabric manipulation: folding, layering, and stitching of flat fabric to create surfaces with volume, texture, and dimension. I construct fabrics that are made up of small components of manipulated fabric, which combine to form a whole, just as the petals of a flower combine to create something that is more graceful and beautiful than simply the petals themselves. I enjoy working with small components because they allow me to gradually build up a fabric's surface over time, exposing my evolving thought process as I go along. There is a natural sense of movement and energy to these pieces. I find myself balancing a playful aesthetic with rich, sumptuous colors and textures. To further expose the transformative nature of my work, I reinterpret the textural surfaces in a two-dimensional format through drawing and screen-printing. The process is endless, and the excitement lies in that I never quite know what the outcome will be.

 

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: Malorie McCloy, a senior fabric design major from Snellville, found her passion for textiles and design while working with her mom as she grew up. Helping with her mother's window treatment company, McCloy fostered her love for sewing and was drawn to fabric design in college. For her research project, McCloy manipulated fabrics to imitate flora and fauna – emulating natural growth inspired by the world around her. She took samplings of plant life and tried to recreate a 3D sowing technique with folds, ripples, and layers out of metallic thread or sheer material to capture the light through volume, texture, and dimension. After two internships in New York during the summer, she changed her perspective of design and overall aesthetic to make it more marketable. This includes using sturdy and durable materials to make high quality, lasting products instead of lightweight and sheer fabrics. She incorporates canvas material into her designs but still retains the ideas of flora and fauna in her work – currently creating patterns of forestry and foxes.

 

 

Art & Engineering: A Binocular Vision

 

Brittany Norman

Faculty Advisor:  Prof. Martijn van Wagtendonk, Department ofStudio Foundations, University of Georgia

 

 

A modern-day Leonardo da Vinci, Dutch artist Theo Jansen claims that “the walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.” What happens when we break down these walls and use tools from both the arts and the sciences to bring our ideas into being? To understand, replicate, and enhance aspects of the natural world—these are the goals of both the artist and the inventor. Both are creators who hope to take the matter around them and give it form and give it life. Drawing on studies in computer science, engineering, and mathematics, these artworks will explore the relationships we have with technology, science, nature, and culture, as well as the relationships these have with one another. What happens when both the artwork and the viewer have the ability to sense and respond? Can mathematics be used to create beauty? How can virtual reality be used to develop a more immersive, synaesthetic space that the viewer is able to explore? Just as binocular vision gives us the perception of depth, so an interdisciplinary approach taken from multiple perspectives can provide us with a depth of understanding that allows us to answer questions like these. Artworks in progress include an interactive video projection which responds to the viewer's footsteps, paintings created with fractals, and excursions into the medium of robotics.

 

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: Brittany Norman, a senior Honors Interdisciplinary Studies major who combines art, engineering and computer science, finds that – for her – art and engineering stem from the same source of desire and passion to understand the world around her. Both fields are creative. With an engineering focus on function and an artistic focus on the aesthetic, Norman looks at the world around her and allows her artistic imagination to take form mechanically. Her project, an interactive video piece, creates the illusion of plant life springing up underfoot whenever the viewer takes a step. She created a computer program that analyzes the information from a camera to locate where the viewer steps, and she continues to develop this project further. Norman says she sees some great technological achievements – such as man landing on the Moon – as works of both art and science because humans achieved what they dreamed. And that fulfillment of a dream and imagination is exactly what art and science mean to her – creating the world the way she wants it to be.

 

 

Borrowed Building/Search Cycle

 

Ash Sechler

Faculty Advisor:  Mr. Mark Callahan, Artistic Director, Ideas for Creative Exploration, University of Georgia

 

 

Borrowed Building combines separate photographs of skyscraper windows shaped like internet bricks; they are built/collaged on top of each other to form a single building. I wanted to literalize the process of taking things out of their separated contexts and combining them to create something new. The original URLs of each image are used, so the building's existence is tenuous and is dependent on the individual owners of the pictures. In a way, the building doesn't belong to me; it belongs to the collective photographs' owners. But they also relinquish ownership because they cannot control how their images are used. In Search Cycle the viewer/user uses words to search for images from the internet that then appear one at a time in rapid succession (24fps). The images loop, and new images are added once they are downloaded. The search results portray our complex relationships between the words we use and the connotations they carry. Stringing these images together presents a holistic interpretation of how we see the world. They come from an abundance of perspectives and literally blend into each other. The speed of playback is such that afterimages of the previous pictures remain when the next images are displayed (this is how film works). Abstract visual elements are animated, and the viewer gets an impression of a combination of the different images. The synthesis of meanings illustrates a deeper, more whole, and subliminal perspective on the imagery of our culture.

 

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: According to Ash Sechler, "when you remix something you are taking pieces of something and building them into one thing." With this attitude in mind, this artist employs the unique medium of the Internet and other forms of digital media to design pieces of art such as Borrowed Building and Googleloop. In these pieces of art, Sechler desires to address how our culture has developed and changed due to the use of the Internet as a means to gain knowledge and pursue interests. Describing his art style as spontaneous, he demonstrates this in one piece as it is composed of a combination of unrelated images from the URLs people found when they searched the Internet for what interested them. His advice to future artists: "Go with what you know and try to be bold."

 

 

Weaving the Fog

 

Daisy Whelan

Faculty Advisor:  Prof. Clay McLaurin, Department of Fabric Design, University of Georgia

 

 

Can one determine their own physical position on a day when navigating the clouds becomes the first visual priority? The clouds, manifested as deep fog, provide a blanket of disillusion when positioned so close to the ground. However, the visual distortion that one experiences on a foggy day is based on a structure of perfectly clear water particles. I have interpreted this subject matter through weaving, using some traditional yarns and many alternative materials. Such materials include vinyl-coated yarn, nylon and monofilament mixed with more traditional bamboo, knitted, and cashmere yarns. Weaving lends itself perfectly to interpreting clarity, for the process is a system of design that relies on structure as its livelihood. I have manipulated material and order of pattern, so that my weavings interpret light and movement. Some weavings rely on the density of material to provide disillusion, while others rely on the near invisible nature of the material. Perfect structures form when I allow the setup of the loom to project a perfect pattern. My research tests the viewer's eye. Sometimes lost in the order, the viewer is at other times faced with a complete framework and clarity of order. Positioning is crucial; the weaving will appear differently depending on the where the viewer stands, just like every position in the fog will take on a different illusion.

 

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: Daisy Whelan, a senior fabric design major from Savannah, was at Tybee Island last winter with her family when she came up with the idea to imitate the weather with her woven designs. Whelan, who said she is most satisfied making art when she can do research and combine disciplines, created the fabrics to be like the water particles in the air – geometry in the middle of chaos. Her series of fabrics, using bamboo and monofilaments, show a progression from fogginess to clarity. She created even more samples with nylon and plastic yarn to create a more opaque and organic feel, imitating water particles and patterns of all sizes. For her final project, Whelan created a helmet with fabric that the wearer can see through but that outsiders cannot see into. Once again imitating the feel of fog, she built the idea of opacity into a final form and product.

 

 

Jewelry in the Age of Postmodernism

 

Marilyn Zapf

Faculty Advisor:  Prof. Mary Pearse, Department of Jewelry & Metalwork, University of Georgia

 

 

My current work investigates the role of jewelry in society through postmodern methods of critique. I use imitation to point to mass-produced and mass-consumed jewelry, while subtle changes create a distance between the symbol (jewelry) and the signified (status, wealth, and self-image creation). The necklaces reference nameplate necklaces, a trend in the 1980s that re-emerged in 21st century when Sarah Jessica Parker wore one on the HBO series Sex and the City and again (in an exaggerated form) in hip hop culture. Additionally, the necklaces are documented in the same context one would expect to find commercial jewelry: paparazzi-like photographs and snapshots found in popular style magazines. However, traditional materials such as gold and silver are not used but mimicked through the use of enamel or a colored glass surface applied to the base metal copper. In addition, the words spell out the role jewelry plays in society, such as a "signifier" of wealth and a creator of someone's self-image. My necklaces literalize the function of jewelry in order to simultaneously reveal and subvert the task of ornamentation in popular culture. My work suggests what is really being bought and sold when people buy jewelry through the reference to, but deviation from, popularly recognized materials, forms, and documentation of jewelry.

 

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: (none provided)

 

 

 

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