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From One Arts Arena to Another

If members of Keuka’s Class of 2013 are looking for inspiration as they enter the job market, they should check out Stephanie Lange, who was in their shoes just a year ago.

Lange's senior art project, a bronze installation.

In her time at Keuka, Lange ’12 of Apalachin made quite a mark. While completing a double major in visual and verbal art and organizational communication, Lange helped found and lead an intellectual exploration group known as Tabula Rasa, worked as the graphic designer for the student newspaper, and completed a bronze sculpture installation of a red-tailed hawk as her senior art project.

Now she’s venturing into new ground in the arts, and landed what she calls her “dream job.”

Lange interacts with guests during a Perfect Pairing gallery event.

In late January, Lange started work as the program coordinator for the Schweinfurth Arts Center in Auburn. She is now directing a two-week annual conference, “Quilting by the Lake,” for the non-profit in addition to helping promote the Arts Center’s five annual exhibits, communicating with corporate sponsors, and producing and designing the center’s newsletters and other marketing materials.

The annual quilt show convention, held each July on the campus of Onondaga Community College near Syracuse, features more than 30 quilting-related classes and lectures, a quilt show and specialty vendors. According to Lange, while traditional quilting styles and methods are featured, there is a focus on modern quilting techniques involving painting on the fabric and elements of geometry, all of which creates an artistic quality.

“It’s not like something my grandma does,” Lange said. “The precision required for quilting is difficult to master.”


Like others, Lange had been forewarned to expect great challenge finding a salaried, full-time position in the arts field and said that awareness had her raving to her family that this opportunity was amazing. Not only does she help stage exhibits – some in the same measurements she learned as a student assisting with shows in Keuka’s Lightner Gallery – but she can participate in art classes hosted by the Center, as well as meet artists and local residents through Schweinfurth’s special events. (more…)

A “Blank Slate” To Fill

Students Elise DeAndrea and Marie LaBrie on a Tabula Rasa visit to Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn where Harriet Tubman and William Seward are buried.

Question: Where can a college student discover that nothing – even outside the classroom- is “off-topic?”

Answer: Keuka College, where learning outside of class can sometimes rival learning from a seat, where everything from icons of Buddhism, to towering wind turbines, to abolitionist history, to tattoo artistry, can invite questions and spark intense discussion among students with a passion for learning and exploration.

But it has not always been so.

Keuka used to have an honor society that began fading and died out in the early 2000s, “so the last decade, we’ve had few opportunities for the intellectually curious student,” said Mike McKenzie, associate professor of religion and philosophy.

Few, that is, until 2009, when then-sophomores Stephanie Lange, Aaron Golly and Kelsey Marquart dialogued with McKenzie about starting a group that could “find a way to learn outside the typical confined classroom setting,” Lange said.

They chose the name Tabula Rasa, which is Latin for “blank slate.”

“It’s the idea that we’re sort of born a sponge and we can fill up with knowledge,” said McKenzie, citing philosopher John Locke as the founder of the concept. “To expand someone’s mind, by definition, you have to get them outside their intellectual comfort zone.”

“A lot of the classes that you take are very cerebral, and you have to work through different problems. This is a step away,” explained junior Ross Gleason of Rockingham, Vt., who is helping lead Tabula Rasa this year with junior Sarah Marquart. “What do you want to learn? Ok, go do it. It’s always more interesting to go and experience something yourself. It allows you to get a broad view.”

Icons of Buddhism were discussed at a Tabula Rasa event.

Indeed, Tabula Rasa has covered a wide breadth of exploration. For example, the group hosted a former Mennonite, who spoke about her experience, and later, a Buddhist shared elements and icons of that faith. They visited a winery to learn the difference between traditional and organic wines, and stood underneath giant wind turbines at a wind “farm” in Cohocton. And, they explored historic roots of the Underground Railroad during a visit to Auburn’s Harriet Tubman home, William Seward House Museum, and Fort Hill Cemetery, where Tubman is buried. A two-night visit to a private observatory for stargazing was another outing last year.
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Experiential Learners of the Year Named

At Keuka College, experiential learning is a core focus and the 140-hour annual Field Period internship is one of the primary arenas where hands-on learning comes into play.

Each year, one freshman and one upperclassman earns Experiential Learner of the Year honors for demonstrating initiative, development of a broad and varied portfolio of work, and personal reflection on the skills learned during the Field Period experience.

Marquart, seated, and Torres.

The six nominees for 2012 were nominated by academic advisers, created a portfolio of work in essays, photographs and other media, and were honored at a luncheon April 27. During the May 5 Honors Convocation ceremony, the winners were named: freshman Lelia Torres of Stockton and sophomore Sarah Marquart of Auburn.

Torres’s first-time Field Period experience was quite a coup, as she was the first freshman from any college or university to land a Field Period internship with the Chautauqua County Office of Probation (CCOP). (more…)

Eyes (and Ears) Wide Open

Senior Jason Troutman references a list of bird species in Keuka's ornithology field lab, taught by Dr. Bill Brown, at right. (All photos by Brett Williams).

Bundled warm in hoodies against the morning chill at Keuka Lake State Park, the students are standing still, listening intently. From the branches of trees nearby come chirps, calls and sing-song melodies, rising over the sound of the waves lapping the shore.

“What do you hear?” asks Bill Brown, assistant professor of biology and environmental science, who holds a Ph.D. and specializes in ornithology, the study of birds. Binoculars hang suspended from the students’ necks, but Brown wants them to listen first.

Seniors Steve Stout and Justin Henry record bird species they've identified during an outdoor field lab.

Pencils poised over palm-size waterproof notepads, the handful of students lower their heads and jot down four-letter codes for different species as they respond with the names: Mourning dove. American robin. Cardinal. Canada goose. Carolina wren. Downy woodpecker. [Eastern] Pheobe. House finch.

This is ENV/BIO 331, Keuka’s ornithology class, where one of Brown’s primary objectives is teaching students to master identification of some 104 different species of birds by sight. Thirty-nine of those species must also be identified by sound. And those are just the birds found here in New York state.

According to Brown, almost 90 percent of “birding” is done by ear; the rest comes from knowing what to expect in a given setting, whether that may be a small cluster of trees near a building, along a road, or deep in a forest fragment. (more…)