Tag Archives: art

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Developing into a Dancer: My Own Foundation Myth – by Alexa Lee. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

World History and the Meaning of Being Human – Developing into a Dancer: My Own Foundation Myth – by Alexa Lee. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

My mom read to me all the time, but especially before bed, and I had a book about a ballerina that was my absolute favorite. She jokes that she had it memorized, and still does (even though neither of us remember the title, so I am not so sure about that). After she read this book one night, we kissed goodnight and I drifted off thinking about ballerinas. That night, I had a dream that I was a dancer – a tap dancer. There were flowers thrown on the stage, the lights were hot, people were cheering, and there was a tall blonde woman in front of me moving her feet and making noise with them. I knew I was supposed to mimic her steps, but I couldn’t move. It was actually a nightmare, and I was so scared I had an accident, both on the stage and in real life. I woke up crying, and my mom rushed into my room. When she saw what happened, she soaked my sheets in the laundry tub and I got to sleep with her that night.

The next morning, I asked her if I could join dance because I wanted to know how to make noise with my feet. It was the middle of the year so she thought it was unlikely, but perhaps they would let me. She brought me to Becky’s Dance Studio in Cloquet, Minnesota. We were told that there was no way I could be in recital, the dances were already started and costumes ordered, but I could be in the class anyways and not perform. My mom said that was fine, and I went to the class that day. My teacher was tall and blonde, and I told my mom it was the lady from my dream. She even stood right in front of me and would move her feet, telling us to copy her. That time, I did, and I did so well, I got to perform in the recital that May. To this day, before I perform, I think about that dream. If I did not have it or the accident, I probably would not have joined dance because then I would not have been facing my fears. I still think about four-year-old me, how far I have come, and how the urge that I might pee my pants before a performance in front of five or five hundred people never goes away, despite the fact that I have been doing it for seventeen years.

I think my foundation myth relates closely with the primary source “Becoming a Brahman Priest” in Tignor’s book. Satyakama asked his mother whose family he belonged to, and she did not know. He then asked Guatama Haridrumata if he could be a Brahman Priest, and when he answered honestly that he did not know what family he came from, Guatama Haridrumata exclaimed that only a true Brahman would “speak out” like that (149). I think this relates to my experience of becoming a dancer because I asked to be one like he asked to be a priest. We also were both questioned, but ultimately given the opportunity and in some way proved that we were worthy of the chance – him by speaking out, and me by being able to remember the steps.

Another founding myth in Tignor’s book was the Shang Dynasty’s. Its ruler, Tang, defeated the previous king and offered himself up to end the drought that was brought on when “the sun dimmed, frost and ice appeared in the summer, and a long drought followed heavy rainfall and flooding” (103). This is different from my story because it involves more people and the beginning of an entire empire, but it is also similar because it was a time of despair. Theirs was a little more intense, but both the Shang and I were looking for an answer to a problem that we came across, and creation myths are universal in this way.

The Amazon people in the documentary we watched had a surplus of rituals and creation stories. One story that I think aligns well with mine was about this rock that they believed was a spirit that would appear in human form during rituals. Although she was in human form in my dream and real life, my dance teacher appeared before I met her. Her appearance in my dream started my dance career, and she was more symbolic and spiritual than real. This relates to our class discussions about being mindful when hearing creation stories. It may seem ridiculous that I think I dreamed about my teacher before I met her, and so might the idea that a rock can turn into a human, but we both believe it and have rituals that surround it. My mom is the one who reminds me that I was meant to be a dancer because of my dream, and it bonds us. The Amazon people also shared their stories with their children to connect on a deeper level. Without founding myths, this kind of connection would be nearly impossible.

Founding myths are around us everywhere that we look, and they do have a universal purpose for humans. For one, they provide answers, but they also provide values and importance to one’s life. They are a way to preserve the memory of something that is very important to the individual, or to a mass amount of people, in an effort to see connections and have a sense of where they come from. Additionally, humans tend to read into things a lot more, so maybe the Shang were making something more of the drought, the Amazons were making something more out of a rock, and I was making something more out of a dream, but does it matter? It changed the course of our lives in one way or another, and that is what is important, not its probability or factuality. Our myths are true because they make us happy, they give us purpose, and we believe them. They are also fun to tell. To me, that is all that matters and all I need.

From Professor Liang’s Spring 2017 World History I class.

Works Cited, Tignor, Robert L., et al. Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: A History of the World: Beginnings Through the Fifteenth Century. 4th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2014. Print.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Photo Essay – Ireland – Irish Colors – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Photo Essay – Ireland – Irish Colors – by Allison Brennhofer. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Some might think of Ireland as drab and rainy all of the time. I can attest that that is false, at least based on the time I have spent here. It has rained, yes, but not any more so than it does in Minnesota, in the few moments it does not snow back home. Besides the weather, the landscapes here are incredible. In County Mayo alone, where our town of Louisburgh is located, there are countless beaches along the coast, mountains, and lakes, all among fields of the greatest greens. The greens of the hills and blues of the ocean are the most vibrant colors here, but the sky can change from blue to purple in a matter of minutes, the likes of which I have never witnessed in Minnesota. These photos show an extremely limited range of the colors I have seen in Ireland.

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1223: The hills en route to Carrowmore beach.

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1476: The Cliffs of Moher

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1211: A field en route to Carrowmore beach.

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1265: The waves and sky viewed from Carrowmore beach.

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1319: The path through the woods to the ruins of Moore Hall.

Allison serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Ireland – Irish Set Dancing – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Ireland – Irish Set Dancing – by Victoria Hansen. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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[Arden dancing with a local while the instructor (the man behind her) reminds the group of the next steps]

When we first got to Ireland, we were told that every Thursday night there was the opportunity to partake in dance lessons. As someone who spent fifteen years of their life dancing, hearing this made my ears perk up. We were told that we had the option to attend something called Irish set dancing. I had never heard of that and wasn’t really sure what I had signed myself up for when I walked through the doors to the Derrylahan Thursday night.

Being that it was our groups first time attending the dance lessons we were uninformed of the fact that the instructor comes at 8:30 not 8 o’clock as we originally had been led to believe. This left us sitting in a pub waiting for a half an hour but the time went by quickly as I talked with other students about where they planned on traveling over different school breaks. One of the other students, a boy named Zach, had only gone to the pub to eat dinner, but of course he ended up being dragged along to the dance class. Before we knew it we were being ushered into a room connected to the pub by a hallway.

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[Zach and Allie dancing with two women from Luisburgh]

The room had all wood floor with chairs facing a dance floor just waiting for us to begin. A thin curtain separated the room in half. On the side, opposite of the side we were on several tables and a bar were all set up. It looked like the kind of place where wedding receptions or banquets were held. Although the heaters were all on high, the room still had a sharp chill to it.

Most of us students choose to keep our coats on to begin. The instructor told us each to pair up and form two circles, each circle having four “couples”. Because the majority of the class was older women, some women had to take the place of the man in the dances. The instructor slowly went through the first set step by step. My partner happened to be my good friend Allie. Because Allie is much taller than I am, the instructor suggested she take the lead position.

Allie and I struggled through the first set because neither one of us had ever been taught how to waltz and there were several times throughout the first set where waltzing was required. After being led step by step through the first set, we were all warm enough to shed our jackets. The instructor played the music for us before we began. Allie and I looked nervously at each other because of the fast beat of the music. We both know that if we messed up we would mess everyone else up too. Luckily for us, we both turned out to be a quick study.

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[The circle moves in and out as a part of the set]

After the first run through of the set we began to allow ourselves to relax and enjoy the dancing. It was so fast paced that it turned out to be more than just a dance, it became a work out. As time went on, more people joined the class, which was a good thing because after dancing a couple times in a row, a water break was much needed. Throughout the remainder of the class, we learned two more sets. Each one slightly more difficult.

Sometimes Allie and I would split up and be partners with the locals which was always a fun little treat. You could definitely tell who attends class regularly and who doesn’t. Those who attend class regularly are often great leads. They always spin you of into the right direction and the don’t hesitate to tell you when you have missed or added an extra step.

On one of the short breaks that I got from dancing, I looked around and for the first time I saw what was really going on. All the other students, as well as the majority of the locals, had smiles on their face and sweat seeping through their clothes. When someone would mess up it was often noted but brushed of quickly with a laugh. The enjoyment of the activity by everyone participating was clear to anyone with eyes. It was official: Irish set dance lessons was going to become a Thursday night routine.

[Video caption: Everyone dancing the first part of the set]



Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Review: The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and its Connection to the Globe — The North Star Reports – by Samantha Roettger. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Review: The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and its Connection to the Globe — The North Star Reports – by Samantha Roettger. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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Compared to other states, I would not consider Minnesota to be a place of lengthy history or diverse culture. However, the more I look into historical places within the state, the more I discover about its past. When visiting the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, I came across groups of people from other cultures all sharing a common joy of art or a common enjoyment of spending a beautiful summer’s day outdoors. I was very surprised to find how busy the garden was and how many different languages I heard. I listened to the voices of a Spanish-speaking family and heard young voices from an Asian culture. The photograph below shows the crowds that gathered to see the most famous piece of art work at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the Spoonbridge and Cherry by Swedish born and American artist Claes Oldenburg. Diverse cultures gathered around the Spoonbridge and Cherry to experience its immense size and to take a picture with the iconic sculpture.

The main attraction of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is of course the Spoonbridge and Cherry, but there are also just as beautiful works of art to be found amongst the garden. My favorite part about walking around and looking at the art was to stop and listen to what others thought and reacted to the same piece I was looking at. Prophecy of the Ancients by Brower Hatcher, the wire doom shaped piece seen below, got quite the conversation of human civilization flowing between two women. They were talking about the inventions stuck in the wire of the dome and of the constellations beyond.

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It was amazing to hear the intellectual conversations that came out around the art pieces but personally it was what the children said that introduced a whole new prospective on the art pieces. As a future teacher, I thrive for imagination and creativity from kids that offer a new analysis on life, history, and in this case, art. One child proclaimed that the Bronze Woman IV looked like Humpty Dumpty after he had fallen from the wall. This observation may seem childish and humorous but it adds a perspective on the shape of the sculpture. The gentle curves of the sculpture can be compared to a splattered yolk on the ground as if Humpty Dumpty just fell and broke his shell in front of a brick wall.

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Perspective-taking was another key feature of the Sculpture Garden. The art of the Sculpture Garden is meant to be more interactive than art found in a museum. The art can literally be looked at from any angle and can even be interactive in the sense that people can climb on the art, as seen below.

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One of my favorite pieces was called Double Curve by Ellsworth Kelly. I enjoyed this piece because from every angle the two massive curves changed shape. Some young women approached me and informed me that if I look directly up at the two curves one would look straight and the other bended. What I got out of this piece is that there is not one and only one perspective on anything whether it is art, music, movies, or life. Everyone has their own way of looking at things. My time at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden will never be the same as anyone else’s. I encourage anyone who wants to experience other cultures, look at art while taking a nice walk, or try something new to visit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. It is a little piece of Minnesota that connects globally to the world.

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Samantha Roettger serves as a Social Media editor for The North Star Reports and is a student at The College of St. Scholastica.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Colombia, Norway, northeastern China, Nicaragua, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, El Salvador, England, Finland, Russia, Cyprus, and Haiti. We also publish student reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Photo-Essay — Tower Hall, St. Scholastica – The North Star Reports – by Mackenzie Sherrill. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Photo-Essay — Tower Hall, St. Scholastica – The North Star Reports – by Mackenzie Sherrill. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[Photo 1. This photo is the front of Tower Hall, which was the first building on the college’s campus.]

As I began to explore on a quiet, Saturday afternoon, I realized that The College of St. Scholastica’s campus, the campus that I attend class on almost every day, is much more than I ever thought. I had always known that Tower Hall, the oldest structure on the campus, had been built as a result of a group of Benedictine sisters arriving in Duluth, MN in hopes of beginning their own diocese. What I did not experience and realize until my peaceful walk through the historical building was the amount of intricate details and the amount of time it must have taken to include those things while the building was being constructed. What really caught my attention and interest during my little journey was the windows of Tower Hall. It must have been the time I toured the building, which happened to take place while the sun was setting, because the light coming through the stained-glass windows lightened the place like I had never seen. There were so many different colors and shapes being reflected that I knew then that I wanted to focus specifically on the windows within Tower Hall for this photo-essay.

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[Photo 2. This photo is of the window found on the first floor of the library. The glass is very colorful and appears to be the colors similar to that of a sunset.]

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[Photo 3. This photo is of the stained-glass window found on the third floor of the library. The woman [Saint Scholastica?] in the window is often referred to as “Our Lady, Queen of Peace”.]

As I thought about what the stained-glass windows may have meant to the sisters that started the school, I remembered why they traveled here in the first place and that helped me come up with some possible theories. I believe the windows were made mainly for religious reasons since several of them included portraits of saints that were women. This could have been a way for the sisters to show God their love and loyalty to him since creating such windows could have served as daily reminders of God as the nuns walked past them. Also, I think it is important to note that the people in these windows were often females, which the sisters could have created with the purpose of showing the strength that women embody. Since this building was constructed at a time when women did not have many of their own rights, I believe this was a way for them to say to the world that women could create amazing and powerful things, just as men were able to during this period of history.

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[Photo 4. This photo is of one of the windows found on the doors that lead into the “Our Lady, Queen of Peace Chapel”.]

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[Photo 5. This photo is of a panel of stained-glass window that is found in the doorway leading from Tower Hall into the hallway that leads to the chapel.]

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[Photo 6. This photo is of one of the stained-glass windows that can be found on the third floor of the library. The color palate is very bright and noticeable to the eye.]

A photo-essay is different than a typical essay because it allows the reader to interpret a lot more on their own, compared to strictly reading the thoughts of the author. I think it is interesting how looking at photos of something can cause people to feel different emotions and have different experiences versus someone else who may not have had those similar reactions. I think it is good to mix things up and look at photo-essays once in a while because it stimulates your brain differently than if you were reading an essay, and also challenges you to think abstractly. I genuinely enjoyed walking around The College of St. Scholastica’s campus and the sense of peace looking at the stained-glass windows was able to bring me. [From Professor Liang’s Spring 2015 World History II class.]

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[Photo 7. This photo is of one of the stained-glass windows that can be found on the third floor of the library. The blue and yellow colors are now the official colors of the college.]

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[Photo 8. This photo is of the stained-glass wall that can be found right inside the chapel. ]

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Kultura con ‘k’: Discovering a City’s Soul — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

A special series. Kultura con ‘k’: Discovering a City’s Soul — The North Star Reports – by Katherine LaFleur. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

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[This news stand is an example I pass nearly every day, it’s not unique in the sense that it has been tagged but it caught my eye.]

You can buy the book or take the tour: viewing all of the landmarks everyone wants to visit and taking every photo to capture it for yourself, but when it comes right down to it if you want to get to know a city and its people you’re going to have to leave the beaten path. My dad always taught me to break from the crowd (of tourists) when traveling and follow the music: find the people and be polite, ask them about themselves and actually learn something worth taking home with you. While abroad I’ve certainly hit all of the big tourist-y spots that I could, but in general I try to avoid them to get a better feel for a city’s true personality by searching out the more unaffected parts of the city.

kultura 2 IMG_5291[My roommate, Zoe, marveling at the creations on this door we found one of the first nights in Barcelona.]

In a previous post (Common Catalonian Cuisine) I mentioned the idea of different kinds of culture: Culture with a capital “C”, culture with a little “c” and culture with a “k”. What my dad always wanted me to look for was culture with a “c”: the everyday living that people do in their home- in which you are a stranger and unaccustomed. What caught my interest from the start of this program, though, is the culture with “k”, the alternative. Kultura in Spain, throughout Europe and the rest of the world, is that which you won’t find in a museum. Often, the meaning is lost on us because we lack the understanding to fully comprehend, or we simply overlook it because it isn’t listed in the pages of our Lonely Planet reader.

kultura 3 IMG_5853[Sometimes I’m really really impressed with what someone has done, like the skulls pictured here, with the words “vida” and “mort” incorporated it shows life and death as two sides of the same coin, er, skull.]

Graffiti has always captured my interest. I really don’t see myself as any sort of artist so I enviously enjoy works of art that others produce. Growing up in Duluth and watching the trains come in and out of the city I would look at the various tags on each car and marvel at the different colors and styles that each boasted. When my friends and I were old enough to drive ourselves around town we explored the Graffiti Graveyard and I was astounded by what people were able to do with little more than spray paint. In Barcelona, from the very first day, I was astounded by how much graffiti there is. The sentiment of many people in Spain is that the city is their property as citizens, one professor explained, so it isn’t at all unusual to see spray painted scribbles or murals that express someone’s views on a bench, a newspaper kiosk, or the side of a building; but for an American coming in with a very different lens, I was a bit surprised at the abundance and normality of it all.

kultura 4 IMG_5976[Not only in Barcelona, but all over Spain and the rest of the globe you can see examples of graffiti reacting to the political climate of the time, such as this piece seen in Figueres, Spain.]

In Barcelona, and all over the world, graffiti is used to tell a story. More than just the individual tags, graffiti is used to relate history, to express political unrest among the people, or to exhibit a chosen aesthetic by creating pieces that play with the façade of their canvas. The sentiment of many people in Spain is that the city is their property as citizens, one professor explained, so it isn’t at all unusual to see spray painted scribbles that express one person’s views on a bench, a newspaper kiosk, or the side of a building- but for an American coming in with a very different lens, I was a bit surprised at the abundance and normality of it all.

kultura 5 IMG_5993[And of course, within Barcelona the inefficiency of the governing bodies has many a citizen frustrated and one obvious outlet to express that frustration is art.]

It takes a bit of work to get oneself accustomed to any given kultura, but once you have a bit of insight to a place’s history and the story of its people it’s as if you’ve been handed a key and the lights have all been turned on. The scribbles on the park benches and the murals you pass each day are now deciphered through a better understanding, and by gaining this consciousness you add another lens to your collection.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Katherine LaFleur, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Forty-Three, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, by Marin Ekstrom and Misha Ignatenko

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Washington, DC boasts a great deal of iconic landmarks: the Smithsonian, the White House, Capitol Hill, etc. But our inner hipsters remarked, “Why would you want to go visit something so mainstream? Art is where it is at.” Therefore, we decided to deviate from the norm and check out the gallery (though, to be fair, the Corcoran Gallery is not exactly “under the radar”). Although we initially decided to visit the gallery for rather frivolous reasons, our experience altered the way that we viewed the world afterwards, as detailed below.

We began on a chronological tour of the permanent exhibitions, starting with the “classical” works. This section featured pieces of early American artwork, ranging from colonial portraits, depictions of Native American life, and vivid oil paintings of everyday objects and landscapes. We then “fast-forwarded” to the mid-20th century, the era of greater experimentation and unfettered creativity: the pictures ranged from the art of shapes, abstraction, and bizarre scenes ranging from “lively” skeletons, the rise of consumerism, and blue collar American life.  These glimpses showcased the dynamic nature of American art, especially against the backdrop of rapidly shifting technological, political, environmental, and socio-cultural environments.

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Besides reveling in the permanent exhibitions, we took a keen interest in the three main temporary exhibitions:  Mia Feuer’s “An Unkindness”, ““Question Bridge: Black Males”, and Alex Prager’s “Face in a Crowd.”

“An Unkindness” focused the devastating effects that pollution has on the environment. Feur, a native Canadian, used one of her home country’s most prolific symbols (a black hockey rink) and hung a tangled web of black-painted raven feathers, steel beams, uprooted trees, and other pieces of junk above it. The black color and motley display of trash symbolizes oil politics (Feuer cited the Suez Canal, Canadian tar sands, and Arctic oil drilling as specific case studies that she used for inspiration) and its catastrophic impact on the natural world. The ugliness of this centerpiece juxtaposed with the beauty of the rest of the museum, but it honed the point that careless, unregulated oil practices has and will continue to defile the world unless we take stronger measures to counter it.

“Question Bridge: Black Males” was a film series that interviewed 150 black males of various backgrounds across America and asked them how race has affected their lives. The film was set up as multiple short individual monologues combined into a dialogue. The topics included self-perception, perception of others, family matters, masculinity, education, community and more. The film gave an incredibly valuable insight on the diversity of ideas and views on what it means to be a black male in America. The dialogue revolved around the crucial questions, such as “what is your purpose in life?”, “how do we reclaim our communities?”, “at what point did young people stop respecting the elders?”, “what are you doing to make your world, your community a better place?”, “how do we break the cycle?”, “why do so many of us live in the present tense”, “what is the last word that we can remember you by?” (source: http://www.corcoran.org/exhibitions/past/question-bridge-black-males). The clips allowed us to connect with our fellow human beings and reflect on some of the structural frameworks that create commonalities and differences for various groups of people.

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The main showcase of the temporary exhibitions was Alex Prager’s “Face in a Crowd.”  The display featured a variety of candy-colored photographs depicting a wide mix of people crowded together (i.e. the beach, a stadium, a busy street crossing, etc.). It allowed its viewers the freedom to focus on one (or more) person and try to imagine his/her life story, how he/she interacted with the other people, etc. “Face in a Crowd” also consisted of a series of short films, which in contrast turned the viewers’ attention to the tale of one specific person.  The film that stuck out the most for us was “Despair”, in which we saw an unnamed heroine make a tearful phone call before joining the bustling crowds of people in the street, losing her identity as she became awashed in the sea of urbanites. As she returns home, the focus redirects to our heroine…only to show her enter her apartment and jump out the window. Admittedly, the piece was very quirky and unsettling, but it did show the power of looking at the individual face that all too often gets “lost in the crowd”, as there might be more going on than meets the eye.

We left the Corcoran Gallery with a deepened awareness of our surroundings. We saw the evolution of American life depicted in the medium of art, received an ugly reminder of irresponsible oil production’s consequences, gained deeper insights into the layers of race and gender, and contemplated on how to remain an individual amongst the masses. So despite the deprecating labels that we sometimes associate with the world of art, it makes its viewers think in different ways. In turn, it inspires them to try and change the conventional order for better alternatives- and that can truly be called a “masterpiece.”

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For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10

The North Star Project 2013-2014 School Year Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We gratefully acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also warmly welcome Duluth East High School and Dodge Middle School to the North Star Project.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world.  We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year

(c) 2014 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 8, Spring, 2014. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Filed under Marin Ekstrom, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang