Westfield State Students Dominate Shoe Drive

Westfield State students collect shoes to help in fight against global poverty

Attention anyone with a closet:  Those shoes you no longer want are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.  That’s the message  delivered by Westfield State student and Circle K member Rebecca Talamini ’15, who organized a Soles4Souls shoe drive and collected over 880 pairs of shoes to help the poor, and 35 single shoes to donate to amputees!

Circle K Club, a Kiwanis-affiliated organization of university students, placed donation boxes around campus, at Paper Mill Elementary School (with help from the K-Kids Club), and at South Middle School. South Middle School’s drive, led by Dianna Stutzhuk, Shaunessey Lambert, and Elise Urbanski, collected 200 pairs for Soles4Souls.  Read the rest of this entry »

Textile Exhibit Celebrates Muslim Female Identity

Textile Exhibit Celebrates Muslim Female Identity
Westfield State University through April 5th, 2014

Westfield State University’s Arno Maris Gallery presents “Threads that Bind,” a Middle Eastern textile exhibit, which will be on display until April 5. A reception will be held on Thursday March 27 from 5:30-8 p.m. with exhibit curator Dr. Christina Swaidan, associate professor of art history at Westfield State. This exhibition inspires further discussion both about textile and fabric arts as well as Muslim culture and the representation and daily lives of Islamic women. See our discussion questions for ideas to spark conversation with your kids and/or students.

The Arno Maris Gallery at Westfield State University invites you and your family to its current exhibition, Threads that Bind. This display of Middle Eastern textiles highlights items of Muslim women’s clothing such as the abaya, an all-purpose robe-like dress that is worn both to Mosque and while entertaining family and friends at home, and the salwar kameez, which is comprised of a set of loose, pajama-like pants and a tunic top. Curator Dr. Christina Swaidan, an associate professor of art history at Westfield State, organized the exhibit with the intention of educating the college and local community about women in Islamic culture.

“When most people picture a Muslim woman, they imagine a shadow: a demure woman draped in all black,” says Swaidan. “She is viewed as devoid of personality or individuality.”

But the clothing and textiles in Threads that Bind are anything but demure or shadow-like: vibrant colors serve as the background for rich details like lace, embroidery, and other embellishments. And, according to Swaidan, the designs on the garments are often unique to the region in which they were produced, which could immediately signal the origin of a garment (or its wearer) to others familiar with the various patterns.

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Westfield State Celebrates Black History Month

Westfield State Celebrates Black History Month

Since 1974, Westfield State University (WSU) has held special events during the month of February dedicated to informing students, faculty, and staff as well as the community about the importance of black history, culture, and traditions. Continuing this tradition, WSU will celebrate Black History Month this year by hosting community events ranging from music performances to diversity dinners:

Tuesday, February 3rd, 4:30-6pm- There will be a film screening of The Loving Story. The film follows the story of an interracial couple who was charged with breaking Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws in 1958. Following the screening, there will be a discussion led by Dr. Carlton Pickron, Vice President of Student Affairs. This event will be held in the Owl’s Nest in the Ely Building and is open to the campus community.

Click here to see move events happening throughout Black History Month at WSU…

Westfield State Students Demonstrate the Importance of Kindness and Compassion

Cranes for Compassion

Westfield State students create a visual tribute that expresses beauty and addresses violence.

Most professors assign a final paper or exam to end the semester, but Andriana Foiles, adjunct professor of Ethnic and Gender Studies at Westfield State University, had her students conduct a campus-wide presentation on the importance of kindness.

Called Cranes for Compassion, Foiles’s Intro to Women’s Studies students spent weeks collecting stories of random acts of kindness and documented the stories on papers that were folded into paper cranes. The more than 700 stories folded into cranes were on display against a clothesline of statistics on violence.

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Two Western MA Exhibits Explore Native American Art & Culture

Native American Heritage Month Celebrated Across Western MA

On Saturday, November 10, and Sunday, November 11, 2012, Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield will celebrate Native American Heritage Month with four exceptional performances featuring music, stories, and dance. The festival will feature the rich history and culture of the Mohawk and Nipmuck tribes, conveyed through storytelling, music, and ritual. The performers are Jerry Thundercloud McDonald, Joseph Firecrow (pictured here), Larry Spotted Crow Mann, and Sandy Rhodes. For more information, visit www,berkshiremuseum.org or contact the Berkshire Museum at 413-443-7171. (Photo credit: David Carnes)

Fall is often a time when students learn about the history of America and the American Revolution – topics that lend themselves to studies of Native American history and culture, as well.  Students’ learning about Native American ways of life during Native American Heritage Month can be supplemented by a visit to a gallery show of Native American artwork – either at Westfield State University or the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield!

The Berkshire Museum’s exhibit, Rethink! Native American Art, features a wide variety of work from Native American groups nationwide, and is open through January 6th.  Along with the exhibit, the museum is hosting a series of community events featuring Native American music, dance, storytelling, and more.  On November 10th and 11th, the museum will host the Chief Konkapot Festival of Native American culture, offering visitors a chance to see a variety of performances showcasing the traditions of numerous nations from across North America, including:

  • Saturday, November 10th at 1pm – Jerry Thundercloud McDonald presents Mohawk music, stories, and dance. McDonald will also speak on the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s influence on the formation of the U.S. Constitution. ($$)
  • Saturday, November 10th at 7pm – Joseph Firecrow of the Northern Cheyenne, a Grammy-nominated Northern Cheyenne musician and master of the traditional Native American flute, will perform a special concert.  ($$)
  • Sunday, November 11th at 1pm – Larry Spotted Crow Mann, Nipmuck poet and author of Tales from the Whispering Basket, presents Nipmuck stories, songs, and drum with the Quabbin Lake Singers. ($$)
  • Sunday, November 11th at 3pm – Sandy Rhodes will be presenting contemporary pow wow culture, dance, and regalia. ($$)

Follow the festival at the museum, the Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield will be hosting a free performance by Joseph Firecrow on Monday, November 12th at 12:15pm, sponsored by the BCC Committee for Diversity.

Westfield State University’s Arno Maris Gallery will host an exhibit of Native American Culture and Tradition through Saturday, December 8th, 2012. The exhibit will feature works from Native American artists Lenny Novak and Dan Shears.

Another opportunity to see contemporary Native American art in Western MA will be at the Arno Maris Gallery in Westfield State’s Ely Campus Center in Hampden County.  The gallery is hosting an exhibit of unique, handcrafted dreamcatchers – made in a traditional style that only five people are trained in!  Students can learn about the intricate nature of dreamcatcher making, as well as the significance of the pieces in Native American culture.  The exhibit runs through December 8th, and admission to the gallery is free.

Both exhibits offer unique learning opportunities, and showcase artwork that is not often accessible.  Each show provides an in-depth look at Native American traditions, and highlights the important role that artistic expression plays in Native American culture.

Board Game Bonanza at Westfield State University

Board Game Bonanza for Students & Teachers
In Westfield on May 2nd, 2012

Some examples of the games include: “Follow the Pi”, an interactive board game that reviews basic algebra and invites students to move and learn through a Pi shaped board. Another group has developed the “Healthy Hungry Market” in which students learn about the value of money and healthy nutritional habits. Board Game topics vary from Language arts to Science to Math to Spanish to Health. One student from Geography and Regional Planning developed a type of “Westfieldopoly” which will provide an interactive means to introduce new students to the campus and community.

Students at Westfield State University present the Board Game Bonanza!

The event, which will take place on Wednesday, May 2nd from 1:30-3pm,  features student-designed board games that teach players about a subject within typical classroom content (think state learning standards) and incorporate physical movement at the same time!  Some of the games include an algebra review game with a pi-shaped board, Westfieldopoly, and a game about the value of money and how it affects making healthy food choices.

Students and classroom teachers attending the event will have the chance to play multiple games, and will be able to learn not only about the topics covered in the games, but will gain an awareness of the level of thought expected and produced in college, and can learn about creative ways of expressing knowledge (specifically, through games).

The event will take place in the Woodward Center Lounge on the Westfield State University campus.  For more info call 413-572-5368. Free event, but pre-registration is required.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Alan Bates]

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