Alison Hamm

May 18, 2008

"Breast pumping - please call again."

It was a simple Post It note stuck on a closed office door, but for many women, the opportunity to post it would be considered a luxury.

When Jennifer Piurek returned to her job at IU Office of Creative Services after having her second child last year, she felt fortunate to have a comfortable environment in which she could breast pump during the time she was away from her daughter Veronica. Once or twice a day, she had a few minutes of privacy so she could pump -- a necessary measure to continue breastfeeding her baby after returning to work.

"Breastfeeding is really important to me, not just because of how good breast milk is for babies, but because of the bonding experience that you have with your baby," Piurek said. "You actually have endorphins released when you're nursing, and waves of tenderness for your baby just wash over you. It's the best feeling in the world."

March 2, 2008

Unrequited love, artistic failure, death, and--comedy?

It might seem odd, given the first three themes, but comedy is undeniably present from the start of The Seagull, the IU Department of Theatre and Drama's latest production of Anton Chekhov's 1895 classic, when Masha comments, "I'm in mourning for my life" to Medvedenko, the schoolmaster who is desperately in love with her.

Chekhov's play, though centered on the depressing aspects of the human experience, also points out the humorous -- and often ridiculous -- elements to even the most painful moments in life. And the IU production, which opened this past Tuesday at the Ruth N. Halls Theatre at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, highlights this well, thanks to the cast and set design.

The Seagull is the final MFA thesis project for several of the students involved in its production -- including director Erik Friedman, actress Allison Moody (Arkadina), scenic designer Chris Wych and lighting designer JoJo Percy -- and all should be pleased with the result.

February 17, 2008

Cardinal Stage Company is doing it again. And this time, the star is -- a goat.

On Feb. 22, O Lovely Glowworm, or Scenes of Great Beauty, will open at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. It is sponsored by Cardinal's 2007-08 season sponsor, Irwin Union Bank, and is a part of Arts Week, an IU community winter arts festival.

According to the news release for the production, O Lovely Glowworm is "the outrageously funny and profoundly moving story of a goat desperately trying to figure out who he is, where he is and why he is."

February 17, 2008

In 1962, the view that anything could be art was at its peak in the art world. Artists would use unconventional materials -- metal scraps, buttons, cardboard -- whatever they thought would express their ideas best.

In that same year, the Indiana University Art Museum (IUAM) received four works of art that fell into this category. These works, including one other piece received in a different year, are on display as part of the IUAM's "New in the Galleries" exhibition titled The Art of Assemblage.

Ned Puchner, a graduate student in art history and the curatorial assistant for Western Art after 1800, prepared the exhibition. It was partially inspired by the New York Museum of Modern Art's 1961 Art of Assemblage exhibition. He said the works are "an excellent group, indicative of the range of works categorized under the terms 'neo-Dada' or 'assemblage'."

February 10, 2008

I drove to the Musical Arts Center (MAC) last Friday evening with high expectations. I walked out several hours later disappointed.

My disappointment had little to do with the show itself. A Wedding, Pulitzer Prize winning-composer William Bolcom's adaptation of Robert Altman's 1978 film about a high-society wedding, was first staged at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2004. It's Bolcom's third project with IU Opera Theater. His other collegiate premieres, McTeague (1996) and A View from the Bridge (2005), achieved critical acclaim with IU Opera Theater.

Overall, it was enjoyable, and even though the supertitles ruined every single joke for me, I laughed often thanks to the performers' talent and execution.

January 27, 2008

Uncle Fester's House of Blooze got a taste of the real thing last Thursday.

But just a taste -- because when you take a band like the Chicago Afrobeat Project (CabP), whose last show was at the House of Blues in Chicago, and place them on a small stage like at Uncle Fester's, not only do all of the musicians barely fit, they've got a hell of a lot less to work with.

Luckily for the Bloomington crowd, CabP didn't seem too concerned with the venue. They were just having a great time showing us what the Chicago spin on afro-beat music sounds like.

January 27, 2008

I became familiar with the name James Alexander Thom at age 12, when my mother handed me Follow the River, his novel about the true ordeal of Mary Ingles, the white woman who was kidnapped by Shawnee Indians in 1755 and then made her way home with the Ohio River as her guide.

The book resonated with my mother and me -- it was such a powerful testament and tribute to one woman's strength and courage -- and from our multiple readings, the paperback cover fell off at one point. I know my mother ended up buying a new copy later, but I still have that one worn copy on my shelf in my childhood bedroom at my parents' house.

January 20, 2008

You're invited to a wedding – IU Opera style. On Feb. 1, the IU Opera Theater will open the spring portion of its 2007-08 season with the nation's first collegiate performance of A Wedding by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom.

A Wedding, based on Robert Altman's 1978 film about a high-society wedding, was first staged at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2004 and is Bolcom's third project with IU Opera Theater. Bolcom's collegiate premieres of McTeague (1996) and A View from the Bridge (2005) achieved critical acclaim with the IU Opera Theater.

November 21, 2007

A man recently stood outside Bloomington's Planned Parenthood clinic holding a sign that read, "Planned Parenthood Kills Babies." He didn't seem to mind that it was 7:30 in the morning and below 50 degrees. He just wanted everyone who drove past the clinic to know his message.

But he's not the only one with a message. Now more than ever, Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) wants legislators to know: Its goal is not to kill babies - it's to help people make responsible choices about whether and when to become parents.

PPIN recently launched the "Prevention Now" campaign, a series of proposals addressed to the Indiana General Assembly to encourage lawmakers to support legislation that will help prevent unintended pregnancies and reduce the need for abortions.

November 7, 2007

Davy Knowles knows the blues. The 20-year-old lead singer and guitarist of British blues-rock trio Back Door Slam has been playing since age 11, and his skill on the guitar has sparked comparisons to such legendary musicians as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.

"It's incredibly flattering," he said during an interview before the band's Nov. 1 show at the Bluebird, "but embarrassing at the same time. Those people really set milestones. I would never put us in the same league."

Reviews of the band consistently do just that, though, albeit with shock that Knowles, at age 20, could sing the blues with such conviction and soul. George Varga's review of the band in The San Diego Union-Tribune describes Knowles as "the precocious nephew of the late Stevie Ray Vaughn and Rory Gallagher," while others repeatedly describe his talent and vocals as "beyond his years."

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