Tag Archives: arts

Adam Driver Brings Arts to the Military: A Lesson in Language and Self-Expression

In 2015, VICE News followed Adam Driver and a group of fellow actors on a trip to the Middle East. The mission: offering theater to surrounding military bases through an organization called Arts in the Armed Forces.

Driver, a Julliard graduate who has since starred in HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Girls” as well as such films as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The BlackKklansman, Logan Lucky, Silence, and This is Where I Leave You among many others, began as a United States Marine with 1/1 Weapons Company. Throughout his career, Driver has talked openly about his time in the marines as well as the transition from the military to acting, from soldier to civilian, and the similarities between the two seemingly dissimilar paths.

“In acting school, I was really, for the first time, discovering playwrights and characters and plays that had nothing to do with the military, but were somehow describing my military experience in a way that before, to me, was indescribable,” Driver says in a 2016 TED Talk.

In 2008, Driver founded Arts in the Armed Forces, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing “high-quality arts programming to active duty service members, veterans, military support staff and their families around the world free of charge.” Arts in the Armed Forces also aims to bridge the divides between “the world of the arts and the world of practical action.”

“We decided to introduce this project where we introduce the military to the theater community and vice versa,” Driver says. “We’re hoping to show that language is a powerful tool, that self-expression is a powerful tool.”

What Driver and Arts in the Armed Forces demonstrates is the inherent need for artistic forms to establish connection or serve as an outlet to convey emotions, whether it be through painting, theater, music, or writing. This demonstrates the inclusivity that the arts has across all genders, races, sexualities, occupations. There is no limit to who is capable of self-expression. There is no limit to how language can impact another human being.

For Driver, the arts and the theater gave him a place and a way to funnel his feelings and his emotions into a constructive, creative, expressive outlet. The arts provided Driver with an expressive language which he, in turn, has encouraged through performances organized by Arts in the Armed Forces. As Driver explains, the arts and his organization offers audiences with a “new means of self-expression,” a vocabulary, and relatable, human characters to carry with them.

Though Arts in the Armed Forces centers on performance art, it is important to remember the artistic language is present in all forms so long as the form allows a person an outlet to expel what is inside themselves. As writers, we express through the written word. It is our escape, our voice, our platform, and our outlet.

Driver believes, “No time in anyone’s life is that bad you can’t place a value on the arts.”

The video below explores Arts in the Armed Forces (joined by Driver, Joanne Tucker, Natasha Lyonne, Eric Bogosian, Peter Scolari, Sasheer Zamata, and many more) experience in the Middle East delivering on-base entertainment. Driver also delivers an emotionally charged monologue from the 1976 play “Curse of the Starving Class” by Sam Shephard.

by Carlie Sisco

Dr. Kenneth Pobo’s Loplop in a Red City Engages Audience at Widener University

For those who have an appreciation for the arts, it can often be hard to choose just one form, let alone one single work of art to showcase. The world of artist expression is vast and constantly changing. Fortunately, we do not have to choose. We can praise all art and even weave it together as our own, which Widener professor, Dr. Kenneth Pobo demonstrates in his newest book, Loplop in a Red City.

Released on May 15, Loplop in a Red City is a collection of ekphrastic poetry inspired by artworks old and new, figurative to abstract, Vincent Van Gogh to Leonora Carrington to Max Ernst. The poems are agonized and idyllic, uneasily at home in the surreal, animated, beautiful, and complex.

A large group of students, fellow faculty, and more gathered in the Widener University Art Gallery on October 5 to hear Pobo read from this book of ekphrastic poetry. Anybody who has ever heard Pobo read poetry before can agree there was a draw to be in that room and share in the experience.

22228595_10155712969309754_3351709741957370351_n

Dr. Kenneth Pobo shares his latest ekphrastic poetry at the Widener University Art Gallery

In Dr. Michael Cocchiarale’s introduction, he mentioned that Pobo became interested in poetry through a love of music. How fitting that someone so impacted by writing would also be impacted by music, painting, and any other artform. When one person has such a passion for art, it can become contagious and that is what happened that day at the reading. By the time Pobo got to the poem “Georgia O’Keefe’s Flowers”, his audience was so engrossed that most of us felt we were indeed collapsing into this magnificent flower that he described

I think a good way to sum up the theme of the experience is with Pobo’s response to the question, “What is your favorite painting?” After some thought, he simply said, “I don’t know.” I think for any true artist that is the only answer. Art can affect all different parts of us and for all different reasons. Though we might be driven, for a moment, to appreciate one work of art above others, the nature of art makes it impossible for any one piece to stand alone as the best.

Loplop in a Red City is published by Circling Rivers and is available for purchase on Amazon.

by Nicole Gray

Community Bridge Bridges Community

Lately, there’s been a huge push on our campus to connect the city of Chester and Widener University through art…we love it! Staff member Kelsey Styles tells more about the latest of such events, Boundaries and Bridges, which seeks to both strengthen the art and cultural presence in the city, as well as connect the university to the city.

On November 13, students, faculty, and professors of Widener University meshed with members of the community on the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge as part of the much larger Boundaries and Bridges project.

John Carr performs a song for Devon Walls' promotional Boundaries and Bridges video.

John Carr performs a song for Devon Walls’ promotional Boundaries and Bridges video.

The hum of engines pulsed in the background, but that did little to deter performers as they stood in front of Devon Walls’ camera and read their work or talked about their projects or sang songs inviting change. Some cars honked up at them, but that only encouraged the crowd. To Walls, a Chester artist, their noise promotes notice. It means people are wondering why so many individuals are hanging out over Interstate 95.

At the end of the event, attendees dance and have fun as part of a larger celebration.

At the end of the event, attendees dance and have fun as part of a larger celebration.

The Walnut Street Bridge doesn’t connect the communities between Widener and Chester—it separates them. The highway whirring underneath acts as a wall between one group and another. The goal of Boundaries and Bridges is to mend these two broken worlds through art, because art is the medium connecting all living things.

Artists collectively share canvases to create a joint masterpiece as a symbol of what the Boundaries and Bridges program aims to do.

Artists collectively share canvases to create a joint masterpiece as a symbol of what the Boundaries and Bridges program aims to do.

The program truly kicked off the Friday previous when an information session was held discussing what the program planned to do after it received a Catalyst Grant from the Barra Foundation, which “works to advance Greater Philadelphia’s culture of innovation.” The goal of Boundaries and Bridges is to both strengthen the art and cultural presence in the city, as well as connect the university to the city.

Blue Route staff member Kim Roberts takes her turn with a brush.

Blue Route staff member Kim Roberts takes her turn with a brush.

Widener students, children, and members of the community all worked to create a new piece of art.

Widener student, children, and members of the community all worked to create a new piece of art.

To find out more, like the Boundaries and Bridges page on Facebook, or visit The Artists Warehouse on 515 Avenue of the States in Chester. It’s time to move with the movement, cross that boundary, and build a bridge. What is your university doing to spread the arts around your community? Comment and let us know!

blue and gold 2

By Kelsey Styles ’17, originally published on The Blue&Gold