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Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

» Bensussen Visiting Artist Lecture Series

The Bensussen Visiting Artist Lecture Series brings artists and scholars to Chapman to help students make a connection to the passion and purpose behind an artist’s creation.

"Chapman is always near and dear to us. We continue to be amazed by the enormous energy and thought that goes into everything we read about the University. Congratulations on all that you are doing to give our students such a remarkable college experience." - Jane Bensussen

Gale and Jane Bensussen

Gale and Jane Bensussen

History and art are two of our passions. The combination of these interests has made a major difference in our understanding of the civilizations of the world. Who can study Flemish tapestries without wondering what happened in Flanders? Our world maps are still changing today, but nothing like the constantly changing boundaries of the previous centuries. One of the most fascinating ways to study history is to experience an artist’s depiction of the events that shaped our world. Literature takes on a whole new meaning when one has seen the architecture of the era.

We do not collect art, but feel fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the best museums and galleries in America and around the globe. Our son and daughter have been Chapman students, and their experience there has given them a wider perspective on the world. They have traveled to Europe, Asia, and South America, getting a taste of the varied cultures and treasures of many countries.

On one of our trips to Italy, it occurred to us that most Americans do not have access to the rich experiences that foreign travel offers. Exposure to the works of art in the Uffizi, the Accademia, or magnificent churches opens the imagination. The cultural competency of other countries becomes apparent when talking with travelers. As Americans, we are bombarded with pop culture, often at the expense of a broader cultural experience.

Chapman students may not have the chance to see the world’s great art in context, but we can share with them the power of the artists’ work, both from a historical perspective and in contemporary society. The visiting artists series will help students make a connection to the passion and purpose behind an artist’s creation. If we can captivate students’ interest during their college years, we can inspire them to continue to build their appreciation of art forms throughout their lives.

+ - 2019 Speakers

Maria Elena Buszek

2019 Speaker - Maria Elena Buszek

Maria Elena Buszek is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Colorado Denver, where she teaches courses on modern and contemporary art. Her recent publications include the books Pin-Up Grrrls: Feminism, Sexuality, Popular Culture and Extra/Ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art, and contributions to the anthology Punkademics: The Basement Show in the Ivory Tower and exhibition catalogs In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States, and Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia. Her current book project explores the history of feminist art/music hybrids since 1977.

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+ - 2013 – 2018 Speakers

Claire Dederer
Wednesday, March 7
Beckman Hall 404
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2017 Speaker

Dava Sobel
Monday, April 3
Argyros Forum
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2016 Speaker

Kip ThorneDr. Kip Thorne
Thursday, May 12
Musco Center
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On May 12, 2016 world renowned theoretical physicist Kip Thorne presented a guest lecture at Chapman University as part of the Bensussen Visiting Artist Lecture Series. His lecture was riveting to both the art connoisseur and the unaffiliated observer. Instead of discussing his usual topic of Einstein’s relativity, Thorne focused mainly on the fluid synthesis of science and art in the film Interstellar, for which he was the executive producer and key science advisor.

Thorne spoke on the unity of science and art. Specifically, how he’s been able to combine his theoretical discoveries on the warped side of the universe with paintings. This amalgamation is partially due to his work with longtime friend and colleague Professor Lia Halloran.

The two first met at a gathering for a mutual friend. Halloran a recent Yale graduate and self-described “physics groupie,” invited Thorne to her art gallery Kip Thorne Lecturewhere they talked about space and time. As the two spoke, she began drawing the theoretical concepts Thorne was speaking about; in essence, she illustrated the scientific discoveries Thorne postulated.

The relationship blossomed into a mutual appreciation of each other’s expertise and a physical creation of exceptional artwork with scientific basis.

In 2005, when Thorne was presented with the opportunity to work on a movie, he saw this as an opportunity to start a new career that dabbled in the field of art, one he had been experiencing with Professor Halloran.

The movie, which later became Interstellar, was aimed to have Einstein’s relativity embedded into the very fabric of the film. It would thus be the first mass motion picture creation that used true science portrayed accurately in film. Before agreeing to sign on as the science expert, Thorne had two critical guidelines; nothing in the film would violate firmly established laws of physics or our knowledge of the universe and speculations about physics laws would arise from real science.

Christopher Nolan, Interstellar’s film director, agreed to Thorne’s guidelines, and the rest is history. Nolan’s collaboration with Thorne allowed the public to see accurate science portrayed in cinema in a way that had never been seen before. The visual effects created in the iMax theater and by Double Negative Visual Effects, were made by solving Einstein’s equations. Thus the visuals in the film are precise depictions of what one would see in space.

Furthermore, iMax developed an entirely new set of equations and methods for the movie which are now being used by astrophysicists. With that, the movie spawned new developments in the field of science. Furthermore, in this film, the audience is introduced to true science in a way that is emotionally compelling. A win-win for both the art buff and science geek.

Through Thorne’s collaboration with Interstellar and his work with Professor Halloran, he has been able to illustrate the essence of Einstein’s ideas and their modern implication through the arts, music, and films.

2015 Speaker

Nancy Buchanan Photo

Nancy Buchanan  Feminist and Artist
Wednesday, February 25
Argyros Forum 209 A&B

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Nancy Buchanan has been a vital member of the Southern California art community for many years. Politically outspoken against nuclear war and American international policies, she began performing in the 1970s during the first wave of Los Angeles performers. Many of her performances, installations, videos and static image/text works use an element of “serious play” to focus on social issues. Buchanan played a central role in the feminist art movement in Los Angeles in the 1970s, and was a founding member of the feminist art collective Double X.

2014 Speaker

David Gillam Urbanist
Tuesday, March 18
Argyros Forum 209A

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2013 Speakers

Chris Czikensentmihalyi Art & Science
Wednesday, February 20
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For 16 years, Chris Czikensentmihalyi has been combining his knowledge in the arts, media, and new technologies. Two of his greatest projects include the Afghan Explorer, a robot designed to bypass the Pentagon and Taliban press censorship, as well as txtMob, a mobile phone based activist system that enabled highly effective protests at the 2004 RNC and DNC.  Because of his technical advancements, Csikszentmihalyi’s projects have been nominated for the Best Artistic Software award at Berlin’s Transmediale festival. Csikszentmihalyi is currently a professor of Media Design Matters at the Art Center College of Design, as well as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art and Design Research at Parsons the New School for Design.

Maria Elena Gonzalez - Art
Wednesday, October 23

María Elena González  (born 1957 in Havana Cuba ) is a Cuban-American  artist best known for her sculptural  installations that are architecturally as well as personally informed. In 1999, González received widespread acclaim for her site-specific  outdoor sculpture Magic Carpet/Home . Commissioned by the Public Art Fund , it was originally installed in Brooklyn New York , [1]  and subsequently in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  and Los Angeles, California . In the summer of 2005, González was a resident faculty member at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture . In 2005 and 2008, she was also a Visiting Artist faculty member at the Cooper Union School of Art . Her homes and studios are in Brooklyn and at Basel in Switzerland .

+ - 2009 - 2012 Speakers

Donald Preziosi

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Professor of Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles, Donald Preziosi has written many notable books concerning intellectual history, critical theory, and museology. In August 2007 he became the MacGeorge Fellow at the University of Melbourne. He is a past president of the Semiotic Society of America (1985). His 1998 book The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology is considered ‘the most widely used English-language introduction to art history’. At UCLA, Professor Preziosi developed the art history critical theory program and the UCLA museum studies program. At Oxford, he held the Slade Professorship of Fine Arts in 2001, where he delivered a series of lectures entitled Seeing Through Art History. His talk will deal with issues being discussed in his forthcoming book on art and religion.


victoria vensa

"Art|Science Collaborations: Being in Between"
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Victoria Vesna is a media artist, Professor at the Department of Design | Media Arts at the UCLA School of the Arts and director of the UCLA Art Sci center. Currently she is Visiting Professor at Art, Media and Technology, Parsons the New School for Design in New York. Her work can be defined as experimental creative research that resides between disciplines and technologies. She explores how communication technologies affect collective behavior and how perceptions of identity shift in relation to scientific innovation. Her most recent experiential installations -- Blue Morph, Mood Swings and Water Bowls, all aim to raise consciousness around the issues of our relationship to natural systems. Other notable works are Bodies INCorporated, Datamining Bodies, n0time and Cellular Trans_Actions. She has long-term collaborations with a nanoscientist, a neuroscientist and Buddhist monks.

2011 Speakers

Wednesday May 4, 2011

Charles Gaines received his BA from Jersey City State University and his MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has had over 60 one-person shows and several hundred group exhibitions in the US and Europe. He was included in the Venice Biennale (2007), the Triennale der Photographie, Hamburg (1999), Esslingen (2004), and the Whitney Biennial (1975). His work is in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art in New York and many other museums. A monograph about his work published by Charta, ed., Horace Brockington, will be released in 2011. He has published “Theater of Refusal: Black Art and Mainstream Criticism” (Univ of Cal, Irvine, (1993) along with various other works. He will discuss his latest work, Manifestos, and the relationship between Metonymy and political discourse.


Jason Felch

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

As an award winning investigative reporter, who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Felch’s stories have shed light on corruption in the art world, the misuse of DNA evidence in courts, fraud in the wake of disasters and other topics. Felch will give a presentation about his non-fiction book, Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum (chasingaphrodite.com), which details how the J. Paul Getty Museum became the epicenter of an unprecedented scandal over the acquisition of looted Greek and Roman antiquities by American museums.

2010 Speaker

February 25, 2010

The Queer Art of Failure. Judith Halberstam is a well known gender theorist, specializing in cultural studies, queer theory and visual culture. Her work on female masculinity refutes the notion that butch lesbians are just imitations of “real men” and instead locates gender variance within the dramatic staging of hybrid and minority genders. Halberstam has also written a book on Gothic monstrosity in literature and film and more recently she published In A Queer Time and Place, a study of queer temporality or queer uses of time and space that are developed in opposition to the institutions of family, heterosexuality, and reproduction.

2009 Speakers

Margaret Wertheim

“Mathematics As Poetic Enchantment”
Wednesday, March 4 2009

Margaret Wertheim is an internationally noted science writer, commentator and curator whose work focuses on the relations between science and the wider cultural landscape. Wertheim is the author of Pythagoras’ Trousers, a history of the relationship between physics and religion; and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet. A native Australian, she has a B.S. majoring in pure and applied physics and a B.A. in mathematics and computer science. She is a contributor to the New York Times Science Section and an Op-Ed contributor for the Los Angeles Times. From 2000-2005 Wertheim wrote the “Quark Soup” science column for the LA Weekly and is a contributing editor on science issues for Cabinet, the internationally renowned arts and culture quarterly. Her articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Sciences, New Scientist, Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, Salon, and Wired Magazine. Wertheim’s writing has been included in Best American Science Writing (2003), edited by Oliver Sacks. In 2006 she won the excellence in journalism award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences and in 2004 she was the National Science Foundation’s visiting journalist to Antarctica. Her television series Catalyst (about science and technology, aimed at teenage girls), won numerous prizes around the world. In 2006 she was Australia’s official spokeswoman for Science Week and in 2007 was a panelist at the Sundance Film Festival’s science round-table. Wertheim has written and produced a dozen television science programs and interactive video programs, including the PBS documentary special Faith and Reason. In 2003, Wertheim founded the Institute For Figuring, an innovative Los Angeles-based organization devoted to enhancing public engagement with the aesthetic and poetic dimensions of science and mathematics. The IFF hosts lectures, curates exhibitions, publishes books and maintains an extensive website. Lecture topics have included hyperbolic space, the mathematics of knots, logic crystallography, the physics of snowflakes, the science of insect flight, and the history of computer memory devices. In 2007 the IFF’s “Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef” was shown at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburg) as a centerpiece of the exhibition Artists Respond to Global Warming.


Shawn Brixey

“From Simulation to Emulation...”
Wednesday, April 15 2009

Shawn Brixey (b. 1961) is Director of the University of Washington’s recently established research center and Ph.D. program in Digital Arts and Experimental Media. Previously, he was founder of the Digital Media Program at the University of California Berkeley, and Director of their Center for Digital Art and New Media Research. A graduate of MIT’s CAVS/Media Lab, Brixey has exhibited art and technology works internationally, including Documenta, the Deutscher Kunstlerbund, Karlsruhe, The Cranbrook Art Museum, The MIT Museum, The Contemporary Art Center of Cincinnati, The Chicago Art Institute, The 1998 Winter Olympics, The first American Design and Architecture Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, AME at Arizona State University, The Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, and the Berkeley Art Museum. He has received numerous major grants and awards to support his research including: Apple Computer, AVID Incorporated, The Boxlight Corporation, The Intel Corporation, Silicon Graphics, Newport/Klinger Research Corporation, IBM GmbH, The National Institute of Health, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Leica and Hughes Aircraft. In 2003 he was honored with a prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship for New Media, of which past fellows include Bill Viola and Gary Hill. In 2006 Brixey was inducted as a lifetime fellow of the World Technology Network. He lectures widely in the U.S. and Europe on new and emerging media art forms. Critical writing and reviews of his work have been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, The Cincinnati Inquirer, The Stranger, The Guardian, Wired Magazine, Surface Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Art News, WolkenKratzer Magazine (Germany), Smithsonian World Television, and KQED/MSNBC Radio. Significant review of his work is included in From Technological to Virtual Art, by Frank Popper, MIT Press, 2007.