Dance performances were just part of a well-rounded playbill for U-Nite! in 2018 at the Crocker Art Museum. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)
By Ahmed V. Ortiz
The sixth edition of U-Nite, Sacramento State’s annual blowout bow to the arts, humanities, and the University’s students and faculty who champion both, promises to provoke, inspire and cajole while doing what great art often does: color outside the lines.
It all happens 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Crocker Art Museum, where topics such as comic books, colonialism and climate science will collide with film, dance and podcasting across 26 events packed back-to-back.
Sheree Meyer, dean of the University’s College of Arts and Letters, said U-Nite!, has become a foundational piece of the college’s drive to forge a central role in Sacramento’s cultural landscape.
“We are responding to the city’s ambitious arts and culture plan, Creative Edge, and foregrounding the ways in which through collaboration with other arts organizations, like the Crocker, we can help build community and strive towards cultural equity,” Meyer said.
Themes of equity are woven throughout this year’s programming. Among the offerings:
- Communication Studies Professor Michele Foss-Snowden hosts an episode of her podcast, The TV Doctor, live at 6 p.m. in the Setzer Foundation Auditorium on the museum’s first floor. In the podcast, which launched this fall, Foss-Snowden dispenses advice about what TV shows people should watch to abate whatever malady afflicts them. The idea grew from conversations Foss-Snowden has had about television with friends, family and students. “My mother used Star Trek to explain to me what it meant to be mixed race,” she said. “Then, as a college student and a graduate student, I studied media and often thought about how television narratives help us shape our understanding of real-world situations.”
- Professor Bernard Brown of Theatre and Dance presents “Processing Sugar Notes.” This excerpt of what will become a full-length work examines the lasting, global effects of colonialism on communities of color through the lens of sugar farming/production. “We see these effects contemporarily as they manifest in the food we eat, particularly in blighted neighborhoods; generally populated by people of color; and in upholding of constructed societal norms around gender and sexuality,” Brown said. The cast at U-Nite! features five women of color, four of whom are recent Sac State alumni.
- In “Representing Gender, Race and Disability: A History in Comics,” Assistant Professor of Art Veronica Hicks examines how women of color with disabilities are represented in mainstream comics (think DC and Marvel) vs. alternative comics (zines and self-published works). The former, Hicks said, often descend into stereotypes such as violence or oversexualization, while the latter tend toward more nuanced character development. “I don’t prescribe answers to the audience,” she said. “I just lay out the literature and allow them to make their own inferences.” The subject matter is close to the heart of Hicks, who did part of her dissertation in comic book form. Her presentation draws from the literature review of that dissertation.
Additionally, faculty research is highlighted in a presentation by Kathy Kasic, assistant professor of Communication Studies. Her short film, “Coring for Climate” documents a 21-day research expedition to Antarctica, during which a team drilled nearly a mile through the ice to reach sub-Antarctic Lake Mercer in search of new information about Earth’s changing climate by sampling sediment. Their peek into the ice sheets’s historical dynamics provides critical insight into anticipated effects of climate change on our planet. Kasic was a principal investigator on the expedition.
New this year is a faculty exhibition that reflects the research and creative activity of Art faculty. The exhibit is curated by Delta-based artist Aida Lizalde, who has been a member of Sacramento’s Axis Gallery.
“This exhibition has given our visual artists the opportunity to showcase their work in a way that has not been possible with a single-night event,” Meyer said. “We’re also participating in Global Entrepreneurship Week with a presentation by a faculty working group that is exploring potential new curriculum in arts and culture management and entrepreneurship.”
U-Nite! is a linchpin of the University’s expanding profile throughout the city but especially in its heart. Sacramento State Downtown opened last year at 304 S St. and includes offices and meeting spaces for Arts and Letters faculty and administrators, facilitating collaboration with arts entities in proximity.
For more information, visit Crocker’s website or call 916-808-7000. Learn more about the College of Arts and Letters at csus.edu/al or call 916-278-6502. For media assistance, call the Office of University Communications at 916-278-6156.
WHEN: 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21
WHERE: Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento
ADMISSION: Free for Crocker members and Sac State students, faculty, and staff; $5 for Sac State alumni; $12 for nonmembers