Arts & Lectures
Arts & Lectures
Catlin Gabel’s commitment to the arts is firmly rooted in progressive school philosophy, with a focus on the whole child and developing each student in a well-rounded manner. The arts are essential to a Catlin Gabel education as a foundation for critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.
At Catlin Gabel, students of different ages connect with and influence each other, and our Creative Arts Center provides a centralized facility where that confluence can occur. The facility also brings together arts faculty from multiple disciplines, and visiting artists, to foster collaboration and enhance student learning.
The school provides a variety of opportunities for students to experience and respond to visual and literary art:
Exhibitions of student and professional art are presented in the Cabell Center foyer and the Creative Arts Center gallery throughout the school year. Recent shows have included works by local artists, alumni, faculty-staff, and selections from private collections.
Distinguished Writers Series
The Upper School English department hosts presentations by a diverse array of visiting poets and writers through the distinguished writers program. Writers work with students in classes and speak at assemblies. Parents are welcome guests at these assemblies.
The Karl Jonske ’99 Memorial Lectureship was created in 2005 to honor Karl’s love of literature. Guest lecturers speak at an Upper School assembly and spend time in classrooms with students and teachers.
2016 - 17
Jennifer Thompson: Co-author with Ronald Cotton of the joint memoir Picking Cotton, which was a New York Times bestseller. Jennifer is the founder and president of Healing Justice, which aims to address the personal toll of wrongful convictions on all involved. She founded Healing Justice because of her experience with a failed criminal justice process that sent an innocent person to prison and left the true perpetrator free to commit additional crimes. Jennifer is a nationally-known advocate for criminal justice reform, focusing on the human impact of wrongful convictions, the fallibility of eyewitness testimony, the need to combat sexual violence, and the healing power of forgiveness. She has successfully lobbied state legislators to change compensation laws for the wrongly convicted, to revise police eyewitness line-up procedures, and for many other causes. Jennifer currently serves on the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. December 1, 2016
2015 - 16
Arthur Bradford: Short story writer, essayist, filmmaker, and community activist.
At Catlin Gabel, Arthur talked about his experience leading a creative life, including his experience creating the documentary series, How’s your News. He visited creative writing, media arts, and journalism (New Media Studies) classes. Arthur also addressed the Middle School at assembly. He met with adults in the evening in a book group setting to talk about his short story collection, Turtleface and Beyond. Arthur’s genial, down-to-earth personality and interesting stories made him a hit with all age groups. His different talents and interests made him a great interdisciplinary visitor who could reach a wide variety of students and work with a number of adults on campus. December 3, 2015
2014 - 15
Benjamin Percy: Benjamin read from his novel Red Moon, a fantasy werewolf story that he is adapting as a series with Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, I am Legend) for Fox TV. This was the second fantasy/science fiction writer we have invited to Catlin Gabel to honor Karl’s passion for the genre. October, 2014
Sam Alden ’07 and Lucy Bellwood: Sam is a cartoonist and illustrator from Portland, Oregon, and the author of It Never Happened Again, from Uncivilized Books. He is the recipient of two Ignatz Awards and his work has been featured in the Best American Comics series. He currently lives in LA, where he storyboards on the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time. Following her graduation from Reed College, Lucy Bellwood launched into a full-time freelance career with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign to print her senior thesis, True Believer. Lucy spends her time writing and illustrating her educational, autobiographical sailing comic Baggywrinkles, she also draws comics for Symbolia Magazine, The Nib, and Cartozia Tales. April 9 and April 10, 2015
2013 - 14
Ismet Prcic: Ismet Prcic’s brilliant and provocative debut novel is about a young Bosnian, also named Ismet Prcic, who has fled his war-torn homeland and is now struggling to reconcile his past with his present life in California. He is advised that in order to move forward he must “write everything.” The result is a great rattle bag of memories, confessions, and fictions; sweetly humorous recollections of Ismet’s childhood in Tuzla appear alongside anguished letters to his mother about the challenges of life in this new world. March 6, 2014
Karen Russell: A native of Miami, Karen won the 2012 National Magazine Award for fiction, and her first novel, Swamplandia! (2011), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is a graduate of the Columbia MFA program, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2012 Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. She lives in Philadelphia. May 28, 2014
M.T. Anderson is an American author of picture books, pre-teen books, and young-adult novels. He won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2006 for The Pox Party, volume one of the "Octavian Nothing" books, historical novels set in Revolution-era Boston. Anderson is known for using wit and sarcasm in his stories, as well as advocating that young adults are capable of mature comprehension. He presented at both Middle and Upper School assemblies, and met with students in classes in the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools.
Artist Michael Schultheis creates paintings consisting of layers of mathematical notations and drawings that describe the form and motion of three-dimensional geometric shapes. The artist talked about how he is inspired by the beauty and elegance in the world of analysis, and how his paintings explore the visual models that communicate this essence of math.
Two-time U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins returned to the Catlin Gabel campus as the 2010-11 Karl Jonske Memorial Lecturer. His last visit had been in 1999, the year of Karl Jonske's graduation, as a Jean Vollum Distinguished Writer. Billy Collins made a surprise visit to a freshman English class and enjoyed lunch with students in the creative writing class.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder spoke about his book Mountains Beyond Mountains, which narrates the interactions and conflicts Dr. Paul Farmer faces as he attempts to secure healthcare for the poor in developing countries. Following his lecture, Tracy Kidder had lunch and talked with Upper School students in the creative writing elective.
Photographer and former National Geographic Society photo editor Anne B. Keiser talked about her work documenting Sir Edmund Hillary's humanitarian efforts with the Sherpa people of Nepal.
Filmmaker Sandy Northrop and author David Lamb led a conversation about the Vietnam War. Sandy Northrop directed a PBS film trilogy about Vietnam. David Lamb, a former LA Times foreign correspondent and eight-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, is the author of Vietnam, Now: A Reporter Returns.
Ted Kooser was the lecture series' inaugural speaker. He was United States poet laureate consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 to 2006, and also won the Pulitzer Prize for his book of poems, Delights & Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004). Ted is also Presidential Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.