Exhibit Newsletter Autumn 2019

exhibit: arts and humanities showcase

Dean’s Welcome

“How nice,” the woman in line said to me while striking up a conversation.  “You support the arts and humanities.  They are so important for personal enrichment.” 

Because I was at the grocery store checkout, I didn’t have the time to respond. If I did, I would have insisted that the arts and humanities matter for reasons far beyond personal enrichment. Yes, their study is about deep thinking, living through times of isolation and frustration, exercising patience during the creative process. But their true power lies in the sharing of discovery, of intellect, of articulate debate, cogent writing, sublime art and design, and soaring music that lifts the spirit.

Pursuing the subjects within arts and humanities demands an optimism and hope that God still loves the world, even in the harrowing times we all must face. The writers, thinkers, speakers, and artists call for our attention — they must be seen and heard.

You’ll see evidence of all this in the stories below. One of our design students creates art in the leading laboratories of Harvard University. Two French alumni win awards as they dive into their fields at the graduate level. Chigozie Obioma, mentor in our MFA program, shares his motivation for writing and the truth-telling powers of fiction. And as alumni return to campus for the anniversary celebration of our music therapy program and our upcoming 66th Homecoming and Family Weekend, we see the power of the humanities to knit communities together.

Studying, majoring or minoring in the arts and humanities at SPU not only changes us, but is how we might engage cultures and change worlds.

That’s what I would have said to the woman in line at the grocery store checkout. Now, I share it with you here.

Debra Sequeira

Debra Sequeira, Dean

Arts and Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences

Fine and Performing Arts Scholarships

SPU music majors

Whatever form your creativity takes — music, theatre, or visual art — we want to hear from you. And we have more than $300,000 in scholarships to award to qualifying students. Audition with Seattle Pacific University to get your share.

The 2020 auditions will be held February 21 and 22. You’ll also have the chance to meet our world-class faculty, tour campus, and experience firsthand what it’s like to be part of SPU’s artistic community in a city leading the nation in the arts.

If you’re unable to audition on one of the above dates, you can still show us your skills by submitting an electronic audition. View complete scholarship audition details and apply online.


Danielle Gamboa

Last summer, Danielle Gamboa, senior visual communication major, found herself working in a Harvard University bioengineering laboratory: a solo design student working amidst STEM students as part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The REU program invites top-performing students from chemistry, physics, biology, computer science, mathematics, and engineering to work on cutting-edge research projects in Harvard’s laboratories. But when SPU Professor of Visual Communications Karen Gutowsky-Zimmerman heard they were looking for a student from the arts, she recommended Gamboa apply. Following hours of writing and preparation, Gamboa was chosen for the competitive program, along with 70 other students from STEM majors.

While the other REU students in her laboratory conducted research on bioengineering projects, Gamboa worked with resident artist Michael Rosnach and postdoctoral fellow John Zimmerman on a project that used similar experimentation techniques, processes, and materials to create art. She worked in the laboratory of Kevin Kit Parker, the Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics, who believed hosting a student from the arts could help scientists and researchers think outside of the box.

“There is a scientific way of thinking about things,” said Gamboa. “But it’s easy to get stuck in any one chain of thought. Variety helps produce more creative solutions. At the same time, a lot of major art movements have happened during times of new technology. And right now there is a lot of new technology!”

The 10-week program was demanding, requiring Gamboa to work in the laboratory for nine to twelve hours per day. Gamboa presented her work three times: a unique challenge. “We basically speak different languages,” she said. “I can explain things visually, but that comes across very different to a group of people who work scientifically. I had to learn how to translate my work in a way that makes sense.”

But Gamboa believes that art rooted in science has the potential to make current scientific research more accessible to the general public. She is interested in pursuing this work after graduating, at a place like the MIT Media Lab, where computational design, materials science, and synthetic biology meet. “The average person isn’t going to read a research paper if they don’t know anything about the field,” she said. “An image or design is something tangible that can connect people to what is happening in the scientific world.”

"Danielle is an excellent student to teach because of her inherent curiosity," said Gutowsky-Zimmerman. "Interested in a multitude of practices of making — from design to sculpture, to now using methods of science — she is a great example of a student performing well in the liberal arts as a co-creator within multiple disciplines."


chutes montmorency

More than 220 million people on five continents speak French, and it is the second most widely learned foreign language after English. Students studying the French language and culture are uniquely prepared to engage the people and opportunities around them — as alumni Danica Eisman Guerrero '10 and Chelsea Elzinga ’13 are showing. Both alumni are completing graduate studies in French and received prestigious awards for their work in the field.

With her French major, English literature minor, and teaching certification from SPU in hand, Guerrero has built a reputation as a talented and creative high school modern language teacher. She is now pursuing her master’s in French at the University of North Texas, where she has won two "Outstanding Student in French" awards, selected unanimously by the professors in her department. She first learned about her current research topic — Quebec’s Révolution tranquille (Quiet Revolution) in the 1960s–70s — as a junior at SPU. “I liked the idea that a revolution could be peaceful, and I was curious about how America and France’s modern history compared to what I was learning about Quebec.” She now studies the under the direction of one of the world’s leading Quebec scholars, Marie-Christine Weidmann Koop.

“SPU prepared me to teach with compassion and kindness, and to be persistent and fearless in the pursuit of my dreams,” said Guerrero, who plans on continuing in a PhD program and becoming a professor. “It also taught me to rely on God more than on myself, because it was a financial stretch for me to attend a private university of such a high caliber, and I had to rely on him daily.”

After majoring in French and art history as an honors student at SPU, Elzinga earned her master’s in French Studies at Florida State University's Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies and received a prestigious Fulbright award to teach in Luxembourg. She is now pursuing her PhD in French Studies at Stanford University, where her research focuses on how the five senses are utilized in 20th and 21st century Francophone literature and culture. She also teaches French language courses at Stanford.

Chelsea Elzinga

After a two-year intensive application process, Elzinga was awarded the Lilly Fellowship, a grant that provides mentorship, professional and spiritual development, and online classes to a select group of doctoral students preparing to teach in their fields at the university level. “SPU was exactly the right experience I needed at the time: a community of people who helped me learn who I am, my values, what I want to be in this world,” said Elzinga. “My professors confirmed that I could be creative and study what I wanted to study. I wasn’t limited.”

"Seeing students of this caliber succeed in their graduate studies shows that our students can dream big and compete with the best and brightest in prestigious programs and internationally renowned universities across the country," said Michelle Beauclair, assistant professor of French and Francophone studies, who taught both Guerrero and Elzinga. "Danica and Chelsea are part of the next generation of foreign language educators and scholars, and I am convinced that the sky is the limit for the innovation and impact they will bring to their future students and the profession."


Author Chigozie Obioma | photo by Scott C. Soderberg

Chigozie Obioma is a first-year fiction mentor in Seattle Pacific’s MFA in Creative Writing program and the author of two award-winning novels, The Fisherman and An Orchestra of Minorities, both of which were shortlisted for the Booker prize. We recently had the chance to catch up with Obioma and hear about his most recent novel and what motivates him to write.

Exhibit: What was the central inspiration behind An Orchestra of Minorities?

Obioma: I conceived of the book as a cosmological novel that would investigate fate, destiny, free will, immigration, class, race, and the complexities of love. I was inspired by a man I knew in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus who was deceived by fixers and died within a week of getting there. I began to ponder philosophical questions about life and metaphysics, but also something this man had mentioned to me: that he had made the journey to Cyprus because he was in love with this woman he wanted to marry. So, the novel came about as a quest to try to retrace his steps, the trajectory of his journey to Cyprus, and his relationship with the woman he loved.

Exhibit: What motivates you to write?

Obioma: I tell my friends as a joke to imagine us all walking down a path. We — amongst whom is a doctor, two lawyers, and four engineers — are observing things on the path, saying, “That tree there is bowed; this plant is taller than the rest.”  I am the one guy who walks slowest to more keenly observe: “What does it mean that this tree is bowed? Is there a psychological reason for this plant to be head and shoulder above the rest?” I tell them that because they are too busy doing actual jobs, I am the one seeing what they are missing and revealing it to them. Therefore, for me, I see fiction as a revelation. I am trying to show the reader how the world truly is.

Exhibit: What advice would you give to students pursuing creative writing, either at the undergraduate or graduate level?

Obioma: I would tell them first of all, congrats, you are brave enough to choose something that is rarely chosen as a career path.  Now, you must read like your life depends on it. Find writers whose work you admire and anchor yourself firmly in their universe. Read them well, tirelessly, and closely. For me, this is the best way to perfecting your own craft.

Exhibit: Tell us about your experience as a mentor in SPU’s MFA program.

Obioma: I came into the program earlier this year and have thoroughly enjoyed it. What first inspired me to teach in the program was that it was faith-based. I feel that faith-inclined writers are underappreciated in America today, and there is a need to help shore them up. SPU’s MFA program does this well. And, most of all, the work the students produce is unique. When I first encountered it, I was intrigued by the philosophical depth of the writing and the subjects they are tackling.


Kendal Hocking and family abroad

Kendal Hocking '17 with SPU professors Ronald and Catherine Haight in Oxford, England.

Kendal Hocking ’17 graduated from SPU with a degree in music. But what her degree won’t tell you is that along with organ lessons and classes on a wide range of musical topics, she also took classes in history, philosophy, Bible, and psychology. Interested in many subjects, a liberal arts school like Seattle Pacific was where she could truly follow her love of learning. “I encountered so many types of music and concepts I’d never heard of,” she said. “And while music has a special place in my life, a lot of my other classes were equally impactful and enriching.”

As the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, Hocking blazed a trail. “I really enjoy academics and love to learn for the sake of learning,” she said. When looking for the next step in her educational journey, one school interested her more than others: Oxford University in England, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Hocking secured a place in Oxford’s competitive Master of Studies in Musicology program, specializing in music degrees at Oxford in the 13th and early 14th centuries.

The one-year master’s program was intensive and challenging as Hocking spent hours researching in the historic libraries and immersing herself in Oxford’s academic culture. She also took Russian language classes. “I am very fortunate to have studied there,” she said. “Oxford’s libraries are a thing of wonder, from their collections and resources, to the libraries themselves that each bear a history of their own.”

Kendal Hocking

Hocking names her professors at SPU as having the greatest influence on her academic and personal journey, recalling that Ronald Haight, director of music technology, and his wife Catherine, adjunct professor of voice, visited Hocking in Oxford. “Of all the memories I made last year, my favorite SPU professors teaching me how to drive stick shift in the English countryside is the best,” said Hocking. “I am indebted to so many professors at SPU who helped me realize my creative and academic potential, and who also made me feel supported in applying myself to those potentials.”

“Kendal’s natural curiosity about music made her stand out as a student scholar,” said Ronald Haight. “Her ease of discussing various music subjects made for delightful exchanges with me and other students. She was not limited to just her likes and dislikes, but yearned to discover the richness in all music. All this carried over to many different subjects.”

After graduating from Oxford last June, Hocking completed a summer internship at Banasthali University in Rajasthan, India, teaching music, painting in the art department, and taking sitar lessons. Looking ahead, she plans on passing on her love of learning to future generations as a history and music teacher. 


Music therapy at SPU

This year, Seattle Pacific’s music therapy program — still the first and only music therapy program in Washington state — celebrates its ten-year anniversary. All music therapy alumni, current students, and professionals connected to the program were invited back to campus on October 25–26 for two days of reconnecting, fellowship, and — of course — making music.

The past decade has seen much exciting change in the field of music therapy. In 2012, approximately 40 board-certified music therapists worked in the region; today, there are more than 100 in the state of Washington. Music therapy employment opportunities have skyrocketed. Aegis Living, a network of assisted living facilities, reports that 11 out of their 17 care facilities employ fulltime music therapists. Carlene Brown, program director of music therapy, also reports a rise in the number of adults who want to change careers and become music therapists. “These are individuals who always felt they had this calling, but didn’t know how to frame it in a program,” she said. “Having freshmen and professional adults taking the same classes has been incredibly rewarding.”

During the anniversary reunion event, President Dan Martin, Dean Debra Sequeira, with SPU faculty and staff, joined alumni and current students with invited community members at a reception hosted by the Seattle Symphony at the Octave 9 performance space in downtown Seattle. Students shared their work, and guest speakers included Jennifer Geiger, former president of the American Music Therapy Association, and Deforia Lane, one of the nation’s leading music therapists whose book on faith and music therapy is read by students entering SPU’s program. Attendees also brought their instruments of choice for an evening session of music-making in Nickerson Studios.

Seventy percent of the program’s alumni attended the event. “We have a very close-knit community of students and alumni,” said Brown. “We have alumni who graduated years ago coming from across the country who were so excited to see each other. One cannot overstate the value of a strong community like this one.”

“Returning to SPU was so special to me as I was able to catch up with, learn from, and be refreshed by my colleagues,” said Addison Breier ’18, music therapist at Continuum of Colorado who traveled from Colorado to attend the reunion. “This time with fellow music therapists reminded me of why I do what I do as I was inspired by and fed off of the passion others had for the work they are doing.”


On February 7–8, 2020, alumni and families are invited back to campus to reconnect for SPU’s 66th Homecoming and Family Weekend. This year, the music department hosts a special celebration as Wind Ensemble conductors from the last 40 years — Martin Behnke, Eric Hanson, Ron Haight, and Gerry Marsh — return for an alumni reunion concert and reception. Each will conduct one piece and play one piece in the program. Music alumni are encouraged to bring their band instruments and participate. Music will be available for practicing ahead of time.

Register for Homecoming and Family Weekend.


The annual Sacred Sounds of Christmas concert at Benaroya Hall

Sacred Sounds of Christmas returns to magnificent Benaroya Hall, and tickets are on sale now. Bask in the best of sacred Advent music from around the world on Sunday, November 24, at 7 p.m. Performed by the Music Department’s nationally recognized student and faculty musicians, Sacred Sounds is our gift to Seattle — and always sells out.

Audience members come from throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond to enjoy a one-of-a-kind celebration of the Advent and Christmas seasons by the Concert Choir, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Women’s Choir, Men’s Choir, and Gospel Choir.

Performance and ticket details


theatre actresses on stage posing

The 59 years of theatre at Seattle Pacific University represent untold numbers of lines and lights, costumes and songs, sets and scenes, tears and laughter, colorful characters galore, and in the breadth of its productions, fabulous food for thought to nourish minds and hearts. Much thought and collaboration go into play selection each season. Here are this year’s hand-picked productions.

*Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus. Directed by Carol Roscoe.

Ten explorers. Four boats. One Grand Canyon. Men on Boats tells the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition to chart the course of the Colorado River.

November 14–16, 21–23; matinee November 23

James Leon Chapman Stage

*Urinetown: The Musical by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis. Directed by Ruben Van Kempen. Musical direction by Mark Press.

This award-winning 2001 musical hilariously critiques the legal system, capitalism, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics, and musical theatre itself. In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage has led to a ban on private toilets. Citizens must use public amenities for a fee, regulated by a single malevolent company. One hero decides that he's had enough and plans a revolution! Inspired by the works of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, along with ceaseless corporate malfeasance, Urinetown is an irreverently humorous satire in which no one is safe from scrutiny. — www.mtishows.com

January 30, 31, February 1, 6–8; matinees February 1 and 8

James Leon Chapman Stage

*The Shakers of Mount Lebanon Will Hold a Peace Conference This Month by Arlene Hutton. Directed by Marianne Savell.

As the size and strength of an upstate New York Shaker village are waning, wealthy progressive women from New York City (some of them Jewish) take an interest in Mount Lebanon. Inspired to host a peace conference drawing attendees from all over the world, the Shaker women struggle just to find peace amongst themselves. They are divided by gender, economics, theology, diet, and history. But the conference does happen, and its message of hope reaches out to us in the present, encouraging us all to do better.

April 23–25, 30, May 2; matinee May 2

James Leon Chapman Stage

*Cymbeline by William Shakespeare. Adapted and directed by Candace Vance.

Cymbeline is King of Britain. He marries an unpleasant woman with an arrogant son named Cloten. Cymbeline arranges the marriage of his beautiful daughter, Imogen, to Cloten, but she defies him and marries the poor but worthy Postumus. Cymbeline banishes Postumus. Before he goes, each gives the other a gift. Several plot lines follow, involving disguises, mistaken identity, deceit, treachery, and poison. The villain Iachimo bets a large sum of money against Postumus’ ring that he can seduce Imogen. In a traditional comic ending, Iachimo confesses, the characters reveal themselves, all misunderstandings are resolved, and the lovers are reunited.

May 25–28; matinee only May 29

McKinley “Backstage” Theatre

*Tickets required. Fine Arts Box Office: 206-281-2959 or spu.edu/boxoffice.


Chris Hanson

Seattle Pacific faculty are known to be world-class scholars in their fields, conducting leading research, engaging professional pursuits beyond campus, and using their expertise to change the world. Keep an eye on these accomplished faculty members who recently joined our community:

Christopher Hanson: Assistant Professor of Music Education, Director of Music Education and Orchestral Activities

Hanson has dedicated his life to teaching the arts. A conductor, violinist, pedagogue, and musicologist, he has worked with an eclectic group of ensembles in the state of Texas and abroad. He served as a public school orchestra director for eight years, also founding and directing a non-profit community orchestra in central Texas. He teaches in music and education to change the world, citing Maxine Greene, who said, “The arts, it has been said, cannot change the world, but they can change human beings, who can change the world.”

His current research focuses on teacher and student agency, and the transformative power of fine arts education. He collaborates in recitals with his wife, mezzo-soprano Erin Hanson, and is working on the fourth volume of the chamber music ensemble Hymn Project. A violinist and composer, he has also premiered several works in multiple genres and serves as the chief arranger and first violinist of the Sacred Ensemble.

Matthew Bellinger

Matthew Bellinger: Assistant Professor of Communication

Bellinger’s work begins where communication and cryptocurrencies meet. His primary area of research is the intersection of technology rhetoric and economic rhetoric, with a special emphasis on emerging monetary technologies like Bitcoin. In particular, he is interested in the processes by which new monetary technologies move from being strange and anxiety-inducing to familiar and routinized. He is also pursuing research in environmental communication, examining the rhetoric of the Green New Deal.

A Pacific Northwest native, Bellinger enjoys helping students contextualize and think critically about important contemporary issues related to new media technologies. “Communication is integral to human life, and my aim as an educator is to cultivate students’ capacities to mindfully engage this aspect of our shared existence,” he said. “I teach at SPU because I am convinced that such mindful engagement can empower us to persuade, negotiate, compromise, and reach consensus — in short, to sort through the messy work of deciding how we should live together.”


At the edge of both

A group exhibition, curated by Serrah Russell and Zack Bent, featuring national artists who turn landscapes inside out, revealing hidden seams and edges as new atmospheres are allowed to materialize. As viewers, we are invited to witness these artists as they process and play, to suspend our view of reality and encounter a bridge where we once saw a barrier.

January 14–March 8 | Public reception: January 17, 5–7 p.m.


Instrumental Concert: Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra
November 15, 7:30 p.m.
First Free Methodist Church

Schoenhals Visiting Artist | Joe Daley: “Seven Deadly Sins”
January 31, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Music Alumni Band Homecoming Concert and Reception
February 8, 2 p.m. concert, 3:30 p.m. reception
First Free Methodist Church

Chamber Music Concert
February 11, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Faculty Artist Series: “Happy Birthday, Leopold!”
February 13, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Faculty Artist Series: “The Legacy of Leopold Godowsky”
February 14, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Faculty Artist Series: “Circle of Friends”
February 16, 4 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Jazz Ensemble Concert
February 18, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Wind Ensemble Concert
February 21, 7:30 p.m.
First Free Methodist Church

Gospel Choir and Worship Band Vespers
February 25, 7:30 p.m.
First Free Methodist Church

Orchestra Concert
February 27, 7:30 p.m.

Percussion Ensemble Concert
March 3, 7:30 p.m.
First Free Methodist Church

Chamber, Concert, and Women's Choirs Concert
March 6, 7:30 p.m.
First Free Methodist Church