Exhibit: Arts and Humanities Showcase

Dean’s welcome

Signs of spring reflect to us in Arts and Humanities the joy of Christ’s resurrection. Since last fall’s installment of Exhibit, we have observed Black History Month, which culminated in the performance “Black Compline” by Stephen Newby and music faculty. There have been several faculty and student concerts, theatre productions, and our colloquium series on race and reconciliation. We congratulate our newly tenured colleagues: Leland Saunders in Philosophy and Scott Kolbo in Art. Yet we also acknowledge this is a season of farewells: students soon to graduate, our retiring professors Roger Feldman in Art, Michael Hamilton and William Woodward in History. Spring bids mixed emotions, as do the stories that follow. There is much to come before Commencement in June, including the musical production “Into the Woods,” the launch of our Film Studies speaker series, and the University’s Gala concluding our 125th anniversary year celebrations. I may feel melancholy as Spring Quarter progresses, but our students and faculty never fail to motivate and inspire me. May God who makes all things new fill your world with beauty and truth.

Debra Sequeira, Dean
College of Arts and Sciences – Division of Arts and Humanities

Students recording music at Nickerson Studios

Nickerson Recording Studios: Painting With Music

The students in Advanced Music Tech study recording, microphones, computer sound synthesis, film scoring, and video game music development. And in Autumn Quarter, they studied oil paintings on the walls of the Nickerson Recording Studios.

Assignment: compose music in response to that art.

The artist is Anelecia Hannah Brooks ’05, now pursuing an MFA degree at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. The exhibit, part of Seattle Pacific University’s 125th anniversary celebration, was titled “Heritage.” The paintings combine the bittersweet imagery of young adulthood with imagery drawn from millennia of Christian history, suggesting that personal history and community history share similar dynamics of discovery.

“Each student came up with a different response to the art,” says Adjunct Professor of Advanced Music Tech Bradley Hawkins. “They told me that it helped them get in touch with their inner compositional voice. It also helped them open up to the creation of other types of art forms.”

Visitors to the exhibit may access a code next to each painting and listen to the student composition specific to that particular painting.

He calls the Nickerson Studios, 10,000 square feet of performance and rehearsal space on the Seattle Pacific campus, “a gem” in part because it is a focal point for not only showcasing art but for developing the University’s young artists.


Music at the Moore Starts at the Studios

Music Technology and Composition major Cody Kilpatrick was a student producer and composer on March 24 for the 16th annual More Music at the Moore. The Moore Theater, a professional Seattle performance venue, hosts the young artist development program each year for a showcase of talent across diverse musical genres before a paying audience of 1,500.

Plus the show was streamed live to sick children and teens in area hospitals.

Kilpatrick, who this year focused primarily on mentoring vocal performers, has been a rehearsal tech for the Moore showcase in past years. He says Seattle Pacific University’s new Nickerson Recording Studios provide the tools and space necessary for a large-scale collaborative show. “Getting the rehearsal going and doing the set-up are unimaginably easier in Nickerson. What took me 90 minutes before now takes techs 30-45 minutes, and with double the sound quality.”

He adds that access to Nickerson’s microphones, mixers, and technicians without rental fees “is an incalculable value in the rehearsal and preparation stages of a show of this scale.”

Nickerson Studios also provide young tech students real industry experience and the opportunity to work with industry professionals. A number of SPU music faculty members compose, record, and work as studio musicians in film, theatre, and video game production.

Carlene Brown, chair of the SPU Music Department, is co-producer of More Music at the Moore, where Macklemore performed as a youth. She oversees a six-month artist training program that takes young musicians 13–21 years of age from audition to show time. This year, 150 musicians auditioned and 14 were chosen to perform in the show. Three of those are SPU students: Marc Estabrook, Joshua Lim, and Zahara Williams.

Does It Matter What You Think About What You Think?

Free thoughts from Assistant Professor of Communication and Journalism Peg Achterman:

The first day of the Media Literacy course fell just 14 days before Inauguration Day this year. And over most of Christmas break, as I updated the syllabus, I fretted about how to emphasize the need for vigilance in our current media climate. This course is an option not just for communication and journalism majors, but for any student wanting to fulfill a “Ways of Knowing” requirement.

My favorite phrase in the first week of the quarter is “I’m going to ruin your digital life!” What I mean is: “Be aware; know how all media is manipulating you in some way; whether it’s Instagram stream or the teaser you hear on the radio, it has some impact.”

At the end of the quarter I always ask for takeaways and I’m pleased to read things like:

  • I will take from this class a healthy dose of skepticism and hunger for more than one angle.
  • I’m more aware of the news I’m consuming and I pay more attention to the reliability of the source.
  • I’m more likely to look up other sources for information I receive to get the opposite perspective.
  • I’ve learned to be more critical of the random news stories I see. I don’t share something if it’s not from a reliable source.
  • I will take the knowledge of “fake news” and the understanding that it is up to us to understand and validate the media which we receive.

It is a challenge to teach and study journalism today, but we strive to make students aware of the hurdles facing all media organizations. From the threats to freedom of the press inherent in a polarized political climate, to the economic shifts facing all traditional newsrooms, students must understand the effects on their media consumption. News and information may be instantly available, but it requires greater curiosity and vigilance on the part of the consumer.

Lydia Megalaa working on a theatre costume

Abilities Fit for Broadway

You might say that senior Lydia Megalaa of Cairo, Egypt, is a double threat. As an English major interested in interpreting texts for conversion to film and theatre, she has done a lot of thinking, reading, and writing about the human condition.

As a student of Seattle Pacific University’s new Costume Design and Production program, she was able to imagine a story to life in new, hands-on ways. She had almost decided to drop the idea of a minor until Sarah Moser, a costume designer and program coordinator of both a new major and a new minor in costume design, told her that at last she could make her love of theatre, costume, and literature a reality.

“My favorite class was Global Dress and Behavior,” says Lydia, who is half Egyptian and half American, born and raised in Cairo. “Coming from a multicultural background, I found that it is no longer enough to have just an understanding of western history and tradition to be a fully rounded designer or member of the general artistic community. The future of film and theatre is increasingly inclusive. It is necessary to educate ourselves and create art that engages diversity, or else it won’t be relevant.”

A 2005 SPU theatre graduate, Sarah says, “Our emphasis is on student professionalism, the highest standards, and exposure to guest directors and designers in the industry.” Costume Design and Production takes advantage of rich resources in the Theatre Department, in Family and Consumer Sciences, and in the vibrant Seattle theatre community.

Through the study of general theatre, stagecraft, fashion design, clothing construction, and more, students gain the preparation and skills to become costumers, wardrobe managers, and costume designers in professional theatre, film, dance, or other performance genres. Other options include stylist in the fashion industry, proprietor of a costume shop, or, in Sarah’s case, a popular teacher of costume magic.

One of those pleased to hear about Seattle Pacific’s new costume design program is Bonnie Prather, 2005 SPU theatre graduate. For three years, she has been the dresser for three women in the female ensemble of Disney’s hit musical “Aladdin” on Broadway. Long an admirer of Sarah Moser, she believes SPU’s new costume design emphasis could prove the genie in the lamp for those “fully rounded designers” Lydia envisions.

Willy Bravenec

He Overcame to Gain the Prize

Willy Bravenec will be the first to tell you that if you want something bad enough and outwork everyone else to get it, your chances will improve exponentially. Rest on your laurels and you won’t ever get over that mountain.

Bravenec had never been afraid of hard work. He fought through a difficult childhood in Orange County, California, and later worked “any job put in front of me,” including six years as a youth pastor, four years a carpenter, and a stint in the U.S. Coast Guard. Then he married, had three kids, and saw that to provide for his family long-term, he needed to go back to school.

Seattle Pacific University was on the West Coast and the only school he found that offered him both family housing and the degree he wanted — in Design and Visual Communication, or graphic design. Brevenec rolled up his sleeves and tackled a difficult and challenging lifestyle of husband, dad, 50 hours a week of employment, and a full academic load.


“Every academic quarter was a panic attack at the start. I wanted to quit every time,” says Bravenec, who today is design director of global digital products for Starbucks. With the unwavering help and support of his wife, Alison, and the staff and faculty of the Vis-Com program, he was “able to crawl through with honors.”

“It set me up for work after school,” Bravenec adds. “Design is not glam; it is blue collar work. I was battle tested and had something to offer that I did not realize before SPU.”

A Starbucks design manager saw and liked graphic design work that Bravenec did for Vizio.com. The manager contacted Bravenec by Instagram and told him about an open senior design position at Starbucks. Bravenec was hired and within a year had been promoted twice. Today he leads a team of 18 designers and researchers who design the user experience for Starbucks.com and mobile apps via, Android, and iOS. They serve 12.9 million active users and 4.83 billion payment processes annually.

“My team comes first,” says Bravenec, who graduated from SPU in 2012. “I give them credit for their work. I fight to provide them with a great work/life balance and a clear path to provide for their families. Two moms on my team have a special place in my heart because I know how hard that job is.”

Learn more about SPU’s Visual Communication major.

Careers in Arts and Humanities

Music Therapy

SPU offers the first and only music therapy program in Washington State.

Brooke Bower

Brooke Bower ’16

B.A. Music Therapy/Emphasis: Special Education

Brooke Bower is just four months from completing the full-time six-month music therapy internship required by her major. She has a dual internship arrangement. For three days a week, she works with small groups and individual children and teens with disabilities at Music Works Northwest in Bellevue, Washington. For two days a week, she’s in Everett, Washington, at Snohomish County Music Project where she works in schools with kids of the Tulalip and Marysville communities who have experienced trauma. In both locations, she researches, plans, leads, and documents sessions under the supervision of board-certified music therapists. She has received the insight and expertise of six certified music therapists.

For her internship audition, Brooke was asked to demonstrate her skills on a variety of instruments, discuss her therapeutic approach, and perform a rap while playing the drums. She is piloting programs at the elementary and high school levels in relationship building, compassion, kindness, and respect toward peers regardless of cultural background or ability. Her goal would be to implement music therapy resources in all Washington state schools. In addition, she works with the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center at Seattle Children’s Hospital offering music and drama classes for adults with disabilities. “To quote John Legend,” she says, “‘You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one!’”

Dan Diaz

Dan Diaz ’16

B.A. Music Therapy

Dan Diaz, a native of Denville, New Jersey, is a music therapy intern at The Center for Discovery in the Catskill region of New York. While completing his final two-credit internship in completion of his music therapy major, he works on enhancing social skills through music with children and some adults with autism, cerebral palsy, or multiple disabilities diagnoses.

“All children (and adults) deserve the right to play, to learn, to feel and grow as any other person does,” Dan says. Music sessions look entirely different from one student to the next, depending on verbal capacity, mobility, and music/expressive preferences. We cater each session to the individual.”

Like Brooke Bower, Dan will work as a music therapist at Seattle Children’s Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center after returning to Seattle this summer. He’d like eventually to work at Seattle Children’s Hospital main campus. “I have been extremely happy working with any and all populations so far in my young music therapy career, but Seattle Children’s also seems like an incredible company that I’d be fortunate to work for,”

Learn more about SPU’s Music Therapy Program and see SPU music therapy graduate Riley Sanderson ’14 in action.

Tech Track in Philosophy

The role of logic in business and technology is growing. SPU designed a technology track in philosophy for those students interested in the rising number of challenging jobs for complex thinkers in Seattle’s booming tech industry.

Adam Millson

Adam Millson ’19

Theology/Philosophy Double Major

Because sophomore Adam Millson, like most philosophers, doesn’t follow the path of a typical university student, he has tackled two majors simultaneously. With a theology degree, he hopes to get into the Messianic Jewish Theological School in order to become a rabbi. Knowing, however, the unlikelihood that he can support himself as a Jewish cleric, he hopes a philosophy degree with a tech emphasis will lead to a job with Microsoft, or another firm like it. Then he could be a rabbi with benefits.

In addition to his studies, Millson works part-time for SPU’s Computer and Information Systems help desk. “I’m getting valuable technology experience while making a decent wage,” he says. “I’m also looking into the possibility of interning somewhere.”

Learn more about SPU’s tech track in philosophy.

Spring Events Calendar

Into the Woods

Fan Mayhall Gates Reading

April 27, 2017
7:30 p.m.

Art Center Gallery
Seattle Pacific University

Mischa Willett reads from his new collection of poems, Phases. Free.

Into the Woods

Into the Woods

May 4–6, 11–13
7:30 p.m.

May 6 and 13

2 p.m.

E. E. Bach Theatre

From the book by James Lapine, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. A collaboration between SPU’s Music and Theatre departments. Reserve your tickets now

Memorial Day

Memorial Day Concert, SPU Symphonic Wind Ensemble

May 29, 2017
1:30 p.m.

Evergreen Washelli Cemetery
11111 Aurora Avenue North, Seattle