Exhibit Newsletter Spring 2019

exhibit: arts and humanities showcase

Dean’s Welcome

Here in Seattle, the heavy snows of February are but a distant memory. Spring is evident all around us, with frequent days of blue sky and a profusion of blooms.

With spring, exciting Arts and Humanities activities have blossomed at Seattle Pacific involving our disciplines. For example, the Social Justice and Cultural Studies major brings thought leaders and activists to campus for honest conversation and engagement through its First Fridays Colloquium Series. The History Department hosts News & Nachos, regular discussions of current events that will impact the future. And two CAS alumni have gone on to create a smash feature-length science fiction film.

This June, SPU says farewell to 19 faculty members: the largest group of retiring faculty ever. In Arts and Humanities, three of our dear colleagues complete their combined eighty years of service: Ramona Holmes (Music), Rick Jackson (Journalism), and Doug Thorpe (English). In addition to losing their collective institutional memory and wisdom, we will miss their kindness, collegiality, and care for thousands of students. I will personally treasure their sage counsel, quick wit, and stories shared. Their contributions live on forever.

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

Social justice events provide platform for engagement

This academic year saw a variety of guests on campus engaged in work around the globe: an immigration lawyer speaking about her career journey and encouraging students to consider careers in immigration law. A doctor discussed problems with current healthcare models and the need for greater equity in medicine. A panel featured two biologists, two theologians, and a political scientist discussing environmental justice.

This was the First Fridays Colloquium Series, hosted by the Social Justice and Cultural Studies major. On the first Friday of each month, SPU students, staff, and faculty, and members of the surrounding community, gathered to learn and dialogue about current social justice issues. “We need spaces where people won’t be afraid,” said Kim Segall, English professor and co-director of the Social Justice and Cultural Studies major. “We don’t need to be afraid of controversy. If you’re going to love your neighbor as yourself, we have to listen to people who believe differently.”

On March 1, nationally acclaimed speaker Tim Wise, one of the nation’s most prominent anti-racist essayists and best-selling author, delivered a message titled “The Politics of Fear in America” as part of the series. Wise asked attendees to consider how fear dictates their opinions, beliefs, and interactions with others, particularly in relation to issues like racism and immigration. Afterwards, an interdisciplinary panel of SPU faculty led attendees in a time of confession and recognition of the brokenness in the world. “Wise offered an anti-racism toolbox of historical metanarratives,” said Segall. “We have a choice between fear and hope. How can we then be an ally to people who do have reason to fear?”

Another colloquium event featured physician Abigail Rothchild and Mary Segall, a nurse working with populations in the Middle East, to discuss the healthcare crisis in the Middle East and practical ways to help. The April colloquium hosted a panel of American Muslim women who shared their experiences, and the next day, invited SPU community members to a presentation, tour, and lunch at the Redmond mosque.

In February, the colloquium included two SPU art professors who hosted an event on designing for activism. “This isn’t just the social justice major – this is a campus-wide effort,” said Segall. “Usually this could only happen at a large university, but because of interdisciplinary cooperation, it’s happening here.”

The colloquium events — and, in fact, the entire social justice major — were born from a call from the student body for spaces to engage social justice issues. “There is a real tender spot in this generation for the pain and brokenness in the world, and to be part of healing and change,” said Segall. And according to her, social justice is an essential outpouring of faith at SPU. “Given that God loves us with grace and forgiveness, we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Social justice is a radical desire to try to understand the people around us and love them as ourselves.”

prospect movie characters

“Wild experiment” makes it to the big screen

Now that their first feature film has released, budding filmmakers Zeek Earl ’10 and Chris Caldwell ’09 are looking ahead to a big-screen future. And so far, the reviews are encouraging.

Working with fellow SPU alumni Brice Budke ’10 (who produced the film) and Chris’ younger brother Daniel Caldwell ’12 (who wrote the musical score), the team brought together an energetic collection of SPU friends and aspiring creatives to make Prospect, a low-budget sci-fi film with Western themes that features a young woman and her father on a quest for wealth on an inhospitable planet. It is, in effect, a gold rush story in the stars — but with a local twist.

Filmed on location on the Olympic Peninsula, the film takes what film reviewer and SPU Assistant Professor of English and Writing Jeffrey Overstreet calls a “steam-punky” approach to the genre, favoring detailed, handmade sets and costumes over pricier CGI effects.

“Like the visuals, the casual, lived-in approach to world building creates the sense of an entire universe lurking just beyond the edges of the frame,” wrote reviewer Bryan Bishop in The Verge.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. For seven months, Earl and his crew rented a former boatbuilding warehouse in Seattle’s Fremont district to meticulously hand-create and assemble all their intricate props.

Their efforts did not go unnoticed. Cary Darling of the Houston Chronicle wrote that “the defiantly lo-fi Prospect is a smartly entertaining throwback that doesn’t need a Marvel movie’s worth of CGI to make its point.”

“It was kind of a wild experiment,” explained Earl. “We had a very low budget, and we wanted to make an original universe. Every object in that universe had to be original. So we hired all our friends to make spacesuits and spaceships.”

And while those months of painstaking preparation contributed to the movie’s success, making costumes was only the beginning.

Continue the story on SPU Voices.

person reads newspaper on a bench

News & Nachos shines light on the value of history

In January, Alissa Walter and her History Department colleagues were finishing the final preparations for the first News & Nachos event, on the topic of the Islamic State. They imagined an attendance of five or so students, and a few faculty members. 

But interest grew, and a day before the event, the venue had to be moved to a larger room. More than 40 students and faculty flooded in. “Many students did not know basic facts about the September 11 attacks or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Walter. “Still, many of them had been directly affected by US foreign policy in the Middle East, and were hungry to learn more about the events in order to make better sense of their own world.”

Now held monthly, each hour-long News & Nachos event opens with a clear explanation of a current event or topic, using its historical context to help the audience understand its causes, importance, and future implications. Assistant Professor of History Rebecca Hughes presented on Brexit. Rod Stiling, history chair, led exploration of the May 1919 total solar eclipse. 

After the initial presentation, the audience breaks into small groups to answer and debate several discussion prompts before having the opportunity to ask questions of the facilitator. 

According to Walter, the goal of News & Nachos is twofold: Utilize the expertise within the history department to promote deeper understanding and engagement across campus, and foster community among student and faculty historians on campus. “We hope that News & Nachos will help reinforce that historical understanding about different world regions, and about our own country, is crucial for understanding modern politics, economics, current events, and social trends,” said Walter. “We hope that everyone will see the value of taking history classes to be a better scientist, economist, health care provider, policy maker, development worker... you name it!”

News & Nachos will continue in the 2019–20 academic year.

isle of the dogs book sits on table with coffee and muffin

Alumna co-writes book on Wes Anderson film

Lauren Wilford ’13 co-authored The Wes Anderson Collection: Isle of the Dogs (Abrams, 2018) with Ryan Stevenson. The whimsical, colorful volume takes readers behind the scenes of Isle of the Dogs, famed director Wes Anderson’s recent stop-motion animated film, with interviews, in-depth film studies, and vivid imagery. Wilford, who works as senior editor at the film criticism site Bright Wall/Dark Room, also recently had her essay “Towards a True Children’s Cinema: On My Neighbor Totoro” featured in the 30th anniversary edition of Studio Ghibli’s classic film My Neighbor Totoro.

Faculty spotlight

ramona holmes

Ramona Holmes
Professor of Music Education
25 Years

Ramona Holmes taught K–12 music and stringed instruments for 20 years before coming to Seattle Pacific University. Her work combines music education and ethnomusicology, with a focus on string music around the world. She developed the World on a String orchestra music, allowing school orchestras and other groups of young string players to experience playing string music from several different cultures. As a professor, she brought her global experience to Seattle Pacific, inviting global musicians to class and teaching gamelan. She has loved watching students grow into outstanding scholars, musicians, educators, and friends. “It is a joy to teach music education with students who are called to serve,” she said. “The SPU students are passionate about music and want to share their gifts with others.” 

richard jackson

Richard Jackson
Assistant Professor of Journalism
24 Years

With 13 years of copy editing and reporting experience before coming to SPU, Rick served as faculty advisor for SPU’s award-winning student newspaper, The Falcon. In the classroom, he combined building reporting and writing skills with examining the role of journalism and mass media in current society through a critical lens informed by Christian faith and ethics. His work also emphasized an approach to media that focuses on the best practices in the workplace and strong ethics in all of life. “I teach at SPU because I cherish working in an environment that encourages constant reflection on what it means to live as a Christian amid a media landscape that is in perpetual transformation,” he said. “Therefore, we can have an ongoing conversation on faith and practice that, in the words of reconciliation scholar John Paul Lederach, has its ‘head in the clouds and feet on the ground.’”

doug thorpe

Douglas Thorpe
Professor of English
31 Years

Doug’s academic and teaching interests include romanticism, world literature, American ethnic literature, and environmental spirituality. He combined his love of William Blake, Christian contemplative traditions, and the mountains in his award-winning book Rapture of the Deep: Reflections on the Wild in Art, Wilderness and the Sacred (Red Hen Press, 2007). In Wisdom Sings the World: Poetry, Creation, and the Way of Dwelling (Codhill Press, 2010), he reflects on the connections between spirituality and the arts. An active member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, his favorite memories of Seattle Pacific include teaching students abroad in England, collaborating with colleagues, and rich conversations with students in his office and local coffee shops.

Read about all of SPU’s retiring faculty.


China and the Trade War with Dr. Zhiguo Ye
May 16, 11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Chips and salsa provided.


Evolve: SPU Visual Communications 2019 Senior Show
May 22–June 7, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
SPU Art Center Gallery

band poses with instruments at kerry park


Junior Recital: Gwen Glass (voice) and Lucia Vintimilla-Beckmann (voice)

May 13, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Chamber Music Concert
May 14, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Senior Recital: Maureen Dixson (piano)
February 19, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Wind Ensemble Concert
May 17, 7:30 p.m.
First Free Methodist Church

Junior Recital: Marc Estabrook (piano)
May 20, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Jazz Ensemble Concert
May 22, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios

Symphony Orchestra Concert
May 23, 7:30 p.m.
First Free Methodist Church

Percussion Ensemble Concert
May 28, 7:30 p.m.
E.E. Bach Theatre

Senior Recital: Cicy Li (piano)
May 29, 7:30 p.m.
Nickerson Studios