DON’T MISS OUT on art by Brandeis faculty!

Yesterday, at lunch with Ingrid Schorr, we learned of an amazing opportunity for Brandeis students- to see beautiful works of art! JustArts is an exhibition showcasing artwork by Brandeis faculty and staff, will be on display in the Dreitzer Gallery, Spingold Theater Center, from November 16 to 22. This means MONDAY is the last day!! It is an amazing exhibit, and I encourage everyone to go!

More than 100 works will be on display, by individuals from across campus, including the departments of psychology, theater, fine arts, and politics; the mail room; LTS, and the department of athletics.

Last year’s exhibition, the first in Brandeis history, was “a joyous occasion, with so many people truly paying attention to the art and talking about it,” Professor Mick Watson of the Department of Psychology wrote in an email to the organizers. “And the art work was good — well worth looking at. Best of all, the works came from so many diverse members of the Brandeis community — people who may have been doing art as a hobby, but who took it seriously and had created aesthetic and often moving pieces.”

JustArts is sponsored by the Office of the Arts.

New Student Sculpture Garden…?

The Kalman and Friedlan buildings are being replaced with a sand volleyball court, a four-season garden, or a hybrid of the two–there was an e-mail and a student vote about it, a while back. Sahar talked about it in a previous blog post. In addition to these options, there will also definitely by space for young tree saplings to mature, and a loop road that the Waltham Fire Department requires as a precaution.

Now, though, there has been a new, student proposal for what to do with the space. Aimy Tsao, a Fine Arts UDR, and the others want to incorporate a permanent sculpture garden into the spot, where Brandeis students can exhibit their artwork.

It is an alternative to Goldman Schwartz or an inside location, where some work is now shown. Unfortunately, though, larger work often doesn’t fit in these places, and it can sometimes get in the way. The new space, on the other hand, would provide a spot for even the biggest sculptures, and would allow students from all departments (not just art!) to examine student artwork.

So far, the push to make this happen is totally by the students, particularly the Fine Arts UDR’s. They have created a Facebook event and a petition to advocate for the idea. Next year, administration from the art department and elsewhere may get involved, but Aimy says she wants the effort to come from the students, first and foremost.

This seems like a great idea. We need more outlets to display student art on this campus, and this is a perfect opportunity. It’s low-cost, which is a major priority of the University. Plus, it’s awesome that the push is coming entirely from Brandeis students.

Make sure to check out the Facebook event ( and sign the petition ( if you’re interested!

Thinking about Lee Tusman

So, Lee Tusman. He’s a Brandeis alum, and a cool one to boot. He came to Brandeis last Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday during class, he talked about the sort of cultural-space activism he does. On Wednesday night, we met to plan a secret anarchist (though he never used that word) artist activist event for Thursday. On Thursday, we put our plan into action.

We threw a party. Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. See, Lee’s big idea was that there are many “unactivated public/private spaces” that are theoretically and perhaps legally public or semi-public land and open to everyone, but in fact are unused by the community and in a sense empty and wasted.  We threw a party on an unactivated space; the plaza in front of the library.

So that was fun. We had students simply having fun doing the sorts of things in their comfort zone: playing foursquare, flip-bucket, bucket-pong, music, dancing, creating chalk art, frolicking, and taking cell-phone pics.

It was great, it was joyous. Everyone had a lot of fun, but almost in a self-consciously zany way. There were people in costume – one person ran around asking people if they wanted their picture taken with a cow.

The event itself ended, on schedule, after exactly an hour, and the only thing left of this rollicking party at 1:05 was the chalk on the walls and plaza of the library and the memories (digital and personal).

So that was the event. But the happenings of the event aren’t the interesting parts. The real question we must ask ourselves is not “What happened?” (the answer is here) but instead, “what was accomplished?”

Especially during Wednesday, I had several conversations with my peers on the same topic: “what’s the point?” Lee does this sort of stuff all the time, but it’s alien to our ideas of good activism. His lifestyle of arts/cultural activism: Is it scalable? Is it goal-oriented? Is it sustainable? We didn’t have the time to really discuss these questions with Lee (and he kept ducking our offers of lunch) so we never have a real dialog with him to address these concerns. Absent that, the consensus seemed to be that it was none of these

It took me a while to understand the point of Lee Tusman and what he represents. I think I can give it a shot now, though.

Lee Tusman keeps our soul alive.

We on the left long ago decided that there are two effective paths to doing good in the world. One path involves putting on a suit and working for a nonprofit or government and trying to use the levers of power to address policy. The other path means gritty community organizing and many one-on-one conversations and overwork with little pay. There are good reasons for this collective decision.

Lee is there to remind us of the spirit we have, of the joy inherent in the movement, perhaps of the reason we started in the first place. Lee is here to prefigure right now the society we hope to see in the far future.

Lee is relentless about documenting his actions. We had a whole team with the sole purpose of documenting our 1-hour party with different sorts of media. In class, later, we were asked to write instructions, tips, and lessons learned for a zine he’d distribute about what we’d done. His presentation to class on Wednesday was based off showing different examples of previous projects. This is no accident.

Lee’s purpose is not to have prefigured the great society in any given place – his purpose is to generate and spread the myth of this action/event/art/prefiguration. The broad social movement (if it can even be considered one) of the left is disparate, balkanized, inchoate. Lee generates the unifying myth, the tales that we can all draw inspiration from.

The class had the pleasure of meeting another great alum who goes by the name of Andrew Slack. Andrew Slack is the founder and executive director the Harry Potter Alliance.

I try to explain the HPA through a monologue that goes something like this: “In the Harry Potter books, when Voldemort is coming back and the Daily Prophet was studiously ignoring it or outright denying it, weren’t you confused? Didn’t you ask “what, these Wizards only have one paper?” That was a problem and we can do something to stop it in real life. Stop Voldemedia! The HPA partnered with Free Press to promote media diversification. What if we were members of a Dumbledore’s Army for the real world? We’d do things like stop genocide – it was wrong in the books and it’s wrong here, and that’s why the HPA working on Darfur issues. The HPA works with fan communities for the Harry Potter series that have hundreds of thousdands of hits per day, and activates them to do good as a Dumbledore’s Army for the real world. So yeah, cool right?”

People often miss the significance of the Harry Potter Alliance; the HPA is so special because it takes people who do not identify with political or social causes and activates them. Whereas the model of many DC-focused groups is one where you must gather the attention and loyalty of as many progressive activists as you can, the HPA is so special because it expands the number of activated progressives around, unlike, say which seeks to organize already-existing citizens more effectively. In other words, the HPA has found a way to take cultural energy and turn it into political energy.

Lee Tusman and people like him take  “potential energy” found in any community and turn it into cultural energy.

So far we’ve established that Lee’s purpose is to propagate a vision for the society we wish to live in, to motivate and energize the movement, to bring back the zest and spirit of a left that has signed a pact with the nonprofit industrial complex.

Lee’s visit had one more positive effect not discussed yet, one that can be found by examining the planning session before, and the unstructured discussion after the event. During the Wednesday night planning session, the way the session itself was structured showed us a new model of collaborate leadership. Lee definitely was in charge – he shot down ideas if he didn’t like them, he set the agenda, he set the questions. To be clear, we are still dealing with a variation on the old hierarchical model. Lee seized command of the conversation right away, and didn’t relinquish it. In this way, his leadership style is more authoritarian than one might find on any club on campus. However, with that control, Lee vigorously pursued the opinions, ideas, and possibilities presented by all students in class, especially the meekest. In this way, the meeting was more open and pluralistic than most found on campus.

Robin Dash, a professor who was guest-lecturing along with Lee, tried to take this a step further. By sitting where she wanted, interrupting, and forcefully advocating for her point of view, Professor Dash tried to induce all to enter a new world of more free and spirited discourse. I consider this initiative a failure. Very few or no Brandeis students emulated that style, so that her leadership by example came across badly when contrasted by the decorum and politeness that students were not swayed from.

Lee, I think, tried (but not too hard) to open up a new model of social interaction to the students in the class, and that failed. However, in a broader view, his visit did affect students in a way that is more durable than chalk on the walls of the Library. As soon as he left, a few students talked about replicating the “party in an unactivated space” model again in school once he was gone. A questionnaire passed around class asking “want to do something like this AGAIN?” gathered about 10 signatures of would-be organizers for the next event. In this sense, the memory and myth of the party at the library will perhaps grow to the point where it serves as a cultural touchstone and inspiration to this generation of Brandeis activists.


Hi! I’m Becca Carden, a freshman, and this is my first post for Innermost Parts.

This weekend was my first Springfest experience at Brandeis. It was really fun and beautiful, and very interactive.

But, as I am not an artist, I don’t get the opportunity to see student art very often during the school year. I do go to coffee houses, and I was impressed by the very cool cactus sculptures in the SCC earlier this semester. But can’t we have more? It would be great to have different art projects on display all over campus all year round.

Part of the reason Springfest/Festival of the Arts was so empowering for me was the general feeling of creativity that surrounded it, and I think Brandeis has the potential to promote this inspirational environment all the time. This weekend was great, but can we set up a stage on Chapel’s Field and have student music groups perform on some weekend when it’s not too cold? Or, could we put more visual art on display? Couldn’t we have a cappella in the SCC in the afternoons sometimes, or a surprise skit in the Usdan in the middle of the lunchtime rush?

Springfest is an awesome tradition, and I really enjoyed it. But maybe we can incorporate the art that it celebrates into the everyday Brandeis experience.

Rose Re-Opening…and Why You Should Go

This Wednesday, from 6 to 8pm, the Rose will have a re-opening with a show of works from the permanent collection. There are still a lot of issues and feelings surrounding the situation with the Rose, but that is precisely why it is important to attend–we need to show that we still care, and that the Rose is still important to us. If there is not a huge turnout, the administration will think it was right, and it will be easier for them to promote a vision of Brandeis that does not include the Rose. Instead, let’s show just how many people care–making it clear that a lot of people still have a lot of feelings could make a powerful statement. So please come!

Rose Protest in Globe


The Boston Globe has a decent, if short, article covering today’s protest. You can read it here. It’s not too enlightening on any Rose issues, but it’s nice to see that the student efforts are being properly documented in national media.

Remember, you can visit the Innermost Parts article archive to see all of the major articles about the Rose closure. Let us know if there’s anything we’re missing, or any investigation or coverage of the issue you’d like to see.

If anyone has photos or video of the event that we should post, let us know.

Community + Theater = ??? (Or, Not Brooks or Hughes)

Recently I have seen Brandeis take two very positive and encouraging, although separate, steps in the right direction. Now I wonder whether Brandeis students and faculty will have the vision and open minds necessary to look around them and recognize how they might be able to make an influential change within their community. Continue reading “Community + Theater = ??? (Or, Not Brooks or Hughes)”