Catalyst is an ongoing series promoting conversations around transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research that fuses the performing and visual arts with other fields of inquiry and scholarship. This event is brought to you by the Council for the Arts & Culture.
Monday, May 18
3 to 4 p.m.
Health Sciences & Human Services Library – Gladhill Boardroom, 5th Floor
Attendance is free and open to all, registration is required.
Refreshments will be provided following the event.
Chief Academic and Research Officer and Senior Vice President and Dean, Graduate School
As the chief academic and research officer, Bruce Jarrell is the focal point for all such matters at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).
When he’s away from UMB, however, aside from his family, his passion for metalsmithing takes center stage. In his shop at his home in Severna Park, Jarrell has turned out many impressive projects, some that currently beautify UMB and its ceremonial events.
Jarrell came to UMB in 1997, recruited by the School of Medicine to chair the Department of Surgery. In 2003, Jarrell moved to the Dean’s Office of the School of Medicine, where he served as the executive vice dean. So it is only fitting that the School of Medicine (SOM) received his first UMB metalsmithing gift, a mace holder that has been used in SOM ceremonies since 2006.
In 2010, Jarrell, a former cabinetmaker who belongs to the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland, was given a greater challenge: to create a mace holder for President Jay A. Perman’s November inauguration. The resulting work was based on the Maryland state flag, which bears the cross bottony and the palisades of the Calvert and Crossland families of the Lords Baltimore.
It was a family affair. His daughter Gwynneth incised in steel “University of Maryland” and his sister Bess Jarrell Naylor, a cabinetmaker in York, Pa., handmade a box of ebony and Maryland Wye oak for the mace holder to sit on.
The finishing touch? Jarrell forged handmade nails remaining from the restoration of Davidge Hall, the University’s iconic signature building, and created a hook, on which Perman placed the original 7-inch brass key to Davidge Hall during the inauguration ceremony.
In 2012, the year he became chief academic and research officer, Jarrell teamed up with Ukrainian blacksmith Anatoliy Rudik to create a metalwork art piece that fills two second-floor windows of the University’s Southern Management Corporation Campus Center. The treelike piece is based upon the Davidge Elm, a majestic tree that before its death a decade ago stood for nearly 200 years outside Davidge Hall.
“I don’t speak Ukrainian or Russian and Anatoliy doesn’t speak English so it was a quiet shop,” joked Jarrell at the unveiling.
Jarrell’s most recent UMB project was making a ceremonial mace for the School of Nursing (SON). He was again assisted by Gwynneth, an alumna of the nursing school.
“There’s a little story that you won’t see because it’s on the back side of the mace,” said SON Dean Jane Kirschling at the unveiling. “Gwynneth and her dad were having a conversation about the mace and should they sign it. And Gwynneth said absolutely. She then put in her initials and put RN afterward. So father that he is, Dr. Jarrell put in his name followed by MD. We’re glad you’ve got a nurse in the family, Dr. Jarrell!”
Asked before the inauguration why he was willing to put in long days on weekends and find hours before and after University workdays to make the 2010 mace holder, Jarrell smiled and said, “First of all, I’m a surgeon and any time you create something with your hands you get pleasure from it. Second, it’s fun to be creative. They said go make something and I did. And, of course, it will be very nice to have the mace sit in a nice holder.”
Associate Research Professor and Associate Director at the Imaging Research Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
Lee Boot is an experimental media artist and researcher exploring new ways to represent knowledge in human environments, with a focus on digital domains. He serves as associate research professor and associate director at the Imaging Research Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).
Boot’s research has produced innovative film, video, and real-time interactive works to help audiences connect with and co-create knowledge in the humanities, sciences, and arts to stimulate new thinking on education, health, and social challenges. During the past two decades his work has been broadcast, screened, published online, and exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the National Academies of Science, the Johannesburg Biennial, and London’s Serpentine Galleries.
His feature film, Euphoria, was selected for numerous festivals and won the Gold Award for documentary at the Houston International Film Festival in 2005. His findings have been published in journals and presented at conferences on art, education, new media, and digital communications. Current projects include developing interactive, web-based tools for persistent, inclusive discourse to address and solve big, complex human problems — particularly the challenges facing his city of Baltimore.
Boot also is working with the National Academy of Sciences on innovative digital media to help rework the relationship between science and mainstream culture in the U.S., and is collaborating with celebrated dancer/choreographer Liz Lerman to give her creative tools an online, interactive presence.
A Digital Impression of Science in the Past 90 Years
The Great Hall in the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) headquarters on the National Mall in Washington D.C., has a beautiful dome elaborately painted by artist Hildreth Meiere in 1924. The eight disciplines of science as conceived of at that time, the great science academies of the world, and even the ancient “elements” of Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth are all represented in neat and ornate gold-bordered icons.
Boot was commissioned to update the way science is represented on the dome in a form that can be accessed not only for visitors to the dome itself, but for people anywhere in the world, digitally. Working with JD Talasek, director of cultural programs of the NAS, Boot did an ethnographic study, interviewing 12 national leaders in the sciences, including several Nobel Laureates, to understand how science has changed since the early 20th century.
Boot and a team of artists and programmers at the Imaging Research Center at UMBC then sought to capture what the scientists had to say about science now, how it is done, what it offers, what its limitations are, and how it has changed — perhaps radically, since the dome was originally painted.
The result is an iPad application that augments the visible reality of the dome for visitors to the NAS, and also recreates it in the hands of those who cannot be there in person. It uses Meiere’s dome as a launchpad for an impression of science that has broken loose from the pat schematics of an earlier time, into a rich, ambiguous ecology of nature as it is.