UCSC to bring art/science LASER series downtown for special evening at Rio Theater

Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
Jennifer Maytorena Taylor
Alexie Leauthaud
Alexie Leauthaud
Ronaldo Wilson
Ronaldo Wilson
Marianne Weems
Marianne Weems

The Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) is a national program of evening gatherings that brings together artists, scientists, and scholars for informal presentations and conversations.

The goal of the series is to feature compelling new developments in the arts and sciences, and to attract audiences that would not normally be found at the same gathering.

On Tuesday, March 12, the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at UC Santa Cruz will bring its local LASER—now in its sixth year of quarterly talks on campus—downtown for a special evening at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz, beginning at 7 p.m.

The Rio event will include presentations by four UC Santa Cruz professors: theater and opera director Marianne Weems (“’Liveness’ in a Digital World"), astrophysicist Alexie Leauthaud (“Journey to a Universe of Darkness"), poet Ronaldo Wilson (“Persona, Melody, Mask), and documentary filmmaker Jennifer Maytorena Taylor ("Beyond Red and Blue, Documentary Storytelling in Polarized Times").

Admission is free and open to the public.

“We’re delighted to be bringing our next Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous to Santa Cruz--this time in the Rio Theater--to give people a look at some of the work being done by faculty on campus,” said John Weber, founding director of UCSC’s Institute of the Arts and Sciences.  

“For the Rio, we have an incredibly rich program of work by UC Santa Cruz faculty, whose research is nationally and internationally renowned,” Weber added. “This is a chance to look into the minds of the creators and scientists here, to see where their creative ideas and research come from, and find out what they are working on right now.”

Weber noted that the UC Santa Cruz LASER is one of the oldest in the region, and that LASERs have now expanded worldwide.

“There are more than 35 LASERs now spread across the United States, Europe, and Latin America,” said Weber. “Bringing together makers and thinkers in the arts and sciences--and drawing audiences for both areas--these LASERs encourage cross-disciplinary thinking and awareness.”

Theater Arts professor Marianne Weems is the artistic director of the Obie award-winning, New York-based performance and media company The Builders Association--known internationally as a leader in theatrical innovation, interdisciplinary stage performance, and the use of digital technology. In addition to her 20 years of work with the company, she has also collaborated with such artists as the Wooster Group, David Byrne, Taryn Simon, and Susan Sontag.

Her new multi-media theater production, Strange Window: The Turn of the Screw, had its West Coast premiere at UC Santa Cruz in the fall of 2018, before opening at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last December as part of the Next Wave Festival.

Alexie Leauthaud is an observational cosmologist and professor in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Department. The core of her research focuses on understanding the interplay between the dark and bright universe. Her research areas include dark matter and galaxy formation; the distribution of dark matter in the universe; and the evolution of dark energy.

Leauthaud is a Packard Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, and has received fellowships at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the Kavli Institute for Physics and Mathematics of the Universe in Toyko. Her work is also supported by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy Office of Science Early Career Research Program Award. 

Associate Professor of literature Ronaldo Wilson is the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man, which received the 2007 Cave Canem Poetry Prize; Poems of the Black Object, winner of the 2010 Asian American Literary Award and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry; Farther Traveler, and Lucy 72.

Co-founder of the Black Took Collective, Wilson is also a mixed media artist, dancer, and performer, and additionally is on the core faculty of the Creative Critical Ph.D. Program, and co-director of the Creative Writing Program. He has served as as an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Center for Art and Thought CA+T).

Associate professor of film and digital media Jennifer Maytorena Taylor is now at work on a new feature documentary, The Gut. Set in a small blue-collar city recovering from an opioid epidemic, the film follows the mayor and a small ensemble of intersecting characters for two years as he fights to resettle Syrian refugees in the town. She is currently raising money to support her documentary-in-progress, and just received a $100,000 extension of a $125,000 production grant from Just/Films at the Ford Foundation.

Taylor’s award-winning work has been shown at the Sundance, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Locarno Film Festivals, as well as the New York Museum of Modern Art, and has been broadcast on PBS, Sundance Channel, Al Jazeera, and NHK-Japan. She produced one of several short pieces that comprised The Talk: Race in America, a film that premiered on PBS in 2017, and her recent project, Redneck Muslim, was one of 25 films featured in the 2018 PBS Online Film Festival as a presentation of the PBS series POV.

For more information about the Rio Theater LASER event, contact the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at ias@ucsc.edu.