Kate Smith was the “songbird of the south” and “the First Lady of radio,” a 20th-century superstar whose recording of “God Bless America” was still being played during Philadelphia Flyer and New York Yankees home games. But recently, both teams distanced themselves from Smith due to racist lyrics in a pair of her early recordings. Arts & Sciences’ Todd Decker, chair of music, helps unpack the controversy for USA Today.
Musicologist Todd Decker, of Arts & Sciences and author of “Hymns for the Fallen: Combat Movie Music and Sound After Vietnam” (2017), examines how films such as “Platoon,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Hurt Locker” shape how audiences view soldiers, veterans and the experience of war.
The newly expanded and renovated Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis will reopen with a major exhibition of work by Ai Weiwei. The renowned Chinese dissident artist and activist is known all over the world for rigorous, compassionate and complex artworks that address themes of political, ethical and social urgency. “Ai Weiwei: Bare Life” opens Sept. 28 and will feature more than 35 artworks created over the last two decades in a wide variety of media — including a handful of newly conceived, large-scale and site-specific projects and major pieces never before exhibited in the United States.
Arthur Osver won international acclaim for his evocative depictions of the American city. And though his work evolved, that ramshackle topography remained part of his painterly DNA. So argues art history Professor Angela Miller in “Arthur Osver: Urban Landscape, Abstraction, and the Mystique of Place” (2019).
The Performing Arts Department will present “Shadows,” a new work by celebrated choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess, as part of “PastForward,” the 2018 Washington University Dance Theatre concert, beginning Nov. 30. In all, the concert will feature more than 20 dancers performing seven works by faculty and visiting choreographers.
Justin Phillip Reed, a 2015 graduate of the MFA Writing Program in Arts & Sciences, has won the 2018 National Book Award for Poetry. The award is generally considered among the world’s most prestigious literary prizes.
“Stan Lee was a man of contradictions,” says comics scholar Peter Coogan, “self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating; a great collaborator and someone who took credit for others’ work; hugely successful except when his endeavors crashed in failure. But unlike the superheroes, neither side was secret.”
Hiro is young and successful in New York, a world away from her old Kentucky home. But when her little sister decides to marry — at age 22, to a born-again Christian she just met — Hiro responds, determined to stop the wedding. Washington University’s Ron Himes will direct “Kentucky” Nov. 15-18 in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre.
The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts will launch a new master of fine arts degree in illustration and visual culture in fall 2019. The program — the first of its kind in the Midwest — will combine intensive studio practice with an emphasis on scholarly and theoretical analysis.
The Brooksfields are determined to take a trip. Nothing will stop them — not the blizzard, not the mistress, not even the drug dealers. In “Florida,” Lucas Marschke recounts a dysfunctional family vacation for the ages. This weekend, “Florida” will receive its world-premiere staged reading at Washington University in St. Louis as part of the annual A.E. Hotchner New Play Festival.