Professor Nick Peña Selected as The 2017 Memphis in May Poster Artist

N.Peña_MIM_unveilProfessor Pena’s artwork for the 2017 Memphis in May Festival was unveiled at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art on February 2. Below is his acceptance speech from that night. The poster is available at a cost of $30 each — with the limited edition, signed and numbered, collector’s poster at a cost of $60 each — at Midtown Framer & Art and at 1910 Frameworks.

“Good evening. First I would like to thank the Memphis in May staff and supporters for continuing to encourage and showcase the arts, on various levels in Memphis; throughout the year and specifically during the month of May. Congratulations on your 40th anniversary!

“Thank you Bobbi Gillis for that warm introduction. Thank you Susan Elliott (Director of Programming), James Holt (President & CEO), Carley Kirby (Program Manager), Kevin Grothe (VP of Sponsorship), and Elle (an MIM intern from Rhodes) for making me feel welcomed when visiting your offices and guiding me through the process of being a resident poster artist.

“Thank you to my friends and family here tonight, each of you are dear to me and have supported my artistic endeavors throughout the years and I am forever grateful. Jana Travis, a special thank you for your support, as a colleague, fellow artist, and friend.

“A special thank you to my dad and step-mother Marijean for being here this evening, they have traveled all the way from Northern Illinois to be here tonight. Dad and Marijean, your continued support of me and my family is more than a son can ask for -I love you both.

“Finally, to my beautiful wife and daughter. Cat and Mia, I would not be able to continue my artistic practice without the sacrifices you make, daily, to ensure that I have time in our collective studio. I love you more than you know! Mia, never stop wondering, never stop using your imagination; cultivating these traits will inspire you to find answers about the world around you.

“In the process of designing the MIM poster I felt fortunate to have an opportunity to research one of the richest and biologically diverse countries in the world. For an artist interested in landscape and architecture I knew I would have a wealth of content to reference — from the Amazon rain-forest to the bustling city of Bogota, and from the Andes to the coastlines on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean — Colombia is rich in diversity and culture. As I researched the symbolism and icons that identify Colombia to the world, the nation’s flag weighed heavy. As an artist, the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) are the foundation for understanding color theory and at the heart of painting. The symbolism of the color yellow in Colombia’s flag stands for richness and wealth of its diverse nature and people. Blue represents the multiple bodies of water that shape Colombia’s landscape making them one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world. Finally, the color red commemorates the lives lost while capturing the nations independence and the determination and perseverance of the Colombian people.

“Reflecting on the symbolism and icons of the Colombian landscape, people, and culture I created a painting that represents the contrast and harmony between nature and man, representation and abstraction, and past and present.

2017_MIM_posterart_Nick Pena

Copyright: Nicolas R. Pena. Not for use without artist’s permission.

“The painting is a composite of images from the Colombian landscape. I focused on the northern, central, and southern regions while collecting a stockpile of reference images. I was interested in finding a balance between the various ranges of topical elevations, natural resources, and how the people of Colombia develop and prosper in diverse conditions.

“Coffee is set in the foreground for many reasons: its popularity, its color during maturity (red), its agricultural value to the country and small family-owned farms. I decided to show it two ways: as a mature red bean, to represent the determination to meet the world demand for Colombian coffee, and the perseverance to deliver year after year; and as an emphasized, by scale and color, roasted ‘dark’ bean. This emphasis is used to establish its importance, not only in the painting, but as an export in the Colombian economy.

“Flowers are another important export and are grown on the highland plains.  A white orchid shares the foreground with coffee because of its national symbolism and long standing symbolism across various cultures. A white orchid has been thought to signify innocence, elegance, beauty, and humility. I wanted viewers to think of reverence and new beginnings while looking at, or through, the white orchid to see the ‘painted landscape.’ The blue, seemingly pristine, water also leads the viewer into the image and represents the ‘life blood’ of existence for Colombia’s landscape and prosperity of their population.

“Directly in the middle of the composition are various man-made structures; the color yellow prevails, representing the wealth of Colombia’s diverse and robust population and the richness of its folklore. Stories of El Dorado had my attention when thinking about gold and South America however, I wanted the structures to look both humble and, at the same time, unattainable. Although, viewers might find it hard to see wealth from the modestly represented architecture, I hope it reads as a structure in flux — both near and far, realized and noticeably un-tethered from the landscape.

“Finally, the apex, man overcoming nature. ‘La Piedra del Peñol,’ also known as ‘El Peñon de Guatape,’ or Guatape Rock, is a 721 foot tall National Monument, found in Colombia’s central state of Antioquia. It grabbed my attention because of the large serpentine staircase zigzagging up to the summit where a man-made tower rests on top of the rock.  Advertised as the ‘best view in the world’ by the locals Guatape Rock, for me, is a symbol for the contrast and harmony between nature and man, and past and present.

“In the end, I would like to, again, thank Memphis in May and the selection committee for this opportunity and congratulations on your 40th year of impacting the city of Memphis with your commitment to promoting Memphis culture, supporting the arts, and enhancing international awareness and diversity through education.”

CBU-Brooks Museum Art Therapy Exhibit Closes, Partnership Continues

6_brooksarttherapy4web“Creating Connections Through Art Therapy,” the CBU-led art therapy exhibit at the Brooks Museum recently closed this past March. The exhibit contained artwork created by both the art therapy participants from Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services of Memphis and CBU students. Whether you were able to visit or not, you can read about the work in the December 27 edition of The Commercial Appeal in the article entitled “Brooks Museum partners with CBU for art therapy program,” which covered the partnership of CBU with the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in its Art Therapy Access Program. The article quotes CBU instructors Paige Scheinberg and Sarah Hamil, as well as student Baraka Douglas (Psychology ’17). The partnership was also covered by High Ground News in a January 25 article entitled “Memphis combines art and therapy in growing field,” which quotes and features photos of instructor Paige Scheinberg.

Read more about CBU’s ongoing partnership with the Brooks Museum.

Art Therapy Exhibition at The Memphis Brooks Museum

6_brooksarttherapy4webIn the fall of 2016, the Brooks Museum partnered with the Visual and Performing Arts Department at CBU to offer an Art Therapy Field Course for undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing a career in art therapy. The Brooks provided art therapy for two groups from Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services of Memphis (ADS), while CBU students enrolled in the course observed the adults’ experience in the Brooks’ galleries and in the studio art therapy session.

This exhibition is a result of artwork created by the art therapy participants from ADS and CBU students who learned about building connections and enhancing self-expression through art therapy groups, gallery discussions, and the creative process. *

The exhibition is on display from December 10th to March 26th, 2017.

Want to learn more about the art therapy profession? Join CBU adjunct professors Paige Scheinberg and Sarah Hamil for an information session at the Museum on January 8th. RSVP here.

*This article was first published on the Brooks Museum website.

The Art of Science w/ Professor Nick Pena

Visual and Performing Arts Professor Nick Pena‘s piece entitled Behind the Cancer Wheel (Teresa’s Story) is currently showing through December 16 in The Art of Science exhibit at the Hyde Gallery. The 2016 exhibit is an exploration of the beauty of science and power of art, and features artistic interpretations of research being performed at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. To create this imaginative collection, more than two dozen Le Bonheur researchers were paired with local artists, who then communicated the significance of their work in unique ways.

Statement by Nick Pena:

Memphis Cancer Wheel by Emanuel VillaThe Memphis Cancer Wheel (left), created by Dr. Emmanuel Villa, Data Architect for Le Bonheur Research Center, shows the distribution of Breast Cancer patients from 2005 to 2012 (almost 4,000) among their cancer stage, age group, and outcome. Data comes from a repository made by the Center of Biomedical Informatics in which data from the West Clinic, Methodist Hospital, and the tumor registry were consolidated. Understanding the importance of data collection for research and the necessity of obtaining and maintaining accurate data collection are essential. The architecture and design of preexisting data helps to provide an understanding of what data exists, how it flows, and when and how this information can be measured.

Pena AOS opening reception

Teresa Bullock, a friend of Mr. Pena’s, is a breast cancer survivor who lives and works, as a graphic designer, in Memphis, TN. The text in the image is her cancer survivor story.

When viewing the Memphis Cancer Wheel I couldn’t help but wonder, who are the people who lost their battle with cancer, and who are the people who bravely faced, fought, and beat cancer? The diagrammatic image leaves me conflicted - I find myself searching for a narrative and wondering about the lives of each group and whether their lives had intersected like the curvilinear lines found in the diagram.

These simple inquiries led me to ask a larger question, “What is meaningful data?” That very question is the impetus for this piece, leading me to “play both sides” by juxtaposing the context of the data behind the command lines or computational analyses (the cancer wheel). In the end, I wanted to take the time to consider who the data represents and how their personal narrative is missing from the data.


SOA Students Making News

Brinsley Cooper (Psychology ’17) earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team at September’s CBU Volletball Invitational. Cooper hit .364 with 33 kills, 17 blocks, and five aces in 16 sets as she led the Lady Bucs to wins over Barton, Southwest Baptist, Saint Joseph’s, and Arkansas Tech.

Gulf South Conference men’s basketball coaches voted Buccaneer guard Jeff Larkin (Religion and Philosophy ’17) to the Preseason All-GSC Team. Larkin averaged 18.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game last season, leading the Bucs to a 12-17 record, including a 10-12 mark in GSC play. Larkin finished fourth in the GSC in scoring and tied for fifth in steals.

Alexis Gillis (Visual Arts ’17) and Luis Martinez (Visual Arts ’17), both BFA majors with concentrations in Graphic Design, were each awarded $1000.00 merit based scholarships from the River Arts Festival Invitational. Awards are given each year to two undergraduate students from local universities. The award ceremony took place at Askew, Nixon, Ferguson on October 7th.

Betty Armstrong (English ’17), Cenetria Crockett (History ’19), and Mirissa Anderson (Creative Writing ’17) were initiated into the Phi Alpha Theta National Honorary History Society.

Honors Know Yourself

Clockwise from top left: Brigid Lockard, Rakesha Gray, Dr. Tracie Burke, Erin Aulfinger

Over fall break, CBU Honors Program students RaKesha Gray (Religion and Philosophy ’17), Brigid Lockard (Psychology ’19), and Erin Aulfinger (Creative Writing ’19), along with program director Dr. Tracie Burke, attended the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in Seattle, WA. The conference theme was “Know Yourself.” RaKesha and Erin presented “Knowing The Geek Within: How the Christian Brothers University Honors Program Helps Its Students Learn Who They Are and Who They Want to Become,” and Brigid presented “The View from the 31st Century: Futurama as Lens for Exploring Future Space Commercialization Strategies.” Both presentations received rave reviews from other conference attendees.

SOA Faculty Making News

Kirstan-OHare-267x300Dr. Kristian O’Hare (Literature and Languages) received a writing fellowship from Lambda Literary and took part in their annual Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices. Lambda’s Retreat is among the country’s most competitive writer’s residencies and the only one specifically for LGBTQ writers. The retreat was held July 24 – 31, 2016 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

In October, Dr. O’Hare was awarded a residency at the Sundress Academy for the Arts at Firefly Farms in Knoxville, Tennessee. He spent the week of October 24-30th writing poetry and taking care of sheep, chickens, goats, and a donkey named Jayne.

This winter, San Francisco State University’s literary journal Fourteen Hills will publish Dr. O’Hare’s poem “Dowsing.”

carrierem_pic2Dr. Marius Carriere (History and Political Science) attended the Southern Historical Association Conference in St. Petersburg, FL and participated in a session on “New Insights into Understudied Aspects of the Civil War.” He also presented a paper about Americans and War entitled, “The Road to Secession, Louisiana Politics in the 1850s,” at the Ohio Valley History Conference. He was joined by adjunct professor Doug Cupples who presented a paper entitled, “The Union Occupation of Memphis during the Civil War.”

Dr. Seth Lee‘s (Literature and Languages) article, “Edmund Spenser’s Mind of Exile and Colonial Apologetics,” will appear in Studies in English Literature in February. Additionally, his monograph, The Discourse of Exile and National Identity in Early Modern England, is now under contract with Routledge. The project defines and traces the development of the mens exili in a variety of authors, groups, and genres including Geoffrey Chaucer and Edmund Spenser, the Lollards, Elizabethan Catholic exiles and the Marian exiles. The book provides a clearer understanding of exile as an important part of the development of a modern English national identity, and it demonstrates how the experience of exile, filtered through literary consciousness, influenced both the imaginative and the polemic literature of the Reformation.

Nick Peña’s (Visual and Performing Arts) artwork was featured in Fubiz, one of the largest online magazines in France, in an article entitled “Quirky Painting Juxtapositions.”

Dr. Jeff Sable (Behavioral Sciences) had a short paper published in the Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education entitled, ”Cognitive Neuroscience and Single-Word Processing“. It’s published in a new format of theirs called “Amazing Papers in Neuroscience” and is freely available online.



Dr. Colby Taylor (Behavioral Sciences) will appear as a contestant on Jeopardy on January 10th! Be sure to tune in and set your DVRs to record!


The following faculty were recognized at this year’s Convocation:

  • Ms. Jana Travis (Visual and Performing Arts): The Harold R. Krelstein Chair in Performing Arts & Communication
  • Dr. James “Bru” Wallace (Religion and Philosophy): The Brother Bernard Lococo Presidential Chair
  • Dr. Alison Lukowski (Literature and Languages): New Advisor of the Year
  • Dr. Samantha Alperin (Education): Promoted to Professor
  • Dr. Richard “Cort” Casey (Education): Promoted to Associate Professor
  • Dr. Jeffrey Gross (Literature and Languages): Promoted to Associate Professor
  • Mr. Matthew Hamner (Visual and Performing Arts): Awarded Tenure
  • Dr. Benjamin Jordan (History and Political Science): Promoted to Associate Professor; awarded Tenure
  • Mr. Nicholas Pena (Visual and Performing Arts): Awarded Tenure

Pictures from Convocation can be found here.


BFA Showcase

The Department of Visual and Performing Arts showcased the work of its 2016 BFA graduates at a one-night exhibition at Marshall Arts. The exhibit featured works by Alexi Blum, Jacob Brunner, Sheridan Cross, Morgan Granoski, Walter Harris, Tawanda Jones, and Seth Loomis.


castings_coverIn conjunction with the exhibit, CBU’s Castings Journalcelebrated its 2016 release.

For those who were not able to attend, an online edition can be found HERE. Students and work selected for prizes in the 2016 Castings journal can be found in the list below:




1st Place: “Overtime” by Savannah Austin
2nd Place: “Stages” by Jennifer Davidson
3rd Place: “Morning Time” by Savannah Austin

1st Place: “Withering” by Olivia Betterton
2nd Place: “The Losing Man” by Jessica Love
3rd Place: “Mississippi Station” by Seth Loomis

Digital Photography
1st Place: Top 5 Ways to Beat the Stay-at-Home-Mom Blues by Morgan Granoski
2nd Place: Foggy Woods by Ethan Hart
3rd Place: Serenity by Shannon McKee

Fine Art
1st Place: Play with Me by Taylor Bing
2nd Place: Skeletal by Megan Mosier
3rd Place: Post-Shower Ritual by Morgan Granoski

Faculty judges for this year’s Castings journal included Dr. Ann Marie Wranovix, Dr. Vincent O’Neill, Dr. Jeff Gross, Dr. Kristian O’Hare, Jana Travis, and Nick Pena.



Jana Gallery

Place Keepers, an exhibit of paintings by Memphis artists Elizabeth Garat and CBU Associate Professor of Visual Arts, Jana Travis, runs through May 14 at Annesdale Park Gallery. Professor Travis’s colorful and energetic abstract paintings are often multimedia creations. “My work,” she writes in her artist statement, “is heavily influenced by the constantly evolving effects of nature and the chaotic influences it has on our changing world.” You can learn more about Professor Travis and her work on her website.



Evening of Scenes

On April 28th and 29th, students in Assistant Professor Mathew Hamner’s acting class produced scenes from the following plays: David Auburn’s Proof, Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men, and Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. Featuring: Khadijah Green, Jarvis Sumlin, Emanuel Castellan, Precious Futch, Eric Johnson, Charles Moses, Jennifer Pearman, Tylan Peterson, Darious Robertson, David Ruiz-Padilla, Constance Strini, Grant Thompson, and Alonta Tripp.

Faculty Making News

Dr. Samantha Alperin, (Chair, Education) presented at the Diocesan summer and fall in-services on “Teaching Without the Text.” She has recently been appointed to the board of St. Paul’s, the CBHS President’s Council, and the Committee for Accreditation and School Excellence through the Diocese which works toward planning and improvement for system accreditation.

Dr. Frank Buscher (History & Political Science), along with Dr. Juan Carlos Olabe (Electrical & Computer Engineering), attended the International Symposium on Lasallian Research from September 27-29 at the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus in Minneapolis. More than 120 Lasallian educators and scholars from numerous countries gathered to present and discuss current research. The Superior General of the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Brother Robert Schieler, was the keynote speaker.

Dr. Marius Carriere (History & Political Science) attended “The Symposium of the 19th Century Press, the Civil War, and Free Expression” at U.T. Chattanooga. He is a member of the Symposium’s Executive Committee.

Mrs. Hollie Comas (LANCE Director) has announced her retirement as of December. Ms. Colleen Boyette, Education’s administrative assistant and university supervisor of student and intern teachers, will take her place starting in January. Colleen comes to us from a previous position OLPH. She was an Lasallian Volunteer in Freeport, NY, and received her Master’s degree in educational leadership from Notre Dame before returning to Memphis. She is a graduate of St. Agnes and CBU.

Dr. Cort Casey (Education) and Professor Nancy Wilder (Education) attended the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) conference in Washington, DC in September, and on behalf of CBU’s Department of Education, are happy to announce that the Selected Improvement Commission of CAEP granted NCATE accreditation to the Department at the initial teacher preparation and advanced preparation levels. As noted in their report, “This accreditation decision indicates that the department and its programs meet rigorous standards set forth by the professional education community.” The next accreditation visit will be in Spring 2022.

Dr. Karen Golightly (Literature & Languages) was awarded The Brother Bernard LoCoco Presidential Chair. Dr. Golightly recently organized the Paint Memphis event on July 18, which brought together more than 50 artists to create the largest collaborative mural in town on the south side of the Wolf River flood wall that runs .3 miles along the proposed Chelsea Greenline in the New Chicago/North Midtown neighborhood. More information (and photos) are available at or The project was covered extensively in The Commercial Appeal, and she also appeared on Local Memphis Live on September 30 to discuss PaintMemphis and CBU’s Fresh Reads and Memphis Reads programs, which recently brought author Dave Eggars and Sudanese lost boy Valentino Achak Deng to Memphis.

Paint Memphis

Dr. Jeffrey Gross (Literature & Languages) was awarded CBU’s Outstanding Academic Advisor Award.

Matthew Hamner (Visual & Performing Arts) was interviewed on WKNO’s Listening to the Arts about his participation in “The Laramie Project-10 Years Later,” which was produced by New Moon Theater Company at the Evergreen Theater in Memphis in June of 2015.

jordan_modernDr. Benjamin Jordan’s (History & Political Science) book, Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America: Citizenship, Race, and the Environment, 1910-1930, is coming out with the University of North Carolina Press in April 2016. In this illuminating look at gender and Scouting in the United States, Dr. Jordan examines how, in its founding and early rise, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) integrated traditional Victorian manhood with modern, corporate-industrial values and skills.


Nick Peña (Visual & Performing Arts) was awarded The Harold R. Krelstein Chair In Performing Arts & Communications. His exhibition, Crosscut,” was recently on display (Aug.-Oct.) in the Beverly & Sam Ross Gallery in CBU’s Plough Library.

Pena Crosscut


Teaching NeuroscienceDr. Jeff Sable (Behavioral Sciences) authored two chapters in Teaching Neuroscience: Practical Activities for an Engaged Classroom, a freely available e-book published on September 10 by the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (Division 2 of the American Psychological Association). Each chapter describes a “classroom” activity Dr. Sable developed, including one he developed at CBU as part of PSYC 225 Biological Psychology. In it, the Buckman Quadrangle becomes a giant virtual nerve cell in which students take on roles as its working parts.