Monthly Archives: January 2012

Human Hair, Pink Plastic Twist Ties, and Wax

Author: Lisa Marie Patzer

What could human hair, pink plastic twist ties, and wax have in common? They are all considered essential materials for fiber art by contemporary artists featured in the exhibition In Material, Fiber 2012 at the University of Pennsylvania, Arthur Ross Gallery.

Arthur Ross Gallery

Arthur Ross Gallery

Lucy Arai, Sonya Clark, Mi-Kyoung Lee, and Cynthia Schira, the four artists in the show, use innovation, imagination, and unexpected materials to weave their personal approach in fiber arts from this long-standing traditional art form.  The work I was most impressed with was Mi_Kyoung Lee’s pink wall tapestry.

Mi-Kyoung Lee Untitled, 2011 and Untitled 2012

Positioned behind the bright yellow sculpture (also by Lee), I immediately walked over to investigate the wall piece more closely.  I was surprised to find that this enormous, bright pink weaving was made of common plastic twist-ties; the thin strands of wire and plastic used by shoppers to keep their produce in the bag.  The utilitarian object had been transformed into a material for artistic expression and inspiration.

Juxtaposed to Lee’s large untitled works she has several small, discrete, wax on paper pieces.

Untitled, 2011 by Mi-Kyoung Lee

Untitled, 2011 by Mi-Kyoung Lee

The other work in the show includes two large wall sculptures made out of black plastic combs and several small pieces made of woven human hair by Sonya Clark.  In her artist statement, Clark says she is guided by two questions, “What is fiber art?” and “How does function fit into the notion of her contemporary art practice?” She answers these questions through an investigation of hairdressing, what she considers a primordial form of fiber art; the comb the essential tool of this fiber art, “from hair salon to loom.”

But don’t take my word for it. Go investigate the exhibit for yourself. The show is up until March 25th, with a gallery talk by artists Lucy Arai and Mi-Kyoung Lee on Saturday, March 3, 10:30 AM in conjunction with the Fiber Philadelphia 2012 opening weekend.


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Filed under Fine Art, Lisa Marie Patzer, The Arts, The Arts at Penn, Uncategorized

Monday Moment of Zen

Author: Kiera Reilly, C’93

Winter blues got you down? Here’s your daily moment of Zen, thanks to the beautiful weather in California.

Manhattan Beach, CA

We welcome all alumni come visit us in the winter months for some sunshine. This weekend, the Engaging Minds academic program visited Los Angeles on Saturday and San Francisco on Sunday (San Francisco sold out). Check back for photos on our Phanfare site later on this week. Until then…

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Events, Kiera R., Making History, Photos, West Coast Regional Office

From Wharton to Drexel and Beyond

Author: Lynn Carroll, C’93

Do you recognize this guy?

Hint:  His name is Mario and he lives really close to Penn…

This sculpture can be found at 33rd and Market Streets, and is known by most as “the Drexel Dragon.”  The sculpture was created by alumnus Eric Berg, W’68, GFA’74.  You can see some of his other bronze sculptures nearby, such as an African warthog for the Philadelphia Zoo, a Sea Turtle for Camden’s Adventure Aquarium, and “Philbert” the pig at Reading Terminal Market. You can view his incredibly detailed, lifelike work here.  Eric is living proof that you can still earn a living as an artist, even if you got your first degree from Wharton!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Lynn Carroll, The Arts, The Arts at Penn

Memories of Penn

Author: Wanchee Wang, C’83

My recent visit to Penn’s campus was on a beautiful, early spring day.  The lovely weather brought the students outside in full force and they thronged Locust Walk.  Tables were set up along on the Walk and students were loudly hawking tickets to dances, shows, and other campus happenings.  The atmosphere felt festive.  Maybe it was the bright sunshine but the buildings seemed spiffier than I remembered.  The student tour guide took us into Huntsman Hall, the new (at least to me, I associate Wharton undergraduate with Dietrich Hall) home of the Wharton undergraduate school.

It wasn’t until later that I realized its benefactor, Jon M. Huntsman, was the father of the former Republican presidential candidate and ambassador to China, Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.  The building inside is gorgeous, with polished wood interiors and state-of-the-art teaching equipment.  The place hummed with energy; as our tour group passed through the lobby, I could see students engaged in earnest discussion, meeting in the small conference rooms, or just studying.

At the admissions information session, I found out about some new things on the academic menu.  An interdisciplinary approach to academics is encouraged so students can take classes in any of the four schools, regardless of which school they are enrolled in.  There are more opportunities than in my day to pursue dual degrees such as international studies and business, management and technology, nursing and health care management, life sciences and management, computers and cognitive science.  This interdisciplinary approach makes a lot of sense in today’s rapidly changing economy.  There are some new majors, like criminology (which used to be part of the sociology department) and computational neuroscience.  Even with changes, some things remain: unusual majors that I remember from thirty years ago, like history and sociology of science, or biological basis of behavior, are still offered.

It is a university that has gotten better with time and a part of me wishes that I could go to Penn again.

Locust Walk, Spring (courtesy of University Communications)

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Campus Life, Memories of Penn, Uncategorized

The Secret Lives of Penn Alumni: Learning about Passions, Hobbies, and Extracurricular Activities

Author: Michal Clements, W’84

Many in my class have mentioned that they are celebrating their 50th birthdays this year. This milestone birthday inspires me to wonder more about this the untold stories and the “Secret Lives of Penn Alumni.” I’ve noticed that commonly adults will ask about each others work lives (and for some this may be the same as their other interests), but the more interesting question might be their passions, hobbies, and adult “extracurriculars.”

In looking up the Merriam-Webster definition of extracurricular, I see that while the first definition is “pursued in addition to the normal course of study”, the second definition is more relevant: “Outside the normal routine, especially that provided by a job or marriage”.  It’s interesting to think how much attention these passion point activities receive in high school and college, and how they seemingly subside during the young adult years (i.e., twenty and thirty year old age range), and then resume in later years.

This line of consideration was stimulated for me by learning about the “secret life” of another Chicago area Penn alumni recently. As background, our family has been spending a lot of time the past few years attending high school theater performances, as our oldest child, Chris Porzenheim, has chosen to make drama his extracurricular passion. Because of this, we’ve chatted a bit more with the other parents whose children are also performing. It turns out that our Chris frequently performs with Mitchell Stone. And, that Mitchell is the son of Matt Stone (CAS’84, W’84). But I still didn’t know about the fact that Matt is an accomplished singer, until I asked for his help to update class notes. From this, I learned that Matt is a singer/songwriter, and his debut CD, Nothing to Hide, can be found at and on iTunes.

Another example is that Bart Miltenberger, who I know through his “day job” at Penn Alumni, is a professional musician and trumpet player. As summarized by Tim Hyland, music is a huge part of Bart’s life, and is well integrated with his professional life at Penn and personal life as a father of three.

Personally, I’ve spent five years co-writing a book about moms from a customer segmentation and insights perspective. Completing this work has encouraged me to do more writing than my normal business job entails (Powerpoint is not prose). Now, I’m excited to report that the book Tuning into Mom: Understanding America’s Most Powerful Consumer was released on October 15, 2011 and this is causing me to learn about giving inspirational speeches to audiences. Too late, I also realized that an acting class could have been helpful, and got a crash course in media training. For those who are interested, more information on the book can be found at and the book can be found at Amazon, Barnes & and

I think it would be very interesting to learn more about the passions, hobbies and adult extracurriculars of my fellow Penn alumni. And to encourage one another! In today’s socially networked world with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more, we are not required to be physically together or voice to voice to share this information. While long form essays/blogs may not be the best mechanism, it’s a start.  It would be great to connect with Penn alums who have a shared extracurricular interest area.


My Family on a Bike Trip this Fall.

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Connecting Penn Alumni to Each Other

Author: Nicole Oddo, C’05

January brings a new Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia Board and another year of volunteer leaders planning events connecting local alumni to Penn, Philadelphia, and each other.  As the President of the Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia, I was determined to start the year energized and worked with one of the board members to plan a kick off retreat.  We did a short survey to learn what was most important to our mission and for the future of the club.  While the responses covered a breadth of interests (a wonderful quality for a board), one thing was common. Everyone wanted the club to help them meet other Penn Alumni.  The motivations varied from looking for professional clients, to making new friends, to networking and career exploration, but the end goal was the same, to meet new people.

Penn people love meeting each other and the Penn Alumni Club of Philadelphia provides that opportunity. I love how alumni events and volunteering have introduced me to so many of “classmates” whether we were at Penn together or not! Whether you are interested in community service projects, speed networking, the Phillies, or grabbing drinks at a cool venue in the city, we have something for you. Like our next event this Thursday, Ben Franklin’s Birthday at the old Philadelphia establishment, McGillins. Check it out.  I hope to see you there!

P.S. If you are not in Philadelphia, there is a whole Global Alumni Network out there – see where your club is!

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Clubs, Events, GAN, Nicole O., Penn Clubs, Philadelphia, Uncategorized

Happy Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dragon

Author: Stephanie Y., C’08

My dear friend and Penn classmate sent this adorable e-card to me yesterday. I wish I were in Taiwan celebrating with my family. Instead, I will be celebrating in Philadelphia with a traditional feast of fish, leek, noodles, mandarin oranges, and turnip cake (my favorite). Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Stephanie Y.

Rainy Days and Mondays

Author: Kayleigh S. C’13

Not only is today our first Monday of the spring semester, it’s also raining; an ungodly combination. However, I can’t help but feel excited because the semester is finally getting into full swing. I’m all settled in the classes I’m taking, meetings have started again for extra curricular activities, and (sadly) the work is beginning to pile on. As a junior, I am definitely used to this by now, but I also feel that each semester gives new, surprising challenges and opportunities to students of all class years, something I can’t help but feel eager for. So even though it’s a pain to bundle up, grab my umbrella, and head out in the rain to class, deep down, I just can’t wait to see what this semester brings me. Personally, I have a lot to look forward to: Fling, Hey Day, and hopefully an awesome summer internship. Therefore, I refuse to let this little bit of rain and cold get me down!

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Filed under Campus Life, Kayleigh, Student Perspective, Traditions

Whose Side Are You On?

Author:  John Mosley, C’14

Choosing a major is an important and extremely exciting step students must take over the course of our tenure at the University. A year and a half ago, a wide-eyed freshman name John walked on to the campus eager to begin what he was sure would be a fulfilling and challenging four years as a biology major. One intro class later, the thought of biology made him cringe or shake with anger.

As you have hopefully picked up by now, I’m John.  And now, in my fourth semester, I have officially declared Political Science my major. This was a huge step for me, as now I can truly focus my course load on the topics relevant to fulfilling a degree in my chosen major. I have also declared a concentration. You see, the political science major has four possible fields of concentration: American Government, Comparative Government, Political Theory, and my choice, International Relations. That means for the next two years, my schedule will be filled with courses such as Terrorism, Global Economics, Politics of the Middle East, and so on.  I could not possibly be more excited for these potential classes. I also have the potential to take an entire semester in Washington D.C., with an internship to boot!

But why choose political science? Isn’t there a less cynical and corrupt field one could choose to pursue?  The answer is yes, but I don’t care. And to be honest (as I am watching a Republican primary debate while typing this), I have become a lot more cynical since I began concentrating my studies on political science. While I do finally understand what the pundits on CNN are talking about, I also understand how fundamentally messed up (for lack of a better phrase) our system is. There are too many greedy public figures running this country. I hope that with my chosen major, I can enter the field (albeit probably not as any sort of candidate) and inject some genuineness. I hope there are others at the University who want to do the same because, like it or not, we are the next generation to take the reins of this country, and we haven’t been left with much more than a huge deficit and a few wars.

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Filed under John Mosley, Student Perspective

5 Easy Ways to Stay Happy, Healthy, and Warm at Penn this Winter

Author:  Mari Meyer, GSE ’12

The holiday break is over, and if yours was anything like mine, your pores are still oozing with the smell of oil and onion from your mom’s famous latkes:

My mom always says that a little blood, sweat and tears make the difference between a good latke and a great latke.


The post-holiday and new year months are always the hardest. Despite all of your resolutions and plans for staying active; despite the surplus of new gloves and socks and all those cute recycled gift bags that just beg to be made into a scrapbook collage of holiday memory cheer; despite all of your best efforts to reboot your routine and productivity now that the smorgasbord of family gatherings and dessert buffets have quieted down: the chance that you will still want to revert into winter hibernation mode and “power off” for the next three months is almost inevitable.

The family couch after one of my mom’s famous holiday meals.

But we’re on a college campus—one of the greatest in the world, no less—and in the spirit of studenthood I commit this year to dragging myself out of my post-holiday slump and radiator-overheated bear cave to take advantage of the infinite opportunities, activities, and events happening at Penn even in the dreariest of winter months.

With that in mind, here is a list of the top 5 ways to have a happy, healthy, and warm winter at Penn this year.

  1. Aqua Zumba classes at the Penn Rec Center. Who said you have to be in Boca Raton for some good, ol’ fashioned water aerobics? Check out all of Pottruck’s other body-heating offerings by clicking here!
  2. Seeing RUBBERBANDance Group unite hip hop and ballet at Annenberg this weekend, or at least one of the many phenomenal performances and concerts happening weekly throughout the year.
  3. Becoming more mindful through meditation and other community health programming at the Penn Program for Mindfulness.
  4. De-stressing through the “Stitch Therapy” group at the Penn Women’s Center (open to all).  Sure, I don’t know how to knit, crochet, or sew, but nonetheless, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people.
  5. Get involved in a writing group at the Kelly Writer’s House. Also, did you know that they offer an online book club for Penn alumni and their families?

So much to choose from, and you may not even have to leave your house for it!


Filed under Mari M., Student Perspective