Loyola University Chicago

Department of Fine and Performing Arts


Student Featured at the Chicago Cultural Center

Karolis Usonis Student Feature

Furtive, installation view, Chicago Cultural Center [courtesy of Filter Photo]

Karolis Usonis is currently featured in Furtive, a three-person exhibition curated by Jennifer Murray, Loyola faculty and Executive Director of Filter Photo, at the Chicago Cultural Center. Usonis presents work alongside Daniel Hojnacki and Krista Wortendyke.

Furtive is a photography-based exhibition that explores the complexity of memory, both personal and collective. Through an examination of place, archive, and the intersection of perception and knowing, three artists ask us to reconsider what we think we know based on our past experiences, communal knowledge and memories. 

[Quiver, installation view, courtesy of Filter Photo]

For Furtive, Usonis is showing four triptychs from his Quiver series (2016- ), which he started in the summer of 2016 as a response to finding his father's photographic archive chronicling his millitary service in the USSR during the 1980s. Usonis delved into this archive as well as his own, employing a process of scanning, cropping, recontextualizing, and close reading, resulting in the exhumation of divergent personal mythologies of what Usonis refers to as "Lithuanian masculinity." 

[Untitled, 2018, courtesy of the artist]

Reflecting on the evolution of Quiver, Usonis recalls cropping into the scanned photographs "in order to anonymize the figures and simultateously remove most of the facial expressions." This depersonalization allowed him to focus on the embodied gestures of male figures in military and recreational contexts, drawing out queer content through visual mis/reading of the images. 

Usonis continued to develop the Quiver series through coursework and critical conversations with Loyola faculty members Jennifer Murray and Noritaka Minami. They encouraged him to clarify his thinking through visual research and reading critical and queer theory. Critiques and contact with photography instructor John Steck Jr, who was an artist in residence at LATITUDE while Usonis did an internship there in 2016-2017, also influenced Usonis' thinking. In addition, joining a critique group of local Chicago artists helped him gain insight into how the series was being seen and understood by others.

The emphasis on a liberal arts education at Loyola broadened Usonis' frame of reference and informs his development as an emerging artist. He notes the significance of being exposed to a wide range artists, thinkers, philosophies, and English poetry as a Loyola undergrad. 

When asked what advice he'd give to an incoming Fine Arts major, Usonis recommends: 

Double major if possible. Pick something like music, history, philosphy - whatever strikes your fance. But keep an interest apart from the visual arts alive, and Loyola will help you find the resources that can help bridge the two post-graduation.

Also, use the library. It's an invaluable resource: photography books, interviews with artists, exhibition catalogs, and so much more is preserved in that chilled basement for us to rummage through, inspire ourselves with, and obsess over.


Furtive is on view at the Chicago Culture Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries through April 7, 2019. Admission is FREE to the public. 

This exhibition is presented through DCASE’s ArtsSpace in-kind grant program and supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Alumnus Philip Dawkins’ work returns to the Loyola Stage in FAILURE: A LOVE STORY

Philip Dawkins

Philip Dawkins stars in his play "The Happiest Place on Earth" at Greenhouse Theatre in 2016. Photo: Michael Brosilow

Philip Dawkins, now a Jeff-Award winning playwright, sat down with us to talk about his time at Loyola as a student, a teacher, and an artist; to reminisce on his graveyard adventures; and to offer advice for aspiring authors.

What did you study at Loyola and when did you graduate?  

 I graduated in the spring of ’02, and I majored in Theatre and minored in Math. 


Failure: A Love Story is not your first production on the Loyola stage. Can you talk about what it was like to have your own shows produced while you were a student?   

 I certainly can. It turns out, this is my third production on a Loyola stage. My play, Not Even The Children was produced on the Mullady stage and directed by Department of Fine and Performing Arts Chairperson Sarah Gabel my senior year at Loyola. Then I was honored to be asked to write a couple short pieces for the first production on the Newhart Family Stage, Illuminating Voices. And now I’m back on the Newhart stage with a full-length play, and I’m thrilled. 

Having my play produced at Loyola during my senior year was daunting and amazing. It really opened my eyes to what playwrighting IS. There’s the idea of playwriting, and then there’s PLAYWRITING. Like the difference between always dreaming of having your own pet dinosaur, and then one day finding an actual tyrannosaur in your back yard and being told you’re responsible for its upkeep and damage control. The opportunity was once-in-a-lifetime, and I still can’t believe the risk the department took on me. That level of investment was huge, and truly set me on a serious path of doing this for real, you know? 

I look back on it, and I’m so proud of the experience, and also maybe—if I’m honest—a bit embarrassed… a little bit by the immaturity of the writing, but that’s to be expected as your writing grows, but mostly by how life-and-death I thought the whole thing was. Here was an entire department basically standing on its head to make this dream come true, but I was so concerned with making it PERFECT that I’m not sure I stopped and enjoyed it. Sarah was so patient with me, and directed the hell out of that thing. And that, more than anything, is what I learned from the experience: patience. Just be patient. Because the only two things that are actually Life and Death are life and death. And the cancellation of “American Vandal,” but we don’t need to get into that. 

I’m a very very lucky playwright in that I’ve had a chance to come back and exercise my craft in the home that encouraged me to do it. I’ve been lucky enough to teach alongside my teachers, and that’s such a gift. Lots of educators have a hard time allowing their students to grow and mature, but I think it speaks to the spirit of generosity in the Loyola Theater Program that they continue to invest in my growth as an artist, educator and human.  

My hope each time I return to the campus---whether as a teacher, playwright or lunch date—is to be a little bit better than the last time. 


Where did Failure fall on the timeline of your career?  

Early-ish? I was writing it in 2010/11, right around the time that I’d had my first critical Chicago success, The Homosexuals. I was starting to feel like maybe people would actually produce some of this stuff I was spitting onto paper.  


What inspired the story of Failure 

Loss, death, sadness. You know, the usual weekday activities? 

I had recently lost some loved ones, and my peers and I were entering that phase where our relatives were starting to leave us, and it all just felt so futile, so depressing. What was the point of living life if we just knew it was going to end? I was searching for a project that would allow me to explore the joy of throwing yourself into a project that you knew would only end, and probably end terribly. 

I think that’s why we like theater, why we attach to narratives. They have a beginning, but also an end. Here and then gone, but also staying with us in some ineffable way. The ethereal nature of theater, the fact that it brings us safely through a conflict to an ending and then is over….it’s like a little life and death right in the middle of your week. 

So I guess I just contradicted myself from earlier: Theater is also Life and Death.  

Also around this time I went on a road trip with a buddy of mine, and we happened upon a cemetery in Indiana where we found a headstone labeled simply: FAIL. We noticed it was the family stone for an entire Fail Family: Nelly, John N. and Roxy…if you can believe it. We took a bunch of horribly disrespectful photos with the headstone, and it got my brain wondering…..who might this family have been? This family that died all within a span of a few years? By the time we’d driven back to Chicago, I’d had the story worked out. I knew who my sisters were and what was going to happen to them. The whole thing happened in my head, somewhere between Gary and Pilsen.  


What upcoming projects are you working on?  

I’m working on two commissions and one passion project.  

In Chicago I’m working on a commission from Sideshow Theater Company who previously commissioned and produced my solo show, The Happiest Place on Earth. This time I’m doing a translation (my first) and adaptation of a Michel Tremblay play, Une Messe Solennelle pour une Pleine Lune D’ete or A Solemn mass for a Full Summer Moon. I’m translating it into American English and shifting the location to Chicago. 

I’m also in the midst of a commission for Children’s Theater Company in Minneapolis who produced my DR. SEUSS’S THE SNEETCHES: THE MUSICAL with composer David Mallamud, and lastly I’m working with director, Adin Walker on a queer adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

Also, I’m cycling a lot and working on upping my knitting game. 


What is something your time at Loyola taught you that influences your work today?  

Go out and DO. Don’t sit on your talents, and don’t fret about whether you’re “ready.” Serve. Be. Do. Be in community. We’re all part of a larger neighborhood, use your talents to be a good neighbor. 

Also the late Nan Withers-Wilson taught us all how to cook a turkey without having to baste it, and even though I’m a vegetarian, I still have that wisdom written down in my Dramatic Structure and Theatrical Process notes. 


Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?  

Be patient.  

Eat well. Lots of fiber. 

Go easy on the substances.  

Set ten percent of everything you earn into a savings account.  Start now. 

Be good and forgiving to yourself and others.  

Set your own expectations for yourself and don’t let anyone else tell you your expectations are too low or too high.  

Value listening over telling. 

Aspire to work with specific people, not specific buildings or institutions. 

Have another interest. 


Failure: A Love Story runs in the Newhart Family Theatre February 14th - February 24th. Go to artsevents.luc.edu/theatre for tickets. 

A Look Back: Sarita Smith Childs’ First Semester at Loyola

A Look Back: Sarita Smith Childs’ First Semester at Loyola

Loyola University Chicago’s Dance Program had the honor of welcoming Sarita Smith Childs as the newest member of its dance faculty this year.  Sarita joined the program with over 20 years of dance, choreography, and teaching experience and has been a fantastic addition to the growing program.

Sarita began dancing in Chicago and moved to New York while in high school to continue pursuing her professional dance career.  She then attended Sarah Lawrence College where she graduated with a B.A. in Liberal Arts with concentrations in Dance and Economics.

Throughout her career, Sarita has enjoyed dancing professionally as well as training future generations.  She has served as dance faculty at DePaul University, Lou Conte Dance Studio, and Gus Giordano Dance Center.  She currently teaches at Visceral Dance Center and the Joffrey Academy of Dance while also being a Joffrey Ballet Community Engagement teaching artist.  Sarita holds these appointments in addition to her faculty position in Loyola’s Dance program!

Sarita took on two Dance Major courses during her first semester: Intermediate Ballet IV and Pointe I.  The dancers in her classes were thankful to have a new, accomplished teacher as well as a change of pace.

Junior Dance Major Abby Darrow reflected on her semester in Sarita's ballet class:

When pursuing dance in college, you find yourself in a comfort zone because you’re getting to know your faculty more every year.  With Sarita coming in this semester, none of us knew what to expect.  I admire the way she speaks to us as athletes.  She is always reminding us how important it is to be in constant training and to take care of ourselves physically.  I appreciate her love for dance and her willingness to guide every individual.

Sarita has been excited since the day she was hired to have the opportunity to work with pre-professional dancers in a much deeper process.  She likes to shape her classes so there is time to, “deeply explore theory, apply it kinetically in the studio and cultivate it further artistically to lead up to a performance.”

Her classes hugely impacted the dancers’ preparations for the Annual Dance Concert, as she pushes instruction one step further and truly ignites knowledge and passion into every student she teaches.

When asked what it meant to be teaching at a Jesuit institution, where ideologies of faith and commitments to social justice exude from every classroom, Sarita couldn’t have been more excited.  “It is incredibly fulfilling to be able to teach in an institution that puts Faith at the core of its foundational mission and allows me to integrate it into my curriculum,” said Sarita.

As far as social justice, Sarita spoke of diversity and representation in the classroom.  She said:

It can be life changing for young and emerging dance artists...to work with artists that look like them or have shared experiences successfully working in their field. While there may be trailblazing qualities deep within us, it is sometimes hard to understand how we will make our way in the world if we do not see examples of success.

Dancers in the program are happy to see that the newest faculty member brings diversity to the program, both in mind and spirit.  Loyola Dance celebrates and welcomes each unique piece of the program that makes it what it is, and Sarita has been a wonderful addition.  She is thrilled to continue working with the talented Loyola University Chicago faculty, as well as its developing artists, future educators, and global citizens.

If you would like to read more about Sarita, you can check out her bio on our faculty page.  To view descriptions of the classes she teaches, visit our course offerings page. As always, stay updated on all things Loyola Dance by following @lucdanceprogram on Instagram and Facebook.


Q&A with 2019 Artist-in-Residence Wendel Patrick

Q&A with 2019 Artist-in-Residence Wendel Patrick

The Department of Fine and Performing Arts is excited to welcome award-winning musician, producer and composer Wendel Patrick as our 2019 Artist-in-Residence this January.

Patrick majored in both music and political science at Emory University and earned his M.M. in Piano Performance as a scholarship student at the Northwestern University School of Music in Evanston, Illinois. Mr. Patrick is a winner of the 2015 Baker Artist Awards’ Mary Sawyers Baker grand prize, and was a full time faculty member at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland from 2001 to 2013 teaching piano, introduction to music theory, music history and electronic music production. He has also taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art and currently teaches Hip Hop Music Production: History and Practice at The Peabody Music Conservatory, the first course of its kind to be taught at a major traditional music conservatory anywhere in the United States.

Wendel Patrick will be teaching MUSC 389 - Hip Hop Music Production: History and Practice in Spring 2019. The course is currently available for registration in LOCUS, with two available class sections.

Music Marketing Communications associate Kate Hahn recently spoke with Wendel regarding his time at Loyola as well as his career as a whole.  Check out the Q&A below:


Tell us about what you do for a living.

I am a musician and artist.  My career is constantly changing, but I am first and foremost a musician.  I am a photographer, I compose music, I’m a professor of hip hop and electronic music production and I perform over a wide range of genres.


You have experience as a classical pianist, but are a sound engineer.  Can you tell us about the connection between your formal studies and your work now?

I studied piano performance at Emory University and Northwestern University.  It really wasn’t until after music school until I started electronic music. However, everything I do uses keyboard, so piano has always been my main instrument.


What do you enjoy most about being a musician?

Being able to express yourself through a medium so close to heart, and being able to do so in different ways depending on the kind of music.


You have taught at the Peabody Conservatory.  What are you doing there now and what do you most enjoy teaching?

I currently teach at Peabody and Johns Hopkins.  I teach Hip Hop Music Production at Peabody, which is a history course as seen through the lens of the hip hop producer.

Typically when we look at music from a historical perspective, the attention is put on vocalist, so we look historically at how hip hop has evolved.

I most enjoy the connection of knowledge and exchange of ideas between me and my students.  I may plan a class, but we will have discussions I didn’t anticipate and these are the classes where the most learning happens.


You will be teaching Hip Hop Music Production: History and Practice (MUSC 389) in spring 2019 as a music elective.  Can you tell us more about this class and why our students should consider taking it?

The class is a history of hip hop music course through the lens of the producer.  We will analyze it from a creative standpoint, create music ourselves in the lab component.  Many people don’t have an understanding of where current hip hop in pop music came from, so we will look at the techniques of past and present.


Is there anything else you will be doing here at Loyola this spring that you would like to tell us about?

I will be commissioning a piece for University Chorale, and would love to collaborate with the journalism department...I’m looking forward to a full plate during my time at Loyola.


Can you tell us about your podcast, Out of the Blocks?

The premise is to travel to a city block, meet and interview everyone living on that block.  We’ve done these in Detroit, Atlanta, Saint Louis...and one in Chicago while I am there. I’d love to have an open discussion where we talk about that.  I also do all the photography for this project and will have a photo exhibit in the Ralph Arnold Gallery.

For more information on Wendel Patrick, please visit www.wendelpatrick.com and stay tuned for more updates on his work at Loyola.  

In Conversation with MCA Intern

Jessica Malatia Interview

Senior Psychology student and Drawing and Painting minor Jessica Malatia (JM) speaks with a Fine Arts Marketing Associate (FA) about her experiences as an intern for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and gives advice to other students about internships. 

FA: How did you first hear about the MCA internship?

JM: I heard about it on the MCA's website.

FA: Why did you choose this internship over others?

JM: I have always wanted to work in a museum setting, but was unsure of how I could gain the necessary education or experience, since I am not studying Art History or Museum Studies. I decided to intern at the MCA to gain hands-on experience in museum setting, which I would not have gotten otherwise as a Psychology and Fine Arts student. I was elated to hear about the Interpretive Practices internship, since I had the necessary research experience from my Psychology courses and a research project in my capstone class. I did not think that as a Psychology major I could find myself in a museum, but this goes to show the wide variety of positions that are available for people of all backgrounds.

FA: What was your interview like?

JM: I interviewed with my now supervisor. She talked to me about the details of the department first, and described what my position would look like as an intern. This was helpful, because I was unfamiliar with the field of museum interpretation, and could then base my answers on her description, instead of merely based on the info from their website. Then, she asked me a few questions about why I was interested in the internship and what skills I wanted to gain from my time at the MCA. Lastly, she asked me questions about specific exhibitions I could remember that were impactful to me from past visits to museums. I talked about the exhibition design in the Magritte show from the Art Institute, as well as the interesting tools used to get visitors to interact in the Van Gogh's Bedrooms show (also at the Art Institute). I definitely was not expecting these questions, but after the fact, I realized she was asking about my experiences with interpretive tools in museums!

FA: What do you do at this internship?

JM: I intern in the Interpretation department, which deals with both interpretation and evaluation. In regard to the interpretation part, I research content for interpretive spaces and interpretive tools. Some of my tasks have been to research new and interesting ways to display labels for works of art, and even selecting advertisements from vintage magazines that are on display in the current Howardena Pindell exhibition. In regard to evaluation, I get to conduct exit interviews with visitors to hear about their opinions on the exhibitions. I also do timing and tracking studies. This involves discreetly following visitors through the galleries to track which works they stop at, as well as timing how long they spend in the galleries. Lastly, I help with the docent program, which includes editing docent training materials and attending docent tours of the exhibitions.

FA: What is your favorite part of your internship?

JM: I have really enjoyed meeting some of the exhibiting artists and hearing them speak about their work. Aside from that, I love learning about the behind-the-scenes functioning of the museum. Whether that means chatting with museum guards, attending curator tours of the exhibitions, or learning about the ways exhibitions are evaluated, I enjoy it all. I truly feel like my interests and my learning goals are in mind, and that my input is valued.

FA: What is the most surprising or unexpected thing that you have learned so far?

JM: I have been most surprised to learn that the staff at the MCA come from a multitude of different backgrounds. Like I mentioned before, I worried that without an Art History or Museum Studies background, I'd never find myself working in a museum. Through my time here, I have learned that people with many different backgrounds and skill sets can fit into a museum's workplace. This makes me hopeful about my future career opportunities.

FA: What classes helped prepare you for this internship? And how?

JM: I am a Psychology major and a Drawing and Painting minor, so many of my Psych classes prepared me for my internship. Since my internship at the MCA deals with evaluation, my research experiences in a Psych lab and my capstone course prepared me well. FNAR 311 and my Modern Art classes helped as well, because they helped me become well-versed in modern and contemporary art. This was not necessary for the internship, but it definitely helps to understand all the art references made by everyone working around me! Lastly, my time as a Main Office Student Assistant for the DFPA prepared me to feel comfortable working in an office setting. I have gained a great array of administrative skills as well as the confidence to work independently, which helped decrease my nerves about starting the internship in a new place, surrounded by full-time staff.

FA: Did any faculty help you? And if so, in what ways?

JM: Last semester, I took my Psychology capstone course, which was a human services internship. The capstone also had a once a week class associated with it, so I asked my professor for a letter of recommendation. She could vouch for my experiences as both an intern and a student, which was very helpful.

FA: What advice do you have to other students looking for internships?

JM: Reach out both to organizations that do advertise internships and those that do not. For the MCA, their internship program is clearly advertised on their website and the program is well established. In these cases, finding and applying for an internship is pretty easy. However, there are many more organizations that could accept interns, but might not have it listed online. If you find an organization you want to learn more about or potentially work at, but their website says nothing about internship positions, don't give up there. Feel free to reach out and introduce yourself, ask if they accept interns, and attach a resume.

My second point of advice is to ask for help. If you are applying to an internship with an application, letters of recommendation, and a cover letter, don't feel like you have to do it alone. I spoke with someone at the Career Center for help clarifying my resume, and they helped me put my experiences into words in a concise and clear way. If you are searching for internships and the organizations you are interested in don't list positions on their website, ask for help, too! Speak to your advisor about places that students have interned before, so you can reach out to places that might be more likely to accept interns.