Arts & Life

Arts and lifestyle coverage from around the globe and Illinois.

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Embracing my Culture

Feb 20, 2008
Sharon Kim - Springfield High School
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Whenever I would complain about how un-American my family traditions are, my mom would always say, "even though you were born in America, you are Korean." And I would roll my eyes, completely disregarding what she said. However, it was not until recently that I opened my eyes and truly understood what my mom was trying to say - no matter which country I was born in and no matter how hard I tried to be American, I would still be Korean raised by Korean parents. I believe in embracing my culture and traditions.

Best Buddies

Feb 19, 2008
Melanie Cornell - Springfield High School
WUIS/Illinois Issues

When I was a freshman, I met my buddy. By buddy, I don't mean someone I randomly met and befriended, even though that is pretty much close to the truth. I mean a person with intellectual disabilities that was assigned to me through a program at my school called Best Buddies. The purpose of the program is to encourage friendship between students and their peers with intellectual disabilities. My buddy was nineteen years old and a junior. His name was Daniel, and he helped me believe in the power of friendship.

The Power of Women

Feb 18, 2008
Elizabeth Ketchum - Springfield High School
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In my family we have an anecdote, "I can push my own tire!" I started using this phrase even before I knew the story behind it, which involves my mother stubbornly pushing a spare tire down the road and refusing to allow my laughing father to help her. No other phrase could possibly sum up my upbringing and the valuable lessons I have learned from it. I believe in the power of women.


Feb 17, 2008
Claudio Borges-Neto - Springfield High School
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Blank...Blank...I'm drawing a huge blank. I've been sitting here for at least half an hour trying to start this thing. I have written and erased this introduction at least twice. Perhaps what I'm lacking is inspiration. Or perhaps I've overused it. After writing college essay after college essay, scholarship essay after scholarship essay, school paper after school paper, it may be that my inspiration is worn out. I'm tired of describing my life story through words. I'm tired of conveying emotions through words. I'm just tired of essays.

A Caterpillar Named Bob

Feb 16, 2008
Julia Christensen - Springfield High School
WUIS/Illinois Issues

A caterpillar has sixteen legs, is separated into thirteen segments and has twelve eyes. They are common insects that are usually ignored, but could be considered one of the most comforting things to the right person. I believe in Bob the Caterpillar.

The Power of Forgiveness

Feb 15, 2008
Sasha Elmore - Lanphier High School
WUIS/Illinois Issues

I believe forgiveness is very important. In too many instances, people hold grudges and the inability to forgive ruins their relationships. I believe in saying "Forgive and Never Forget." You can remember the things that somebody did and know that they affected you without severing all ties with that person. From forgiveness we can learn and grow as individuals.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Who would have guessed it. Reporters for a monthly print magazine won a national award in online beat reporting. 

The House chamber, seen in the middle of renovation last November, is expected to be unveiled in early February.
Bethany Carson / WUIS/Illinois Issues

One hundred and eighteen years after construction was completed on Illinois’ sixth state Capitol, the House and Senate chambers have been restored to resemble the plush style envisioned by architects John Cochrane of Chicago and Alfred Piquenard of France.

Since last spring, hundreds of specialized workers have toiled around the clock to restore history. At the same time, they upgraded the heating and air conditioning system, fire safety features, Internet capabili- ties and wheelchair accessibility.

Art and Ethnicity

Dec 1, 2006
Art and ethnicity
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois' culture is a vivid tapestry woven by a multitude of artists whose ethnicity is central to their work. That metaphor illustrates the spirit of "art and ethnicity," the theme of this year's annual arts issue, the 11th the magazine has produced. 

This take on the arts is relevant because the pattern becomes more intricate when the state's immigrant and nonwhite population grows.

In mid-September, a delegation of high-ranking officials from Kenya met with representatives of the Illinois State Museum in a ceremony marked by many speeches and group photographs. Center stage, displayed in a lined box, was the kigango, a decorated wooden post that was part of the museum's collection before officials there learned last spring it originally had been stolen from a Kenyan family. 

When he took that right turn off Halsted Street to 18th Street back in 1988, Paul D'Amato thought he was about to take his last pictures of Chicago. 

D'Amato, now a photography professor at Columbia College Chicago, had plans to take a teaching position in Maine. But what he found in Pilsen, then the city's largest Mexican neighborhood, caught his attention and held tight. "I had been to a lot of different neighborhoods in Chicago, but this one had an aura to it,'' he writes. "It was dark and colorful, full of texture, energy.''

Chicago/Chicago sorrows 
ways/So blue. Empty pockets/Every day/Friday
the rent is/Due. Chicago/Chicago. 
Big Shoulders/Bronzeville 
where/Lay my spirit. Lord/Knows
 . . .


from Eighteen
in Velvet BeBop Kente Cloth
by Sterling Plumpp

Julian Ambros Malaga wore his red-striped soccer jersey for good luck.

Mario Castillo had crossed before. He once spent eight months living and working in Galena, Ill.

Enrique LanderosGarcía wanted to make a better life for his wife  Octavia and their son Alexis.

In the end, Reymundo Barreda Maruri had to hold up his boy Reymundo Jr. 

Bethany Jaeger
WUIS/Illinois Issues

I take the scenic route to work every morning. I walk up three flights of the Illinois Capitol's grand staircase that lead to a towering piece of art above the Press Room door.

It's a 20-foot-by-40-foot painting of a 1778 peace treaty with George Rogers Clark and Native Americans at Fort Kaskaskia, and it almost looks small compared to the impressive depth and ornate detail of the stained glass dome soaring above the Capitol rotunda.

It wasn't music to their ears. For the second time in three years, Republican fiscal worries were shouted down by the Democratic legislative majority. There was little Republicans could do, so they sounded off about "pork" projects greasing the skids for a $54 billion state budget. 

A visitor enters an eerie dining room and sees a meticulously set table, including place settings for six, wine glasses and a centerpiece composed of a ritual loaf of bread covered with a prayer cloth. The traditional Jewish Passover dinner, or Seder, celebrating the escape of the ancient Israelites from their Egyptian captivity, is seemingly about to commence. 

Question & Answer: Shirley Madigan

Dec 1, 2005

The 2005 recipient of the Motorola Excellence in Public Service Award is Shirley Madigan. She has been the chairman of the Illinois Arts Council for more than two decades. Madigan received the Motorola award to honor "her passionate advocacy and record of achievement in the arts and human services." 

The award is co-sponsored by Motorola, NORBIC, an economic development and technical assistance organization serving manufacturing firms in Northeastern Illinois, and Illinois Issues

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

We began with a question. What could capture readers' attention in this busy time between Thanksgiving and New Year's? Ten years later, Illinois Issues' December arts issue has become a tradition, popular with subscribers and staff alike.

Over the years, these issues have been visually appealing, as we meant them to be. But here's the surprise: Reporting on the relationship between culture and politics is a challenge, as intellectually demanding in its own way as any form of public affairs journalism. 

Pat Guinane
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Chicago preserved a piece of its history, while Springfield erased part of its past.

In both cases, these communities were reacting to public art that was created to portray the lives of working people, a message -- and a medium -- almost always guaranteed to garner an emotional response. After all, public murals, statues and sculptures ask an entire community to embrace an issue that may be indefinable, even to individuals. And this is especially difficult when the subject itself is political.

For Chicago, it took time -- 118 years to be exact. 

Illinois’ Poet Laureate Kevin Stein

Feb 1, 2004

Kevin Stein, a professor of American literature at Bradley University, is Illinois’ poet laureate. The position has been vacant since 2000 when Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks died. 

“He has translated his life experience and put it into rhyme, rhythm and verse,” said Gov. Rod Blagojevich when he named Stein. “He was wise enough and brave enough to know that poetry can have as much of a place on the factory floor as it does in the lecture hall.”

Imagine this scenario at the local Wal-Mart. A young mom, toddlers in tow, wheels her cart into the book aisle. Momentarily ignoring the kids, she scrutinizes the eye-catching titles and brightly colored dust jackets of the 2003 titles.

The term “clear channel” refers to the dominant station on a particular AM radio frequency. A high-power, wide-service-area clear channel station takes priority, and other stations must use directional antennas or reduce power to avoid stepping on that station’s signal. The term also refers to the company that dominates the radio industry — and defines the debate over the future of radio. 

Review Essay: At war with the Constitution

Feb 1, 2003

Judging Lincoln 
Frank J. Williams, Southern Illinois University Press, 2002 

All the Laws But One 
Civil Liberties in Wartime 
William H. Rehnquist, Vintage Books, Random House Inc., 1998

Bush at War 
Bob Woodward, Simon & Shuster, 2002

Review essay by Aaron Chambers

The Latin maxim inter arma enim leges silent is a favorite of wartime observers. It means in time of war, the law is silent.

The workshop on the south side of Bloomington is snug, and all the surfaces are coated with a yellowish film. Shelved against the wall are strips of rosewood, hackberry, maple, walnut, sycamore, cedar and sassafras. 

“If you cut the sassafras with a saw,” observes Dale Evans, a central Illinois maker of old-time musical instruments, “it smells like root beer.”

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

They adorned big city train stations, small town post offices and neighborhood schools. Some exist still, remnants of this country’s hardest of hard times. 

They were commissioned to portray Americans at work and at play, anonymous citizens shouldering long odds, building a nation, sometimes with little more than muscle and will. They were created by American artists, many of them anonymous, too, and staring down tough days of their own. 

Mike Morsch
WUIS/Illinois Issues

We have always tried to provide our children with opportunities to be exposed to the fine arts. Unfortunately, our family usually consults the Book of Stooges for all things cultural, of which I am immensely proud because I live in a house full of women.

Still, this did not prevent us from taking a one-time family outing to the Museum of Art and to the Rodin Museum, both in Philadelphia. Among other things, we would see all types of art, as well as Rodin’s famous sculpture, The Thinker.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

We feel downright bookish this month.

Aaron Chambers delves into the literary efforts of a con-man-turned-author for his piece on identity theft (see page 14). In The Art of the Steal, Chambers tells us, reformed crook Frank Abagnale explains how to identify, and try to get ahead of, that kind of fraud. But Abagnale’s first-hand assessment that it’s easy to steal someone else’s identity is a sober sotto voce in Chambers’ already scary story about officials’ attempts to overtake this growing phenomenon. 

Aaron Chambers
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Buddy the dog split New York City after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He was scared and ran to Springfield for comfort.

That’s how a group of Springfield-area children first depicted their feelings about the attacks. It was four days after the incident, and the children, ages 8 to 11, thought the golden retriever would be better off in their hometown. They were gathered at the capital city’s airport to talk about their thoughts, and to put them into fiction. Their assignment: Write a book that would be illustrated and sold to other children.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

There's a bumper sticker on the bookcase at the entrance to my office that reads, "News happens."

It's a humbling thought for journalists who put out a monthly public affairs magazine. It's also what makes being in this business so thrilling. Each member of the editorial team keeps that thought uppermost in his or her mind because, after all, Illinois isn't one of those boring states where nothing ever seems to happen.

Question & Answer: Chris Young

Jan 1, 2001

He is a photographer for The State Journal-Register in Springfield. His portraits of creatures and natural places are now available in Close to Home: The landscapes, wildlife and hidden beauty of central Illinois. Jiffy Johnson of public radio station WUIS/WIPA at the University of Illinois at Springfield interviewed Young about his work for her weekly program "Living in Illinois." This is an edited version of that interview.