Creative Matters Lecture Series

The Creative Matters lecture series seeks to demonstrate that creativity is not only at the core of all research and discovery, but also central to our human experience. The exciting lineup of invited speakers includes artists, thinkers, builders, and doers who challenge conventional thinking about creativity, science, and artistic expression, and borrow from a range of influences and disciplines in their work.

All lectures are free and open to the public.

Wendy S. Walters

Wendy Walters, writer


Thursday, September 13, 2018
5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Room 240 of Art Building West


Wendy S. Walters is the author of a book of prose, Multiply/Divide: On the American Real and Surreal, named a best book of the year by Buzzfeed, Flavorwire, Literary Hub, The Root, and Huffington Post. She is also the author of two books of poems, Troy, Michigan and Longer I Wait, More You Love Me. Walters has been awarded fellowships from Mass MoCA, New York Foundation for the Arts, The Ford Foundation, and many others. Walters’s lyrical work with composer Derek Bermel has been performed widely, including at Carnegie Hall and the Pittsburgh Symphony.  In 2018-19 she will be an artist in residence at BRIClab in Brooklyn, where she will work on developing the book for their opera, Golden Motors. She is Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Writing and Design in the school of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons, The New School.

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Gerry Hofstetter

Gerry Hofstetter, light artist


Thursday, October 4, 2018
5:00 PM
Old Capitol Museum


One of the world’s best known light artists, Gerry Hofstetter transforms buildings, monuments, and natural landscapes throughout the world into temporary works of art with spectacular light projections. He has illuminated icebergsthe ColosseumGreat PyramidsWashington Cathedral, among many others. He will stop in Iowa City for his current project, the Light & Art Tour of the United States, which will highlight one monument in each state. After his Creative Matters talk, Gerry will showcase a light performance on the side of the Old Capitol Museum.

As a former head of investment banking, Hofstetter holds degrees in business administration and marketing. In the Swiss Armed Forces, he was a Mountain Special Forces Captain and instructor for special operations in mountain warfare and combat search and rescue.

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Ed Boyden

Ed Boyden, neuroscientist


Monday, October 15, 2018
5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Room 240 of Art Building West


Ed Boyden is a Professor of Neurotechnology at MIT, and associate professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT’s Media Lab and McGovern Institute for Brain Research. He leads the Synthetic Neurobiology Group, which develops tools for analyzing and repairing complex biological systems such as the brain. His group applies these tools in a systematic way in order to reveal ground truth scientific understandings of biological systems, which in turn reveal radical new approaches for curing diseases and repairing disabilities. His TED talks have been viewed over 2 million times.

In 2018, he was selected to be an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He has received the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2016), the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2015), and the Carnegie Prize in Mind and Brain Sciences (2015), among many others.

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Charles Limb

Charles Limb, surgeon


Monday, November 12, 2018
5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Room 240 of Art Building West


Charles Limb is a doctor and a musician who researches the way musical creativity works in the brain.

He is a Professor of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and the Chief of the Division of Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). He also directs the Douglas Grant Cochlear Implant Center at UCSF, and he is a former faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. In search of a better understanding of how the mind perceives complex auditory stimuli such as music, his research looks at the brains of improvising musicians and studies what parts of the brain are involved in the kind of deep creativity that happens when a musician is really in the groove. His TED talk, “Your Brain on Improv,” has been viewed over 1.2 million times.

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Alsarah

Alsarah, singer-songwriter


Friday, November 16, 2018
7:00 PM
Strauss Hall, Hancher Auditorium
Co-sponsored by Hancher


Alsarah is a singer, songwriter, bandleader and a somewhat reluctant ethnomusicologist. Born in Khartoum, Sudan, she relocated to Yemen with her family before abruptly moving to the USA, finally feeling most at home in Brooklyn, NY where she has been residing since 2004. She is a self-proclaimed practitioner of East-African Retro-Pop music. With her main outfit, Alsarah & the Nubatones, she has released 2 full-length albums titled Silt , followed by Manara (Wonderwheel Recordings, 2014 and 2016). She has also released 1 full-length album with French electronic producer Débruit titled Aljawal (Soundways Recordings, 2013). And she was featured on the Nile Project‘s debut CD, Aswan (named in the top 5 must hear international albums by NPR, 2014).

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Lawrence Brownlee and Eric Owens

Lawrence Brownlee and Eric Owens in conversation with Brandon Alexander Williams


Thursday, March 7, 2019
7:00 PM
Strauss Hall, Hancher Auditorium
Co-sponsored by Hancher


Named 2017 “Male Singer of the Year” by both the International Opera Awards and Bachtrack, Lawrence Brownlee has been hailed by the Associated Press as one of “the world’s leading bel canto tenors.” Brownlee also serves as Artistic Advisor at Opera Philadelphia, helping the company to expand their repertoire, diversity efforts and community initiatives. Bass-baritone Eric Owens has a unique reputation as an esteemed interpreter of classic works and a champion of new music. He has been recognized with multiple honors, including the Musical America’s 2017 “Vocalist of the Year” award. Brownlee and Owens will perform together on the Hancher stage on March 8.

Born in Maywood and raised in Peoria, Illinois, Brandon Alexander Williams is a poet, MC and DJ. He is the most recent recipient of the Grant Wood Fellowship and is a visiting instructor at the University of Iowa’s School of Music where he teaches courses in Hip-Hop.

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Steven J. Tepper

Steven Tepper


Tuesday, April 9, 2019
5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Room 240 of Art Building West


Steven J. Tepper is the dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, the nation’s largest, comprehensive design and arts school at a research university. Tepper is a leading writer and speaker on U.S. cultural policy and his work has fostered national discussions around topics of cultural engagement, creative work and careers, art and democracy, and the transformative possibilities of a 21st century creative campus.

He is the author of Not Here, Not Now, Not That! Protest Over Art and Culture in America and co-editor and contributing author of the book Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life.”  Prior to ASU, Tepper was on the faculty at Vanderbilt University where he was a chief architect of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, a national think tank for cultural policy and creativity.

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