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Posts from the ‘Media Arts’ Category

La Mia Strada – My Road

ImageBack in 2012, Michael A. DiLauro, director of RMU’s Academic Media Center, debuted La Mia Strada, a feature-length documentary sharing his “personal perspective on ethnicity and culture as it links ancient and contemporary Italian culture with its Italian-American counterpart.” Through years of conducting dozens of interviews, exploring historical sites, sifting through archeological artifacts, digging through family photographs, and immersing himself in the music, poetry, and oral histories of the Abruzzo, Molise, and Puglia regions, DiLauro created an amazing film and commentary on the fragile the bonds that span an ocean and connect a family from generation to generation.

DiLauro, who earned an M.F.A. in film studies at Ohio University and completed the Master Directing program at the prestigious Maine Cinema Workshops, has received five regional Emmy’s for his work, as well as a Blue Ribbon at the American Film Festival, several ADDY awards, and the Gabriel award for outstanding television programming. His feature documentary film, “Prisoners Among Us: Italian American Identity and WWII“, was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the New York International Independent Film Festival.

La Mia Strada has been screened at the Palestrina Film Festival in Italy, Atlantic City Film Festival and was awarded a Silver Medal from the Media Communications Association-International Film Festival along with several cultural centers and universities throughout the United States. Already this year it was screened at the University of Dayton and Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).

(Trailer for “La Mia Strada”)

RMU Student Profile – Gary Horstmann

Gary Horstmann1

YEAR: Senior
MAJOR: Media Arts
INTERNSHIPS: International Images Ltd.
AWARDS: Franklin Award of Excellence, Graphic Arts Association (April 2013); RMU Graphic Design Award (March 2013)

I was born in Inglewood, CA, but I’ve lived in Pittsburgh since kindergarten.

I belong to the Gallery Club, Photo Club, and RMU’s AIGA Student Group.

I chose RMU for two reasons: one, to be close to my family in Moon; two, schools that offer my degree are limited and expensive. Robert Morris was the perfect fit for me.

I hope to rid the world of thoughtless design!

I took part in the 2012 Ireland trip, which inspired me to go to Japan on my own. I also went on the Navajo Nation trip in 2013, which was amazing. Few people get to perform the service and become invested in a culture like we did with the Navajo.

The faculty members of the Media Arts program have experience beyond the lessons. Their views into the real world helped keep me focused on my goals and on the right path for me.

I really must take my hat off to Jim Vincent. I met him in Ireland during our trip, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Jim has a way of just looking at a human being, seeing beyond their first impressions, and knowing what’s at that person’s core. He makes you feel instantly accepted and justified in who you are and who you wish to be.

The more I became involved on campus, the more my Student Engagement Transcript credit filled up. Seeing this activity altogether on one transcript that helps you outside of college really inspired me to get involved.

The one thing I stress to students throughout their life at RMU is to get out of the classroom and start engaging in your field. If you start surrounding yourself with what you wish to be, you will slowly find yourself becoming what you’ve always wanted. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s through our failures when we learn the most.

(Some of Gary’s travel photography)
Horstmann_Navajo nation

RMU Alums Working Together at TV3 Winchester News

Channing and Maria

Maria Satira ’12 and Channing Frampton ’11 at the TV3 Winchester news desk

Back when they were students at Robert Morris University, Channing Frampton ’11 and Maria Satira ’12 took advantage of every opportunity that came their way. Today they’re reaping the benefits of their RMU experience as they work side-by-side for TV3 Winchester, ABC’s local affiliate in Winchester, Va.

Frampton majored in media arts at RMU, while minoring in both international studies and theater. He also worked for four years as a producer, forecaster, reporter, and anchor for the Telly Award-winning show “RMU-Live”, interned with and shadowed forecasters in both the United States and Finland, and played the male lead in Elton John’s modern take on “Aida”. As a senior, he received RMU’s inaugural Renaissance Award for completing activities in all seven categories of his Student Engagement Transcript.

Maria graduated magna cum laude from RMU, with a double major in TV/Video production and journalism. In 2010, she was part of a team that won a journalism competition funded and coordinated by The Heinz Endowments as part of its sponsorship of its annual Women’s Health & the Environment Conference. She was also the first recipient of the Amanda Marie Werkmeister Memorial Scholarship and, in 2011, received the Alexander M. Tanger Award from the Broadcast Education Association. In 2012, she was awarded the Renaissance Award. During her time at RMU, Maria served as a student representative to the Middle States re-accreditation team, vice president of programming for Delta Zeta, the president of Voci Italiane, and a staff writer for The Sentry student newspaper.

TV3 Winchester News hired Frampton in the spring of 2011 to be a weekend meteorologist and weekday reporter. Today he works as a producer, reporter, forecaster and anchor for the station’s 7 p.m. news broadcast.

About a year after he was hired, a position opened up for a reporter, and Frampton had the perfect fit for the opening. “Having worked with Maria in college and knowing her track record as a reporter, I tipped her off to the opening and was glad to see she got the job,” he says.

Now Satira is a general assignment reporter for “Good Morning Winchester”, developing stories on local topics and covering community and breaking news.

“What I love most about my job is that every day is different,” says Satira. “I also love the impact that I’m making on our viewers’ days. It’s a great feeling when I’m out somewhere and a viewer comes up to me and tells me that one of my stories helped them and made a difference in their life.”

Satira says being engaged in her education made all the difference. “My message for other RMU students with goals of a career in broadcasting: take advantage of everything! You can not get a job without an internship. Leave your comfort zone because in this field, you do it every day.”

As for working with a fellow alum, Frampton says it’s always fun working together with Satira. “We’re both proud of what we’ve accomplished since graduation.”

Robert Morris Goes Storytelling in Ireland

From May 9-23, Andrea Frantz, Ph.D., associate professor and head of RMU’s Department of Communication, and Christine E. Holtz, RMU professor of Media Arts, accompanied 19 journalism and photography students to Sneem, Ireland, a village of 400 in the Ring of Kerry in the Southwest part of the country.

While there, the journalism students focused on learning the stories of the community by interviewing villagers and photographing, writing, and blogging about them. The photo students were challenged to develop themes for their photography and shoot with the goal of creating photo books. The students also sought to learn about the culture of rural, southwest Ireland by listening to and practicing traditional Irish storytelling and performing music.

The group’s guide, Mr. Batt Burns, offered several workshops in storytelling as well as a great deal of historical insight into the area.

Frantz, Holtz, and their students traveled to the Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Killarney, and the Blasket Islands. Students also took part in hiking, biking, kayaking, and golf. One evening the group even enjoyed a traditional pub night in which the students shared their own talents in music, dancing, and storytelling, alongside the locals.

“For me, this was a real high point in my teaching career,” says Frantz. “I have long advocated a community journalism approach in my traditional classes, and I’ve challenged my students to see their university community as the home-base for learning. But this was the first time I’ve had the privilege of doing community reporting in a foreign country, and Sneem couldn’t have been a better place to pull it off.”

By challenging students to practice community journalism in a small village in which they were forced to quickly learn its people, geography, history, and customs in order to locate and re-tell its stories, they were pushed out of their comfort zones.

Following a particularly challenging interview with a local farmer, who possessed an extraordinarily thick Irish brogue and was very reticent to talk about himself, senior Heather Lowery told Frantz, “This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my four years as a journalism student.”Later on, however, when her story was complete, Lowery’s tune had changed. “I have never been more proud of any story I’ve written,” she said.

During their time in Ireland, the students recorded their reactions, observations, and first impressions of Ireland and the experience in general via a series video blogs, which you can view through the following links:

Right on the tails of the journalism class came another RMU group led by Jim Vincent, associate professor of English studies, along with Heather Pinson, Ph.D., assistant professor of communications, and Alisa Krieger, student leader.

Arriving on May 25, the group, which was made up of 25 students from Vincent’s Irish mythology and literature course, began its Ireland adventure in the town of Mullaghbane in County Armagh. There they stayed in the cultural center of Ti Chulainn, an agricultural, isolated, mountainous region, famous for being a stronghold of the home hunting grounds of the Red Branch Knights of ancient Ireland, and their leader Cuchulainn.

Students also climbed the mountain of Slieve Gullion and visited Navan Fort and Giant’s Causeway. They even toured Newgrange, which is 600 years older than the pyramids of Egypt and contains passage tombs of Irish settlers from well before the Celtic Age.

During the second part of their trip, on the way to Sligo, they stopped at the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh, County Tyron, which is a large park full of re-enactors who depict both Ulster and American life in the late 18th century.

“Many Ulster Scots, generally Presbyterian, emigrated to western Pennsylvania,” said Vincent. “Thomas Mellon has a replica of his house there, and a friend of mine actually plays Mellon at the park.”

While at the park they had a night of music with local musicians as well as RMU singers Dawn Savage ‘11, Shaun Sweeney, and Melissa Curiale. The visit to the park was coordinated by former Rooney Scholar Marie Martin and her husband Joe. The group also enjoyed a lunch hosted by Southwest College in the town Omagh.

At Sligo (name means shallow or shelly), students concentrated on the life and poetry of Ireland’s most famous poet William Butler Yeats. Sligo was Yeats’ summer home; his poems “The Stolen Child” and “The Lake Isle of Inisfree” have their sources in this region. Here they explored by bus and by boat, and climbed Knocknarea, on top of which is the legendary burial site of Queen Medb.

During their stay at The Yeats Village, since there wasn’t any cafeteria, the students got the chance to cook for themselves. “We found out who could cook and who couldn’t,” said Vincent.

They also had a lot of fun, too. “We heard poetry, visited churches, drank in pubs, sang and danced,” added Vincent. “Generally, we had a good Irish time.”

To wrap up their journey, the group spent a day and a half in Dublin, where some students visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, others the Guinness Brewery, and some took pictures of Ireland’s scenic capital city.

For more on RMU’s trips to Ireland, find them on Facebook (search “RMU Claddagh Club”) or on Flickr.


Written by Valentine J. Brkich

RMU Dedicates New Media Arts Facility

Its nursing simulations center was recently revamped, and ground has already been broken for its new School of Business Complex. Now Robert Morris University can add media arts to its list of programs with new, state-of-the-art facilities.

Today, around 30 university employees and esteemed guests gathered at RMU’s Colonial Village to dedicate the recently completed Snee-Reinhardt House for Media Arts. Made possible by the Snee-Reinhardt Charitable Foundation, this new facility will serve as a living-learning center for students in the School of Communications and Information System’s (SCIS) Media Arts Program.

The noon ribbon-cutting ceremony was preceded by a welcome from David L. Jamison, J.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The Snee-Reinhardt Charitable Foundation’s generous support is going to make a tremendous difference here at RMU,” he said. “This beautiful new facility will serve students, faculty, and the entire campus community in so many ways.”

The new Snee-Reinhardt House for Media Arts features a screening room on the lower level for student films and documentaries, a meeting room and conferencing room on the first floor, and ample space throughout to display the work of students. It also features an apartment on the second floor, where visiting scholars will live and work alongside students.

“This new facility will offer a number of ways for collaboration between students and faculty,” said Barbara J. Levine, Ph.D., SCIS dean and associate professor of communications.

The Snee-Reinhardt Charitable Foundation, established in 1983 by Katherine Snee, provides aid to organizations who strive to serve the community by improving social conditions. Christina Treadwell ‘91, a member of the foundation’s Board of Directors and RMU’s Board of Visitors, was instrumental in making this new facility a reality.

“We wanted to make sure it benefitted the students and benefitted the school’s curriculum,” she said. “I am so humbly honored to be a part of this and to be able to put into action the knowledge that I gained right here at RMU.”

RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D., was also very pleased to dedicate the new facility. “It’s great to see our young alums, such as Christina, becoming such wonderful supporters of the university and our vision,” he said. “The academic component is very important, particularly with respect to our commitment to engaged learning, and media arts plays right into that.”

— Valentine J. Brkich

Whoever told you you could work with men?

As if I needed a reason to check out the New Hazlett Theatre’s performance of “Glengarry Glen Ross,” it turns out this production of the David Mamet classic is directed by RMU adjunct professor Melissa Martin. She teaches in the Department of Media Arts, and this semester, for the first time, she offered a course in screenwriting.

I’ve never seen “Glengarry” on the stage, but the film is in my personal Top 10. The cast is loaded with talent: Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Al Pacino and the late Jack Lemmon. Baldwin’s role, incidentally, was written by Mamet for the film, and his brief but memorable scene — in which he delivers a verbal beat-down to the beleaguered salesmen — includes the famous line “Coffee is for closers.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a set of steak knives out there with my name on it.

— Jonathan Potts

The Mystery of the Paper ‘Shrooms – Part II

Okay, so I finally solved the Mystery of the Paper ‘Shrooms.

As you may remember, I was dying to know the origin of these mock mushrooms that were popping up along the walkway between Massey Hall to the main part of campus (a.k.a., the Magical Forest).

Well, not long after my frustrated post, I received an e-mail from Channing Frampton, a junior media arts major at RMU, with a concentration in TV/video and a minor in theatre. According to Frampton, he and his classmates created these particular paper fungi as part of an installation art project for his humanities class taught by Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre, M.F.A., assistant professor of communications here at RMU.

The first time he saw paper mushrooms along the pathway, Frampton, like me, was curious about their origin. Once he signed up for the humanities class, he learned that this particular medium and subject was chosen because it added to the “magical wonder” of this scenic part of the RMU campus. And being that they’re made of paper, the mushrooms were a great choice for Prof. Lefebvre, who teaches her students to be environmentally conscious.

“I want my humanities students to have hands-on experiences with art – not to just learn about them,” says Lefebvre, who wanted a project that could be accomplished in one class, that didn’t require any particular artistic experience, and that they could do together. “We talk about installation art and performance art in class and then tackle the mushroom project,” she says. “Even the students who are dubious about their mushroom can see the effect that everyone’s work has together.

“My idea,” she adds, “is just to throw a piece of installation art at the campus, to make folks walking by do a double take, and really start to look at what is around them; to add something unexpected to that lovely walk between Hale and Massey.”

So there you have it. Mystery solved. And you probably thought that the paper mushrooms were put there by mischievous little gnomes who live high in the towering pines of the Magical Forest. Ha! How silly of you!

Everyone knows that the gnomes live underground.

Now that’s a web site

The Department of Media Arts now has a web site worthy of its name:

Yes, we do art. Next question?

Pop City gives a shout out to the RMU Gallery, which has its official grand opening Thursday night at our downtown Pittsburgh building, 600 Fifth Ave. The evening also will feature tours of the newly renovated Media Arts classrooms and studios.

We hope to see you there.