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Misher Festival 2017

2017 Misher Festival of Fine Arts and Humanities

The Architecture of Creativity

What can physical structures, from sculpture to skyscrapers, teach us about the creative process? And, conversely, how do the creative arts—whether jazz compositions or short stories—reflect intensive knowledge of form and function?

The Misher Festival of Fine Arts & Humanities celebrates former University President Allen Misher’s vision of an undergraduate education that embraces history, music, and literature alongside biology, chemistry, and more. Join us as this year’s Misher Festival explores The Architecture of Creativity—all events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

For more information or to register for an event, contact Prof. Christine Flanagan,  All events are free and open to the public unless noted.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Function Drives Form: The Qunli Water Park of Harbin, China
Noon in IPEX 108

Erin RamsdenThe Qunli Storm Water Park in the Chinese city of Harbin illustrates the creative genius of landscape architect Kongjian Yu, who sought to establish a harmonious balance between nature and civilization through the creation of a wetland park that is at once beautiful and functional. Within a rapidly developing urban area of northeast China, Qunli now is a layered ring of wetland pools, forested mounds, winding paths and elevated pavilions inviting visitors to engage with nature as well as with each other. Bring your own lunch to this virtual tour with landscape architect student Erin Ramsden—we’ll supply coffee and treats! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Morning at the Museum
8 – 10 a.m. at the Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy, Griffith Hall, First Floor

Marvin Samson MuseumThe Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy is a hidden treasure on the USciences’ campus. Museum curator Michael Brody invites you on a tour of new acquisitions—and some rarely displayed items—from the museum’s vast collection. Enjoy a continental breakfast and explore at your own pace; Professor Brody will present a brief introduction to the exhibit at 9:00 am.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Remodeling Ancient Architecture: A Visual Tour
Noon in IPEX 108

Next in our lunchtime lecture series: Carolyn Laferrière, PhD candidate in the history of art at Yale University, and Dr. Cliff Robinson, assistant professor of classics at USciences, will present a half-hour slide show on the creative reuse of architectural forms in visual media such as painting, film, and photography. They will emphasize not only the techniques by which artists, documentarians, and tourists have captured and recaptured their viewings of Classical (that is, Greek and Roman) architecture, but also how practically one can go about making and remaking one's own images of visually striking structures. Bring your lunch—we’ll pour the coffee.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Misher Festival Book Club: The Storm of Creativity by Kyna Leski
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. in Wilson 205-208

Although each instance of creativity is singular and specific, writes architect Kyna Leski, the creative process is universal. Artists, architects, poets, inventors, and scientists all navigate the same stages of a unique discovery process in order to discover something that does not yet exist.  Leski’s book The Storm of Creativity (MIT Press 2015) presents her experiences as a teacher, student, writer, and architect to unveil the storm-like forces of the creative process. Join us for lunch and an informal conversation with Kyna Leski, led by Honors EN 304 students. Lunch served. To request a free copy of Leski’s book (a limited number are available), contact Prof. Christine Flanagan (

2017 Misher Visiting Professor of Humanities Lecture
Kyna Leski, Professor of Architecture
1 p.m. in McNeil Science and Technology Center, AstraZeneca Auditorium

Architect, professor, and author Kyna Leski understands creativity as a process of ‘seeing ahead’:  “We ‘see ahead’,” Leski says, “when we make designs that are materialized in the future, when we write problems that anticipate solutions, when we link one step to another in navigating our lives and the way through anything, especially the empty page, writer’s block, confusion, chaos, needs, and questions.”

Our 2017 Misher Visiting Professor of Humanities, Kyna Leski, is a professor of architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design who asks her students to observe cellular structures under the microscope as inspiration for their creations. Leski navigates the creative process through her teaching at RISD, through her design work as a founding principal of 3six0 Architecture, and through her practices as an artist and writer. She has spoken about the creative process throughout the U.S. and abroad; her most recent book is The Storm of Creativity (MIT Press, 2015). Stay for the reception that follows—always a highlight of the Misher Festival week.

Read more about Kyna Leski.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Timeless Communities
Noon in IPEX 108

Dr. Sara Girotto, quite simply, is passionate about creating human-centered spaces. How she pursues this, however, is anything but simple: Dr. Girotto holds a bachelor’s in architecture from Politecnico di Milano (Milan, Italy); a master’s in psychology with a focus on gender differences in spatial cognition; and a PhD in experimental psychology with a concentration on metacognition of spatial information. By investigating people’s interactions with the built environment (from both an architectural and a psychological point of view), her work as director of timeless communities at the EcoLand Institute seeks to make our interactions with the structures that surround us as easy and productive as possible. Bring lunch—stay for coffee—and after this talk, you’ll see the world with an entirely new set of eyes.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Philadelphia: The Emergence of a Modern Metropolis
(Walking Tour)
1 – 3 p.m. at 1218 Arch Street, Philadelphia

Experience the transformation of Philadelphia from an engine of industry to a 21st century capitol of business and culture. This two-hour tour (sponsored by the Center | Architecture + Design) explores Philadelphia’s diverse range of architectural styles and building technologies from the 1860s to the present, detailing the social, economic, and political forces that shaped the modern cityscape. Advance reservations required; tickets limited: contact

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Philadelphia Classical Guitar Chamber Orchestra
3 p.m. in McNeil Science and Technology Center Atrium

PCGSCurrently in their 50th anniversary season, the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society is a community of guitar enthusiasts of all ages and accomplishments dedicated to encouraging the appreciation, study, and performance of classical guitar music in the Greater Philadelphia Region. Today’s concert features 12 players, three classical pieces, and three popular pieces.  For more concert dates or info on the PCGS, visit

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

USciences Faculty Recital
7:30 p.m., McNeil STC Atrium

USciences music professors Kim Robson, Russell Ferrara, and David Nelson will perform concert selections accompanied by commentary on how form inspires and informs music composition.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kingsessing Singers and Players Spring Concert
7:30 p.m. in McNeil Science and Technology Center Atrium

Whether 12 bar blues or the Elizabethan galliard, The Oxford Companion to Music defines musical form as “a series of strategies designed to find a successful mean between the opposite extremes of unrelieved repetition and unrelieved alteration.” Tonight’s concert features performances—in fine musical form—of the Kingsessing Singers (including the Keytones), the String Ensemble, and Percussion Ensemble.

Tuesday, April 25 and Thursday, April 27, 2017

Signature Stories
11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in Whitecar Hall, room 207

Novelist Henry James once compared his craft to the architecture of a house, saying “The house of fiction has in short not one window, but a million... but they are, singly, as nothing without the posted presence of the watcher.” The EN 304 Fiction Writing class invites you to the window as we present public readings of our short fiction.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The ElixirThe Elixir Publication Party
4:30 p.m. at Parenti Plaza (outside McNeil Science and Technology Center)

“Consider the momentous event in architecture,” wrote Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn, “when the wall parted and the column became.” For over 50 years, The Elixirthe USciences literary and art journal—has been parting walls and revealing the creative talents of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Come celebrate spring, the semester’s end, and the 2017 publication of The Elixir!

Kingsessing Singers and Players Spring Concert
7:30 p.m. in  ARC Multipurpose Room

At USciences, it wouldn’t be the close of a semester without the inspirational concerts of the Kingsessing Singers and Players. Tonight’s concert—performed in one of USciences’ newest built spaces—features the Jazz, Brass, and Woodwind Ensembles of the Kingsessing Players. Good music, excellent people—all are welcome!

About Kyna Leski

2017 Misher Visiting Professor of Humanities Lecture

Kyna Leski“I explore, witness, and practice the creative process through my work and my teaching. As a child, I was reprimanded for “getting bored easily,” and now I see that weakness, like all “weaknesses,” as a strength. (Getting bored keeps me moving ahead.) I live in a city whose name, (“pro-videre”) signifies what creativity is: a process of “seeing ahead.” We "see ahead" when we make designs that are materialized in the future, when we write problems that anticipate solutions, when we link one step to another in navigating our lives and the way through anything, especially the empty page, writer’s block, confusion, chaos, needs, and questions. The creative process is the story of this passage and speaks for the author, to the user, the reader, inhabitant, audience or viewer.

I have listened and observed these workings as a teacher, a student, a maker, a writer and an architect myself. As an educator, I am dedicated to embodied learning, to the precision of mind that comes from measured making and to the clarity of abstraction. As a student, an aspiring/practicing actor and witness I seek to learn something, to be surprised by the author’s soul voice and to find coherence where there wasn’t any. As a maker of things, designer, and writer, I dwell in uncertainty, follow poetry as a process, reason with material, construct, deconstruct and reconstruct—conceptual clarity appearing as a guide. I watch the sunrise almost every day from a rowing shell, am moved to tears by honesty, and take dreams very seriously.”

Kyna Leski has invested her life in navigating the creative process through her teaching as a Professor of Architecture at The Rhode Island School of Design, through her design work as a founding principal of 3six0 Architecture and her practices as an artist, and writer. She has spoken about the creative process throughout the U.S. and abroad and gave a Main stage presentation at PopTech in 2009. She recently finished writing and illustrating a book, called The Storm of Creativity, published by MIT Press in the fall 2015. 


Christine Flanagan 


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