U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera with UCSD Arts and Humanities Dean Cristina Della Coletta. / Image courtesy of Farshid Bazmandegan, UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities

This year, UC San Diego’s Institute of Arts and Humanities received its largest-ever National Endowment for the Humanities  award. The $750,000 matching grant  will help fund the 2-year-old institute’s new home, which broke ground this past June. UCSD is one of the first institutions to receive this particular funding.

“They’re going to use our proposal as a model for others in the future,” said Cristina Della Coletta, dean of UCSD’s Division of Arts and Humanities, which encompasses the institute.

It’s hard to discuss the arts at UCSD without also questioning what it means for arts to exist in a science-centric institution, but Della Coletta wants to overcome that “either/or” assumption. Rather than pitting science against the arts, she hopes the institute will help UCSD to “educate the whole individual.”

“The arts and humanities have a lot to offer the sciences,” Della Coletta said. “We need more humanists.”

The new building will be the first endeavor in UCSD history to bring all the humanities together, and the hope is to not only proliferate a more cohesive curricula and collaboration among the faculty, but also stronger public programming. And with it, a unified approach to receiving funding.

It’s paying off so far.

Luis Alvarez, director of the Institute of Arts and Humanities and a professor of history, used additional UC funding to develop a new oral storytelling initiative, The Race and Oral History Project, dedicated to preserving San Diego’s diverse stories.

Launched this spring, the project engages undergrads from diverse communities in San Diego to document — and learn from — their oral histories. Working with community partners like Casa Familiar in San Ysidro, The New Children’s Museum, CHE’LU and United Women of East Africa, students learn technologies and skills required to collaborate, converse and record stories, archiving them  online.

Institute of Arts and Humanities
From a parking lot to the new home for UCSD’s Institute of Arts and Humanities. / Photo by Anthony King

“Libraries are often driven to collect, preserve and disseminate forms of knowledge that are deemed ‘authoritative’ or ‘significant’ by institutional decision makers,” said Erin Glass, UCSD’s digital scholarship librarian who assists with the race and oral history project. “It’s an exciting example of the value of participatory, community-based archives that highlight perspectives often excluded by institutions.”

While culture thrives on San Diego’s university campuses, few community members bother to drive and park there, so it’s harder to engage the larger community. The Institute of Arts and Humanities aims to change that. “We’ve really tried to mark IAH as an institute that can put UCSD out in the communities of San Diego,” said Alvarez, “and bring those communities to UC San Diego in ways in which they may not always have done, historically.”

In addition to the race and oral history project, the institute is presenting these community programs in the fall:

Psychological Art, a Spooky Events Guide and More News for the Culture Crowd

If you panicked when you heard Kinsee Morlan abandoned left the Culture Report, rest assured: So did I. I’ve used this space regularly as a consumer and an artist, and while covering the arts for CityBeat. (But mostly to stalk Kinsee, let’s be honest.) At least for the near future, I’ll help you weed through what’s going on in town. Because I love art, I love San Diego and I really, really love making lists.

Vi Khi Nao. / Photo courtesy of Vi Khi Nao

Spooky Events! A Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos Guide

The spooky season can feel like an unseasonably hot mess of options, and I’m here to walk you through the countless Halloween and Dia de los Muertos events in town.

First, check out some of the guides already available online. San Diego Tourism Authority has two separate landing pages: one for Halloween events, plus a brief roundup of Dia de los Muertos events. KPBS has a special section on its calendar. For something sorted by neighborhoods, try this one from Patch San Diego.

Generally Spooky Events

Here are my creepy highlights, selected mostly based on whether they’re worth applying sunscreen in October:

Dia De Los Muertos Events

There’s an abundance of Dia de los Muertos events in this fine region, and I like the sound of these:

Sherman Heights Procesión De Muertos / Photo by Daniel Martinez

Food, Beer and Booze News

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