Current VPA News

Kelly Homan Rodoski

Three Syracuse University professors--two from the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA)--have been selected to showcase their creativity and innovative spirit as part of the second ACCelerate: ACC Smithsonian Creativity and Innovation Festival. The exhibitions and performances of Christopher Wildrick, Daniele Profeta and Nicolas Scherzinger, assisted by students and University staff, will be featured as part of the festival. Additionally, Professor Dympna Callaghan will participate in a related cross-disciplinary communication event during the festival, known as “Bridging Chasms.”

First held in 2017, the ACCelerate festival is a three-day celebration of creative exploration and research at the nexus of science, engineering, arts and design among the colleges and universities in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts and Technology and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation will host the festival. It will be held April 5-7 at the museum, located on the National Mall on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., between 12th and 14th Streets NW. The festival is free and open to the public. For more information and directions, visit

“I am thrilled to accompany our faculty and students to the ACCelerate Festival this year and witness their imaginative integration of science, art, music and culture for the benefit of the general public,” says Vice Chancellor and Provost Michele Wheatly. “Syracuse University is incredibly well-represented at the festival, which presents an exciting opportunity to engage both with faculty and students from the other ACC institutions, as well as with over 40,000 visitors to the museum that are anticipated over this three-day event.”

The festival will feature 38 interactive installations and 13 performances from across the 15 ACC colleges and universities grouped in three thematic areas: Exploring Place and Environment; Exploring Health, Body and Mind; and Exploring Culture and the Arts. In addition to Syracuse, ACC institutions include Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

ACCelerate is an opportunity for all ACC institutions to showcase their work to the public, each other, students, alumni, companies, legislators and invited guests. Those attending will have the opportunity to interact with innovators and experience new interdisciplinary technologies developed to address global challenges.

Wildrick, associate professor in the School of Art in VPA, has created “Out of Sight Into Mind.” The exhibition captures the magical spirit that dinosaurs hold in our culture, even though they became extinct millions of years before humans walked the Earth.

“Out of Sight Into Mind” is a collection of charts and games about dinosaurs, mixing together art, psychology, sociology and paleontology. It investigates how much the general public really knows about dinosaurs; the way we imagine dinosaurs interacted with each other; and the roles they play in our culture. The exhibition is participatory, with creative, interactive games for children and adults that test dinosaur knowledge.

Wildrick is assisted with the exhibition by Sarah Allam and Kaia Morales, a sophomore and junior, respectively, in the School of Art in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Daniele Profeta, assistant professor in the School of Architecture, is the creator of ARCTIC LiDAR, an immersive 360-degree video installation exploring the quickly expanding logistic landscape of the Arctic coast.

Using 3D LiDAR scanning, Profeta captured the primary nodes of the Arctic infrastructure, ranging from dry ports to ice breakers and rail terminals, and re-assembles them in a composite, speculative landscape. Part documentary, part projective narrative, the video articulates projective scenarios for the expanding logistic space of global commerce along the coast of the Arctic. The research takes the form of a cautionary tale, speculating on the transformations looming upon the local territory and on their planetary impact. The 360-degree video is experienced through a VR headset.

The project was developed in collaboration with the STRELKA Institute for Media, Architecture and Design and with the support of Syracuse University. Profeta is assisted with the exhibition by Maya Alam, assistant professor in the School of Architecture, and Zexi Tang, a graduate student in the School of Architecture.

Nicolas Scherzinger, assistant professor in the Setnor School of Music in VPA, composed “Three Really Mad Tenors,” an inclusive music performance for tenor saxophones and interactive computer. Scherzinger will be at the computer during the performance, joined by School of Music colleagues instructor Diane Hunger, senior Leah Haines and graduate student Nieves Villasenor on saxophones. The audience is invited to move in and around the performers while the performance takes place.

“Three Really Mad Tenors” for three tenor saxophones was composed in spring 2015. The three tenor saxophones read the same music throughout the entire piece, rarely line up and are often out of sync with one another. The fourth element of the piece is the computer part, which consists of capturing the sound of the three tenors in various ways and adding effects. Almost all the sounds that are processed by the computer come from the live performers. At various high points in the piece, it sounds like there are as many as thirty saxophones all playing at the same time, but never in sync. The performance will take place on Friday, April 5, from 4 to 4:45 p.m. in Coulter Hall.

The “Bridging Chasms” event features closed-session discussions between nationally known academics from ACC institutions. The participants, who come from strongly contrasting disciplines, will engage in searching and intimate conversations that tackle whether individuals can learn to listen to and speak with others who do not share their orientation. Dympna Callaghan, the William Safire Professor of Modern Letters in the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, was one of eight scholars selected to participate in this event. Visit for more information.