Latest Entries
Art

353: Vinnie Bagwell

When this sculptor creates a statue of a historical figure―Sojourner Truth, Ella Fitzgerald, Teddy Roosevelt―she learns a lot about her subject. While conceiving a more metaphoric project, Victory, she made a disconcerting discovery: there are no Black angels in public art. “Are you trying to say there are no Black people in heaven?” she demanded. … Continue reading »

Fiction

352: Annie Proulx

Some scholars toil away their lives, humbly adding their mote to the supply of human knowledge. Then there was Selma Barkham. “She was responsible for finding out something about Newfoundland that nobody had ever known,” says Annie Proulx. A fine writer––The Shipping News, Brokeback Mountain––tells the story of an extraordinary scholar. Presented with the American Academy of Arts and … Continue reading »

Art

351: Alice Aycock

This sculptor, perhaps best known for a series of piece resembling captured tornadoes, describes how her darker feelings affect her work: “As artists, we are very sensitive to pain, but we don’t just use it as something to whine about, but as a probing tool.” No whining? No wonder I’m not an artist. Well, that … Continue reading »

Nonfiction

350: Tony Hiss

His most recent book, Rescuing the Planet: Protecting Half the Land to Heal the Earth, is surprisingly upbeat for a book whose title includes the words “rescuing” and “heal.” I discovered him through an earlier work, The Experience of Place, in honor of which we break format and, instead of person place thing, talk place place place. Continue reading »

Architecture & Design

348: Yeohlee Teng

She is a fashion designer whose work is in the permanent collection of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her guiding precept: “I just like the clothes to be useful, you know? That’s really the basic thing.” What I could use is pants that cook my dinner, but I’m not … Continue reading »

Music

346: David Lang

At age nine, he saw a Leonard Bernstein Young People’s Concert featuring Dmitiri Shostakovich and something happened. In a good way. Trauma free. A conversation with the Pulitzer-winning composer, introduced by Ralph Farris, violist in the quartet Ethel and creator of Co-Lab, a virtual conference on collaboration.  And these guys have. Splendidly. Continue reading »

Scholars

345: Ben Zimmer

The Wall Street Journal’s language columnist plays with our format, offering Word Word Word – and more elegantly still, the same word for each segment: orange. Then he makes a painful disclosure: “I myself am color-blind, and so I’m not completely attuned to all the nuances of it.” Hey, Beethoven was deaf, and he got the … Continue reading »

Nonfiction

344: Bill McKibben

A writer and environmentalist, he counts himself lucky to have worked at The New Yorker with (for? near?) William Shawn, “the greatest editor of the twentieth century.” What contributed to his mastery? “Once he had writers in his stable, he was quite interested in what they were interested in.” Professional skill as a manifestation of individual character. Continue reading »

Architecture & Design

343: Moshe Safdie

He’s created buildings from Montreal (Habitat 67) to Singapore (Jewel Changi Airport), but Jerusalem — the center of three Abrahamic religions, where people have lived for 6,000 years – is different: “It takes an act of real arrogance to build in a city like that. It was quite emotionally wrenching.” Presented by the Center for … Continue reading »

Music

342: Herb Alpert

This trumpet player has sold 72 million albums worldwide, including five number ones, and also founded A&M records. Ordinarily we’d talk about his person, place, and thing, but instead we devote our conversation to his person, songwriter Burt Bacharach — 73 top-forty hits. One enormously successful musician talks about another, with respect and affection. Continue reading »