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Archiving Historic Costumes

Historic CostumesTucked away inside the costume shop of Pomona’s Seaver Theatre is a collection of more than 150 historic garments—mostly women’s clothing dating from the 1920s to the 1950s. They’ve been used over the years, and many have grown delicate with age.

That caught the attention of Michael Mao ’19, a history major and theatre minor with an interest in costume design. With Theatre Professor Sherry Linnell serving as his advisor, Mao decided to combine his fields of study with a research project that encompassed two summers, culminating in the creation of a digital archive of the garments.

Mao spent much of the first summer of his project, in 2017, researching the background of the garments and comparing them to historical catalogs and books about typical women’s fashion of the times. He also noted, whenever possible, important details such as style, fabric, construction and trim.

The next step was photography of the garments. Linnell wanted Mao to consider them as three-dimensional objects, much like sculptures. This posed a challenge for Mao, who enlisted the help of Instructional Technologist Jason Smith.

Smith helped him acquire the necessary equipment—a manual camera with a timer, kit light reflectors and lightboxes—and together they assembled a pop-up studio with white and black backdrops against which to photograph the clothing.

Each garment was photographed from the front, back and sides in quarter turns, with additional photographs for interesting details or trims. After taking the photos, Smith spent time editing them to ensure their visual quality.

The digital image database will serve as a lasting resource for theatre and dance students to continue to engage with these historic garments, even though many of them have grown too delicate to pull out in person.

BY THE NUMBERS: The Class of 2023

In keeping with recent tradition, on the mid-March day that the College sent out acceptance letters to a new class of Pomona students, the staff of Pomona’s Offices of Admissions and Financial Aid rang the Sumner Hall bell 23 times to celebrate the Class of 2023. Here are a few facts about the new group of Sagehens:

726 first-year students admitted to the College

26 transfer students admitted, including 10 from community colleges

49 U.S. states represented, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico

47 countries represented

57.9% of class are domestic students of color

13.5% of the class are international students

20.3% of the class are first-generation students

9 are military veterans, representing the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps

6 participated in the Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS)

Pomona Partners Turns 25

Danny DeBare ’22 engages in a community-building exercise with Fremont Academy students.

Danny DeBare ’22 engages in a community-building exercise with Fremont Academy students.

Every Friday at 3 p.m., after the school bell signals the end of the school day, about 30 middle school students at Fremont Academy in the city of Pomona make their way to the cafeteria. The students are not ready to go home just yet—they’re sticking around for Pomona Partners.

Pomona Partners, the College’s longest-running community engagement program, turned 25 last fall. The program continues today through the Draper Center for Community Partnerships, with more than a dozen Pomona College students volunteering every semester to host a series of  activities and experiences with seventh- and eighth-graders.

This academic year, the focus is on critical environmental justice. Students also engage in conversations on other topics, like student activism as a result of school shootings, and share on-campus activities like games, videos, acting workshops, one-on-one interactions and group interactions, as well as two annual field trips, including one to the Pomona College campus.

Farm to Table at the Sagehen Café

farm-to-table specialIt’s Friday, and this week’s farm-to-table special at the Sagehen Café is a vegetable and mushroom risotto with organic beets, carrots, joi choi, zucchini, yellow squash, garlic and onions, most of it grown and harvested nearby at the Pomona College Organic Farm. For the past five years, the on-campus restaurant, housed in Pomona’s Smith Campus Center, has offered a Friday special made with fresh, organic ingredients from the student-run farm. If you want to try it, though, you may need to arrive early, because according to the café’s general manager, Cheryl Yarck, it usually sells out.

Sagecast The Podcast of Pomona College

The first season of Sagecast, titled “Backstories,” features Pomona faculty members discussing how they came to study what they study, teach what they teach and love the field they love. Sagecast offers our extended community a chance to listen in on vibrant intellectual conversations—whether on the train, in the car, at the gym or at home. Listen at Pomona College Sagecast or look us up on the podcast sites of Apple, Google or Spotify. Here’s a look at season 1:

Episode 1
Nicole Holliday
Linguistics & Cognitive Science
How does language build our own identities and vice versa?

Episode 2
Miguel Tinker Salas
History & Latin American Studies
Oil and politics: Growing up in Venezuela

Episode 3
Erica Dobbs
Politics
Citizenship as it relates to immigration and social protections

Episode 4
Lynne Miyake
Japanese
Japanese literature: From the Tales of Genji to Manga

Episode 5
Kevin Dettmar
English
The beginnings of literature and rock and roll

Episode 6
Guillermo Douglass-Jaimes
Environmental Analysis
When the environment, technology and public health tell untold stories

Episode 7
Gizem Karaali
Math
Math, the liberal arts, and math education

Episode 8
Tony Shay
Dance
The politics of choreography and dance

Episode 9
Lupe Bacio
Psychology & Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies
Addiction among immigrant communities

Episode 10
Sandeep Mukherjee
Art
How an industrial engineer became an artist

Episode 11
Genevieve Lee
Music
The life of a concert pianist

Episode 12
Nicole Weekes
Neuroscience
The physical and psychological sides of stress

Inside the Data

A team of math students from Pomona and Harvey Mudd took home one of the three top prizes at UCLA’s 2019 DataFest, winning for Best Use of External Data. Given a data set from the Canadian women’s national rugby team, Amy Watt ’20, Adam Rees ’20, Ethan Ashby ’21, Connor Ford ’20, and Madelyn Andersen (HMC ’22) found something important hidden in the data.“The really creative thing they did was to find flight information from looking at the social media proathletes,” explains Pomona Math Professor Jo Hardin. “They were able to come up with a very clear relationship between fatigue and flying.”

Watson Winners

Three Pomona seniors will follow their passions around the globe as recipients of Watson Fellowships, claiming three of the 41 $30,000 grants awarded nationwide. Here are Pomona’s winners:

  • Eli Cohen ’19 plans to explore the relationship between technology and daily life in India, Norway, Spain, Malta and Burma.
  • Blake Plante ’19 will study aspects of corporeal mime and physical theatre in France, Canada, Spain, Japan, Italy, England and South Korea.
  • Jeremy Snyder ’19 will visit China, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador and Chile to capture on film the real and conceptual characters evoked by rivers around the world.

Tops in Fulbrights

Again this year, Pomona has been named one of the top producers of U.S. Fulbright Scholars among bachelor’s institutions. At number 6, Pomona is the only California institution in the top 10. A total of 14 Pomona students and alumni were awarded Fulbrights for 2018–19, with two declining. The Fulbright competition is administered at Pomona through the Career Development Office.

If Banners Are Your Bag…

transformed banner into tote bagFor each major play produced at the College, the Theatre Department has a promotional banner made to be hoisted above the entrance to Seaver Theatre for a few weeks prior to opening night. But where does that banner go once the play is over? That was what Suzanne Reed, the department’s costume shop manager, wondered—so she asked. The answer turned out to be: the trash can. So Reed outlined a recycling idea. What if she transformed each banner into tote bags for some of the play’s principals as a parting memento of their performance? And that’s just what she’s done following the last few plays, the most recent being last fall’s production of Nikolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector. To make the recycling process complete, the chain sewn into the bottom of the banner to give it weight is now returned to the banner company to be used again in a future banner.

Oxtoby and the Academy

Former Pomona College President David W. Oxtoby has been named the new president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A chemist by training, Oxtoby was elected a member of the academy in 2012. Founded in 1780, the academy honors and brings together members from across a wide range of disciplines to pursue nonpartisan research and provide critical insight on issues of importance to the nation and the world. The list of Oxtoby’s predecessors at the helm of the academy includes former U.S. presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams; the first American to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Theodore William Richards; and the co-founder of the Polaroid Company, Edwin Herbert Land.

Bookshelf

Sagehens publish prolifically. The latest books from Pomona alumni and faculty.

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