‘Celebration/Milestones’ topic of 2021 festival

By: Lisa S. Icenogle
Photo of a stack of boulders with a mountain in the background with the words "Celebration Milestones."

The topic for the 36th Annual Casper College Humanities Festival and Demorest Lecture is “Celebration/Milestones.” The Festival will run Feb. 17-19.

This year’s Demorest Lecture will feature two speakers. Thursday, Feb. 18, Matthew Spangler, Ph.D., will speak on “Between Celebration and Devastation: Theater Productions About Refugees.” A “proud” graduate of Natrona County High School, Spangler is an award-winning playwright and professor of performance studies at San Jose State University in California. Spangler’s plays have been produced throughout the world, and his teaching focuses on the relationship between immigration and the arts, according to Valerie Innella Maiers, Ph.D.

Critically acclaimed author and internationally recognized journalist Mark Jenkins will present the second Demorest Lecture Friday, Feb.19. “The Future of Water in Wyoming: Global Warming, Drought and how Wyoming can Protect its Water” will address the problem of water in Wyoming. “The Colorado River Compact requires Wyoming to send the majority of its water to other states. When this agreement was signed in 1922, it was based on precipitation data that has radically changed in the past century,” said Jenkins. As one example of the problem, “The 100 glaciers in the Wind River Mountains, that feed the Green River, that feeds the Colorado River, are all expected to vanish by 2050,” he said.

The festival will begin Wednesday, Feb. 17, with an exhibition at the Natrona County Library about Verna Keays Keyes, the young Wyoming artist and designer of the Wyoming state flag. There will also be a virtual book club discussion of “Downriver: Into the Future of Water in the West” by Heather Hansman. The discussion will be moderated by Gretchen Wheeler, retired Casper College communication instructor. Copies of the book are now available at the NCL, and limited quantities are available, noted Innella Maiers, humanities festival chair and art instructor.

The first day will begin with a presentation by Lance Jones at 9:30 a.m. titled “Double Diamonds: The Diamond Jubilees of Queens Victoria and Elizabeth II.” The presentation will feature a contrast of the only two diamond jubilees in history, marking the monarch’s 60th year on the throne.

Barbara Mueller, Ph.D., will speak on “Contemporary ‘Coming of Age’ Celebrations Around the World” at 10:30 a.m. Mueller’s presentation will explore how economics, religion, and gender roles influence contemporary coming-of-age celebrations in the U.S. and worldwide.

At 11:30 a.m., Shannon Smith, executive director emeritus of the Wyoming Humanities Council, will present “Celebration: The 50th Anniversary of the Wyoming Humanities Council.”  Smith, who led the WHC from 2013-2020, will share the history of the founding of the nation’s first state humanities councils and stories from the last 50 years.

The day will end with the 2 p.m. presentation by Kylie McCormick. McCormick, a Wyoming historian, will speak on the topic “Fifty-One Years of Freedom: Wyoming’s Suffrage Story,1869-1920.” According to McCormick, the presentation will provide critical new evidence to Wyoming’s suffrage story.

All presentations for Friday, Feb. 19, will also take place in Wheeler Hall. The day will begin at 9 a.m. with Erich Frankland, Casper College political science instructor. Frankland’s presentation, “Transitions in Political Power: Celebrations and Controversies,” will look at the tightrope walk that every country, including the U.S., has with the transition of power.

At 10 a.m., two presenters, Joshua R. Mietz, D.M.A. and Barry Smith, Ph.D., will provide a musical portrayal and historical background on one of the smallest and least understood particles of matter, according to Mietz, Casper College music instructor. “The Discovery and Celebration of the Neutrino” presentation will feature a clarinet performance by Mietz and a lecture by Smith.

Christopher Paden will give an artist talk on his current exhibition in the Mildred Zahradnicek Gallery titled “September Dreams.” According to Innella Maiers, the sculptural installation celebrates one of the talented graduates from the Casper College Visual Arts Department.

At 11:30 a.m. Richard Burk, theater instructor, will present “Celebration: The 35th Anniversary of the Casper College Theatre and Dance Department.”

The festival will conclude at 2 p.m. with two presentations followed by a 20-minute discussion with historians McCormick and Rebecca Keays. Keays, a granddaughter of Wyoming flag designer Verna Keays Keyes, … is a Verna/Keays family historian and archivist.

McCormick will present “The Wyoming State Flag and the Women Who Made It Fly,” followed by Keays’ presentation “Celebrate Verna! A Granddaughter Shares Memories and Discoveries About Wyoming’s Flag Designer.”

A complete schedule for the festival can be found at caspercollege.edu/events/humanities-festival/schedule. The Goodstein Foundation Library, Wheeler Concert Hall, and the Mildred Zahradnicek Gallery are located on the Casper College campus. The Natrona County Library is located at 307 E. 2nd. Street.

Continuing education units or PTSB credits are also available for attendees. For more information, contact Sarah Schneider, workforce training specialist at 307-268-3847 or at sarahschneider@caspercollege.edu.

Casper College and the Wyoming Humanities Council are partners in presenting the Humanities Festival along with major funding from the Casper College Foundation and the Margaret Demorest Endowment.

Media contact: Lisa S. Icenogle

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