By Nick SestanovichSunday, November 12, 2023 Read on Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Join us for an online LASER Talk featuring Buddhist scholar Paula Arai, astrophysicist Ruth Murray-Clay, and public philosophy scholar Kyle Robertson.
The wide-ranging presentations will explore subjects including the science of Buddhist painting, the formation and evolution of planetary systems and the search for life, and the interconnections between philosophy and social justice.
This event is sponsored by the Institute of the Arts and Sciences in collaboration with the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning and The Humanities Institute.
Leonardo Drew is known for creating reflective abstract sculptural works that play upon the dystopic tension between order and chaos. Recalling Post Minimalist sculpture that alludes to America’s industrial past , as well as the plight of African Americans throughout U.S. history. One could find many meanings in his work, but ultimately the cyclical nature of life and decay can be seen in his grids of transformed raw material to resemble and articulate entropy and a visual erosion of time. Drew’s natural talent and passion for art was recognized at an early age, first exhibiting his work at the age of 13. He went on to attend the Parsons School of Design and received his BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and art in 1985. His works have been shown nationally and internationally and are included in numerous public and private collections. Public institutions include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Guggenheim, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; and Tate, London, among others as well as collaborating with Merce Cunningham on the production of “ Ground Level Overlay.” New York Times art critic Roberta Smith describes his large reliefs as “pocked, splintered, seemingly burned here, bristling there, unexpectedly delicate elsewhere. An endless catastrophe seen from above. The energies intimated in these works are beyond human control, bigger than all of us”. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Paula Arai received her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University, specializing in Japanese Sōtō Zen. She is author of Women Living Zen: Japanese Buddhist Nuns (Oxford University Press), and Bringing Zen Home: The Healing Heart of Japanese Buddhist Women’s Rituals (University of Hawai’i Press), and Painting Enlightenment: Healing Visions of the Heart Sutra––The Buddhist Art of Iwasaki Tsuneo (Shambhala Publications). Her research has received a range of support, including from Fulbright and the American Council of Learned Societies. She trained at Aichi Senmon Nisōdō under the tutelage of Aoyama Shundō Rōshi. Arai is currently a professor of Buddhist Studies at Louisiana State University, holding the Urmila Gopal Singhal Professorship in Religions of India.
Kyle Robertson is a lecturer in the UC Santa Cruz philosophy and legal studies departments. In 2015 he co-founded the Center for Public Philosophy at UC Santa Cruz. An attorney, he has a passion for all things public philosophy. He is involved with high school Ethics Bowl programs, teaching as part of Mount Tamalpais College in San Quentin State Prison, and philosophy for children. He regularly speaks on public philosophy and publishes on the challenges of doing public philosophy.