| Alumni News
Sesqui debuts in NYC
NAA awards three teachers for excellence
Sherman Poppen (EB52)
Harriet Welty Rochefort (GJ69)
Cat Chow (S95)
A Lifelong Connection
Need to look up that long-lost roommate, or do some online job networking with classmates? How about checking out the latest Wildcat standings? The Northwestern Alumni Association's Web portal, www.nualumni.com, is the place to go.
This Internet site opens the door to the latest Northwestern news, sports
scores, events and alumni connections. "The response has been terrific,"
says Catherine Stembridge (GS00), director of the Department of Alumni
Relations. "This is a great way to keep connected to each other and
Although the portal is available to anyone who wants to be a part of
Northwestern, the real hit for alumni is the "gated community"
that links them to other classmates. So far, thousands of alumni have
registered for passwords to enter and make contact. "The department's
been getting more than 150 password requests a day, and as word spreads,
we're expecting a lot more," Stembridge adds.
In addition to the electronic kudos the portal is receiving, alumni reunion
leaders are excited about its potential to keep classmates connected on
a continuing basis. "Now we're not limited to contact every
five years," explains Stacey Lauren (S87), co-chair of her reunion
class. "I can see us having virtual reunions and doing so much more."
The portal is also solving a big problem recent graduates face when they
lose their Northwestern e-mail addresses. Young alumni can gain access
to the portal to register for free Northwestern e-mail for life. This
is good news for the University, which often loses touch with young alumni
within the first five years after graduation. "They tend to move
more frequently in those early years," says University Relations
vice president Alan Cubbage (GJ78, 87), who describes the portal idea
as a win-win situation. "We're trying to remedy the problem
of losing touch by creating a place where alumni can always be found."
What alumni will see when they log on to the portal is the NAA's photographic
banner at the top of an information-packed screen, which is divided into
three sections. On the left are links to the schools' and colleges' alumni
events, as well as access to Northwestern magazine (a great way
to check back issues). In the middle are the latest Northwestern news
and sports headlines and updates on national and financial news. The right
side opens doors to weather, mapping and phone book directories in addition
to personal finance and shopping guides.
And with a few extra clicks, alumni can create their own customized Northwestern
home page that welcomes them with specific information each time they
log on to the Internet.
Since the portal went live last May, more than 15,000 users have registered
to make it their personal home page. One of the first was Ava Youngblood
(McC79), NAA 200002 president. "Every time I log on, I'm
reminded of Northwestern," she says. "The page has a really
nice layout. It invites you to stop and browse."
Youngblood says the portal page is a direct result of feedback from the
NAA's 1999 alumni survey, in which graduates asked in particular for better
Internet access to Northwestern and to each other. In response, both on-
and off-campus representatives collaborated with mypersonal.com
to get the portal online.
The portal helps meet the NAA's challenge of recognizing and meeting
alumni needs at different levels, Youngblood adds. While some log on simply
to stay in touch with friends, alumni club leaders, for example, may use
it as a tool to communicate with their particular groups and to plan events.
Through the feedback link, the NAA can gather information
to update and enhance the page's capabilities as new needs arise.
"It has to be an experience that alumni want to come back to,"
Youngblood says. "We want to use the portal to create a lifelong
connection. It allows us to reach beyond Evanston to alumni globally."
Keep in touch with life at Northwestern by visiting the new alumni portal, the Internet equivalent of walking under the Arch.
Northwestern alumna Catherine Brunell belts out "On My Own," from Les Miserables.
(Photo by Amy Feitelberg)
Don't Miss the Party
Visit the Sesquicentennial Web site to find out where Sesqui parties are planned. Among the cities that will be Sesqui- celebrating: Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco.
| Sesqui Makes Debut in
the Big Apple
The University's first major Sesquicentennial event, in New York City, drew hundreds.
Pay $75 for a show on Broadway? Fuhgedaboutit! Not when Northwestern alumni, family and friends could enjoy the finest Broadway has to offer, plus purple and white M&Ms washed down with purple Sesquitinis at the first alumni Sesquicentennial celebration.
Held at midtown Manhattan's stylish Supper Club, the Sept. 25 event
to celebrate Northwestern's 150th anniversary wildly exceeded the
organizers' expectations, attracting 575 attendees. They were treated
to food, music and what was for many, well, a reunion.
Courtenay Nelson (S00) and two of her classmates, only three weeks after
moving to New York, came to be with friends they hadn't seen since
"We've just graduated, so we're really excited to get
together with people," Nelson said. "But we're also poor
and don't have jobs, so we love the free food."
Gloria Kargman, whose daughter graduated in 1979, and her two friends
were especially looking forward to seeing The Music Man's
Craig Bierko (S86). They wouldn't be disappointed. Bierko, who was
nominated for a Tony Award this year, sang "Sadder But Wiser Girl"
from the show.
Others who performed included Catherine Brunell (Mu97), now starring
as Eponine in Les Misérables, who sang "On My Own";
Sally Murphy (Mu84), who crooned "If I Loved You" from Carousel;
and Ana Gasteyer (S89), who gave forth with "Moonshine Lullaby"
from Annie Get Your Gun. Dale Rieling (S83, GMu84) and Joe Thalken
(Mu84) provided accompaniment.
Gasteyer, a five-year veteran of the television show Saturday Night
Live, introduced the other performers and lightened up the evening
with quirky comic commentary and inside Northwestern jokes.
President Henry Bienen welcomed everyone and gave an update of campus
happenings. Partygoers were also given a sneak preview of the Sesquicentennial
video on the history of the University. Copies of the full-length video
are now available for $10 plus shipping and handling by calling (800)
621-2736 or by visiting the Web
Those who wanted their Northwestern history live and in person enjoyed
an exhibit that featured such items as the 192829 Student Handbook,
an Armadillo Day Frisbee from 1988, yearbooks from as early as 1912 and,
yes, even a 1949 Rose Bowl program.
The New York event was the first of the Sesquicentennial parties planned
for alumni around the country.
Cherise Bathersfield (J99)
Winners of the 2000 NAA Excellence in Teaching Awards are, from left, Edward Colgate, Paul Aliapoulios and Richard Silverman.
(Photo by Jim Ziv)
NAA tips its hat to three outstanding professors.
Three academicians from very different domains -- music, engineering and chemistry -- are this year's recipients of the Northwestern Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards. Yet for all their differences in background, the three are strongly linked by a deep desire to expand the knowledge boundaries of their chosen expertise and an abiding dedication to their teaching and their students.
Since 1987 the NAA has recognized outstanding faculty members with this
honor. This year's award winners are Paul A. Aliapoulios, professor and
chair of academic studies and composition in the School of Music; Edward
Colgate, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the Robert R.
McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science; and Richard B. Silverman,
professor of chemistry and professor of biochemistry, molecular biology
and cell biology in the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts
Paul Aliapoulios came to Northwestern in 1976, where he specializes in
choral music and conducting, vocal performance and music education. As
an active member of the School of Music's Center for the Study of
Education and the Musical Experience, he is engaged in collaborative research
with faculty and doctoral students.
Aliapoulios' service to Northwestern extends far beyond his teaching
load, noted Frederick Hemke, senior associate dean for administration,
who nominated him for the honor: "He also serves as an important
ambassador by his performances as a choral music conductorand baritone
On a local level, he visits and consults with many high school and junior
high school music programs. One graduating senior wrote in her recommendation,
"I first met Professor Aliapoulios as a sophomore in high school,
when he brought his choral methods class to observe my high school choir
in a morning rehearsal. For the last six years he has been an unbelievable
source of inspiration, support and mentorship."
Aliapoulios has served as conductor for nearly 20 choral groups of all
ages in all parts of the United States, always bringing his unique blend
of enthusiasm and creativity to the task at hand. When one senior viola
student worked with him to learn to conduct a piece, he conveyed the concept
of a legato stroke to her by comparing it to the bowing of her instrument.
"Dr. Aliapoulios conforms his teaching to my needs," she related.
"He makes every lesson stimulating and personable."
Ed Colgate, one of the inheritors of the late engineering dean Jerome
Cohen's tradition of exacting standards and innovation, has himself
carved out a record of innovation for the benefit of his students and
his academic discipline.
His Engineering Design and Communication course, part of Northwestern's
pioneering Engineering First program, exemplifies the program's mission:
providing opportunities to solve real-life problems in a team-based environment
for freshmen. In one instance, the class designed and fabricated a prosthesis
that enabled a woman who had lost most of her hand in a burn accident
to play tennis again.
In addition, he has engaged the participation of the University's
Writing Program faculty to teach students the fundamentals of effective
communication, a skill not traditionally emphasized at engineering institutions.
"If I were to describe Professor Colgate in one word, it would be
dedication," according to one senior in biomedical engineering. "He
teaches his students to think critically and to solve complex design problems."
For his part, Colgate said, "I see the fundamental purpose -- and
pleasure -- of engineering as creation."
A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Colgate came
to Northwestern in 1988 and has either singly or in collaboration generated
more than $2.8 million in research funds from such varied sponsors as
NASA, the Big Three automakers and the National Science Foundation. He
is author of more than 40 research papers.
In the late 1980s the Chemistry Department turned to Rick Silverman to
teach a new course, Organic Chemistry for Majors, because the number of
enrollees for its predecessor course had been dropping steadily. Within
a year, the magnetic Silverman reversed the decline, and today more than
40 students typically sign up for the offering.
Silverman is regularly elected to the Associated Student Government Faculty
Honor Roll. "Rick isn't considered good because his exams are easy
or the courses are easy," wrote Weinberg dean Eric Sundquist in his
nomination. "Rather, it's just the opposite: The students are able
to succeed in very challenging courses as a result of his teaching aptitude."
"Professor Silverman did a superb job of keeping the 'big picture'
in perspective, especially with material where it's easy to get lost
in the details," noted one former student who is now a graduate student
in physical chemistry. "He also wrote tests that really forced you
to think about what was taught in class, tests that required an understanding
of why things happen the way they do." In 1999 Weinberg recognized
Silverman with the E. LeRoy Hall Award for Teaching Excellence.
His second of three books, The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and
Drug Action (Academic Press, 1992), has become a standard selection
Silverman, who came to Northwestern in 1976, has 12 patents in his name, and in addition to his books, he has authored 175 research publications.
Al (McC50) and Fran Dugar of Rockford try to keep members of the crew team warm during the 15th Annual Head of the Rock Regatta on Sunday, Oct. 8, in Rockford, Ill.
It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Nearly 200 members of the NU Club of Chicago got a sneak preview of one of the area's newest eateries in September, performing the enviable task of helping the Daily Grill restaurant in Skokie prepare for its opening. The restaurant's management provided complimentary dinner seatings so the restaurant's staff could fine-tune its operations, and in return the members reviewed the fare and atmosphere. Most gave the new establishment a thumbs up.
In other Chicago news, members will be lending support to Kate Shindle
(S99) in her performance in the touring production of Cabaret Dec.
14 at the Cadillac Palace Theater. Shindle, who plays the lead role of
Sally, and the cast will meet with club members following the musical
for a discussion and reception.
The NU Club of Cincinnati kicked off the school year by hosting
a welcome party for incoming Northwestern freshmen at the home of Mike
Mountan (WCAS85, KGSM88) in August.
Heading south: Texans are known for doing things in a big way, and the
NU Club of Houston is no exception. More than 155 members have
joined Campaign Northwestern as committee members, surpassing the club's
initial membership goal.
Texas is producing one of the largest freshman groups to enter Northwestern
as well. The Houston club welcomed 32 new students and their families
at a party on Aug. 20. Members have also been cheering the Wildcat football
team on to victory during game-day get-togethers at local restaurants.
The Wildcat faithful in New York City are also turning out for game-day
gatherings, but the buzz is not just about the football team. Partygoers
packed the Supper Club Sept. 25 for the NU Club of New York's
Sesquicentennial celebration (see story on page 40). And on Sept. 15,
the club hosted a Big Ten New York City Alumni Mixer at the Chelsea Brewing
The NU Club of Northwest Indiana hosted six new students and their
parents at a party Aug. 23 at the home of Elaine Trikolas Kisisel (WCAS62).
Alex Sarkisian (S49, 71), the captain of the 1949 Rose Bowl team, enthralled
the students with his anecdotes.
Specialized alumni groups are forming within the NU Club of Orange
County (Calif.). Members can choose to pursue interests in ethnic
dining in Orange County, golf or contemporary issues and ideas in reading/discussion
Club members are also invited to the Jan. 20 alumni dinner set for the
Newport Beach home of NAA Board member Marshall Grossman (WCAS70).
Twelve new students received a warm welcome by the NU Club of Orlando
(Fla.) at a reception on Aug. 20.
The NU Club of Rockford (Ill.) held its Big Ten barbecue dinner
Sept. 21 -- which came before the Wildcats' big win over Wisconsin. Jim
Hoyt, chair of the University of Wisconsin Athletic Board, was the guest
speaker for the event. And on Oct. 8, alumni braved the cold to cheer
on the Northwestern crew team in the annual Head of the Rock regatta.
The NU Club of St. Louis enjoyed a performance of the St. Louis
Symphony under the direction of guest conductor David Loebel (S72, GMu74)
in May. In August members got together for a happy hour at Balaban's.
Love and loyalty will be the order of the day Feb. 10 for the NU Club
of Sun Cities (Ariz.). The group plans to celebrate both Northwestern's
Sesquicentennial and Valentine's Day at a dinner-dance at Jim Henry's
The NU Club of Tucson teamed up with alumni groups from the University
of Notre Dame and the University of Michigan to host the second "Goal
for Life" benefit for the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation.
The foundation's goal is to find a cure for Niemann-Pick type C disease,
which affects young children by interfering with a body's ability
to metabolize cholesterol.
Michael (M81) and Cindy Parseghian (KSGM81), the son and daughter-in-law
of the famed football coach, were the guests of honor at the Sept. 16
fundraising event. Three of their children have been afflicted with Niemann-Pick,
one of them fatally.
Professor Irwin Weil of the Slavic languages and literatures department
updated members of the NU Club of Washington, D.C., on the dynamics
of the Russian situation during his Sept. 17 visit. In July U.S. Rep.
Jim Kolbe (WCAS65), an Arizona Republican, invited young alumni and summer
interns to his Capitol Hill home. Other summer events included a trip
to watch Andre Agassi win his singles and doubles tennis matches at a
Legg Mason tournament.
Members are also marking their calendars for the Dec. 17 matinee of Dickens'
A Christmas Carol at the historic Ford Theater.
Among the attendees of the John Evans Club summer theater event were, from left, Margie Patchett, guest of Phyllis "Pinkie" Christensen (S51), chair of club activities, and Earnest "Chris" Christensen (EB49).
(Photo by Jim Ziv)
It was like Ravinia, the Chicago area's major outdoor summer performance venue, without the traffic. Members of the John Evans Club attended the Northwestern Summer Theatre Festival's opening night performance of Merrily We Roll Along at the Ethel M. Barber Theater of the Theatre and Interpretation Center on campus.
At the July 21 premiere, attendees gathered on the lawn of the John Evans
Center for cocktails, dinner and a pre-performance curtain talk by the
musical's director, associate professor Dominic Missimi, who is director
of the Music Theatre Program. Northwestern's George Furth (S54) teamed
with Stephen Sondheim to write the musical.
In its Frontiers series held in October, the Friends of Anthropology
at Northwestern heard Karen Tranberg Hansen, professor of anthropology,
explain how secondhand clothing from the West has become part of a multibillion-dollar
industry in Zambia. Future FAN events include a winter symposium on the
anthropology of war and a five-day tour of ancient and modern Indian cultures
in the American Southwest.
At Mayfest 2000, members of the Northwestern University Entertainment
Alliance/East elected their new board, headed by new president Paul
The group also hosted the Directors' Guild Apprentice Program featuring
Stuart Feldman (J88) of the popular television show Law and Order.
Northwestern University Marching Band Alums are tuning up for the Symphonic Wind Ensemble's performance at the Feb. 23 College Band Directors National Association convention at the University of Texas. In conjunction with the trip, the band office and NUMB alumni are planning a CD release and send-off concert and party.¡Arriba, LANU!
Kellogg alumni kicked off the summer in May with Reunion Weekend 2000. More than 500 alumni and guests mixed and mingled at various events primarily held on campus. Among those attending were, from left, Emily Gale Borovsky (KGSM85), Amy Zarkin Reiner (KGSM85) and Mary O'Brien Pearlman (KGSM85), Kellogg adjunct assistant professor of marketing.
(Photo by Nathan Mandell)
Kellogg Graduate School of Management
What's an ocean between Kellogg graduates and their teachers? Faculty members continue to reach out to overseas alumni through the European Global Forum series.
In September associate dean Dipak C. Jain, Sandy & Morton Goldman
Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and professor of marketing, teamed
up with professor Mohanbir S. Sawhney, McCormick Tribune Professor of
Electronic Commerce and Technology, to present e-commerce seminars to
more than 80 alumni and guests in London and Paris.
Plans are already under way for a New York City forum in January and one in Tokyo in February. For more information on specific dates and locations, log on to www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/alumni/globalforum.School of Law
Law alumni experienced a type of déjà vu during their Sept. 2224 reunion weekend. Memories of eating, sleeping and breathing the law at the Pritzker Legal Research Center, a k a the law library, returned as grads sat down to reunion dinners literally surrounded by case books inside the library.
More than 500 alumni and their guests took part in reunion activities,
all held on the Law School campus. Among the highlights were the "Making
the Transition" career symposium and the grand celebration, held
in the tented courtyard.
Momentum is building in the Alumni Ambassadors program, now in its second year.
The program matches medical school graduates with the school's recruiters
to boost recruitment efforts. So far 13 alumni from around the country
have committed to hosting events for outstanding pre-med students interested
in Northwestern, reports Laurie Brown, head of the program. Alumni Ambassadors
also act as resources in their regions, taking part in the interviewing
and admissions process.
Dean Lewis Landsberg and his wife, Jill, spent the weekend of Oct. 6-7 in Atlanta, where they attended a dinner reception at the home of Walter (M56) and Arlene Wildstein. The dean also met with alumni at another dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta.Dental Alumni to Reunite
(Photo copyright Aryen Copa)
Sherman Poppen's (EB52) million-dollar idea created a whole new sport -- snowboarding.
One bright, sunny day in 1965, Sherman Poppen (EB52) and two of his daughters got an urge to go surfing. Unfortunately for them, it was Christmas Eve, and outside their Muskegon, Mich., home, the ground was covered with snow.
To overcome these minor obstacles, Poppen tied two 36-inch downhill skis
together and began "surfing" with his daughters on the dunes
behind his house. "I realized that the hill was a permanent wave,"
he says. "I started riding it, then the kids started, and it was
just more darn fun. And that was how the Snurfer was born."
Poppen, at the time an owner of four industrial gas stores in Michigan,
is now a retiree living in Steamboat Springs, Colo. He and his wife, Nancy,
combined the words snow and surfing to name the contraption Snurfer. Much
to his surprise, his invention -- the forerunner of the modern-day snowboard
-- gave rise to a sport that has swept ski resorts around the world since
With some encouragement from family and friends, he licensed the idea
six months after his initial inspiration to Brunswick Corp., which manufactures
leisure equipment. The company began producing mass quantities of the
Snurfer -- essentially a long piece of wood with metal pegs for balance
and a rope in the front to steer.
Brunswick sold more than a million of Poppen's Snurfers in toy stores
from the 1960s through the 1980s (the item has since been discontinued).
For the 1966 Christmas season Brunswick came out with the Super Snurfer,
a sleek-looking mahogany number with a long tether and a large fin for
improved steering. "My father was the one who thought of putting
a tether on it," Poppen says. "We experimented with different
designs but never thought of it as more than a fun winter toy."
As college students started to pick up on the Snurfer, Poppen began holding
competitions in Muskegon. One competitor, a young man named Jake Burton
Carpenter, was intrigued with the design of the Snurfer and began to experiment
on it in Vermont. At the same time, skateboarder Tom Sims was developing
his own version on the West Coast. Separately, the two came up with a
board made from steam-bent wood with metal edges for better turning. That
was the prototype that launched the snowboard craze, which is now so big
that snowboarding is an event at the Winter Olympics.
Even though he has no monetary rights to the invention, Poppen has enjoyed
having contributed to an entirely new industry. Dubbed the "grandfather"
of the snowboard, he was the first winner in 1994 of a Trannie, the Oscar
of the snowboard world.
It wasn't until five years ago that Poppen, at 65, himself started snowboarding seriously, and despite some time off because of a back injury, he has been boarding ever since.
"Now that I'm up here at Steamboat, I've really gotten into it," Poppen says. "I think there are a lot more moms and dads out there who are getting interested in boarding. They see their kids doing it, and it looks fun."
Although none of his daughters has picked up the sport -- they all telemark,
something akin to cross-country skiing -- his son-in-law and grandson
are both boarders. "We've got three generations out there on the
mountain," Poppen says. "It's a long way from my backyard in
- Alex Ortolani (WCAS01)
Harriet Welty Rochefort
Harriet Welty Rochefort (GJ69) toasts -- and kindly roasts -- the French culture she now loves after two decades in Paris.
When Harriet Welty Rochefort (GJ69) first arrived in Paris, she felt as though she had walked into a Toulouse-Lautrec painting. Later, she began noticing the traffic, the noise and the strange habits of the Parisians. After spending more than 20 years living in France, she has some advice to give about the French culture: Driving is an aggressive sport. A sandwich is not a meal. To save an evening, serve plenty of wine. To save a meal, use plenty of parsley. And don't even think of living in France until you can turn out perfectly browned crème caramel.
An American in Paris can experience quite a culture shock about French
codes of behavior with respect to manners, food, money, love, politesse,
le bise (the kiss) and other intricacies of life in Paris. That
is why Rochefort wrote French Toast: An American in Paris Celebrates
the Maddening Mysteries of the French (St. Martin's Press, 1999),
which has sold 25,000 copies to date. French Toast describes the do's
and faux pas of dinner parties, and the scoop on everything from dogs
in cafés to French schools to advice on intercultural marriages.
"The book did my readers a lot of good," she said. "A
lot of them are American women like me, married to Frenchmen. I got a
lot of mail from these people that said, 'You saved my marriage,
you saved my life.' In a way, I wish I had this book when I first
got married and moved to France."
A small-town Iowan, Rochefort always dreamed about "exotic places
and people" and was drawn to France from an early age. Completing
her studies at the University of Michigan, she bought a one-way ticket
to Paris and found work with Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. After witnessing
the 1968 riots in France, she came back to the Midwest to study at Medill
but returned to Paris. Soon after she met her husband, Philippe, in a
café and has stayed in the country ever since.
Her two sons, one a computer specialist, and the other studying philosophy
at the Sorbonne, were raised French-American style. "Child rearing
can be a major area of conflict for Franco-American couples ...,"
she writes. "The French father is stern, often reprimanding his son
for not working hard enough at school. The American mother's main concern
is that the child is having fun and enjoying himself." Rochefort's
sons grew up happily somewhere in the middle.
Each chapter of Rochefort's book has brief "interviews with
Philippe," humorous question-and-answer conversations to "counterbalance
my typically American point of view," she explains. Rochefort poses
questions such as "Have you noticed any difference in your eating
habits since you married me?" And Philippe answers, "Yes, I'm
cooking a lot more."
After freelancing for American publications such as the Paris Time
magazine bureau and contributing to other American publications, such
as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rochefort taught journalism
in the English department of the prestigious Institut d'Etudes Politiques.
She now writes a cyberspace column for the Paris Pages Web site.
Her next book, French Fried, due in March, explores the delights
of French cuisine.
Even though she discarded her rose-colored glasses years ago, French
culture never ceases to amaze her.
So is Rochefort more French or American?
"Ask my husband, and he'll say I'm absolutely American,"
she says. "The truth is, I feel more French when I visit the U.S.
and more American when I'm in France."
- Katarzyna Lyson (J01)
(Photo by Katarzyna Lyson)
Cat Chow (S95) considers almost any object as a possibility for her avant-garde fashions.
She began at Northwestern as Catherine Chow (S95), a math-oriented student whose early fashion sense was limited by the uniforms she wore in her Glen Rock, N.J., parochial school. Yet along the way, she made the left-brain to right-brain transition and is now known as Cat Chow, an award-winning artist whose creations push the boundaries of fashion.
Chow, fresh from her fall exhibit at New York City's New Museum of Contemporary
Art, never thought she would end up in fashion. But now she quite readily
describes herself as an eccentric designer who believes the future of
art -- and fashion -- lies in unconventional fabrics and found objects.
"I like the challenge of using these uncommon objects and trying
to figure out how I can make the dress successfully work," Chow says
sitting in her Chicago studio and surrounded by mannequins.
And she does make it work. One example of her wearable art is a creation
made of bobbins and plastic twist ties; another was fashioned from a few
hundred water-filled corked glass vials. A third consists entirely of
one 100-yard zipper. The Bottle Dress and the Zipper Dress, two of Chow's
original designs, won the Avant-Garde Design Vision Award at the Gen Art
Styles 2000 International Design Competition in New York City.
It was at Northwestern that Chow discovered her passion, switching to
the School of Speech from the Mathematical Methods and Social Sciences
Program. She majored in theater with a concentration in costume design
and counts among her mentors Virgil Johnson (GS67), professor of theater,
and associate professor Linda Roethke in the same department. "It
definitely gave me a good foundation for growth," she says. "I
received a good design background and from that was able to explore other
interests of mine."
Much of her work is also influenced by an apprenticeship at Chained Lynx,
a store that sells chain mail, the same material of joined metal links
that was used in the garments worn under armor.
Whether she envisions a design and goes searching for the perfect material
or is inspired after seeing a particular object, her creative juices are
always flowing. Some people see a zipper and simply think, "open/close,"
while Chow sees a zipper, thinks of that but also proceeds conceptually
to, "strapless evening gown."
To her, the distinction between fashion and art is blurred because she's
trying to show her designs as both art and fashion. Her more wearable
designs are featured in boutiques such as Ultimo on Chicago's chic
Oak Street, but Chow does not see herself ever selling to clothing stores
in mass production. In fact she much prefers having her pieces displayed
in exhibits. In addition to all the sometimes tedious and tricky details
that go into making a fabric, she is constantly rethinking the design
and shape of the dress, and in a gallery, she feels her art can be appreciated
for its detailed striving for perfection.
What Chow loves most is watching her designs elicit responses. "You
do something off the beaten path and people are really amazed," she
Still, as the less conventional becomes ever more acceptable in the new millennium, does she feel she can continue to make a living off people's responses?
She seems to think so. It's a new era, she says, one in which "people
are starting to push boundaries."
- Yael Brunwasser
From left, Philip Streit (WCAS52), Arthur Seder (L46, 47), Judith Streit and Marion Seder (WCAS41) aboard the M/S Europa
By Beverley Williams Whitehead
Few vantage points better allow travelers to behold Europe's contrasts -- its ancient past and its dizzying contemporary changes -- than the top deck of the luxury ship M/S Europa as it plies the rivers and canals between Berlin and Amsterdam.
Our Northwestern Alumni Association trip began in Berlin, which we dubbed "Crane
City" because of the construction sites everywhere in the rush to
make the metropolis Germany's capital again. Immediately, we encountered
both the recent and long-ago past with visits to the majestic Brandenburg
Gate and the sobering remains of the Berlin Wall. We proceeded in silent
shock through the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, but those emotions were partly
countered by our pride in the Allied Museum's Berlin Airlift exhibit.
After boarding ship we learned from our expert study leaders and guides
about what Germany and the Netherlands have experienced over the past
centuries. In Germany's former Eastern sector we saw evidence of a society
in shambles from nearly two generations under communist rule. The beautiful
countryside was dotted with ugly abandoned factories; everything of industrial
value in them had been shipped off to the former Soviet Union.
The contrast was startling as we steamed into what was once Germany's
Western sector. Flower gardens appeared everywhere. The gorgeous exteriors
of medieval buildings and cathedrals in the little villages 80
percent of which had been destroyed during World War II have been
restored by artisans with great pride and attention to historic accuracy.
On board, we relished dinners that featured an imaginative array of delicious
selections. In Jever we visited a brewery, and local beer was always available
on board. But some of us were surprised to discover a Bremen rathskeller
where we could order from a list of 600 wines but not a single beer!
Bremen's beautiful square offered us entertainment as well: A costumed narrator told the story of "The Town Musicians of Bremen," assisted by donkey, dog, cat and cock (actors in costume). Touristy, but we loved it!
The Pied Piper himself and some of his small rodent friends beguiled
us in the town square of Hamelin. After hearing his tale we followed him
in procession through the town to our lunch destination.
Memorable indeed was the cathedral in Hildesheim with its massive bronze
doors, an "illustrated Bible" that was crafted in 1015. As suggested,
we closed our eyes and turned away from the doors to face the impressive
space of the cathedral. Opening our eyes, we imagined the awe the 11th-century
peasants and townspeople experienced, coming from their small mud and
thatch huts and through those majestic doors into the vastness of the
At times during our passage through 27 locks, five canals and three rivers,
we watched from the deck as youngsters on their bikes raced the ship,
laughing and calling out as they outsped us! Fishermen waved and once,
when we saw one landing a catch with his net, we cheered and clapped as
he gave us a grinning bow. As we approached Amsterdam, our motors slowed
at the little town of Kootstertille as we witnessed a container ship hull
that had just been christened as it slid into the water with a mighty
splash. Holland is indeed a land of seafarers and, as we continued on
our way to our final docking, we were greeted on all sides by a veritable
forest of private sailboat masts.
On our Sunday in Amsterdam, we pretty much had the place to ourselves
to wander through cobblestone back streets with picturesque homes and
shops along the canals. But we faced long lines at the Anne Frank house
and at the Van Gogh Museum.
Adjacent to our docking area was a large statue of an old seafarer guarding
the harbor. On his pedestal were the names of the many Dutch Resistance
fighters who lost their lives during World War II. As we boarded our buses
for the airport in the predawn light of our final day, the mariner was
there to wish us a silent Godspeed.
Beverley Williams Whitehead (J45) and her husband, John (EB45), live in Rockford, Ill. She is the collections registrar for the Turn-of-the-Century Midway Village and Museum Center.
For information about Northwestern's alumni travel programs, visit www.alumni.northwestern.edu/travel /tourschedule.htm or call (847) 491-7987.