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Northwestern-Produced Video Selected for International Film Festival

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August 18, 2006

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A Northwestern University-produced documentary video on hand-crafted glass chevron beads has been selected for screening at the Idaho Panhandle International Film Festival in Sandpoint Aug. 24-26.

Glass chevron beads, based on the ancient symbol of the heraldic chevron, are the subjects of the collaborative work of Northwestern faculty and staff. Chevron beads, with their complex zig-zag design, have a long history of significance in Europe, Africa and North America. The heraldic chevron, first made in Venice in the late 1400s, has often been used as a “coat of arms” and is the same shape as a shallow inverted “V.”

“Art Seymour: Solo Performance,” a 25-minute film, is the first collaboration of Kearsley Stewart, senior lecturer in anthropology; David Schoenbrun, associate professor of history; and Harlan Wallach, architect for media technologies at Northwestern's Advanced Media Production Studio (NUAMPS), a unit in Information Technology's Academic Technologies, and director of the video.

The film focuses on Seymour of Reno, Nev., a master in the art of making glass chevron beads from hand-pulled canes of layered colored glass. Stewart and Schoenbrun interviewed Seymour to learn about his creative process as well as his philosophies on the culture of the prized bead.

Seymour, known for his “heavy metal” jazz beads, describes his work as the “physical manifestation of the abstract concepts of heat and light.” In the film, Seymour creates a 13-layer chevron, surpassing the traditional 4-8 layer chevron.

The documentary is one segment of a larger, three-year project to make a 50-minute documentary on the historic trade in glass beads between Europe, Africa and the Americas.

The longer piece will include interviews with two other glass bead makers, one in Italy and one in Ghana, to place these modern craftsmen in an historic context that dates back to the 16th century. The theme of the documentary is the way people on three continents value the same glass beads differently, for example, as economic, social or art objects.

Stewart's research interests include interdisciplinary health research, especially HIV/AIDS in Africa, and medical and visual anthropology. Schoenbrun specializes in African history before the 16th century and in non-traditional sources for writing history.

The video can be viewed by scrolling to Art Seymour at this web site: http://nuamps.at.northwestern.edu/screenroom/archive.html

(A promotional spot for the documentary can be viewed at: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3587538262419113464)

Topics: Campus Life