Ann Patchett

Contributed by John Menier

8232Listed by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2012, Ann Patchett is a true woman of letters: novelist, essayist, anthologist, and co-owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville. Patchett is also a frequent and accomplished public speaker, noted for her anecdotes about the literary life, her insights into the creative process, and her wry wit.

One of Patchett’s favorite topics is the ever-changing relationship between readers and books. As an example she cites her own evolution reading (and re-reading) the works of John Updike, Leo Tolstoy, Pearl Buck, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and others, noting that “the books don’t change, but we do.” Put another way, the reader’s evaluation of a particular book is shaped as much by the reader’s life experience and circumstances as by the work’s innate qualities. As such our appreciation (or lack thereof) for a particular title may change over time, but the consistent commonality among the books we treasure is that they never fail to evoke a strong response. Patchett believes the writer’s primary task is to elicit that response by inviting the reader to become an active participant in their story.

Patchett’s approach to the reading public is refreshingly un-elitist. She stresses the importance of what she calls “gateway drugs,” books of dubious literary worth that may encourage readers to explore other authors and genres. She applauds the success of “trashy” pop novels such as “Fifty Shades of Gray” and “Twilight,” no matter their pedigree, for their role in re-vitalizing book sales and energizing the publishing community. What matters most to Patchett as both author and bookstore owner is that the reading habit is fostered and encouraged, and in that endeavor, there’s no place for snobbery.

Click here to watch An Evening with Ann Patchett

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New Series Explores the Spread of HIV in Tijuana

8232Every once in awhile, we work on a project that touches our soul. Such is the case of HIV/SIDA, a four-part series that brought us in contact with people whose paths we otherwise would not have crossed.

In the two years of field reporting, we saw many acts of kindness — the glamorous physician who washes the feet of Tijuana’s poor, the compassionate medical student who worries about a sex worker’s UTI, the transgender woman who overcomes her fear of mockery and reveals her HIV status, the ex-heroin addict who walks the Tijuana River Canal, urging residents to protect themselves by using clean needles, and the Tijuana cop who is teaching his fellow police officers to see addiction as a sickness, not a crime. These are among many featured in this series HIV/SIDA: The Epidemic in Tijuana.

We’ll show you what UC San Diego researchers and others are doing to stop the spread of HIV and how those most affected by the epidemic are coping under difficult conditions. And, we’ll share some of our favorite moments of empathy, moments of hope for humanity, the kind that stick with you, long after the reporting is done.

Watch HIV/SIDA: The Epidemic in Tijuana.

Submitted by Shannon Bradley, UCTV Producer of HIV/SIDA: The Epidemic in Tijuana

Pay Attention – New Documentary Features UCSD's Stuart Collection

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An eternal question: What is “public art?”

The definition of public art continues to evolve, but at its most basic level public art can be defined as “work created by artists for places accessible to and used by the public.” In other words, there’s no velvet rope ‘twixt the art and the patron. It’s worth noting that the art/public art field distinguishes between “public art” and “art in public places.” The former term implies a contextual, often collaborative approach to the creation of art that takes the site and other local factors into account, while the focus of the latter is on the art itself, not where it will be sited. Put another way, “public art” is site-specific, or designed for a particular environment – for instance, a university campus.

“UCSD may not have a football team, but it does have the Stuart Collection.”
– A UC San Diego student

Established in 1982 by retired businessman James Stuart DeSilva, the Stuart Collection of public art at UC San Diego is unique in several respects:

Commissioned Works

Whereas other collections – for example, UCLAs Murphy Sculpture Garden – consist of acquisitions, all works in the Stuart Collection are commissioned; prominent contemporary artists are invited to survey the campus and develop proposals based on their site selection. Proposals are reviewed and approved by an Advisory Board, and most of the works are constructed on-site rather than in a studio.

Self-Funded

The Collection also differs in its funding model. Other collections, such as the J. Michael Bishop Art Collection at UCSF Mission Bay, typically rely on a percentage of construction budgets (1% is common) allocated for public art, but the Stuart Collection is entirely self-funded by grants and donations.

Variety of Forms

An unusual emphasis on variety is another hallmark of the Stuart Collection. Unlike a conventional sculpture garden the works span a variety of forms, materials, genres, etc., and are often “one of a kind” in relation to the artist’s body of work. As the pieces are varied, so too are the artists themselves, ranging from painters (Elizabeth Murray) to installation artists (Nam June Paik) to composers (John Luther Adams). Several of the artists who’ve created pieces for the Collection are not otherwise known for public art (John Baldessari, William Wegman, Terry Allen).

However varied in their form and function, all of the pieces in the Stuart Collection share a common goal. They don’t proselytize or attempt to define “good art” but, in the words of artist Bruce Nauman, they do ask the viewer to “pay attention,” to regard their familiar environment in a different way and, in the process, perhaps see themselves in a new way as well.

Watch Pay Attention: The Stuart Collection at UC San Diego, then browse more programs that explore UCSD’S Stuart Collection.

On Beyond: Biology's Future at UCSD, Natural Reserves, and more!

In this episode of OnBeyond, meet UC San Diego biologist Bill McGinnis, the new Dean of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego. McGinnis is a renowned biologist best known for his 1983 discovery that genes involved in embryonic development are identical in different species, from bugs to humans.

Hear what this cutting edge scientist has to say about where the biological sciences are headed at UC San Diego, from brain activity mapping to mathematical modeling of biological systems. McGinnis talks about his past, his passions, and what he hopes to study more thoroughly in the future.

Next, this episode of OnBeyond explores what is so special about California’s comfortable climate. Only a small portion of the Earth’s landmass is conducive to a Mediterranean climate like that of California, and 40% of these Mediterranean areas are already heavily populated. A mere 1/8 of the entire world’s Mediterranean areas have been preserved.

UCTV then visits two University of California Natural Reserves to reveal the beauty and the biodiversity of these remote preservation and research sites. Watch “OnBeyond: A New Era for Biology, Mediterranean Climate, Natural Reserves” to find out the locations, services, and secrets of these great natural reserve facilities.

If you enjoyed this episode, check out other programs in the OnBeyond series!

The Atlantic Meets the Pacific

Want to hear from the doctors at the forefront of Obama’s BRAIN initiative? Or, learn about the cutting edge of drone science intended for personal civilian use? Or, get a guided tour inside the Scripps Research Institute and the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine?

Well, you can do all those things at this year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific. This third annual conference, presented by The Atlantic Magazine and UC San Diego, gathers top thought leaders in technology and health to discuss their ground breaking research in panels and interviews.

This year’s speakers will include top UCSD scientists such as Eric Topol, Todd Coleman, Scott M. Lippman, Jacopo Annese, Ralph J. Greenspan; business and technology leaders like Roni Zeiger and Chris Anderson; and prize winning journalists and authors such as Laurie Garrett, Deepak Chopra, Clifton Leaf, and many many more!

The Atlantic Meets the Pacific will take place here at UCSD on October 2 through 4. If you can’t attend, don’t worry! UCSD-TV will be there will to catch all exciting speakers.

Can’t wait for the conference? Check out UCSD-TV’s coverage of last year’s The Atlantic Meets Pacific!

Watch a video from last year’s The Atlantic Meets the Pacific of Dr. Eric Topol explaining his new medical device that could revolutionize healthcare in a very personal way. What will he talk about this year?

See other videos from UCSD-TV’s coverage of The Atlantic Meets the Pacific!