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Orators honor legacy of historical female pioneer

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Film producer Joslyn Barnes and international graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister headlined the Caroline Werner Gannett Project’s “Visionaries in Motion III” series this fall. The Gannett Project features public lectures, colloquia, workshops and courses with world-renowned leaders in design and media arts, film, architecture, politics, religion, neuroscience, technology, environmental activism and the humanities.

Barnes, who co-founded Louverture Films with Danny Glover, presented “Imagination and the Cinema of Resistance” Sept. 21. Barnes is executive producer of the 2008 film Trouble the Water, a chronicle of a couple’s struggles in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina that was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary feature. With Glover she also produced Bamako, a novel courtyard trial of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the midst of daily life in Bamako, the capital 
of the African country of Mali. Both Trouble the Water and Bamako were screened in conjunction with her visit. While on campus, Barnes met with film classes to discuss issues of social and 
economic justice, as well as the craft of 
producing and marketing cinema.

Stefan Sagmeister, capstone speaker for the Gannett Project, drew a crowd of 800 for his talk “Design and Happiness” Oct. 5 in Ingle Auditorium. Sagmeister is noted for his designs for HBO, Time Warner and the Guggenheim Museum, as well as his album covers for The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and David Byrne. His cover design for Once in a Lifetime, a Talking Heads box set, won a 2005 Grammy award. Sagmeister has also earned notice for his public graphic designs and hand-crafted type and installations, on subjects such as war, peace, obsessions, and the “Things I have Learned in Life So Far” series, which include his well-known inflatable angry white monkeys collection. He has placed his personal maxims in spaces around the world usually dedicated to traditional advertisements and promotions, such as billboards, magazine spreads, projections and annual reports.

In connection with his visit, Sagmeister issued a design challenge for all RIT students across various disciplines. He asked participants to “touch someone’s heart with design.” Various creative projects featured around the RIT campus ranged from installations on the walls of the Student Alumni Union to innovative art on display in Wallace Library and the James E. Booth Building.

A photo gallery of student design 
challenge projects can be viewed on the Caroline Werner Gannett Web site at 

 “Sagmeister’s inventive energy is endless and infectious,” says Mary Lynn Broe, Caroline Werner Gannett Professor of Humanities and founder and director of the Gannett Project. “Sagmeister passionately reshapes public consciousness–ethically, philosophically and most of all imaginatively with his inspired design process. He speaks a language students relate to and understand.”

Other speakers in the 2009-2010 “Visionaries in Motion” series include author/activist Rebecca Solnit (Nov. 4); astrophysicist Adam Frank (Dec. 2); artist and architect Michael Singer (Jan.19); independent Web comic creators Nicholas Gurewitch and Chris Onstad (Feb.10); writer and Muslim scholar of religions Reza Aslan (March 15); media arts founder of the Tangible Bits Media Group, Hiroshi Ishii (March 29); and neuroscientist/inventor Christopher deCharms (April 19).

Solnit, an award-winning novelist, activist and historian will present “Other Loves: Public Life and Unsaid Emotions” at 8 p.m. Nov. 4 in Webb Auditorium. Solnit is the author of 12 books including A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster and is the recipient of a Lannan award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature and the 2004 Wired Rave Award for writing. She will also read from her work at Writers & Books in Rochester on the afternoon of her visit at 4 p.m.

Faculty and community members of The Project’s Working Group collaborate to bring to campus 21st century thinkers and scholars in the arts, sciences and technologies who ask the unasked questions.

For more information about the Gannett Project visit All Gannett events are free and open to the public.

Caroline Werner Gannett leaves impact on RIT

The Caroline Werner Gannett Endowment was created through a donation by the Rochester social and political activist and widow of Frank Gannett, founder of the Gannett Newspaper Co. Werner Gannett created the endowment in honor of the university’s 150th anniversary.

The Gannett professorship in the humanities, created through the endowment, has featured individual faculty from various disciplines since the early 1970s. Appointed Gannett professor in 2006, Mary Lynn Broe created the endowment’s first permanent academic initiative, the Caroline Werner Gannett Project, which presents an annual speaker series entitled “Visionaries in Motion.” Partnered with academic courses and related colloquia and workshops, Broe and the Gannett Project’s working group explore new intersections of the humanities with the social sciences, physical sciences and technological development to better understand the increasingly interdisciplinary and cooperative character of knowledge in the new millennium. 

Caroline Werner Gannett was highly involved in the Rochester community and earned national notice for her efforts in education and children’s issues. She served on the New York State War Council during World War II, as a member of the New York State Board of Regents from 1947 to 1963 and as a delegate to the 1960 White House Conference on Children and Youth. She was also the longtime vice president and director of the Gannett Foundation, which provides funding to a wide variety of charities and academic institutions throughout the country.