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Sunday, October 26, 2014

TEA Talk Highlights Technology and the Arts

By Phyllis Groner

The Westport Arts Advisory Committee (WAAC), recognizing 21st century technology’s influence on the arts, today hosted its inaugural TEA Talk at Westport Town Hall -– TEA standing for Thinkers, Educators and Artists.

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Richard Epstein (l) interviews composer Nick DiBerardino at today’s TEA Talk. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

“The success of the TED talk format led us to imagine our first TEA Talk where artists could discuss and demonstrate how technology is currently employed in various artistic disciplines,” said Nancy Diamond, WAAC co-chair.

“Finding the right people to engage and interview artists about the creative process in a live format seemed very natural,” said Richard Epstein, co-chair.

The format was three 20-minute moderated conversations on the theme of Technology and the Arts. Featured were professionals in the visual arts (Thomas Berntsen), music (Nick DiBerardino) and theater (Gina Rattan).

For much of its 20-year history, the committee focused its efforts on honoring Westport artists with the annual Westport Arts Awards ceremony.

Awards were still part of this year’s event but with technology an added theme as Horizon Awards honoring emerging young artists were presented to Ratan and DiBerardino, both Staples High School graduates.

Both gave testimonials to the educational advantage they had in Westport schools. They said the teachers made them feel special and encouraged them to pursue the goals they were seeking.

The first set of discussions featured Bill Derry, head of innovation and the 3D Makerspace at the Westport Library. He interviewed Bernsten, a well-established photographer and sculptor, perhaps best known for his “Dancing Leaves” series. 

WestportNow.com Image
Gina Rattan (r) discusses technology’s impact on the theater with Carole Schweid. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

“It all started with an orange peel and then became a 3D object,” said Bernsten. “I started as a commercial photographer. Now I am on a journey—and what a journey it is.”

With the help of Derry, Bernsten said he has taken a journey using the 3D Maker Machine as his guide. He said he has discovered a new and wonderful art form for himself. 

“I have always been a big advocate of libraries, and it is free, a great opportunity for artists,” he said.

Carole Schweid, director of the Play with Your Food lunchtime play reading series and original Broadway cast member of “A Chorus Line,” discussed technology’s impact on Broadway with Rattan. 

Computers are currently being used in the theater to improve communications between the various departments as well as the usual function of process and presenting data, she said.

Rattan is currently represented on Broadway as resident director of “Matilda The Musical,” also was resident director of “Billy Elliot,” associate director of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,”and the Dec. 4 NBC production of “Peter Pan Live.”

DiBerardino, a Rhodes Scholar currently pursuing a Masters in music degree at Yale, is the co-founder of Princeton University’s Undergraduate Composers Collective as well as the University of Oxford Laptop Orchestra.


Posted 10/26/14 at 07:33 PM  Permalink


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Yesterday’s TEA Talk can be seen on Channel 79 tonite at 8pm and be found on westportct.gov in the archived special meetings and events section. Thanks for all the tremendous feedback!

Posted by Nancy Diamond on October 27, 2014 at 03:57 PM | #