A staggering amount of plastic trash circles the world’s oceans, propelled by gyres, or currents. The USC Fisher Museum puts this environmentally-damaging waste to thoughtprovoking use in their exhibit Gyre: The Plastic Ocean, in which twenty-five artists created works of art from refuse collected from beaches around the world. As the museum describes it, “a flip-flop discarded in Thailand finds its way to Hawaii, and a bottle cast off from a tsunami in Japan becomes Alaska’s beach litter. In a culture dependent upon the modern convenience of plastic, throwaway products of consumption are affecting oceans and shrinking our world as we all become connected through our trash.” The discussants will examine the exhibition, interrogate the damaging effects of our wastes, and challenge us to formulate solutions to the problem.
Cynthia Minet is an artist whose mixed media sculptures, drawings and installations combine an interest in scientific and ecological issues with an investigation of materials. Her artworks have been exhibited both in the USA and internationally. Most recently, her illuminated sculptural installations have been displayed at the Anchorage Museum, Alaska, the Muzeo in Anaheim, CA, the Los Angeles International Airport, UC Riverside's Culver Center for the Arts, the Huntington Beach Art Center, the Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles, and at GATE Projects, Glendale. Her work has been reviewed and featured on the Discovery Channel's Weird Planet, Wired Magazine, FORM Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, the Anchorage Daily News, the OC Register, and online at Gizmodo, (UK), Catalogo Diseno (Chile), the artblog.org, and Trendhunter.com, among others. Her work is a highlight of the USC Fisher Museum exhibit Gyre:The Plastic Ocean.
Adlai Wertman is Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship in the Marshall School of Business and the Founding Director of the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab. Professor Wertman spent seven years as President and CEO of Chrysalis, the only non-profit in Los Angeles devoted solely to helping homeless change their lives through employment. Prior to Chrysalis, Professor Wertman spent 18 years as Managing Director and Manager of Prudential Securities' West Coast Public Investment Banking Group. Professor Wertman consults with not-for-profits and government groups on fundraising, strategic planning, and governance, and is a frequent speaker on social responsibility, social enterprise and public/private partnerships.
Varun Soni, dean of Religious Life, has truly led a polymathic life, earning degrees from Harvard Divinity School, a J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Cape Town. His research has taken him throughout South Asia where he even spent time living in a Buddhist monastery. Dean Soni is currently a University Fellow at USC Annenberg's Center on Public Diplomacy and is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. He is a member of the State Bar of California, the American Academy of Religion, and the Association for College and University Religious Affairs. Displaying a truly polymathic interest in music, he also produced and hosted his own radio show on Pacifica / KPFK, showcasing music from South Asia and its Diaspora. Born in India and raised in Southern California, he has family on five continents and they collectively represent every major religious tradition in the world.