The Center for Life and Learning:
   Arts and Humanities

Annual Arts and Humanities Offerings

Art History
Art in the Modern World
CLL Art Studio
Current Events

Drawing Fundamentals
Faith Today

French Language
Stage and Screen
Memoir and Creative Writing

Mindfulness Meditation
Music History
Watercolor Painting

 

Annual arts and humanities classes are offered weekly September through June and are included in CLL annual membership. Instructors offer college-level material and invite class discussion. Students are free to learn without the expectation of outside assignments or grading.

CLL members join throughout the year and are free to attend class as their time and interest allow. A commitment to weekly attendance is not required, although regular attendance is encouraged for the greatest benefit. The class descriptions below provide a general view of the class; detailed class syllabi are available at the CLL front desk.

 


French Language

   Mondays
   10:00 a.m., advanced
   11:00 a.m., intermediate
   12:00 noon, beginner
   Claudine Wojtowicz

The CLL offers three levels of French language classes: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Come decide which is best for you!

Claudine Wojtowicz, a native speaker born on the French Riviera, taught in the public system in Nice, at North Shore school in Chicago, and at the Alliance Française of Chicago. Claudine has many years' experience teaching French to all ages, often incorporating film and food into her classes.

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Mindfulness Meditation

   Mondays
   11:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m. 
   Free for all CLL members

Join a weekly practice of twenty-minute silent meditation led by CLL members. Mindfulness meditation creates detachment from racing thoughts and feelings and leads to a peaceful mind and calm body. No previous meditation experience is necessary.

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Art History

   Mondays
   1:00–2:30 p.m.

   Jeffrey Nigro

This course focuses on the joy of learning and discovery through an exploration of the visual arts from a variety of time periods and cultures. Each meeting is rich with discussion.

Jeffrey Nigro is an art historian, lecturer, and educator. Jeff has had a professional relationship with the Art Institute of Chicago for twenty-five years, first as a staff lecturer and then as Director of Adult Programs in the Department of Museum Education. Jeff currently serves as Co-President of the Classical Art Society of the Art Institute and teaches adult education seminars at the Newberry Library.

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Stage and Screen

   Tuesdays
   11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
   John Nygro

Discussions focus on important films, works for the opera stage, television classics as well as theatrical plays and how these creations reflect the vast array of the human experience.

John Nygro is a lecturer, musician, conductor and actor with a career spanning over thirty years. As a lecturer, he has spoken on a number of subjects from theater and opera to classical music to film and television. He continues to teach music courses at the Newberry Library, where he also leads seminars on the works of Shakespeare. John is a regular instructor at the Center for Life and Learning, where he teaches film, television, theater, and opera. His lectures have been heard at Northwestern University, University of Maryland at Baltimore, and at several Lyric Opera of Chicago Chapters as well as many Chicago libraries and arts organizations. His talks have been heard on classical radio stations and National Public Radio.

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Watercolor Painting

   Tuesdays
   1:00–2:30 p.m.
   Cheri Reif Naselli

Emphasis is on the concepts of positive and negative painting, brush technique, color studies, and wet and dry application of paint. Students of all levels of experience are welcome!

Cheri Reif Naselli is a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago and brings a variety of teaching experiences to the CLL. She is skilled in various visual art media in addition to watercolors and enjoys the opportunity to guide other artists as they develop their personal style and skill.

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Faith Today

   Wednesdays
   12:00–1:00 p.m.

   Susan Quaintance

Faith Today aims to make faith come alive, individually and communally, through bringing daily life into conversation with scripture. Using a reflective prayer practice called lectio divina with a text from the previous Sunday’s worship, we take stock of our week in light of God’s word, proclaimed and preached. Then we turn our attention to more traditional Bible study, with the group choosing the book for exploration each semester. We leave enriched, nourished, and inspired for the rest of the week.

Susan Quaintance holds an M.A. in theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. She taught high school theology and English for more than twenty years and has facilitated many adult days of recollection and retreats.

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Current Events

   Wednesdays
   12:00–1:00 p.m. 
   Roger Becker

Come together to discuss the daily headlines. Our leader brings stories to discuss and open the group to full conversation on local, national, and world events. Students are welcome to suggest topics as well. All opinions are welcome for a civilized discussion.

Roger Becker graduated in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis. Most of his professional career was spent in leading owners, architects, and contractors in developing health care design and construction projects. Roger was in charge of facilities services at St. Louis Children's Hospital, led the design and construction program at the University of Chicago Hospitals, and prior to retirement was Senior Vice President of Program Management at Lillibridge Healthcare Services. He also served as an officer in the Army Corps of Engineers. Roger and his wife Jeanette have four children and three grandchildren, and they have lived in Chicago since 1997.

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Art in the Modern World

   Wednesdays
   12:15–1:15 p.m.
   Margaret Farr

This course exposes participants to visual arts from the nineteenth century to today, inviting discussion about artworks both familiar and unfamiliar. We will consider a variety of media, from painting, sculpture, and photography to newer forms of expression. 

Margaret Farr is an art historian who worked at the Art Institute of Chicago for seventeen years and has taught at St. Xavier University and Columbia College as well as served as Assistant Director of Education at the Museum of Contemporary Art. She received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in nineteenth-century art. Her other interests include modern and contemporary art. She is currently an adjunct lecturer at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

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Drawing Fundamentals

   Wednesdays
   2:00–3:30 p.m.
   Laura Mueller

In this course we will use a variety of tools and surfaces to learn fundamental skills in drawing. Students from all levels of experience are welcome! Anybody who is open to new approaches, willing to concentrate on the work, and able to put in the time can learn to draw, and will reap the benefits of this immersive and creative activity.

Laura Mueller has worked for the Art Institute’s Department of Museum Education (now called Learning and Public Engagement) since 1987. She currently gives lectures on art to the museum’s associate groups and for the Road Scholars program of the Illinois Humanities Council. From 2000 to 2017, she taught drawing at the Art Institute’s Members’ Sketch program and has been an Art Institute study leader on a number of trips to Europe. Laura has also taught art classes for the Hinsdale Center for the Arts, the Lab School at University of Chicago, and for many years Art Resources in Teaching (A.R.T.) 

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Memoir and Creative Writing

   Thursdays
   10:00–11:30 a.m.
   Linda Downing Miller

The writer William Zinsser has called memoir “a window into a life.” Writing short memoir pieces about your experiences can give you a fresh perspective on your past and an opportunity to share the view with others. This class will provide you with inspiration and ideas to improve your creative writing skills and capture your life stories. Weekly writing prompts will help spark your memory and get your writing going. Examples of published work will highlight techniques to make your writing vivid and engaging. Each week, you’ll share new writing with the group in an encouraging environment. Beginning and experienced writers welcome!

Linda Downing Miller earned an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. She lives in Oak Park, where she also works as a freelance writer. Her short stories have appeared in the literary journals Crab Orchard Review, Fiction International, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and The Florida Review. Her personal essays and articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Parent, and elsewhere.

Class currently full. Call Sue Hakes (312.981.3389) to inquire about availability.

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CLL Art Studio

   Thursdays
   11:30 a.m.—1:00 p.m.
   Organized by CLL Member Carol Ferstman
   No RSVP necessary 

This opportunity is designed for CLL art students to enjoy free time to work on their projects outside of class. Artists bring their own materials, work independently, and enjoy this special time together with their classmates and friends. Students at all levels are welcome!  

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Music History

   Thursdays
   1:00–2:00 p.m.

   Josh Graham

This class takes an informative and entertaining survey of musical styles and history, including popular music, musical theater, classical music, and opera. Illustrative selections are presented on the piano, via film clips and sound recordings, and by guest artists. 

Josh Graham is a percussionist based in Chicago. He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the country and at conferences including the International Computer Music Conference, the Society of Composers Inc. Conference, and the International Clarinet Association “ClarinetFest.” Josh is the program coordinator for the Zafa Collective and regularly performs with pianist Yoshiko Arahata. He has performed with the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Half Stick Duo, and the Listen! Percussion Group. Josh teaches percussion at Triton College and the percussion methods course at Roosevelt University. He is also on faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan and Central Michigan University and endorses Marimba One Instruments, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, and Black Swamp Percussion Instruments.

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For more information about the Center for Life and Learning, contact Susan Quaintance (312.981.3386), Director of the Center for Life and Learning.