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Using art to teach math and science


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POSTED: Friday, March 20, 2009

When Kapiolani Community College animation teacher Sharon Sussman worked at DreamWorks teaching animators how to shift from 2-D to 3-D, she made valuable connections that are now helping KCC land some impressive speakers. Next up is Emmy Award-winning art director and astronomy-inspired artist Jon Lomberg, whose varied credits include creating the sophisticated opening sequence in the movie “;Contact,”; starring Jodie Foster, and illustrating most of Carl Sagan's books and shows, among them “;Cosmos,”; which won Lomberg an Emmy.

“;Because he connects science and art, that's what piqued our interest,”; Sussman explained. In partnership with the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, KCC is organizing a pilot program in physics, art and digital art for high school students in an effort to help at-risk teens who struggle with science and math. “;If they relate to it visually, they can understand the concepts,”; added Sussman, who plans to launch the program with instruction to public high school teachers this summer.

Lomberg has several local ties, including a partnership with Hawaii artist Herb Kane. Together, they created “;a portrait of Ocean as seen from space,”; according to Lomberg's Web site. Kane started with the mapping of the islands, and Lomberg put finishing touches on Earth and the night sky, surrounding it with stars and constellations used in ancient navigation.

Lomberg's free lecture runs from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday in Ohia 118 at Kapiolani Community College, and is open to the public. ...

Norwegian BASE jumper and extreme skier Karina Hollekim is mesmerizing in the documentary “;20 Seconds of Joy,”; in which she throws herself off cliffs 1,000 meters high and calculates how close she can stay to the rocky edge to enhance the risk. Filmmaker Jens Hoffman documents Hollekim's exploits around Europe, the United States and Mali for five years—until one jump changes everything.

Hollekim's natural, athletic beauty complements the breathtaking aerial footage (BASE jumpers gravitate to the most beautiful places on earth) of people free-falling way too close to the ground. Beyond that, the 60-minute film delves into Hollekim's life and psyche to understand why she craves danger, and how her pursuit affects the people who love her.

It's not that extreme sports enthusiasts are unafraid. “;People like us learn to control fear and not let fear control us,”; professional BASE jumper Jeb Corliss says in the movie. Indeed, the fear—which comes from watching your friends die doing the very same thing—channels intense focus and presence, which leads to an unparalleled feeling of joy. But like any addiction, “;to achieve the same feelings, you have to push,”; Karina explains. “;Where's the end? That's what I keep asking myself. I think for a lot of people, the end is 10 feet under the earth.”;

This incredible film screens at 1 and 7:30 p.m. next Friday through April 3 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. For details on show times, check the Doris Duke Theatre link at www.honoluluacademy.org.