The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

  • Arts

    Artist Kay Healy prompts us to weave our own tales with her fragmentary figures

    May 25, 2016, 3:42 p.m., Posted by Chip Schwartz

    Mannequins and similar human likenesses have the power to snap us back to the present moment. Catching a human form out of the corner of one's eye is often a surprise, and for a moment, these figures seem to gain life as we react to their presence. Our self-consciousness reflects what it means to be observed by a fellow person, and their motionlessness usually quickly betrays their lack of sentience.

    Kay Healy is quite interested in such avatars, not only for their ability to mimic, but for their power to change and tell stories. In “What is Real” at Napoleon gallery in Philadelphia, Healy starts with the human form and augments it, in order find out how even inanimate objects, with the right posturing, can capture the imagination and tell a story. Using fabric and stuffing, and sometimes referring to outside materials like wood or brick, Healy constructs an assortment of body parts and busts for a show that is as fantastical as it is at times unnerving.

    Kay Healy, “Carry.” Photo courtesy of Kay Healy.

    The image of a firefighter carrying a child from a burning building or a reverent believer bringing an offering to a shrine: these actions carry significant psychic weight. But what about a man–arms extended–carrying his own legs? In “Carry,” Healy offer us not only this, but a figure whose entire body is composed of red brick and mortar. Without a leg to stand on, and paradoxically steadfast in his approach, the two halves of this man seem determined to reach their destination. In offering up his lower half, he remains on course to provide viewers with a bit of his resolve and tenacity as he drifts forward.

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  • Communities

    LaunchCode Miami offers free computer science course that can open doors to new careers

    May 25, 2016, 2:51 p.m., Posted by Fernando Gonzalez

    Founder Jim McKelvey welcomes prospective students of CS50xMiami. All photos courtesy The Idea Center at MDC.

    CS50x Miami, Harvard University’s online introduction to computer science class, will be offered free and with in-person instruction through a partnership between The Idea Center, the innovation and entrepreneurship hub at Miami Dade College, and LaunchCode, a job placement nonprofit, beginning June 13. Both organizations are supported by Knight Foundation.

    The 20-week course was introduced at an event at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College last Wednesday, with Jim McKelvey, founder of LaunchCode; Sari Kulthm, lead instructor and program manager for CS50x Miami; and, via remote video, Yulan Lin, a data analyst from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, who discussed her  experiences with coding and her work at the center.

    Speaking before a room of about 100 students and prospective students, McKelvey, also co-founder of the payments company Square, framed his remarks by discussing the labor market and the educational programs needed to supply business with the the trained workers they need. He then didn’t spend much time in niceties, speaking instead forcefully about a great opportunity — but also a challenge.

    “The one question that I always get about this is: Is this too good to be true? Is there a catch here? Is there something that you’re not explaining? Well, almost. It is almost too good to be true,” he said. “The fact that they are making this available for free is mind-blowing. The Harvard team is incredibly generous. The Knight Foundation and Miami Dade College, who are sponsoring this class so it doesn’t cost you a penny, they are incredibly generous. So yes, it’s almost too good to be true — but for the fact that they don’t slow this down for you.”

    This course is for Harvard students, McKelvey said, “and probably they’re doing nothing but taking classes. They are probably not holding down jobs. Some of you guys are holding down jobs? Doing other stuff? Maybe have a family, a couple of kids? There are disadvantages that you have that they don’t have, and they are not slowing this down for you. This class moves at a breakneck pace. There are times when it’s best to run, and there are times when it’s good to rest. This is a time to run.”

    Kulthm, who will be the lead instructor of CS50x Miami, said, it “only takes one thing from you: commitment. When you are committed and put the time and effort, it will make it doable. We’re here to support you. Prepare your schedule, prepare your life for the next 20 weeks.”

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    Miami, Tel Aviv exchange insights on entrepreneurship with Startup Nation conference

    May 25, 2016, 1:40 p.m., Posted by Fernando Gonzalez

    Startup Nation from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

    The first Startup Nation Conference at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami last week was a day of discussions about pure business, exit strategies and the role of government in funding innovation, but also about having projects with a larger, social purpose; hard statistics and talk about problem-solving strategies but also the importance of chutzpah and questions about the role of Jewish mothers in tech culture; and presentations, at times bordering on science fiction, about technologies for non–invasive neurosurgery, using the mobile phone to provide cervical cancer screening and treatment services, critical for rural populations; giving voice to patients with speech disorders; and an augmented reality product that seemed to blend seamlessly virtual and physical reality.

    Hosted by The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and Tel Aviv University, the Knight-sponsored conference offered insights into Israel’s success in technology and is part of an effort to build bridges between the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in Tel Aviv and Miami. It was one more step in a developing relationship that started with a visit by a 12-person delegation from Miami in March 2015. The group spent a week in Israel as part of Project Interchange, a nonprofit educational institute of the American Jewish Committee. The exchange was funded in part by Knight Foundation.

    This was followed in August by a knowledge-sharing agreement between The Idea Center at Miami Dade College and Star TAU, Tel Aviv University’s Entrepreneurship Center, linking the entrepreneurial and high-tech communities in South Florida and Tel Aviv, the top startup ecosystem outside the United States and fifth best in the world after Silicon Valley, New York, Los Angeles and Boston, according to Compass’ 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking.

    Numbers never tell the full story but, according to a report in the Times of Israel in January, “Exits for Israeli tech firms hit near record levels,” with “104 exits of all types during the course

    of the year, worth over $9 billion to the firms and their investors.” And according to the “PwC Israel 2015 Hi-Tech Exit Report,” there was also “robust” growth in mergers and acquisitions from $5 billion in 2014 to$7.2 billion in 2015, an increase of 44 percent.

    “There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur,” said Knight Foundation Miami Program Director Matt Haggman in his introductory remarks at the conference. “There’s never been a time what we can do so much with so little, and for those who are here that are entrepreneurs … the message, more than anything else, is: ‘It’s possible.’”

    For Oren Simanian, founder of StarTAU, “it’s a partnership to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs both in Israel and here in Miami. We can do it together.”

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