To cap off Liberal Arts Week, two Cal Poly professors envisioned what their final lecture would entail in “The Last Lecture Series.”
Inspired by similar programs at other universities, the College of Liberal Arts Student Council brought the series to Cal Poly last week and asked art and design professor Mary LaPorte and English professor Kevin Clark to be the speakers.
“I thought it was very appropriate that the College of Liberal Arts would have two artists inaugurate ‘The Last Lecture Series,’” Clark said.
In his speech, Clark created a lecture-poetry hybrid, which started and ended with audio from jazz musician Dexter Gordon.
He called the piece “Accident Alert,” paralleling the ways that jazz and poetry both make use of accidents.
“Accident Alert” incorporated Clark’s experiences with death, beginning with that of his father when Clark was 14 years old.
“The scene on the monitor grows grainy before sharpening into his grave face,” Clark said, after describing “the way (my father) held a Jack London novel as if it were a long lost sacrament.”
LaPorte too delved into her past in her invented last lecture. She told the audience about 10 “progressions of awakenings,” significant learning moments in her life, the last of which recognized the importance of being flexible.
LaPorte’s earlier awakenings involved the realization of worth in her creativity. She told of selling her first drawing to a fourth-grade classmate for a quarter.
“I drew a lot when I was little,” she said. “Nobody seemed to notice or mind.”
Although LaPorte found some awakenings difficult, many inspired various works of art, and she ended her lecture by acknowledging her gratitude for each learning experience.
Growing up in a family with six successful brothers, LaPorte said she realized early that she was “in a man’s world,” a fact that was reinforced throughout her childhood.
“They all had these notions about what a girl should have to do in her life growing up,” she said, telling of a time she was banned from repairing a car engine with her father.
Later in life, LaPorte had another awakening when she learned to reject stereotypes.
Both LaPorte and Clark received plaques for their participation in Cal Poly’s first installment of “The Last Lecture Series.”