“I believe the only real moments of happiness and a feeling of aliveness and completeness occur when I swing a brush,” wrote DeFeo in a letter to her mother in 1952. At the heart of the Beat Generation — San Francisco’s historic community of musicians, artists, and poets — DeFeo resisted conventional materials in her exploration of painting, collage, drawing, and other forms. From 1958 to 1966, she was singularly obsessed with creating The Rose, a monumental work so thick with paint that it blurred the lines between sculpture and painting. Although DeFeo was not well known outside of the West Coast when she died of cancer at age 60, she is receiving due praise today. Museum-goers can enjoy an in-depth retrospective of her work at SFMOMA through Feb. 3, 2013, or find more information through the Jay DeFeo Trust or the trust’s page on Facebook.
Divorce. An accident. Illness. Death. While such life events leave many of us feeling great loss, to Chodron, an American Buddhist nun, they are opportunities to learn how to face fear with a smile. One of the most influential spiritual leaders in the West today, Chodron primarily teaches in the United States and Canada and directs Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, the first Tibetan monastery in North America established for Westerners. Her deepest desire is to share teachings and meditation practices that lead to peace and kindness within ourselves, our families, and our communities. Her earthy, insightful books include bestsellers When Things Fall Apart and Don’t Bite the Hook, and she is frequently featured in the magazine Shambhala Sun. Learn more about her work through the Pema Chodron Foundation or a student-led fan page on Facebook.
Like artists, architects have masterpieces, definitive works that perfectly capture their aesthetics and design vision. Frank Lloyd Wright’s was “Falling Water.” Chang’s is “Split House.” Since launching China’s first independent architectural firm, Atelier FCJZ, in 1993, Chang has become internationally recognized for his aesthetically intriguing and ecologically conscious marriage of traditional and modern design techniques in notable projects and installations worldwide. Chang founded the Graduate School of Architecture at Peking University in 1999 and later headed MIT’s Department of Architecture. The College of Environmental Design recognized him with its Distinguished Alumni Award in 2008.
“People have to feel welcomed by the building and the building has to embrace people,” said Yao, speaking to Taiwan Today about his design philosophy. Internationally acclaimed, Yao won the National Award for Arts in the architecture category — the highest honor in the field of culture and art in Taiwan. His firm, Artech Architects, specializes in corporate, residential, and cultural structures, as well as educational, transportation, and hotel facilities around the world. World Architecture Magazine noted in 1999 that Yao and his firm are at the “forefront of the revolution” in architecture in Taiwan. Yao is currently collaborating with Rem Koolhaas on the design of the Taipei Performing Arts Center. The College of Environmental Design recognized him with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005.
Although his parents thought his wit and flair would make him a great lawyer, Jobrani was first bitten by the show-biz bug when he played a tree in a school play at age 6. Bridging the rift between the Middle East and West, Jobrani’s taboo-tampering comedy elicits laughter around the world. He is best known as a founding member of the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, a group of top comedians who sold out a recent international tour of 27 shows and landed a special on Comedy Central — the first show on American TV with an all-Middle Eastern/American cast. Jobrani himself has been on The Colbert Report, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, among other shows. He also appeared in the movies The Interpreter and 13 Going on 30. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter @MazJobrani.
Controlling particles in a quantum world was previously thought impossible, but Wineland invented ways to measure and manipulate individual particles without destroying them — a feat that won him the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics. Single particles lose their enigmatic properties the minute they interact with the outside world, making it difficult to observe many seemingly absurd events. Wineland’s ingenious methods involve trapping electrically charged atoms, or ions, and controlling and measuring them with light, or photons. A physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado in Boulder, he shares the prize with French physicist Serge Haroche. Their research is giving shape to the dream of building a super computer based on quantum physics.
It’s not uncommon for elderly patients to get stuck in a quagmire of miscommunications and mistakes when transferring from one care facility to another. Coleman, head of the University of Colorado at Denver’s health care policy and research division, is pioneering practical methods that could smooth that transition — and radically reduce readmissions, prescription blunders, and other deficiencies that harm vulnerable patients. Through his Care Transitions Program, nurses and social workers arm older adults and their caregivers with key information — such as complete health records, a timeline for follow-up visits, and signs of declining health — that empowers them to play a more active role in their care. Coleman received the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2012 for his efforts to bridge innovation and practice and substantially improve the health care and results of millions of older adults.
After running social service programs for 20 years — and painfully realizing that most of them don’t work — Lim Miller founded the Family Independence Initiative (FII) in Oakland in 2001 to help low-income working families get themselves out of poverty. Instead of forcing participants through job training and other conventional programs, FII encourages families to form small support groups and track their progress toward economic independence. It also pays them a small stipend for each achievement. FII has expanded to San Francisco, Oahu, and Boston and is seeing debts go down and incomes go up, among other promising successes. Lim Miller was one of 23 Americans to receive the coveted MacArthur Fellowship in 2012. Raised by a poor Mexican immigrant, he said of the fellowship, “I do this work to honor my mother’s struggle.” Follow FII on Twitter @FIInational or Facebook.
Life is very hard — and not very safe — for most agricultural workers around the world, but Rice is trying to change that. Founder of Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of fair trade products, he gives consumers an easy way to make a difference with their dollars. Buying fair trade products, whether it’s a cup of coffee, bar of chocolate, or bunch of bananas, improves the wages, working conditions, environment, and development efforts for farming communities worldwide. What consumers gain in taste, millions of workers gain in hope and pride for solving their own problems — what Rice calls the “the invisible dividend.” Though corporate skeptics once scoffed at the idea, Rice has gotten hundreds of companies to rework their supply networks. He is frequently recognized as one of the world’s top social entrepreneurs. Follow the company on Facebook or Twitter @FairTradeUSA.
You’d think the co-founder of Apple Computer would get first dibs on the company’s latest gadgets, but just like everyone else, Wozniak queued up early for his iPhone 5. Part geek, part icon, “The Woz” helped birth the PC revolution when he and the late Steve Jobs started Apple in 1976 and quickly turned out the first Apple I and II products. He received the National Medal of Technology in 1985, the highest honor for America’s leading tech innovators. A prolific philanthropist, Wozniak has poured sizable resources into education — even teaching children himself. In an interview with the College of Engineering’s Forefront magazine, Wozniak said, “Some people are so endeared to the Macintosh that it’s almost as gripping as a religion. I honestly believe that it’s about ‘thinking differently.'” Follow him on Twitter @stevewoz, or visit his website.