MergingArts' Conversations
MergingArts Productions







March 2017
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Wynn is the first African American Production Designer in the history of films.

As assistant art director, he worked with Production Designer Richard Sylbert on The Cotton Club. He also art directed or assisted like Beat StreetThe Money Pit, and Brighton Beach Memoirs

Wynn has a long-term relationship with Spike Lee and has designed over ten films for him including She's Gotta Have ItDo The Right ThingMalcolm XCrooklyn, and Inside Man.

Wynn is the first African-American Production Designer to become a member of the Art Directors Guild and the first African American nominated for the Art Directors Guild Award for his design work on Tim Burton's film, Mars Attacks!.

Some of Wynn's production design work over the years includes A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man for Ron HowardA Bronx Tale for Robert DeNiroWag The DogKeeping The FaithAll Good Things, and Breach.

More recently, Wynn worked on Almost Christmas, the Oscar nominated Hidden Figures, and War on Everyone.

Direct download: WynnThomas.mp3
Category:film -- posted at: 8:31am EDT

Toumani Diabate - Legendary Kora Collaborator Interview

We were fortunate to catch up with the kora playing legend, Toumani Diabate, during a tour with his symmetric orchestra on a stop at the University of Rhode Island as part of the 10th anniversairy of the URI Pangea Roots music series back in 2008.

He performs solo, with the symmetric orchestra, and on special projects like his most recent collaboration and tour with Bela Fleck.

Toumani chats us up on his family of kora players, the connection of his sounds seen in American music, and blending with other types of musicians like Bjorkwhile keeping his original sound.  

We highly recommend you experience Toumani Diabate and check out his latest tour and his CD releases!

Direct download: ToumaniDiabate-URI-InterviewFinal.mp3
Category:music -- posted at: 5:26pm EDT

Christopher Dawson - Athol-Royalston Director of Technology/Education ZDNet
Christopher Dawson grew up in Seattle, back in the days of pre-antitrust Microsoft, coffeeshops owned by something other than Starbucks, and really loud, inarticulate music.

He received a degree in Information Systems from Johns Hopkins University and began a career in health and educational information systems, with a focus on clinical trials and related statistical programming and database modeling.
Christopher Dawson is currently the technology director for the Athol-Royalston, MA school district and often spends his days in a host of computing and IT issues common to most small businesses, educators, and non-profits. He also is an avid blog for the Education blog on ZDNet at

In our discussion, we talked about a variety of existing developing social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Ning, and their impact on education, integrated devices and the impact of messaging in a school environment, software purchasing decisions at schools, and effect and use of social networking and Web 2.0 tools on younger children in the K-5 market.

Direct download: ChristopherDawson.mp3
Category:Education -- posted at: 8:00pm EDT

Nancy McCoy-Wozniak - Learning Architect at Stony Brook University and the Wizard of Woz
Nancy McCoy-Wozniak became Stony Brook University's first Learning Architect in The Faculty Center where she consults with faculty on the planning and design of courses and effective course management methods.   She received her Masters of Arts in Education, specializing in Instructional Technology from the University of Akron.  She holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Hiram College and studied television production and communication at Lorain County Community College.

Nancy has worked as an instructional designer, educational technologist and online learning coordinator for over 10 years, and has been dubbed the Wizard of Woz at her previous academic positions.  She has taught online and traditional courses in computer applications, multimedia design, communication, and business. Currently, Nancy is documenting future technology trends and challenges in Distance Learning and the pedagogy of Web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies in the classroom.

Nancy has shared her experience and stories with us from her work as a Learning Architect.  She discusses her work and research on blending Web 2.0 tools into a traditional, distance, and blended settings through use of applications and devices called clickers.  She also touches upon the issues of having to follow school system standards, the uses and struggles to promote social networking communities like Facebook to creatively connect to students of all ages for lifelong learning.

Direct download: NancyWozniak.mp3
Category:Education -- posted at: 7:00pm EDT

Michael Staton - Founder of Inigral discusses Engaging the Campus Community
Michael Staton is the Co-Founder and CEO of Inigral, Inc, a company that builds social web applications for education.  Their product Schools on Facebook has generated much excitement in the press. 

Before starting Inigral, he was an Educational Interaction and Curriculum Designer for a San Francisco start-up and taught in the Houston ISD.  He has an MA in International Development from Clark University in Worcester, MA.

In our conversation, Michael discusses Learning Management Systems (LMS) and their placement and standards in university market.  Learning how these compare and the heavy process of standard applications in education, has helped Michael shape his product Schools on Facebook to be more social than academic.

He further discusses this offering and its integration with campus social groups, alumni, and what companies need to do to engage campus communities.  He expands on what his product has become and existing social networking communities’ benefits and disadvantages (Facebook, Ning, Windows Live Spaces).

You can learn more about Michael Staton and Inigral's work at

Direct download: MichaelStaton.mp3
Category:Education -- posted at: 5:30pm EDT