Welcome to the Dirty T: This UA prof found her passion in journalism and art

Thea Van Gorp

Caffé Luce is one of the many wonderful coffee shops near the UA. Upon entering the shop, an atmosphere of calmness and creativity takes over. Good music plays and beautiful art lines the walls.

Most of the art in Caffé Luce is done by one of the UA’s own journalism professors, Margaret Zanger. With a master’s degree in journalism from the UA, and a master of studies in law from Yale University, Zanger is a very politically charged journalist and professor, who travels around the world to pursue her dream to learn more about its inhabitants.

“One day, I met a Palestinian and I was just fascinated,” Zanger said. “I was so ignorant of the Middle East, and I became very interested in the Middle East. I decided I would focus my journalism on trying to learn more about the Middle East. This led me to become an editor for a Middle East report magazine. I worked at Georgetown at the Arab study center — that kind of thing.”

Zanger said she works to learn about the way politics impact individual people’s lives.

“I think as journalists,” she said, “we are interested in people and interested in what makes them get up every morning and the drama around their lives. You can’t be a journalist and not be interested in the micro aspects of people’s lives and the very macro, political or economic systems that impact those people. So I think as journalists, we are interested in so many different things so often, and that’s what we love about journalism — that we get to be nosey and ask people tough questions and explore all these different things. For me, you can’t separate out people’s lives and the politics around them. Whether that is American politics or foreign policy or the local politics of Iraq, its part and parcel of people’s lives.”

Though journalism impassions her greatly, Zanger allows the world to peer more deeply into her person through her artwork.

“I started doing these small pieces when I came back here from Iraq,” she said. “I lived in Iraq for two years training journalists. And when I came back, it was just kind of a way for me to process my experiences. I’ve always been interested in art, but have never really found the right vehicle — this paper stuff was perfect for me. I took one class to learn very basic techniques that allowed me to incorporate images and paper. I have always loved paper; maybe that’s why I became a journalist. I love all the handmade papers and all the different colors. This was a way for me to play with all of that and express some of what I had been through. I found that I love doing landscapes and have been doing them since I made the one of the Egyptian landscape. My work, whether it was in Egypt, Iraq or, of course, Arizona, always provided me with wonderful landscapes. My art is the way I can do something completely different. It takes my mind to a whole different place.”

Find Zanger’s art along the walls of Caffé Luce and on her website at maggyzanger.com, where viewers can also find her writing on different world travel experiences.

Upon departure, Zanger shared a piece of advice:

“Travel. Travel as far and as wide as you possibly can and don’t stop.”


Follow Thea Van Gorp on Twitter.