2013 Professional-Development Fellows and Honorable Mentions
CAA has awarded seven 2013 Professional-Development Fellowships—five in the visual arts and two in art history—to graduate students in MFA and PhD programs across the United States. In addition, CAA has named one honorable mention in art history and three in the visual arts. Each fellow received a one-time grant of $5,000. The fellows and honorable mentions also received a complimentary one-year CAA membership and free registration for the 2013 Annual Conference in New York.
Receiving fellowships in the visual arts are these five: Zachary Cummings, Rutgers University; Jennifer Ann Diaz, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Steve Gurysh, Carnegie Mellon University; Carl Marin, Virginia Commonwealth University; and Kate Louise Peterson, Columbia University.
The two recipients of the fellowship in art history are: Hala Auji, Binghamton University, State University of New York; and Lisa Crossman, Tulane University.
The honorable mention for art history goes to Jessica L. Horton of the University of Rochester. For the visual arts, honorable mentions go to: Ben Bigelow, Stanford University; Felipe Castelblanco, Carnegie Mellon University; and David Peters, Montana State University.
Anne Collins Goodyear, president of the CAA Board of Directors, formally recognized the fellows and honorable mentions at the 101st Annual Conference during Convocation on Wednesday evening, February 13, 2013, at the Hilton New York.
Initiated in 1993, CAA’s fellowship program supports promising artists and art historians who are enrolled in MFA and PhD programs nationwide. Awards are intended to help them with various aspects of their work, whether for job-search expenses or purchasing materials for the studio. CAA believes a grant of this kind, without contingencies, can best facilitate the transition between graduate studies and professional careers. The program is open to all eligible graduate students in the visual arts and art history. Applications for the 2014 fellowship cycle will open in late May or June 2013.
Hala Auji is a PhD candidate in art history at Binghamton University, State University of New York, specializing in the Islamic world. Her dissertation is entitled “The Printed Word and the American Syria Mission: Exploring Books and the Nascent Press in the Arab World, 1820–1870.” Drawing on recent scholarship that repudiates traditional views of print’s uniform global impact, her study examines printed books as material objects whose social significances varied across cultural contexts and historical periods. Examining the dynamic design programs of the Protestant mission’s Arabic books printed during the early to mid-1800s for Ottoman Syria’s multiconfessional communities, Auji shows how these religious and secular works negotiated changing social concerns, intellectual attitudes, and notions of the book among local Arab Muslims and Christians.
Auji has presented her work at the annual IFA–Frick Symposium on the History of Art, the annual conference of the American Printing History Association, and the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association. Her research has been supported with a travel grant from the American Printing History Association, a Grabar Travel Grant from the Historians of Islamic Art Association, and various awards and fellowships from Binghamton University. She has taught courses on Middle Eastern and Asian art, design, and material culture, including their consumption by European audiences, for which she received a Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching from her school. Auji holds an MA in criticism and theory from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and a BFA in graphic design from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.
A native of Vermont, Lisa Crossman graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff in 2006 with a BA in art history. Two years later she earned an MA from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, specializing in the history of modern and contemporary art. Crossman’s early graduate work and her master’s thesis, “Inter-American Perspectives on La Pintura Contemporánea Norteamericana, 1941,” centered on cultural exchange within the Americas during the 1940s. She is continuing her studies at Tulane in a joint-degree program in art history and Latin American studies. While at Tulane, she conducted research in Argentina, Uruguay, and Peru, funded by the Tinker Foundation and Tulane’s School of Liberal Arts.
During the latter part of her graduate work, Crossman shifted her focus to the study of environmental art. Her dissertation, “Contemporary Argentine Art and Ecological Crisis,” will be completed this spring. It examines the work of artists based in La Plata and Buenos Aires who have responded to local environmental issues and global ecological crises. She plans to continue exploring related themes through her research, teaching, and the development of exhibitions.
Zachary Cummings was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He received undergraduate degrees in both studio art and physics from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and is currently pursuing an MFA in visual art in the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He works primarily in painting.
Cummings’s most recent body of work is derived from crime-scene photographs that have been used in violent cases that his mother has tried as a prosecutor. Banal, uncomposed, and indexical, these images lay bare the gaze of the law at the moment of its encounter with traces of real human trauma. Since Cummings has a simultaneously personal and detached relationship to this source material, there is no obvious recourse to form or content.
His painting process entails a sublation—the immediate doubling and reversal of a thing into its opposite. As forms are dissociated from their original meaning, the evidence for the case becomes the painting for itself, existing in a complex web of relationships.
Jennifer Ann Diaz
Jennifer Ann Diaz is an artist based in Chicago, Illinois. She received a BFA degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011 and is currently in her final semester at the same school, where she is pursuing an MFA degree in studio arts. She is a recent recipient of the Edward L. Ryerson Fellowship.
Diaz’s work explores the void of promise. She writes, “There is a naïve hope that the deformities of the American dream will open the loopholes to the vagrants. The obstructions will continue to surface as a skin of the melting culture to which we are all complicit self-servants. The current works explore the shells of flux we all shed as we float into the anxiety of an ambiguous uncertainty. The ‘now’ is bloated with an overstimulation of information and forms. The past oozes with consequences and the future is loose with potential.”
Steve Gurysh creates time-based and sculptural media that explore economies of energy production, cycles of technological advancement and obsolescence, and sincere attempts to encounter the miraculous. His practice navigates these themes through the performative dimensions of research and a constant slippage among action, image, and object.
Gurysh’s projects include a solitary trek through Death Valley to capture the Devil inside a battery using a solar panel; a torch relay involving a nuclear power plant, a website, an Olympic stadium, and a burning coal mine; and an attempt to send a meteorite back into space. By interlacing material science with myth making, his work invents and imagines a testing ground for abandoned pasts, alternative presents, and provocative futures.
Gurysh received his BA from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is currently an MFA candidate at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has exhibited at La Société des arts technologiques in Montreal, Quebec; the Leroy Neiman Gallery at Columbia University in New York; and the Center for the Study of the End of Things in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has also shown work in the Allegheny River and at extremely high altitudes. Gurysh is also cofounder of The Drift, an artist-run platform for temporary art and public interventions that explore the three rivers of Pittsburgh.
Carl Marin, an MFA student in sculpture and extended media at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, did not supply a biography.
Kate Louise Peterson
Kate Louise Peterson, an artist working in photography, video, and installation, is an MFA candidate in the School of the Arts at Columbia University in New York. She received her BFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2007.
Peterson created an archive of family photographs as large-format black-and-white prints. She is currently photographing families that have adopted internationally, and for her upcoming thesis exhibition will present a documentary about her search for relatives relinquished through adoption. Peterson is the art editor of issue 51 of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. Her work has been exhibited internationally.
Born in Los Angeles in 1985, Ben Bigelow is pursuing an MFA in the Department of Art and Art History in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University in California. He is currently making a short film and installation about cloud computing, plate spinning, and lifting heavy things. He received a BFA in 2008 from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Earlier this year Bigelow’s videos were screened as part of Open Video Call at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. He was recently featured in two surveys of MFA students: Superpositions: New Wight Biennial 2012 at the University of California, Los Angeles, and in MFA Now 2012 at Root Division Gallery in San Francisco. He was an artist in residence at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (2008), ACRE Artist Residency in Steuben, Wisconsin (2010), and the Wassaic Project in Wassaic, New York (2011). Bigelow has participated in exhibitions and screenings nationally in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, and internationally in Berlin.
Felipe Castelblanco is a multidisciplinary artist working at the intersection of participatory, socially engaged, and new-media art. His work creates new experiences of publicness and coexistent (if sometimes contentious) encounters through urban interventions, video, interactivity and networked installations. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in summer 2012 and is pursuing his MFA in media arts at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Most recently, Castelblanco constructed an invisible wall connecting children across two continents at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh; collaborated with participants from ten countries to turn the world upside down at Future Tenant in Pittsburgh; assembled a team of day laborers to paint houses—on canvas—in the streets of Portland, Oregon, during the Open Engagement conference; and smuggled one liter of Iranian air across the United States border.
By understanding public space as fundamentally fluid—as a dimension that also contains the near and far, the invisible and the Other—Castelblanco is developing a body of work that imagines air as a material embodiment of the public sphere. As a compound of natural elements and human-created phenomena—from radio waves to pollution—air is a large amorphous network that defines the ultimate public space of our planet. From sensing and transducing human respiration to developing a physical network for “air trafficking” across international borders, his work seeks to highlight the poetic potential of this intangible element as well as its biosocial, political and conceptual complexity in today’s societies.
Jessica L. Horton
Jessica L. Horton researches issues of mobility, temporality, and material agency, focusing especially upon the traveling work of Native American artists in the twentieth century. Her dissertation, “Places to Stand: Histories of Native American Art beyond the Nation,” begins with a statement made by the artist and Cherokee activist Jimmie Durham in 1988: “I feel that I could address the whole world, if only I had a place to stand.” Horton follows the trajectories of a number of artists radicalized during the American Indian Movement in the 1970s who subsequently joined their peers in international art biennales and studio residencies abroad. Durham, James Luna, Edgar Heap of Birds, and others have elected to trade itinerancy—what Miwon Kwon and others describe as the accumulation of frequent-flyer miles across the surface of the globe—for a kind of temporal mobility, digging into ancestral travel histories buried within the archives of colonial modernity. Horton’s nonlinear approach generates a dialogue between contemporary art and objects and performances from previous centuries designed to move internationally. She shows that engagement abroad has long expanded the conceptual possibilities available to artists grappling with displacement inside colonial nations, while inspiring unexpected reinvestments in indigenous conceptions of space and time.
Horton is a 2011–13 Wyeth Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts in Washington, DC, and a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. Her essays have appeared in Third Text, the Journal of Transnational American Studies, and Shapeshifting: Transformations in Native North American Art (Salem, MA: Peabody Essex Museum, in association with Yale University Press, 2012).
David Peters, an MFA candidate in ceramics in the School of Art at Montana State University in Bozeman, did not supply a biography.
Published on April 11, 2013.