Friday, October 31, 2014

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U.Va. Presents Seven Arts Awards to Undergraduate Projects

Seven University of Virginia students have received grants from the Undergraduate Award for Arts Projects program, which supports creative expression, such as filmmaking, writing and dance.

Modeled on the University’s successful Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards program, the arts awards give the students up to $3,000 for projects that expand their expression and showcase artistic accomplishments.

The University Arts Awards are funded this year by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Office of the Vice President & Chief Information Officer, School of Nursing, Vice Provost for the Arts, and the ACCIAC Fellows Program in Creativity and Innovation. The grants are available to all undergraduates.

“The project proposals this year demonstrated U.Va. students’ passion and creativity in the arts, and we’re excited about the recipients’ plans,” said Brian Cullaty, director of undergraduate research opportunities at the Center for Undergraduate Excellence. “The students will not only learn from their experiences, but also contribute to an arts environment on Grounds by sharing their final products with the University community.  We’re grateful to have the support of offices throughout the University for these wonderful projects.”

Student projects this summer include photography, filmmaking, music and dance.

“The arts are at the very core of the residential experience for our students,” said Jody Kielbasa, vice provost for the arts and director of the Virginia Film Festival. “They offer a rich and dynamic tapestry of expression and creativity that fosters cross-cultural understanding and celebrates our differences and our shared experiences.”

The recipients will work with faculty members to pursue their art in depth and experience a new level of quality and engagement.   

The winners of the University Undergraduate Awards for Art are:

Mary Kate Bailey, 19, of Ashburn, Va., a rising second-year double major in studio art and East Asian Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences, will work individually with nursing home residents to help them create their own, self-expressive body of work.

 “I chose this because of my past experiences with teaching therapeutic art classes in a nursing home,” she said. “Coupled with this will be a blog showing the progress of my students along with my own body of work based on my experiences in working with the seniors.”

Kaya Lee Berne, 20, of Charlottesville, a rising third-year neuroscience and studio art double major in the College, plans to make a documentary on the harmful effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles on the human body. She plans to talk with scientists, workers and managers at distribution factories, managers at cosmetic and natural food stores, and random people from around the country.

“The use of titanium dioxide nanoparticles has been increasing dramatically over the past decade,” she said. “It can be found in a large variety of products now, including sunscreen, cosmetics, toothpaste, gum, Oreo filling, and even the ‘M’ on M&M’s. That this nanoparticle is now being used in products that make contact and even enter the human body is worrisome. There is limited amount of scientific research about the toxicity of titanium dioxide, [a naturally-occurring oxide of titanium that is used as a pigment in a wide variety of products] and what is known doesn’t raise my hopes any, especially since any nano substance is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.”

Alan Brody, 21, of Arlington, Va., a rising fourth-year physics and music double major in the College, is working on a project that combines these two fields.

“I am using electronic and computer music technology to put together a dancer-friendly musical instrument,” he said. “The instrument will be applied in an after-school youth dance program in Charlottesville called ‘Minds in Motion.’”

Yiqi Cao, 19, of Blacksburg, Va., a rising third-year biomedical engineering major in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, will explore the food of her family’s ethnic heritage, recording stories related to dishes and recipes and creating a photo journal to share what she learns.

“Food traditions and recipes can reveal a great deal about culture and history,” she said. “My grandparents are absolutely fantastic cooks and they often commented on the reason behind their dishes as they serve them. Chinese dishes are particularly chock-full of symbolism, and often these dishes would have special meaning in my family. Maybe it’s particularly nutritious, or perhaps it brings good fortune, or maybe made with fresh longya [a sweet, succulent fruit used in snacks, desserts and sweet-and-sour dishes] from the orchard that the neighbor’s family owns. Maybe it was my dad’s favorite dish when he was young.”

Anna McMillen, 20, of Chesapeake, Va., a rising fourth-year architecture and urban planning major in the School of Architecture, is going to Shanghai to study Chinese Literati, ink wash paintings, specifically adapted to architecture and urban planning. 

“I have done Chinese art since I was young and am excited to be pursuing this even further,” she said. “I hope that the research I do on the evolvement of appreciation of Chinese Literati Paintings will benefit my own artwork that I create and also what I can pass on to my peers at U.Va. after returning from China.”

Andrew O'Shanick, 21, of Midlothian, Va., a rising fourth-year music major in the College, will research the culture of classical music in Vienna, Austria, for a month in order to compare it with Charlottesville’s classical music culture.

“From this comparison, I will be able to better understand how a musical culture maintains itself and thrives, and then hopefully apply some of the lessons learned from Vienna to Charlottesville,” he said. “Additionally, I will be attending an Opera Workshop Program in Graz, where I will continue collecting research and incorporate that into my project.”

Angie Yudi Wu, 20, of Beijing, a rising fourth-year art history major in the College, is planning to photograph the Venice Biennale, an avant-garde festival promoting new artistic trends and organizing international events in contemporary arts, after attending U.Va. summer session courses in Italy.

“I hope to photograph my observations in Venice, Italy, specifically on how individuals respond and react to contemporary artworks,” she said. “I am greatly interested in how modern audiences receive contemporary art and where and how the viewing takes place. I was also inspired by a series of photographs Hans Haacke took in 1959 at a world art fair.”

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