October 31, 2008 — Artist Mel Ziegler, the 2008-09 recipient of the University of Virginia Arts Board's "Big Bang" Award, has been commissioned to create a Grounds-wide interactive public art project and exhibition for Ruffin Gallery this spring.
The award is presented to individuals who foster communitywide involvement in the arts. Past recipients for the visual arts have included Allyson Mellberg-Taylor, Alberto Rey, Tim Rollins, Daniel Reeves, Agnes Dennes, Italo Scanga and Ellen Driscoll.
In advance of his residency here, Ziegler, who is professor and chairman of art at Vanderbilt University, will give a lecture on his previous projects Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. in Campbell Hall, room 158. A reception will follow on Ruffin Hall's third floor.
Ziegler's U.Va. residency will span the entire spring semester and feature an exhibition in Ruffin Gallery, another lecture and a panel discussion. The Ruffin Gallery exhibition will take place in March, when he will also be completing his public art project.
Ziegler has shown his works nationally and internationally. His current projects include a public art master plan for Lake Como Park in Fort Worth, Texas, and a major public art commission for the Art In Public Places Program, in Cambridge, Mass.
He earned a Loeb Fellowship for study at Harvard University in 1996-97, and has lectured throughout the United States, Europe and South America.
Ziegler began his undergraduate studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, later transferring to the Kansas City Art Institute to complete his B.F.A. in 1978. He earned an M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts in 1982.
In Kansas, he met Kate Ericson, his future artistic collaborator of 18 years. Together, they made influential, site-specific installations and objects concerned with mapping trajectories, questioning history and highlighting the specificity of places and communities — themes that had also been important for Ziegler in his early solo works.