Five U.Va. Students Receive First Arts Grants

June 4, 2009 — Five University of Virginia students are the first to receive grants from the University Undergraduate Award for Arts Projects program.

The arts grants, which debuted this year, were presented for installations, writing, music and participatory art. Modeled on the Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards, they emphasize creative projects to expand students' expression and showcase artistic accomplishments.

The students applied for between $1,000 and $5,000 in grants, provided this year by the provost's office. A faculty committee reviewed 13 proposals, which included samples of students' creative work. The competition was open to undergraduates from throughout the University, regardless of school or major.

"The University's students are very creative and accomplished," said Lucy Russell, director of U.Va.'s Center for Undergraduate Excellence. "This is a terrific way to recognize that and provide students with new opportunities to take on significant projects in the arts."

"I'm particularly inspired by the range of topics and media selected for this inaugural year," said Beth Turner, vice provost for the arts. "I am also inspired by the artistic talent here at the University. These awards will help foster an environment where our students can create something new."

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

"U.Va.'s new creative arts awards are designed to give undergraduates an opportunity to work closely with a faculty adviser in creative art inquiry," said J. Milton Adams, vice provost for academic programs. "As an artist, what could be more fun than a chance to produce your own art based upon your creative ideas?"

Adams worked with Turner, Russell and Herbert "Chip" Tucker, John C. Coleman Professor of English, to develop the idea for program. Many other faculty and staff worked on bringing the idea to fruition.

"Not only do these awards help our students advance their ideas in the arts, but they develop their talents for their next efforts after life after U.Va.," Adams said.

These grants were awarded to:

• Rachel Callahan of Weston, Fla., a rising fourth-year studio arts and art history major whose installation is entitled "Domestic Haunting." Her project will "explore the notion of gender within the domestic sphere by recreating domestic spaces in an installation/exhibition format." These spaces will be made fantastical by her transformation of familiar objects and settings, in an effort to reveal the haunted histories and associations of domestic environments.

• Lauren Elyse Catlett, of Richmond, a rising fourth-year student majoring in studio art and Russian, who proposed a collection of writing and art-making, community engagement and independent work titled "Shared Doings and Sayings: Art-making and the Subjective Experience of Dementia." Her work "is based on the relationship between art and healing." Working with dementia patients, she hopes "to encourage self-expression and strengthen interpersonal relationships among the participants at the retirement communities where I will be volunteering." She plans to make a collection of books that will include the artwork the participants.

• Richard Grove Miller IV of Warrenton, a rising fourth-year music and Spanish major, who will compose and record music for his first solo album using a new electro-acoustic music software program called Max For Live, the result of a collaboration between two of the world's leading digital audio software companies. "An unprecedented tool for both the studio and the stage, Max For Live will allow me to fully program the computer for my specific needs and have complete hands-on control over my compositions," he said.

• Emily Corazon Nelson of Charlotte, N.C., a rising fourth-year studio art and Spanish major, who plans "Nourish(meant)," a project that combines art and activism to promote sustainable transportation and home food production. Nelson and Graham Evans will travel around the country in a retrofitted bus run on waste vegetable oil, growing a garden on the bus and preparing and serving food for people, as well as exchanging information, ideas and art. "My objective in 'Nourish(meant)' is to meet people, to create relationships, to share knowledge and in some way to change society for the better," she said.

• Lucy Jennifer Zhou, of Bethlehem, Pa., a rising fourth-year English and economics major, who will travel to Argentina for two weeks to gather material for a novella, titled "Lingua," focusing on Asian migration to South America. "I became fascinated with the idea of looking at the immigrant experience from an Asian-Latin American standpoint," she said. "Buenos Aires, a city that is already the child of colonialism and is, today, a major metropolitan center, appeared to me to be the ideal place to look more closely at the confluence of cultures and the narratives which result."

— By Matt Kelly