Two Teams Garner First U.Va. Arts in Action Project Grants

December 6, 2011 — The Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts at the University of Virginia has awarded the first Arts in Action Project Grants to two collaborative teams of faculty artists.

The grants are a component of "Arts in Action on Grounds," a new public arts initiative to increase the public profile of the arts Universitywide by facilitating arts-based research and to supporting the development of an arts-informed curriculum. Funds were provided by the Board of Visitors as part of its commitment to the Commission on the Future of the University, a group charged with proposing strategic directions for the University for the next decade and beyond. The grant winners were selected by a faculty peer review committee.

The Arts in Action Project grants highlight faculty research and encourage the creation of new artwork that engages a University-wide audience.

"Black Fire," a film project directed by College of Arts & Sciences professors Kevin Jerome Everson of the McIntire Department of Art and Claudrena N. Harold of the Corcoran Department of History and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, will receive $20,000.

Through film, performance arts and a public exhibit, "Black Fire" will explore the complex history of the struggle for racial equality, social justice and cultural transformation at U.Va. between 1969 and 1985.

"This multidisciplinary project highlights how artists and scholars in the U.Va. creative community and beyond have relied upon, and continue to rely on, the arts to articulate new ideas about race, justice, community and the transformative potential of education in our modern world," Elizabeth Hutton Turner, vice provost for the arts, said.

In addition to creating a documentary film, "Black Fire" will recreate the highly successful Black Culture Week, inaugurated in 1970 by the Black Students for Freedom, later known as the Black Student Alliance.

"Black Culture Week Remixed," tentatively scheduled for February, will feature poetry, music from several popular ensembles on Grounds and dramatic reenactments of political speeches given during Black Culture Week in 1971.

The other grant, for $30,000, went to the "Arts Festival of the Moving Creature," a project directed by Steve Warner, lecturer and technical director in the Department of Drama; Eric Schmidt, studio and gallery technician in the McIntire Department of Art; and Melissa Goldman, fabrication facilities manager of the School of Architecture.

This yearlong project will culminate in spring 2013 with an arts festival showcasing "moving creatures" built by teams of students, working with faculty and staff mentors, through multiple courses in the Architecture School, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the art and drama departments throughout the 2012-13 school year.

"This project allows artists – both students and faculty – to grow, develop and share their work through the creative process that develops an important dialogue across disciplines and increases our ability to showcase the arts," Turner said.

In addition to building mechanical "moving creatures" to showcase at the festival, the project leaders plan to invite visiting artists who work with mechanical puppets, bike-powered contraptions and other moveable structures for lectures and workshops.

Information about the projects is available at

– by Lindsey Turner Helper

Media Contact

Jane Ford

U.Va. Media Relations