University Grants Back Students in Bringing Their Artistic Visions to Life

Five students have received arts grants to pursue their creative muses this summer.

Five University of Virginia students have received grants from the University Award for Projects in the Arts program, allowing them to follow their artistic muses this summer.

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

“These project proposals demonstrate the creativity and talent of our students in the arts,” said Brian Cullaty, director of undergraduate research opportunities at UVA’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence. “The funding provides them with an outlet to pursue their artistic goals on a larger scale.”

This year’s projects are funded by the Vice Provost for the Arts and the Atlantic Coast Conference International Academic Collaborative Fellows Program in Creativity.

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

Arts projects also give the students a different point of view.

“They provide an entirely different perspective through which to experience, engage and research other disciplines of study,” Kielbasa said. “The arts awards help to support the exceptional research and creative work that is being done by our students in the field.”

This year’s awarded projects include filmmaking, podcasting, opera singing, documenting daily life in Paris and producing a circus show.

This year’s winners are:

• Natalie Beam of Alpharetta, Georgia, a second-year media studies major with a background in French and studio art, whose project involves replicating and modernizing the phenomenon of the flâneur, a cultural figure from 19th century France who strolled the streets of Paris documenting, via notes and sketches, the essence of the newly modernized city.

“I seek not only to revitalize the concept of the flâneur, but also to transform and adapt it, challenging the flâneur’s existence as a traditionally gendered phenomenon and introducing new forms of cultural documentation and preservation that were not available in the 19th century,” she said.

An Echols Scholar, Beam is a member of the University Programs Council and Spoon University, a student organization that serves as a food resource on Grounds. She is a graduate of Centennial High School.

“The University Award for Projects in the Arts will allow me to explore French culture through an interdisciplinary lens, broaden my cultural horizons and hone my artistic skills,” said Beam, who will travel to Paris this summer.

• Wesley Diener of Vienna, a second-year music major with a drama minor, who will attend an intense opera training program in France, where he will sing a full role in a major opera.

“Musical and theatrical performances have always been central to my identity and expression, so opera has truly served as a marriage of these two passions,” he said.   “This is an invaluable experience toward acquiring professional skills and forming connections.”

Diener was a member and former fundraising chairman of the First Year Players; tour manager of the University Singers; and a member of the Chamber Singers, Music Arts Board, Student Council Student Arts Committee, Spectrum Theatre, Art Scholars, Drama Department Production and the Virginia Players Reading Series.

Outside UVA, he was music director of DMR Adventures, which specializes in performing arts classes and productions; and a member of the Ash Lawn Opera and the Bethesda Music Festival. A 2014 graduate of James Madison High School, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in vocal performance for an opera performance career.

• Michael Giovinco of Mays Landing, New Jersey, a third-year drama and cognitive science major, who will seek to devise and produce an entire circus show that explores the relationship of old and new cirque.

“I am interested in all forms of movement, whether it be clown, cirque, dance, stage combat, puppetry or one of its many schools of thought,” Giovinco said. “One day, I would like to return to academia as a professor in movement direction.”

Giovinco is a Miller Arts Scholar, and a member of Virginia Circus, Virginia Players, First Year Players and the Drama Arts Board. He is also a member of Moonlight Circus.  A graduate of Oakcrest High School, he plans to pursue an M.F.A. in movement and/or devised performance.

“This scholarship is an opportunity for me to continue learning and working with art forms in a studio setting that are not traditionally considered academic, while applying research in the arts toward creation,” Giovinco said. “It acts as a culmination of what I have learned in my time at UVA. The documentation of my work will help me build my portfolio toward further academic ventures.”

• Peter Hazel of Arlington, a third-year dual interdisciplinary major in philosophy and film theory and practice, who is making a short film to examine color and black and white film and their affect on emotion and an understanding of beauty.

“In ‘Victory Over the Sun,’ Elizabeth, a printmaker and painter, goes fully color blind after experiencing sudden physical trauma,” Hazel said, describing his project. “The world, devoid of hues, becomes a strange place to Elizabeth, and her work becomes ugly to her. Elizabeth struggles to understand the world anew. She must create beauty through colorless tonality.”

Hazel is an Echols Scholar and is currently equipment manager and Virginia Videographers  chair of the Filmmakers Society. A Washington-Lee High School graduate, Hazel’s long-term goal is to be an assistant director or producer in the film industry.

“This award allows me to make my directorial debut, a step that is essential to my filmmaking career,” he said. “With this funding, I can concentrate my energy on the creative aspects of the film.”

• Sibet Duryea Partee of Alexandria, a second-year major in poetry writing who is enrolled in the Distinguished Majors Program in English, and is writing her thesis on the form and literature of podcasts in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“This award catalyzes me into my podcasting career, as I will be able to produce a professional-quality radio piece that will hopefully join the canon of stimulating, enrapturing audio stories,” Partee said. “I will be able to create a bond with my listeners by sharing my story with them, as well as with other podcasters, as I can share a product I am proud of with them.”

Partee is a member of the University Guide Service, Shakespeare on the Lawn, the Spectrum Theatre and a resident of the French House. She is also a member of the podcasting/radio group in the United Kingdom, “Sound Women,” and she maintains her own podcast, called “Come on, Bet!”

A graduate of St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School, she wants to be a professional podcaster and storyteller.

“I’m so overwhelmed and honored that I will get to contribute to the narrative fiction podcast canon with my pursuit over the next year,” she said. “Not only is it the commencement of my dream career, but the creative writing experience I have been craving.”

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications