University of Virginia Presents Arts Awards to 14 Students

June 16, 2010 — Ten University of Virginia students have received grants to support mentored artistic endeavors from a University-wide program. Four additional students received similar awards from the College of Arts & Sciences.

The University Undergraduate Award for Arts Projects grants, which debuted last year, were presented to 10 students for nine projects in genres including music, dance and film. Modeled on the Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards, they give the students up to $3,000 for projects that expand their expression and showcase artistic accomplishments.

The University-wide awards are funded by the College, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Office of the Vice President and Chief Information Officer, the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, the vice provost for academic programs, the vice provost for international programs and the vice provost for the arts. They are open to all undergraduates, regardless of schools or majors.

"The Arts Awards program began to give students who are interested in the arts an opportunity to engage in the same independent inquiry and creativity as those who work in science labs or engage in scholarship in the humanities," said J. Milton Adams, vice provost for academic programs. "Students' independent creative art deepens their esthetic understanding, helps them apply what they have learned in the classroom, and, for those who want graduate study or a career in the arts, it helps them prepare a portfolio of work."

The College of Arts and Sciences funds its own additional art awards, also worth up to $3,000, for students majoring in music, drama or studio art, or minoring in dance.

Likewise, "The College Arts Scholars program is a key part of the College's more general commitment to the arts in our undergraduate curriculum, our academic programs and our service to the public," said Bruce Holsinger, associate dean for the arts and humanities. "By providing our students with unique experiences in creative and performing arts environments around the world – whether in Kenya, Berlin or Los Angeles – the Arts Scholars program cultivates the particular rigor of the arts as a form of inquiry that should be an indispensable part of any liberal arts institution's core mission."

Student projects this year include filmmaking, dance performances, photographic exhibits and singing performances.

"I'm particularly inspired by the range of topics and media selected for this year," said Beth Turner, vice provost for the arts, who commended the students on the completeness of their applications. "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.

"I am delighted by the growth in this program," said Lucy Russell, director of the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, of the University-wide grants. "There is a high level of student interest, as well as wonderful support from offices throughout the University. The award recipients are undertaking significant creative projects, and I am confident that each of them will learn from the experience."

The College of Arts & Sciences has also awarded $500 arts scholarships to four incoming first-year students.

The winners of the University-wide arts awards are:

• Lindsey Arturo, 19, a second-year student with an undeclared major, who will make a short film.

• Kelsey Nix, 21, a rising fourth-year student double majoring in art history and studio art cinematography, who will be making a film with fellow arts award winner Lindsey Arturo.

• Maura Tousignant, 19, a rising third-year student double majoring in comparative literature and Middle Eastern studies, with a dance minor, who will study dance in Yalova, Turkey. There she will "participate in a dance intensive to study whirling, as a form of Sufi mysticism still practiced by dervishes today. I will also receive private sessions to learn Persian folkloric dance forms."

• Aishwarya Sriram, 20, a second-year student majoring in commerce with a minor in dance, who will study the evolution and relevance of Bharata Natyam, a classical Indian dance, in the Western and modern world.

• Alexandra Dimitri, 21, a third-year student majoring in American Studies and Studio Art, who is researching shifting spaces and navigating the grid.

• Hannah Meredith, 20, a rising third-year biomedical engineering major, who will explore the science of artistic cooking.

• Debra Cohen, 20, a rising fourth-year student majoring in studio art with a concentration in cinematography and photography, who will create three short films and series of 10 to 15 photographs that deal with the creation of atmospheric spaces and the perception of time.

• William Brumas, 19, a rising second-year student majoring in aerospace engineering, who will make a documentary about his summer swim team to investigate the social workings of a unique community. 

• Melanie Ashkar, 20, a third-year student majoring in music and linguistics, who will explore the use of the mezzo-soprano voice in 18th- through 20th-century music to express both male and female characters and narrators. She will attend the American Institute of Musical Studies program in Graz, Austria.

• Alex Wallace, 19, a first-year student majoring in music and Spanish, who will be researching composing music based on data collected from sensors (accelerometers, light sensors, brain wave sensors) used during various human endeavors, many of which have an ecological bent.

This year's College Arts Scholars are:

• Cornelia Granbery, 21, a third-year economics major with a dance minor, who will research various dance genres through classes in New York City and interning with the Dance Film Association.

• Jacquie Walters, 21, a fourth-year Echols Scholar with interdisciplinary major in film and theatre performance, who will be using her award to assist her with three internships in Los Angeles ¬– two with major casting directors and one with a manager.

• Martha B. Eason, 20, a rising fourth-year student majoring in music and arts administration major, who will participate in the Georgia State Opera Scenes Program's "Harrower Opera Workshop" as a singer, then travel to Italy for the Opera Festival Di Roma, where she will be an arts administration intern and also take part in the opera scenes workshops as a singer.

• Caroline McCraw, 21, a rising fourth-year student with a double major in English in the poetry writing program and studio art concentrating in photography, who will create a body of photographs around T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," in a visual conversation.

— By Matt Kelly