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Arts Initiative names eight for Public Art & Engagement Fellowship

Jessica Jenks

Eight University of Michigan faculty, fellows and staff have been named Public Art & Engagement Fellows by the Arts Initiative. From top left to right: Anca Trandafirescu, David Porter, Emilia Yang, Melanie Manos, Jason Young, Jennifer Junkermeier-Khan, Vyta Pivo, Kevin Bernard Moultrie Daye

Eight University of Michigan faculty, fellows and staff have been named Public Art & Engagement Fellows by the Arts Initiative, a program committed to amplifying the role and significance of the arts within the campus and regional communities.

The intensive 18-month fellowship aims to expand public understanding of monuments, memorials and collective memories at the intersection of the arts, humanities and social and racial justice.

It will launch over fall break Oct. 17-18 with a trip to Philadelphia to explore the changing definitions of what constitutes a monument, and will include regular sessions on campus throughout the academic year with Curator-in-Residence Paul Farber.

Farber is the founder and director of Monument Lab, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit dedicated to cultivating critical dialogues about past, present and future monuments.

As part of the fellowship, the Arts Initiative will provide each participant a stipend and support for travel, and will help facilitate sessions led by Farber and guest cultural experts over six sessions, culminating in fall 2023.

The sessions will cover urgent issues related to public art — who and what is commemorated in public spaces — as well as encourage relationships across U-M’s campuses and with regional partners. The fellowship is part of a wider partnership with the U-M Museum of Art and Monument Lab.

“The times we are living through are prompting both the public and institutions to examine our history as a nation, and consider timely questions about what we memorialize, how, and in what public forms” said Christina Olsen, co-chair of the Arts Initiative and director of UMMA.

“We’re excited to provide an opportunity for U-M faculty and staff to engage in significant conversations around monumentality, public art, and collective memory through this interdisciplinary fellowship.”

The 2022-23 Public Art & Engagement Fellows are:

  • Jennifer Junkermeier-Khan, outreach and public engagement coordinator, Stamps Gallery.
  • Melanie Manos, lecturer II in art and design and Janie Paul Collegiate Lecturer, Stamps School.
  • Kevin Bernard Moultrie Daye, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Spatial and Racial Justice Fellow.
  • Vyta Pivo, Michigan Society of Fellows fellow in architecture, Taubman College.
  • David Porter, professor of English and comparative literature, LSA.
  • Anca Trandafirescu, associate professor of architecture, Taubman College.
  • Emilia Yang, assistant professor of art and design, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, Anti-Racism by Design
    Jason Young, associate professor of history, LSA.

The fellowship is a pilot for a wider set of programs and residencies that will explore the theme of Michigan monuments and facilitate activities that support research and creative practice.

The fellows also will engage with networking opportunities that showcase how municipalities and institutions grapple with the stories told through their public art, acknowledging the stories that have been left out of shared histories. The inaugural cohort of fellows represents a diverse set of disciplines and perspectives on the role of monuments and public art in our communities.

The Monument Lab partnership with U-M is designed to examine how history gets made and remade through public art, and it will leverage public artistic practice as a catalyst for imagining a more just future for the state of Michigan.

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