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U-M American Culture lecturer wins Knight Arts Challenge Detroit Award

By Alana Valko

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Frances Kai-Hwa Wang, a lecturer in the University of Michigan’s American Culture department, was recently awarded a $25,000 grant as part of the 2019 Knight Arts Challenge in Detroit this October for a project that seeks to highlight Asian American voices. 

This year, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation narrowed down 36 winners out of hundreds of applicants in the 2019 Knight Arts Challenge Detroit. Now in its seventh year, this community-wide Knight Foundation initiative seeks to find and fund the best ideas for engaging and enriching Detroit through the arts. The 2019 challenge winners represent a broad variety of disciplines, including film, theater, literature and music. 

“We fund the arts because of their unique ability to tell the stories of our communities, connecting people to each other and to place. These Knight Arts Challenge winners put that belief into action in Detroit,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation. “Detroit’s artists and creators play a key role in acknowledging Detroit’s past and shaping its future. We can’t wait to see these winning projects come to fruition, telling Detroit’s stories, connecting residents through shared experiences, and contributing to the vibrancy of a great city.”

 Frances Kai-Hwa Wang was selected to win a $25,000 award for her project, “Beyond Vincent Chin: Legacies in Action and Art,” an anthology of essays by Asian American activists, as well as a digital archive that enables reflection by Asian American activists, artists and allies on the landmark Vincent Chin case. The digital archive will be housed at the U-M Library. 

In addition to receiving a Knight Arts Challenge award, Kai-Hwa Wang was recently named a Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights Detroit Equity Action Lab Race and Justice Reporting Initiative Fellow, where she spearheads stories on arts and culture in Detroit that demonstrate how artists and creators of color are responding to the social injustices faced by their communities.