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U-M Institute for the Humanities receives $1.14M Mellon grant for 'High Stakes Art'

By Stephanie Harrell

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ANN ARBOR—The Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan has been awarded a four-year, $1.14 million grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support “High Stakes Art,” a project designed to enhance exhibitions and programming at the Institute for the Humanities Gallery.

“With High Stakes Art, we aim to make critical engagements with contemporary art urgent for humanities scholars and publics in southeast Michigan, particularly around social issues of concern,” said Peggy McCracken, director of the Institute for the Humanities.

The Institute for the Humanities Gallery has a history of effectively engaging with the campus and community, and of prioritizing art that addresses social inequality and injustice, she said. 

“High Stakes Art” will allow for an expansion of programming, providing resources for an enhanced exhibition schedule and stronger, more sustained outreach efforts to promote serious engagement with the arts as a form of research on and knowledge about contemporary cultural controversies and concerns.

Grant funding will support extending the reach of exhibitions, a Detroit artist’s residency, the creation of targeted outreach projects and additional staffing. New exhibitions will include a public project by an internationally recognized artist, a group exhibition in summer, and a series of pop-up exhibitions by local and regional artists. 

“We plan an ambitious schedule of activities designed to draw humanities faculty and students into the gallery and to structure interactions with art objects as sources of meaning-making and with exhibitions as sites of social and political engagement,” McCracken said. “We also plan to look outward and put in place an array of collaborations connecting our gallery to communities outside the university.”

According to Institute for the Humanities curator Amanda Krugliak, the goal of the initiative is to make the Institute for the Humanities Gallery into a vibrant, lively site for the exploration of art, contemporary issues and social justice in southeast Michigan.

“With this funding, the gallery will be able to engage communities even more in challenging conversations with the potential to affect real social change,” said Krugliak, whose curatorial vision has guided the gallery program since 2007.

Planning for the project will start immediately, with the first programming and exhibitions beginning in September 2020.


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