The University Record, May 24 , 1999

Arts of Citizenship Program awards first grants

From the Arts of Citizenship Program

The Arts of Citizenship Program has announced the recipients of its first faculty grants for public and community-based scholarly work in the arts and humanities.

“We were very pleased to receive 35 applications. The proposals underscored the commitment of U-M faculty to publicly-engaged work in the arts, humanities, and design,” comments program director David Scobey, assistant professor of history.

The goal of the grants program is to foster research, teaching and creative projects that explore culture in publicly accessible ways or that encourage innovative teaching and research in collaboration with community partners. Funds have been provided by the Office of the Vice President for Research and LS&A for three annual rounds of grants.

“The breadth of these projects is exciting,” Scobey adds. “There are proposals based in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint and elsewhere. They represent many different disciplines and community partners, and will generate a wide range of new work, including innovative curricula, exhibits, Web sites, visual art, architectural designs and collaborative research.”

For 1999–2000, an interdisciplinary selection committee awarded grants to the following projects:

Marianetta Porter (associate professor, art and design) and Lisa Olson (adjunct assistant professor, art and design) will explore the connections between African American and Appalachian cultures. In partnership with several educational and community organizations, the two artists will exhibit visual works locally and nationally to increase understanding of the parallel and converging traditions of Southern Blacks and Appalachian Whites.

Emily Spinelli (professor, Spanish, Dearborn), Margaret Flannery (senior counselor, Dearborn), and Stana Sukunda (lecturer, Spanish, Dearborn) will partner with the cultural organization Raíces Mexicanas to bring together Spanish-language students and Mexican-American Detroiters in a series of intergroup community-building projects.

Buzz Alexander (professor, English) and Janie Paul (lecturer, art and design) will provide art and creative writing workshops in juvenile detention centers and will research arts programs for incarcerated and at-risk youth around the country. The academic year will culminate with an exhibition of the teenagers‘ art.

Carol Jacobsen (assistant professor, art and design) will work with the Michigan Battered Women‘s Clemency Project to produce a video documentary and a Web site about women prisoners in Michigan who are seeking clemency. Materials will be distributed to activists, legislators, educators, students and criminal justice workers.

Robert Levit (assistant professor, architecture), and Ali Malkawi (assistant professor, environmental systems) will produce a series of prototype housing designs for urban neighborhoods with large tracts of abandoned land. The project grows out of the recent College of Architecture and Urban Planning design charrette on the Cass Corridor in Detroit. The designs will be exhibited in public venues in Detroit and presented in scholarly settings.

Elaine K. Gazda (professor, classical art and archaeology) will link a special exhibit on Pompeii at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and the Museum of Art (opening January 2000) with a pilot educational program at Pioneer High School. This project will assess the importance of an extraordinary cycle of ancient Pompeiian paintings to an understanding of the women of the Roman Empire and will explore how these paintings have inspired contemporary artists.

Nora Faires (associate professor and chair, history, and women‘s and gender studies, Flint) and Eric Worch (assistant professor, education, Flint) will collaborate with the Genesee Intermediate School District to place in classrooms an innovative middle-school curriculum on the nature of community. The organizers will train U-M-Flint undergraduates to help social studies teachers use the curriculum.

Maria Bonn (librarian, U-M Library) won support for “The Making of Ann Arbor,” a historical archive Web site sponsored by the Digital Library Initiative in collaboration with the Ann Arbor District Library and the Bentley Historical Library. Drawing upon the resources and expertise of the partners, Bonn will help create an online collection of documents connecting all citizens with the rich, local history of the Ann Arbor community.

James Chaffers (professor, architecture) and Robert Grese (associate professor, landscape architecture) will work with the North Central Neighborhood Association to study the Association‘s history of community design and to analyze the role of grassroots organizations in the urban planning process for a multi-ethnic, multi-racial economically diverse neighborhood.

The mission of the Arts of Citizenship Program is to build bridges between the university and the larger community in the arts and humanities. An outgrowth of the highly successful Year of Humanities and Arts (YoHA, 1997–98), Arts of Citizenship coordinates a variety of programs:

  • Community partnerships in which faculty and students work with schools, cultural institutions, public agencies and citizen groups.

  • Forums and visits by distinguished artists, intellectuals and cultural advocates.

  • Experimental teaching that mixes rigorous study with practical projects.

  • Support for innovative research and creative work that speaks to both academic and public audiences.

    For information, contact Scobey, 615-0609 or