Eight Indiana University faculty members have been awarded the inaugural IU Presidential Arts and Humanities Fellowship in 2022. The program aims to accelerate and amplify the work of outstanding IU faculty poised to become national and international leaders in their fields.
The first cohort of fellows includes Heather Akou, Edward Curtis, Stephanie DeBoer, Robert Horvath, Lasana Kazembe, Rowland Ricketts, Sergio Ospina Romero and Uranchimeg Tsultem. Their research and artistic activities range from fashion to media studies.
“Congratulations to the inaugural Presidential Arts and Humanities fellows who exemplify the top researchers and artists in their fields,” IU President Pamela Whitten said. “We are proud that they represent Indiana University’s stellar arts and humanities community and we are committed to supporting their collaboration and scholarship.”
Each recipient will receive $50,000 in funding to support their research or creative project, participate in professional development and collaborate with other faculty. With this funding, fellows are expected to make significant scholarly and creative advancements in their field, collaborate with each other to improve their work and be recognized as leaders in the arts and humanities by the university.
"The Presidential Arts and Humanities Fellows Program is dedicated to supporting people as much as projects," said Ed Dallis-Comentale, associate vice provost of arts and humanities at IU Bloomington. "The combination of funding and professional development support, in the form of grant writing, publicity, networking and other essential areas, advances the whole scholar and boosts his or her entire career. Everyone in this group is primed to advance their career in significant ways, and we are eager to help move that process forward."
The 2022 IU Presidential Arts and Humanities Fellows are:
- Heather Akou, associate professor of fashion design and the director of fashion design in the School of Art, Architecture + Design. Akou’s research interests include the history of fashion, dress and the body; laws and politics regarding fashion; and museum collections. Akou will use the funding to publish her monograph on the history of work uniforms in the U.S. and focus on new methods to engage the public about her research.
- Edward Curtis IV, William M. and Gail M. Plater Chair of the Liberal Arts and professor of religious studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. His academic interests include Africana religions, Islamic studies, U.S. history, modern Middle East and religion and politics. Curtis witnessed how academic communities fell apart during the pandemic and plans on using the IUPAH cohort to help rebuild the academic sphere back to what it once was. He will be working on a comprehensive history of Arab America during his fellowship year.
- Stephanie DeBoer, associate professor of cinema and media studies in The Media School. Her interests include global media studies, screen cultures and media infrastructures. DeBoer's research, creative activities and teaching address the co-constitution of place, space and location as they are produced within transnational, regional and urban screen media cultures. Her project work will focus on a manuscript that explores the dynamics of urban screens in Hong Kong and Shanghai and expand on collaborative projects with support from the fellowship.
- Robert Horvath, associate professor of painting in the Herron School of Art and Design. He has used his art to express gender, sexuality and the impact of hedonism in youth. His fellowship will result in a large-scale “period room” art project commenting on humankind’s corruption of nature that will be displayed at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
- Lasana Kazembe, assistant professor in the School of Education at IUPUI. His research focuses on culturally sustaining pedagogy, the arts and arts-based learning and social and racial justice in education. Kazembe hopes the cohort will help expand and bolster unheard and underrepresented voices in academia. He is working on a multimedia opera on the life of Paul Robeson as well as a digital hub exploring the epistemologies of Africana peoples.
- Rowland Ricketts, professor of studio art in the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design. Ricketts’ work utilizes natural dyes and historical processes to create contemporary textiles that span art and design. Ricketts intends on studying how the creation of textiles has impacted ideas of American identity and will produce a series of works based on his studies.
- Sergio Ospina Romero, assistant professor of musicology in the Jacobs School of Music. His research and publications deal primarily with sound reproduction technologies, Latin American music and jazz in the early twentieth century. Ospina Romero is an advocate for interdisciplinary work and research, and he hopes the cohort will provide opportunities to promote it. During his fellowship year, he will work on a book about the emergence of sound recording in Latin America and the Caribbean in the early twentieth century.
- Uranchimeg Tsultem , Edgar and Dorothy Fehnel Chair in International Studies and assistant professor of art history in the Herron School of Art + Design. Her research focuses on Mongolian art and culture, mainly Buddhist art and architecture and contemporary Asian art. Tsultem sees the IUPAH cohort as her opportunity to better understand environmental art history and complete an exhibition project showcasing Herron faculty’s art about the environment at the National Modern Art Gallery. She will also be working to complete a manuscript on eco-aesthetics in Mongolian art and culture.
We are very pleased with the mix of scholars and interests that defines our first fellows cohort," said Jason Kelly, director of the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute. "The group consists of scholars from both of IU’s main campuses, from all three ranks, and it represents an equal mix of artists and humanists. That said, while the group is diverse in both background and experience, they share many common interests, and they are all pursuing similar or overlapping goals – professionally, intellectually and creatively."
The IU Presidential Arts and Humanities program provides funding in support of research and creative activity through a variety of mechanisms, including a Fellows Program as well as travel and production grants. The IU Research website outlines each of the categories of funding as well as eligibility and application requirements. All grant categories are currently open for applications.