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Smithsonian Awards Fellowships to 10 Artists to Conduct Research at Museums and Research Facilities

May 12, 2009

The Smithsonian Institution has awarded fellowships to 10 artists to conduct research at Smithsonian museums and research facilities as part of the Institution’s Artist Research Fellowship Program. The 10 artists are Kader Attia (Paris), Peter Coffin (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Jamal Cyrus (Houston), Nancy Friedemann-Sanchez (born in Colombia; living in New York), Brian Jungen (Vancouver, British Columbia), Candice Lin (Los Angeles), Linn Meyers (Washington, D.C.), Henrique Oliveira (São Paulo, Brazil), J. Morgan Puett (Beach Lake, Penn.) and Alison Elizabeth Taylor (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

The Smithsonian’s Artist Research Fellowship Program was launched in 2007 to award research fellowships to accomplished artists in the United States and from abroad.

“While the Smithsonian has long hosted historians, scientists and other researchers, the Artist Research Fellowship program invites artists to come to the Smithsonian to discover, explain and react to its holdings and expertise,” said Jane Milosch from the Smithsonian’s Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture. “Possibly no other artist residency program in the United States, or perhaps the world, offers artists access to such a wide range of interdisciplinary collections and scholarship.”

A panel of 14 art curators and scholars from throughout the Smithsonian reviewed the applications. They selected the artists from 64 applicants nominated by national and international art curators, independent art critics and scholars and former artist research fellows. The fellowships include a financial award that enables the artists to use Smithsonian resources for a two-month residency period.

French artist Attia will conduct research at the National Museum of African Art. He will investigate the Congo’s cultural capacity to recycle and reprocess what Western society produces, consumes and throws away, and how Western culture represents these objects in museographic, scientific or aesthetic contexts.

Coffin, from Brooklyn, N.Y., will conduct research to consider building an advanced “Stellartron,” a device for receiving interstellar communication, and his research will be based at the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass.

Cyrus, from Houston, will investigate “sonic resistance,” the role of music in the development of mass political awareness, and the role of the music industry as a positive or negative force in this equation. His research will be conducted at the National Museum of American History, the Center for Folklife and Culture Heritage and the National Portrait Gallery.

New York artist Friedemann-Sanchez will examine botanical illustrations and lace from the colonial era in the United States and compare them with historical lace designs depicted in colonial paintings. She will work with the lace collection at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Museum of Natural History.

Jungen, from Canada, will divide his research between the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Air and Space Museum. He will investigate the connections between the scientific study of air and space and Native American beliefs regarding air and space to create an artwork in conjunction with his 2009-2010 exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian.

California artist Lin will focus her research at the National Museum of Natural History, where she will investigate photographs and documents that record anthropologists or artists constructing ideas and images of alterity—the construction of cultural “otherness”—and different cultures. She also plans to spend time doing research at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center.

Meyers, from Washington, D.C., will explore the elastic qualities of time by studying time-keeping objects, renderings of these devices and physical theories, as well as works of art, to explain the subjective experience and physical nature of time in the collections at the National Museum of American History, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

Brazilian artist Oliveira will compare the techniques of abstract expressionist paintings and their surfaces to textures and forms found in nature. He will also research the interactions between malleable materials—particularly wood—and design. His research will use the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Museum of Natural History and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York.

Puett, from Beach Lake, Penn., will focus her research in the National Museum of American History’s costume collection, investigating the role of fashion and textile design in everyday forms from work uniforms to domestic interiors to working people, as well as the conservation and preservation of these objects.

Brooklyn, N.Y., artist Taylor will explore the collections at the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York to examine the many ways in which artists memorialize stories through the labor-intensive technique of inlay, and conduct an historical and cross-cultural study of the many different aesthetic approaches and materials that inform the technical effects of the inlay process.

This fellowship program is a collaboration of the Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture and the Office of Fellowships. For more information about the program and past artist research fellows visit www.si.edu/research/webcasts or send inquiries to awards@si.edu.

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SI-127-2009

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Samia Brennan
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