During the fall quarter, in the face of extended restrictions of on-campus activities due to the pandemic, the Office of the Vice President for the Arts announced an expedited round of grants available to Stanford staff and faculty in any academic department or program to support three virtual visiting artists for the winter and spring quarters in 2021. The three artists chosen for 2021 are:
- Winter quarter – Composer, performer and media artist Pamela Z, hosted by the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) with support from the Department of Anthropology, will conduct technical and practice-based research on live electronic processing, sampled sound, digital looping techniques and networked performance. She will collaborate with campus music ensembles, guest lecture and conduct a masterclass for the Department of Music, and participate in a public Black Lives Matter concert.
- Winter/spring quarters – Artist and technologist Amelia Winger-Bearskin, hosted by the Native American Studies program with support from the Native American Cultural Center and the Graduate School of Education, will continue her work developing ethical frameworks for software development and co-creating systems of care and community accountability through code utilizing Indigenous ways of knowing and being. She will conduct workshops, guest lecture in a number of courses and present her work to the public in the annual Pamela Hanitchak Lecture.
- Spring quarter – Arab-American playwright Betty Shamieh, hosted by the Department of Theater and Performance Studies with support from the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, will participate in a long duration developmental workshop of the Stanford world premiere production of her newest play As Soon As Impossible. Students, faculty and staff will create a virtual lab environment for testing various scenes, the overall structure and providing real-time feedback in the process. The play will be presented virtually at the end of spring quarter.
The three grants are made possible by the Stanford Visiting Artist Fund in Honor of Roberta Bowman Denning (VAF).
The VAF grant program launched in 2019 with the announcement of four artists who were scheduled to be on campus at different times during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years. Due to the campus closure in March 2020 and the uncertainty of when the campus would reopen, it was decided that the inaugural VAF visiting artists who were selected for in-person residencies – Gauri Gill, Neçati Celik, Manu Luksch and Sabelo Mlangeni – would be rescheduled.
In order to not delay the impact of the VAF and in response to the special circumstances of the pandemic, the Office of the Vice President for the Arts (VPA) quickly offered virtual artist residencies for 2021. This modified program of virtual residencies allows students, faculty and staff to continue to engage with artists at a time when creativity and imagination are more important than ever in sustaining spirits and envisioning new futures. The grants also provide critical support to artists in our community amidst great economic uncertainty. Shamieh is a San Francisco native who has returned to the Bay Area for the coming year. Winger-Bearskin resides in the Sacramento area and Z is San Francisco based.
“The quick-round of Denning VAF awards this year was incredibly successful because we had so many strong applicants from departments across campus, which demonstrates the desire for and value of interdisciplinary creative collaborations,” said Ellen Oh, the VPA director of programs. “The committee chose three exceptional proposals to receive funding, which will bring three local BIPOC female artists into our virtual campus community this winter and spring. We are very grateful to Roberta and Steven Denning for making this program possible and for their continued meaningful support of the arts at Stanford.”
Oh is hopeful that she can help foster a community of practice with the cohort of VAF artists, Janani Balusabramanian, visiting artist hosted by the Institute for Diversity in the Arts and the Stanford Compression Forum, and Rashaad Newsome, the current visiting artist hosted by the Institute for Human-Centered AI, because they are all working with new technologies in their practices.
The VAF program, established by Steven Denning in honor of Roberta Bowman Denning and her dedication to the arts, was created to bring artists into Stanford classrooms and research labs in order to provide a stimulus in artistic thinking and aesthetic perspectives to disciplines across the university. The residencies are a high-impact, comprehensive and sustained investment in artistic excellence, creating a cohort of talent that will significantly contribute to the campus community and provide unique integrative educational experiences for students.
Image credits, left to right: Pamela Z photo courtesy of Shawn Harris; Amelia Winger-Bearskin photo courtesy of New Inc, New Museum, 2018; Betty Shamieh photo courtesy of the artist.