Creative Cities

For the 2018-2019 academic year, the Stanford Arts Institute will continue work on a new project called Creative Cities. Seeking to advance and understand the historical and future roles of art in cities, our project fosters research, conversation, and artistic projects in urban settings. Using the city as the stage for inquiry, the project will pose questions about the role of art in reimagining the urban sphere, creative economies, urban studies, the built environment, and more.

There are two main programmatic elements to this project: our year-long fellowship, and the Creative Cities Working Group.

Our year-long fellowship invites two scholars to Stanford to conduct research in this area, teach one class each, and further the campus conversation about creative cities. This year’s fellows are Nicholas Gamso and Magie Ramírez. Each will have a public talk and event about their research – further details will be posted on this page as they develop.

The Creative Cities Working Group engages a broad array of Bay Area writers, thinkers, artists and curators who are engaging critical thought at the nexus of art and urban life.

Creative Cities Fellowship

Stanford Arts Institute hosts the Creative Cities Fellowship which brings together individuals with a strong record of scholarly research and/or creative work on the intersection of art and urban centers. Reaching across disciplines (such as economics, public policy, urban renewal) as well as artistic media, Fellows will examine the role of art in cities, conduct research, and teach an undergraduate course during their year on campus.

The Creative Cities Fellowship is supported by the Office of the President.

Current Fellows:

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Nicholas Gamso

Stanford Arts Institute will host Nick Gamso during 2018-19 as a Creative Cities Fellow.

Magie Ramirez

Magie Ramírez

Stanford Arts Institute will host Magie Ramírez during 2018-19 as a Creative Cities Fellow.

Previous Fellows:


Samuel Franklin - Visiting Assistant Professor, Brown University

Gülgün Kayim - Director of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy
City of Minneapolis, Minnesota


Andrew Herscher - Associate Professor, University of Michigan
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Department of the History of Art
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Johanna Taylor - Assistant Professor, Arizona State University
Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Creative Cities Working Group

The working group on Creative Cities is an invited group of scholars, artists, and curators from across the Bay Area who will meet regularly throughout the academic year to further their research and examine the relationship between creativity and urban places from a broad array of disciplinary perspectives. Stanford Arts Institute Faculty Director Peggy Phelan has invited Michael Kahan, co-director of the Program on Urban Studies at Stanford University, to lead these sessions.


Michael Kahan


Michael B. Kahan is the co-director of the Program on Urban Studies at Stanford University, and a senior lecturer in Sociology. His interest in the historical transformation of urban space has led to publications on topics including the integration of streetcars in the 1850s, sanitation reform in the 1890s, the geography of prostitution in the 1910s, and redevelopment in California in the 1990s. He holds a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, both in history.

Working Group Statement of Purpose

"Cities have been hubs of creative expression and innovation for millennia. As sociologist Howard Becker reminds us, art is a collective activity, and cities supply many of the social needs—audiences, patrons, suppliers, markets, capital – that enable the creation, distribution, and consumption of art. Of course, cities are not always nurturing environments for creative production. City governments may regulate, harass, and censor; city land prices may be too high for artists to afford. But for better or worse, cities are more than just a background or a setting for art; they actively shape the creation and reception of art in countless ways."

Continue reading full statement here.

Working Group Members


John Barton
Architectural Design, Stanford University

Tom Beischer
Architectural Design, Stanford University

Abby Chen
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco – Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture

Janet Delaney
Independent Visual Artist

Lindsey Dillon
Sociology, UC Santa Cruz

Gordon Douglas
Urban and Regional Planning, San José State University

Ala Ebtekar
Art & Art History and Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Stanford University

Shelley Fisher Fishkin
English and American Studies, Stanford University

Jacqueline Francis
Visual and Critical Studies, California College of the Arts

Cynthia Garcia
Modern Thought & Literature, Stanford University

Nicholas Gamso
Creative Cities Fellow, Stanford University

Julia Grinkrug
Academy of Art University

Rachel Heiman
Humanities Center Fellow, Stanford University

Gina Hernandez
Arts in Undergraduate Education, Stanford University

Betti-Sue Hertz
Curator, Arts Administrator, Writer and Educator

Michael Kahan
Urban Studies, Stanford University

Ian Klaus
Chicago Council on Global Affairs


Marci Kwon
Art & Art History, Stanford University

S. Topiary Landberg
Film & Digital Media, UC Santa Cruz

Jason Luger
Environmental Design, UC Berkeley

Katherine Mezur
Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley

Cameron Mirhossaini
Computer Science and Mathematics, Stanford University

Jenny Odell
Art & Art History, Stanford University

Lyndsey Ogle
Theater, Dance, & Performance Studies, UC Berkeley

Grant Parker
Classics and African Studies, Stanford University

Peggy Phelan
English and Theater & Performance Studies, Stanford University
Denning Family Director, Stanford Arts Institute

Magie Ramírez
Creative Cities Fellow, Stanford University

Jasmine Reid
Anthropology, Stanford University

Rose Salseda
Art & Art History, Stanford University

Jennifer Scappettone
Humanities Center Fellow, Stanford University
English, University of Chicago

Meg Shiffler
San Francisco Arts Commission

Joshua Stein
Radical Craft

John Zarobell
International Studies, University of San Francisco

Kathy Zarur
Visual Studies, California College of the Arts

Working Group Schedule of Meetings

Participation in the Creative Cities Working Group is by invitation only.


Upcoming Talks

Upcoming talks to be announced.


Recent Talks

April 25, 2019
Rose Salseda
"Invisible Ruins: Mapping an Art History of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots"

April 11, 2019
Jacqueline Francis and Kathy Zarur

February 28, 2019
Marci Kwon
"The Evasive Bodies of May's Photo Studio"

February 14, 2019
Gordon Douglass
"Problematizing Place, Placemaking, and Displacement in Contexts of Extreme Inequality"

January 31, 2019
Joyce Kozloff
"Joyce Kozloff: Representing and Mapping Cities"

January 17, 2019
Lindsey Dillon
"How Nature Makes Cities: Wetland Restoration on San Francisco’s Industrial Waterfront"

November 29, 2018
Abby Chen
"Art with Spatial Politics of (China)Town State"

November 8, 2018
Nick Gamso
"Quiet: Beneath the Creative City"

October 18, 2018
Magie Ramírez
"Sonic Geographies in a Borderland City"

October 4, 2018
Peggy Phelan
"Andy Warhol: Photography and the City"