The first two VAF artists are Turkish ud player and composer Necati Çelik and Indian photographer Gauri Gill

New Visiting Artist Fund in Honor of Roberta Bowman Denning (VAF) brings international artists into Stanford classrooms across campus.

The Office of the Vice President for the Arts at Stanford University announces the first two artists in the new Visiting Artist Fund in Honor of Roberta Bowman Denning (VAF). The program brings international artists into Stanford classrooms in order to provide a stimulus in artistic thinking and aesthetic perspectives to disciplines across the university. VAF plans to insert practicing artists into a variety of environments on campus—not just the familiar stage and gallery—for a significant period of time, preferably a full academic quarter. VAF covers housing, studio space and project expenses related to the residency, as well as an honorarium.

The first two VAF artists are Turkish ud player and composer Necati Çelik, co-hosted by the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies and the Department of Music, and Indian photographer Gauri Gill (MFA ’02), co-hosted by the Department of Art and Art History, the Center for South Asia and the Cantor Arts Center. Both artists will be on campus spring quarter 2020 to teach, conduct workshops, develop their own work and participate in a public event.

Necati Çelik is globally considered to be the foremost living master ud (fretless lute) musician, improviser and composer. He will be co-teaching a course with Denise Gill, assistant professor of ethnomusicology and of Islam and the arts, who is also a celebrated kanun (trapezoidal zither) player. Bringing an artist of Çelik’s skill level and international reputation fulfills the Department of Music’s commitment to non-Western music and allows Stanford to present the best of Ottoman, Anatolian and Turkish music to audiences. During his time on campus, Çelik will co-create a Stanford Ottoman Music Ensemble, conduct workshops at the Markaz Resource Center and perform a newly-written composition at Bing Concert Hall in a recital with Denise Gill.

Gauri Gill’s work sits at the intersection of photography, anthropology and performance studies. Part ethnographic intervention and part community art project, Gill’s photographs are intimate portrayals of local communities and material traces that speak to collective experiences in an increasingly individualized and globalized world. Her residency is expected to be part of a larger conversation about the arts and their place at Stanford. While at Stanford in spring 2020, Gill will conduct master classes in photography, have a public conversation about contemporary South Asian art, and work closely with students and Cantor curators to reimagine the museum’s Asian art galleries.

Roberta Bowman Denning, former chair of the Arts Advisory Council, states, “I am thrilled that Necati Çelik and Gauri Gill will be the first two recipients of the Visiting Artist Fund, sharing their talents with the Stanford community in numerous ways.”

All academic departments and programs at Stanford are invited to submit proposals to host a visiting artist in 2020-21. The application deadline will be in October 2019. More information can be found here: