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2021 Roman J. Witt Artist in Residence: Tracey Snelling

2021 Roman J. Witt Artist in Residence: Tracey Snelling

The Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Michigan are pleased to announce the 2021 Roman J. Witt Artist in Residence: Tracey Snelling.

An artist living and working in Berlin, Germany, Snelling sparks meaningful community conversations about shelter and homelessness. Her creative explorations examine both the tangible assets and the emotional underpinnings of “home” as a place and a feeling.

For her Roman J. Witt Residency, Snelling will create an installation in the Institute for Humanities Gallery (IH) at 202 S. Thayer Street, as well as an additional installation at a site to be determined, both curated by Amanda Krugiak, Arts Curator and Assistant Director, Arts Programming at IH and Chrisstina Hamilton, Director of the Roman Witt Residency Program at the Stamps School.

Tracey Snelling, Tenement Rising, 2016 128 x 94 x 53 in. Mixed media sculptural installation with video.  

The installations will highlight Snelling’s work with university students, teens, and children in Washtenaw County. Through guided workshops and prompts from the artist, youths will create small scale houses, apartments, and shelters reflective of their own experience as a way to bring together communities and reaffirm our relationships to one another.

Snelling’s project fosters belonging despite all of the different ways we live and co-exist, beyond structures and times of remoteness. In her 2016 exhibition, One Thousand Shacks, Snelling explored the impacts of global poverty on housing. Similarly, this project in Ann Arbor offers a point of reflection about the meaning of home — and the inequities and struggles of those who do not have one.

Tracey Snelling, One Thousand Shacks, 2016. 192 x 120 x 24 in. Mixed media sculptural installation with video.

“The ongoing lack of affordable health care, systematic racism, class division, economic downturn, and the impacts of climate change all contribute to homelessness globally, and the limited options available for so many," states Snelling. "By working on this project with UM students and youth in Michigan, I hope to not only raise awareness of housing precarity but also be responsive together as a community... to the challenges facing our fellow citizens.”

Tracey Snelling, One Thousand Shacks (detail), 2016. 192 x 120 x 24 in. Mixed media sculptural installation with video.

Snelling’s use of sculpture, photography, video, and large-scale installation often explores her impression of a place, its people, and their experiences. Snelling’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Belgium; Palazzo Reale, Milan; Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Kunstmuseen Krefeld Germany; El Museo de Arte de Banco de la Republica, Bogota; the Stenersen Museet, Oslo, and the Sundance Film Festival. Her work was exhibited at the 2019 Havana Biennale and Venice Biennale. Snelling’s last engagement with the University of Michigan was in 2017, with Tracey Snelling: Here and There, an Institute for Humanities Gallery exhibition. Snelling was also a 2017 recipient of the Institute for the Humanities Public Policy Fellowship.

“We are thrilled to present the work of Tracey Snelling and to team up with our valued partner Chrisstina Hamilton and the Witt Residency program,” says Amanda Krugliak, Arts Curator, Institute for the Humanities. “Tracey’s work has always given us a much needed global perspective, recognizing we are inter-connected, and we have a responsibility to one another to co-exist respectfully, to be inclusive, to be responsive to the needs of our fellow citizens as human beings. We are all part of a shared community and it is up to us to think beyond one’s self, to activate and energize the spaces we create and occupy, in order to live and build futures.”

Tracey Snelling, Rooms, 2017. Small scale rooms with video.

“I am so delighted to be partnering with the Institute for the Humanities on our first “themed” residency. Access to affordable housing is a challenge that our community has been grappling with for a long time, with disparities amplified even further by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Chrisstina Hamilton, Director of the Roman Witt Residency Program. “Snelling’s work within the ‘learning lab’ of the residency brings us together to explore the weight of these challenges through a gathered, personal lense— something we need to do in order to create the empathy and understanding necessary to find solutions and build lasting change in our community.”

Tracey Snelling, Dude's Room, Girl's Room, detail, 2017. 8 x 24 x 12 in. Mixed media sculpture with video.


To learn more about Tracey Snelling’s work, visit her website: traceysnelling.com

Top image: Tracey Snelling, Dude's Room, Girl's Room, 2017. 8 x 24 x 12 in. Mixed media sculpture with video.