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2022 Undergraduate Research Awards Announced

Four undergraduate students at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design will receive funding for their research projects during the Winter 2022 semester.

The faculty committee of Jane Prophet, Associate Dean for Research and Creative Work, Endi Poskovic, Professor, and Phoebe Gloeckner, Associate Professor awarded the four grants to the students. In announcing the recipients, Prophet said, Their proposals represented the way Stamps curricula support a wonderful range of ideas and media.” 

Poskovic added that undergraduate research opportunities give students an important lesson that will guide them in their work in the future. This is an excellent opportunity for Stamps students to get involved with the process of applying for funding in support of their creative work and research, and to receive constructive feedback. It allows them a taste of what it is to do this on a regular basis, which, for an artist and designer, is an integral component of their work.”

Using diverse, creative approaches, the students will explore themes related to existential dread, ecology, anthropology, and water quality. In their own words, the students describe the approaches they will take in their research.

Blake Borgeson

For my final thesis as a senior in the Stamps School of Art and Design, I am creating a series of surreal and macabre photographs that explore the elements of existential dread. In order to capture my journey through existential dread, I will use photography to emulate what I can describe as ever-present vertigo.” With the funding of this grant, this series will occupy a pre-existing 3‑walled studio space with images that depict human subjects in surreal settings. The models will serve to represent the physical body while the settings will represent the environment conjured by my thoughts. This photo essay will be submitted as my Integrative Project for my BFA degree.”

On the left, a red and black image of a face.  On the right, a process image shows ceramic forms.
Photograph from a series of surreal and macabre images, and process image that showcases a portion of the ceramic forms.

Jenna John

Erotic Ecologies is an interdisciplinary performance, romance, and celebration of bodily collisions involving a hole and ecological study of soil, plant communities, and animal inhabitants within a 15 by 15 m plot of a forested ecosystem. By April, this ecological spectacle will accumulate in an exhibition of work collected between this place and away in order to commemorate this process, unfolding relationship, and erotic discoveries in the meeting of bodies. Recorded performances and interventions will be played on monitors mounted next to paintings, drawings, and photographs. The space will be flooded with soft music made from the site’s sounds, and work from my field journal will be shared alongside other writing in a book. After the exhibition, community members will be invited to a celebratory ceremony at the site in May. In ceremony invitations, I will ask those attending to write love letters to the Earth that share memories of earthly experiences and dreams of futures full of flourishing. The ceremony will conclude with the letters shared and then placed in the hole to be buried, filling the Earth with love and bringing closure to this unlikely romance.”

Photo of a basket containing botanical tools and equipment on the forest floor

Alyssa Tarry

I would like to continue my anthropological and literary research on one of the west’s ultimate taboos, cannibalism. This would culminate in a narrative comic exploring the west’s racist and demonizing view of what was a complicated practice in many past Amazon communities.

The project will be multi-paneled, 4 – 5 pages total. Background elements will be done with ink, watercolor, and paper, while the text and subjects of the art will be done digitally. Sketching out the pages and writing the script should take me around three weeks. Painting the backgrounds two weeks, and the digital illustration and text additions a month. Looking at western art that represents cannibalism like children’s fairytales, vampire and zombie movies, and various iconic paintings will help explore how this complicated practice has been deemed a ground zero of human culture, while also being constantly represented in main media.”

Black and white illustration of a female figure with dark hair
Sketch for the cover of a comic

Lauren Trail

I am creating a graphic novel series that draws attention to the issues related to water quality, compiling a variety of narrative vignettes centered on the Great Lakes. Following a range of characters located in a variety of places ranging from cottages on Lake Erie to sand dunes outside Gary, Indiana, these books explore water pollution, quality, personal reflection, and the lasting question of where do we go from here?’ Aimed at middle school to high school audiences, these books will reflect with, educate, and empower our youth to think of their own lives and the relation to water that plays such a vital role in our lives and planet.

Centered on the stories of people and science, this project entails a plethora of research. Compiled of six books and narratives, this series will be inspired by individuals’ experiences, interweaving their stories with science and water quality issues around the Great Lakes.”

Color illustration of a woman floating in a body of water