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Meet the 2022 Big Idea Award Applicants

Climate change, suicide, and public art are just some of the issues that Stamps Seniors are tackling in their proposed 2022 Big Idea Award (BIA) submissions.

The students are channeling the words of school namesake Penny W. Stamps, who challenged students in her April 2018 commencement speech by asking What’s your big idea? What are you willing to spend your moral capital, your intellectual capital, your sweat equity in pursuing outside the walls of the University of Michigan? You have your artistic skills, now develop your ideas — your big idea,” she said. Imagination has no limits.”

The BIA was established to honor Penny, and it provides one Stamps senior or team of eligible Stampers with $25,000 to help launch a major, ambitious project after graduation. 

The 2022 winner will be announced as part of the Stamps Commencement celebration on Saturday, April 30th. A committee of external panelists nominated by Stamps faculty and staff, and representing a wide range of expertise will determine the winner. 

The applications we received in 2022 were so impressive and of the highest caliber of creativity and thoughtfulness,” said Veronica Falandino, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Services. Each of these nominees is to be commended for their researched approach that produced these big, innovative ideas.”

In their own words, the applicants describe their BIA submissions.

Jude Boudon: Wretched Child: The Minotaur has PTSD

Image of a bull wrapped in a blanket

I will create an illustrated memoir exploring the legacies of generational family trauma from the perspective of the Minotaur of Greek mythos. This journal will present a modern, semi-autobiographical spin on the character, using the setting of a labyrinth to examine how post-traumatic stress inhabits both body and space. The narrative will explore the long-term psychological effects of being outcast by family of origin, as well as the long-established potential of personal empowerment through disobedience of tradition.”

Whitney Brooks: Replo Energy

Rendering of a circular photovoltaic necklace

My goal is to create a photovoltaic pendant/​earring that converts sunlight into electrical energy and an app that displays the amount of energy collected to incentivize the collection of solar energy as a potential new form of financial investment. This device I’ve designed, known as a Replo, purely collects energy and would be worn by the user as an earring or as a necklace to both increase the desirability of renewable energy and make renewable energy more accessible for people in predominantly minority communities of a lower socioeconomic background.”

Josie Burck: When the World Is Not Enough

A woman seated at a table

This project is about Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD), a psychological disorder that is not yet recognized by the DSM5. MD is a form of escapism that involves intense, vivid daydreams with characters and plotlines. I will find three people from the midwest to interview about their MDing, specifically what they look like, the plotlines, and the locations in their fantasies. The visuals that each person describes will inform a final project made up of installation and video work that will raise awareness of MD and talk about issues around identity, self image, and escapism.”

Jenna John: Erotic Ecologies

image of delicate branches or roots arranged on a white background

Erotic Ecologies is a performance, romance, and celebration of bodily collisions involving a community-engaged ecological study of Saginaw Forest. My creative making, romance with a hole, and research in critical theory, ecology, and history will come together in an experimental film for transforming anthropogenic conversations centered around humans, capitalist solutions, and awareness of crisis to conversations that instead generate critical thinking for changing ourselves and relationships. At its conclusion, I will collaborate with the community on a hole closing ceremony.”

Ariana Shaw: Rave For One

Purple-lit image of a dancefloor

Rave For One is a portable rave in a UHaul truck that can be transported to art spaces and businesses throughout the Midwest. The immersive and psychedelic space filled with vibrant COVID-related visuals invites guests to reflect and be present by releasing their pandemic-related stress through dance. The project’s portability allows people to access the transformative experience of art during the pandemic and counteracts the exclusionary nature of traditional exhibition spaces. I will partner with community organizations across theMidwest to bring this work to a diverse audience safely.”

Lauren Trail: Adventures with Atka — Exploring the Arctic

Image shows the cover of a children's book, with a polar bear decked out in diving gear

Combining adventure and education, Adventures with Atka: Exploring the Arctic’ illuminates the importance of our actions on the environment by following Atka the Polar Bear and his students as they embark to learn, spread environmental awareness, and help address climate change in the Arctic. Hoping to increase learning and awareness to help save the Arctic environment from environmental degradation, I will create three children’s books and a corresponding website drawn from interviews with researchers, environmental activist groups, plus personal research and travels to the Alaskan Arctic.”

Margaret Wiebe and Jessica Rice: Farm to Fabric

Series of images showing the production of dyes from plants

We will create a dye and fiber cooperative garden in Detroit, to support artists and community members in using raw materials by holding workshops in natural dyeing, fibers and papermaking. Discovering plant-based materials drastically changed both our art practices, and we want to empower artists to take control of how and where they source their materials. We aim to expose others to the experience of making art from start to finish, with the goal of creating a greater connection to the natural environment, and an appreciation of the labor it takes to create the material used in their art.”