News & Events

Witt Residency Program

The Roman J. Witt Residency Program, developed with the support of alumna Penny W. Stamps and named in honor of her father, is an annual international competition that awards one residency per academic year to a visiting artist/designer who proposes to develop a new work in collaboration with students and faculty. The residency provides an opportunity for the Stamps community to witness and take part in the artist's creative process, and is expected to culminate in the realization of the proposed work, as well as a presentation that summarizes the process and work accomplished.

2019-2020 Witt Artist in Residence: Courtney McClellan

The Stamps School of Art & Design and the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) are pleased to announce our 2019-20 Roman J. Witt Artist in Residence: Courtney McClellan. An artist and writer from Greensboro, North Carolina, McClellan has a keen interest in the relationship between seeing and knowing, as well as performance as a valid and active form of research.

Image: Courtney McClellan, Midlands, 2018, video still. HD video.

For her Roman J. Witt Residency, McClellan will create “Witness Lab,” a courtroom installation in UMMA’s Stenn Gallery to be used as a venue for mock trials, staged readings, and other performances, documented via drawing, text, photography, and video by U-M students. The documentation from the project will be featured in a culminating publication about Witness Lab and serve as one way to address theoretical and moral questions around the act of witnessing.

“We look all of the time, but to witness implies presence and retelling,” McClellan said. “In this way, witnessing relates to both legal testimony in a courtroom, but also observational drawings in an art school. Witnessing suggests that multiple perspectives can be offered, but voice and credence is given to individual, first-hand accounts.”

Courtney McClellan, Rendering of proposed Stenn Gallery installation, 2019

With a background in studio art, journalism, and mass communications, McClellan earned her MFA from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2013-2014, she was the Fountainhead Fellow in the Sculpture and Extended Media Department at Virginia Commonwealth University, and from 2015-2017 she was the Sculpture Fellow at the University of Georgia. She is a 2017-2018 Museum of Fine Arts Boston Traveling Fellow, and has been an artist in residency at the Hambidge Center, Wassaic Projects, and Yaddo. Her work is included in Sculpture Center's exhibition In Practice: Another Echo. Currently, she serves as the Visiting Assistant Professor of Art in the Sculpture Area at the University of Georgia.

“Courtney McClellan is an exceptional artist, and we’re thrilled to feature her work at UMMA,” says Vera Grant, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at UMMA. “Her project’s commitment to public dialogue and connection will resonate deeply with our audiences. We’re especially excited to see McClellan’s project unfold in such a visible space as the Stenn Gallery, captivating the imagination of both our regular visitors and casual passersby.”

“The intellectual rigor of this project holds promise and possibility for our community,” said Chrisstina Hamilton, Director of the Roman Witt Residency Program at the Stamps School. “As a citizenry, we have an imperative to deeply consider the topics and themes McClellan introduces through Witness Lab. Equally important, her project allows students the opportunity to engage with the museum in a totally different way, interacting directly with the artist and participating in the creation of new work.”

To learn more about Courtney McClellan’s work, visit her website:


Previous Witt Residencies

Winter 2019

JuYeon Kim

Multi-media installation, 2019

Born in Seoul, South Korea, JuYeon Kim works and lives in New York. She has shown in both solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally including NY, Washington DC, Shanghai, and Seoul. Kim has held several positions as a visiting artist and professor, and been awarded residencies such as MacDowell Colony, Kohler AIR, Triangle, and the Roswell Art in Residence Fellowship.

For her 2019 Roman J. Witt Residency, JuYeon Kim created a multi-media installation work in collaboration with the Stamps School community and composer George Tsontakis that seeks to explore themes around Korean “comfort women”, or wianbu — the abducted, abused, and raped female prisoners of the Japanese army during WWII.  The installation will be on view in Fall 2019.

Fall 2017

Zafos Xagoraris

Public Sound Installation Artist, Fall 2017

An internationally recognized artist, Zafos Xagoraris has created audio-based work in public spaces in Munich, Germany; Brooklyn, NY; Anacapri, Rovereto, Palermo and Pescara, Italy; and Athens and Patra, Greece.

For his Roman J. Witt Residency, Xagoraris hosted workshops for Stamps School students to design and build simple audio devices, and to develop research-based messages to broadcast to the local community.

Fall 2016

Pinar Yoldas

Cross-disciplinary artist/researcher, Fall 2016

Pinar Yoldas is a cross-disciplinary artist/researcher based in Durham, North Carolina. Her work develops within biological sciences and digital technologies through architectural installations, kinetic sculpture, sound, video, and drawing, with a focus on post-humanism, eco-nihilism, anthropocene and feminist technoscience.

For her Witt Residency at Stamps, Yoldas created a Silent Spring dining performance, inspired by Rachel Carson’s seminal 1962 environmental advocacy text. The work included a menu and tableware that focused on the chemical compounds found in insecticides and herbicides, and a performative dinner table discussion about the role chemicals play in modern food production.

Fall 2015

Joseph Keckler

Singer, musician, and writer, Fall 2015

Straddling the worlds of art, music, and performance, Joseph Keckler has garnered acclaim for his powerful 3+ octave voice and sharp wit. In his entrancing concerts, he delivers arresting, absurdist arias and haunting chamber pop ballads. He has appeared at Joe's Pub, SXSW, The New Museum, BAM Fischer Center, Issue Project Room, Amsterdam's Bellevue Theatre, and many other venues in the U.S. and Europe.

Borrowing the title from “Lasciatemi morire," the Monteverdi aria, Keckler's Let Me Die approaches the canon of tragic opera as a “body perfumed with death” as he ties together and performs fragments of a multitude of operatic death scenes in this work-in-progress preview of a new durational performance/installation piece.

Photo by Rosie Sharp for the Knight Foundation Blog

Fall 2014

Reynold Reynolds

Artist and Filmmaker, Fall 2014

Reynold Reynolds has received numerous awards for his film work, including the Festival Award for “Secret Life” at the European Media Art Festival Osnabrueck, 2008, the ’09 Distinction Award for “Six Apartments” at Transmediale Berlin and Mention spéciale du jury, “Last Day of the Republic” at Videoformes, 2011. At the beginning of 2013, he was awarded the Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize.

At Stamps, Reynolds worked with constructed architecture models and live performers in a gallery space to investigate ideas of scale and forced perspective. Using screens, mirrors, simple props, shadows and wall orientations in the gallery, a new piece will be filmed. The finished work incorporates stop motion animation, architectural scale models and live performance to address Architecture, Space, Time, and Perception. These filmed-performances contribute to the understanding of how moving image art overlaps with other art forms and practices including performance, photography and installation.


Fall 2014

Jennifer Karady

Artist/Photographer, Fall 2013

Artist/photographer Jennifer Karady works with American veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to create staged narrative photographs that depict their individual stories and reveal their difficulties in adjusting to civilian life. After extensive interviews and a lengthy planning process, Karady collaborates with the veteran to restage a chosen moment or memory from war within the safe space of their everyday environment, often surrounded by family, friends and home.

With the help of the University of Michigan community and students, Karady created new work in collaboration with veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a larger, critically acclaimed national project, Soldiers’ Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan. Stamps students were involved in the process and production of two new “staged narrative photographs” with sound installation and in the design of a “Listening Area” to include the stories of additional veterans.


Fall 2012

OpenEnded Group

Digital Artists, Fall 2012

In Fall 2012, renowned digital artists Paul Kaiser, Marc Downie, and Shelley Eshkar of the OpenEndedGroup came to Stamps as Witt Fellows. During their residency here they will be creating an experimental hybrid digital/documentary artwork to offer new ways for people to explore the public and private spaces of their environment.

With the help of the U-M and Ann Arbor community, OpenEndedGroup worked to map, evoke, and reflect a cross-section of the complex urban space of Detroit, a rapidly contracting city that teeters between its grand industrial past and a wide-open future. The project has its origins in an OpenEndedGroup piece commissioned in 2011 by the University of Michigan entitled plant– an immersive 3D exploration of the huge factory ruins of the long-abandoned Packard Plant in Detroit. This project expanded the group’s conception of what maps can do, a conception further enlarged by their concurrent software development for visualizing very large public data-sets (funded in 2011 by the NSF).

The project envisions an immersive mapping environment that visualizes, situates, and contextualizes diverse layers of information with new precision, while also evoking the past and present individual lives of those who have occupied some of the spaces thus surveyed.

Fall 2011

James King

Speculative Designer, Fall 2011

Speculative designer James King collaborates with scientists to design potential applications for their research, imagining the possible outcomes if technologies developed in the lab were adopted by people in their everyday lives. The results are objects, films and images intended to spark debate on the desirable and undesirable qualities of future technology.

King’s project during his Witt Residency was a design and science collaboration imagining what it will be like to live with the risks created by developing technologies. Working with University of Michigan students and faculty, and the Ann Arbor community, King staged a series of temporary installations and happenings in and around Ann Arbor that tell the story of a fictional technological accident and its ramifications. The project was documented as a film, and shown as part of a seminar that brought together experts to discuss the intersection between risk, science, and art / design.

Grennan & Sperandio

Collaborative Art, Fall 2010

In Fall 2010, Christopher Sperandio and Simon Grennan worked with UM students in the School of Art & Design’s Slusser Gallery workspace to create Conflict Theory as Game, a large-scale, interactive installation that was the site for a series of collaborative games. Conceived as a large-scale model of part of the University of Michigan campus and surrounding Ann Arbor community, UM students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the general public, participated in all stages of planning, execution, and play.  The final cardboard and paint reconstruction of recognizable local streets and buildings was the setting for a series of conflict games.

William Dennisuk

Environmental/Installation Artist, Fall 2009 and Winter 2010

William Dennisuk’s sculptural and environmental installation works investigate issues of light and space. His recent explorations of new material techniques explore the intersection between physics and art, linking realms of architecture, landscape art, and public installation.

Art on the Huron is a public art initiative drawing attention to our relationship with water and, by extension, the larger environment. The central motif of the project, a vessel-like form — evocative of figure and container — appears suspended on the water’s surface. This, together with the open mesh of the sculptural forms, suggests how subtle, delicate — and at present how strained — the balance between ourselves and the environment is.