News & Events

Witt Residency Program

The mission of the Roman J. Witt Residency Program is to support the production of new work with assistance from the Stamps School of Art & Design community. The program awards one residency per academic year for a visiting artist/designer to work at the school to develop a new work in collaboration with students and faculty. For the Stamps School community to witness and partake in the creation of a defined work from idea to realization is the centerpiece of the residency. This visibility of the artist’s process is intended as an exemplary teaching tool for the school as a whole. The residency is expected to culminate in the realization of the proposed work, as well as a presentation that summarizes the process and work accomplished.

2017-18 Witt Residency: Zafos Xagoraris

The Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan proudly announces the Roman J. Witt Artist in Residence for the 2017-18 academic year: Zafos Xagoraris.

An internationally recognized artist, 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.

Zafos Xagoraris, "Downhill Bed", object and action during the group exhibition Politiche della Natura, Fondazione Zimei, Pescara, 2016

For his Roman J. Witt Residency, Xagoraris will host workshops for Stamps School students to design and build simple audio devices — and develop research-based messages to broadcast to the local community. Stamps students will work with Xagoraris to lead workshops in local K-12 schools, helping public school children grasp the technical aspects of the equipment and the power in thoughtful, well-researched messaging. Finally, Stamps students and community members will participate in collaborative outdoor public performance moments in the city of Ann Arbor.

Zafos Xagoraris, "Tide Bell", outdoor installation, 1st Bienal Fin del Mundo, Ushuaia, 2007

Zafos Xagoraris was born in 1963 in Athens, Greece, where he continues to live and work. He studied at the Athens School of Fine Arts, the National Technical University of Athens and at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Xagoraris has exhibited his work internationally; group exhibitions include: 27th Bienal de Sao Paulo (2006), Manifesta 7, Rovereto (2008), 4th Athens Biennale (2013) and documenta 14 (2017)

Zafos Xagoraris, "The Distance from the Center", action with the participation of students of the Sassari University, Nuoro, 2011

“Zafos Xagoraris exemplifies the positive impact creative practitioners can have when they work with the citizens of their communities,” says Chrisstina Hamilton, Director of Visitors’ Programs for the Stamps School. “Stamps students and the city of Ann Arbor will benefit from his collaborative, research-based, community-focused approach.”

For more information about Zafos Xagoraris, visit:


Previous Witt Residencies

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.

James King

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.

Kartoon Kings: The Work of Simon Grennan and Christopher Sperandio

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.

Pat Oleszko

Performer, Fall 2008 and Winter 2009

Pat Oleszko makes a spectacle of herself–and doesn’t mind if you laugh. The body is Oleszko’s armature for ideas. Utilizing elaborate costumes and props, she has created lithe performances, films, and installations that include trees, knees, breasts, and elephants. She has worked from the popular art forms of the street, party, parade and burlesque house, to the Museum of Modern Art, from Sesame Street Magazine to Ms, Playboy, and Artforum.

Gulliblurr’s Travels was a wild and burgeoning performance epic engaging the faculty and student/bodies in creating a series of installations, videos and theatrical presentations based on an updated, refigured vision of Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. With direction and work created by Pat Oleszko and students thru workshops and rehearsal, the piece took place in a variety of locations, all filmed and edited into the final live performance event, using the text as base of continuing exploration and contemporary inspiration, extraordinarily sculptural props and costumes, inflatables, original sound and a variety of diverse theatrics.


Sound Artist/Composer, Winter 2008

Trimpin’s work is an ongoing exploration of sound, vision and movement, introducing our senses to a totally new experience. Although he uses the latest technologies, he works with “natural” elements–water, air, light, fire, etc.–reconfiguring them in new and unusual applications, pushing them to the limits, and beyond, of their traditional roles.

The Gurs Zyklus (Gurs Cycle) originated in Germany in 1940. The Hebrew tombstone inscriptions in the Jewish cemetery in Trimpin’s hometown puzzled him, and he learned all these people had been taken away to the Spanish-French border internment camp at Gurs—eventually many sent to the infamous death camps. After wondering how he might express this painful episode in his village’s history, Trimpin developed the scope and content of The Gurs Zyklus using the instrument “FireOrgan” as the focus of his residency.