UGA students featured in national arts research conference

October 29, 2019
Willson Center for Humanities and Arts
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UGA students featured in national arts research conference

One year after UGA hosted the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) national conference, students and faculty from Athens will travel to the University of Kansas for the 2019 annual gathering of leaders. The November 7-9 event will feature discussions, white papers, posters, exhibitions, performances, and workshops around the theme of Knowledges: Artistic Practice as Method. Among the presentations selected through a rigorous peer review process is Exploring Research as Craft, a UGA student-led project developed with the support of the Willson Center’s partnership with Ideas for Creative Exploration, an interdisciplinary initiative for advanced research in the arts at UGA.

Project leaders Cydney Seigerman (Integrative Conservation and Anthropology) and Alden DiCamillo (Lamar Dodd School of Art) initiated their research through the Idea Lab Mini Grant program, a collaborative seed grant opportunity that pairs project teams with funding and mentorship from Ideas for Creative Exploration. Seigerman and DiCamillo worked with Alex McClay (Lamar Dodd School of Art), a graduate assistant in Interdisciplinary Arts Research, to facilitate production of an innovative three-part workshop series designed to promote cross-disciplinary communication by conceptualizing research and practice as craft. Workshop participants included graduate students from art, anthropology, ecology, English, forestry, microbiology, and landscape architecture. In spring 2019 the Exploring Research as Craft workshop outcomes were featured in a public exhibition and performance co-sponsored by ATHICA: Athens Institute for Contemporary Art.

Presenting research at the national level is an incomparable professional and networking experience for graduate students at UGA. For Siegerman and DiCamillo, it is the culmination of a process that began with an inquiry about the connections of methods across seemingly disparate disciplines. Siegerman reflects that “my experience in lab – the rituals of setting up experiments, of measuring out starting materials with my favorite spatula, and the attention I paid to the process and beauty of my experiments is often forgotten in the final analysis of data.” The workshop series combined aspects of communication, feedback, and creative activities that led to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the craft of research. DiCamillo discovered “that interdisciplinary work that stems from the arts is filled with radical, energetic people and communities who know how to stretch and work ideas so that they become dynamic realities.”

Alex McClay has a unique perspective of Exploring Research as Craft from her dual role of project facilitator and participant. She recalls, “working with researchers from a variety of disciplines, all while offering feedback, production support, and visual knowledge, was the most impactful part of this experience.” As a graduate assistant in Interdisciplinary Arts Research, McClay is part of an elite group of students in art, music, and theatre and film studies who are recruited to work with Ideas for Creative Exploration as peer mentors and leaders. They gain practical experience by organizing the seed grant selection process, managing project budgets, and helping projects reach their full potential.

UGA is a partner in the a2ru network, a consortium of institutions aligned to promote interdisciplinary research, curricula, programs, and creative practice between the arts, sciences and other disciplines. As an additional benefit of membership, students are eligible to apply for travel grants from a2ru to support participation in the national conference and the upcoming 2020 Emerging Creatives Student Summit RISE UP! Community – Connection – Collective Memory hosted by the University of Cincinnati.