Wayne State University

Wayne State announces $293,200 Research Enhancement Program in the Arts

Wayne State University Vice President for Research Hilary H. Ratner announced the awardees from the university’s Research Enhancement Program in the Arts, a $293,200 investment designed to strengthen the university’s position as a nationally recognized research institution in the arts. The program aims to support research projects in the arts, creative arts research or research that engages the arts in carrying out the university’s urban mission. It also supports projects that encourage the production and exhibition of creative work by individual visual art faculty. 

The program, now in its third year of supporting the arts, funded all seven projects that were invited to submit full proposals. They include:

Identity and Abstraction: The Jewish Museum of New York - $28,039
Jeffrey Abt, associate professor of art and art history, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts
This project will lay the groundwork for a new book on the history of the Jewish Museum of New York during a period when it presented a series of avant-garde art exhibitions that consisted of abstract art by non-Jewish artists, as well as art by Jewish artists that were not visibly Jewish, raising lasting questions about identity and abstraction in America. Beginning in the late 1950s until 1971, the Jewish Museum of New York played a pivotal role in identifying the leading artists and newest trends in American art during a period when the art of this country was coming into international prominence.
Using Art to Help Families Cope with Pediatric Cancer Treatment Anxiety - $49,094
Terrence Albrecht, professor of family medicine, School of Medicine and Karmanos Cancer Institute (PI)
Steven Peters, associate dean and professor of theatre, College of Fine Performing and Communication Arts (Co-PI)
This project seeks to identify the extent to which the arts, specifically a developmentally appropriate art-making activity focused on creative expression, will have a positive effect on supportive parent-child communication and reduce the parent and child’s state of anxiety levels prior to experiencing potentially distressing cancer treatment procedures. Drs. Albrecht and Peters believe that creating a powerful transdisciplinary model for better explaining how art- making affects parent-child interaction in ways that moderate treatment-related anxiety will ultimately improve health outcomes of pediatric cancer patients.
The Detroit/Torino Urban Jazz Project II: Bridging Cultures and Orchestrating Collaborations - $46,100
Christopher Collins, associate professor of music, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts
This project will build on the artistic and collaborative successes of the initial project funded by the Research Enhancement Program and expand the research and creative output to take full advantage of the vast network of artists, institutions, corporate sponsors and cultural entities that have been drawn to the project by its successful performances and positive global message. This phase of the project will develop a highly collaborative international student interaction that will engage diverse institutions, and will realize new musical elements in orchestrations for string orchestra and jazz quintet commissioned from two significant composers – one from Detroit and one from Torino, Italy.
NORDESTINOS – Art and Popular Imagination in the Northeast of Brazil - $21,305
Marion E. Jackson, professor of art and art history, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts
Jackson will write a book on the vibrant and popular art and culture of Northeast Brazil. It will focus on the little-known but extraordinarily engaging popular art of this impoverished area and will analyze the meaning and function of this art in the context of the colonial and modern history of this area. At present, there is no comprehensive book on Brazilian popular art in either English or Portugese, and this project will expand this nascent literature by critically examining the lively popular art traditions of this area.
Restoration of the Yamasaki Moats and Gardens at WSU - $50,000
Christine L. Joost-Gauger, professor and chair of art and art history, College of Fine Performing and Communication Arts
Marilyn Zimmerman, associate professor of art and art history, College of Fine Performing and Communication Arts
This project aims to begin planning for the restoration of the Yamasaki moats and gardens that once were visual and sociological centerpieces at WSU’s campus but now damaged and neglected. These outdoor spaces were created by Minoru Yamasaki, one of the most famous of the mid-late 20th century architects whose work contributed significantly to the modernization of America. Yamasaki thought buildings were intimately connected with their surroundings, and Japanese gardens provided an escape from blighted or overcrowded conditions. The project will bring together faculty from the departments of Art and Art History, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Biological Sciences, and the Honors College. Once plans are complete, the project leaders will seek external funding for restoration efforts.
Phenomena in Landscape Painting - $48,662
Jim Nawara, professor of art and art history, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts
This project aims to develop, produce and frame a group of 12 or more new oil and watercolor paintings by Nawara to be exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at various galleries and museum venues across the U.S.
Urban Renewal Landscape: A Detroit Multimedia Choreographic Project in Dance and Opera - $50,000
Jeff Michael, assistant professor of dance, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts
This project aims to address the current state of the urban contemporary experience in Detroit through a multimedia choreographic project incorporating contemporary dancers, opera performers and live musicians. Research on Detroit today, how Detroiters feel about the city’s urban renewal, who are Detroiters, what the perspective of Detroit is outside of the city, why past history continues to negatively influence the perception of Detroit and more will be used for the culmination of an evening-length multimedia performance piece to premier at Wayne State University and be presented at larger venues in Detroit and New York or Chicago.
“This is the third year that we have held this grant program, and if history repeats itself, we expect to see some exciting outcomes from these projects,” commented Gloria Heppner, associate vice president for research. “A previous award to Assistant Professor Laura Roelofs helped to develop an exciting strings project that allows WSU undergraduate music students teach Detroit Public Schools students string instruments. In addition, Chris Collins’ original Detroit/Torino Urban Jazz project was extremely successful with the composition of new musical and visual works. This project brought together artists and students from Detroit and Torino, Italy, that created a significant international collaboration, and has attracted outside funding that allowed to extend the initial phase of the project. The next phase should be equally exciting.”
For more information, contact:
Julie O’Connor, Office of the Vice President for Research 
Voice: (313) 577-8845
E-mail: ag2712@wayne.edu
Fax: (313) 577-3626
Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting, ranking in the top 50 in R & D expenditures of all public universities by the National Science Foundation. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world.