Wayne State University

Wayne State University announces research enhancement program in the arts and humanities awards totaling over $194,000

DETROIT – Wayne State University Vice President for Research and Interim Dean of the Graduate School Hilary H. Ratner announced the awardees of the university’s Research Enhancement Program in the Arts and Humanities. For five years, the university has administered this program as an investment in the expertise of faculty to fulfill WSU’s urban research mission through the arts and humanities. Selected studies typically have cultural, social or economic impacts, build knowledge and appreciation of the arts and humanities, document or preserve important works of art, and much more.

This year’s awarded projects include:

Creative Dance Intervention for Children with a History of Lead Poisoning – $50,000

Mary Dereski, associate professor of environmental health sciences, Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and resident of Troy, Mich.
Eva Powers, interim chair and associate professor of dance, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and resident of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

This project seeks to determine whether creative dance therapy – an art form that fosters the enjoyment of learning through movement – can improve the neurobehavioral and academic abilities of second- and third-grade children with histories of lead poisoning. The study will consist of an eight-week program at Hope of Detroit Academy, a charter school located in Southwest Detroit that has a large population of lead-poisoned children. Dereski and Powers believe that implementing creative dance therapy in school curriculums will strengthen children’s ability to understand and increase their attention spans.

Selfhood on the Edge: African Photography at the Indian Ocean Crossroads – $48,350

Sandy Meier, assistant professor of art and art history, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and resident of Detroit, Mich.

In a book and exhibition, Meier will examine – using photographic records – the clash of cultural modernity and politics of the port cities of east Africa’s Swahili Coast, including Mombasa, Lamu and Zanzibar. She aims to explore photography as an object of cultural reaction to colonialism and globalization, and she will conduct fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States to do so. This project will be the first-ever examination of these images from an art history perspective.

In the Courts of Revolution: Vengeance, Legality and Citizenship in the Rural Soviet Courtroom, 1917-1953 – $38,864

Aaron Retish, associate professor of history, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and resident of Huntington Woods, Mich.

Retish will produce a book as he studies the role of rural courts – as opposed to the commonly studied show trials – in communist Soviet Union. Retish will examine how the courtroom was a place for peasants and the state to conduct political negotiations. The work will be the first of its kind to be completed by a Western scholar using recently revealed archives.

Lens Flare: Realization, Release and Recapture – $37,985

Eric Troffkin, assistant professor of art and art history, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and resident of Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.

Troffkin's project centers on a photographic effect called lens flare, which is created when a camera is directed at a light source. By creating sculptural objects and video footage, he will explore the mechanisms that prompt our acceptance of and understanding lens flare, which Troffkin describes as a “rhetorical and visual device” of contemporary visual media.

Arthur C. Danto: Printmaking Workshop and Demonstration, Master Print Collection and Online Exhibition – $19,245

Stanley Rosenthal, professor of art, College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts and resident of Huntington Woods, Mich.

Rosenthal aims to honor Arthur C. Danto, a Michigan-born alumnus of WSU and “one of the most influential art scholars and philosophers of our time,” said Rosenthal. He will organize a Danto printmaking workshop and demonstration, complete the Arthur C. Danto Master Print Collection, and produce an online exhibition on the art and philosophy of Arthur C. Danto by incorporating the scholarly essays of WSU philosophy and art history graduate students.


Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. 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. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.