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Institute award puts focus on scholars' creativity

Institute for the Advancement of the Arts Fellows, 2013-14: Robert Jessup, Bonnie Friedman, Claudia QueenRobert Jessup, professor of studio arts, Bonnie Friedman, assistant professor of English, and Claudia Howard Queen, assistant professor of dance and theatre, have been selected as faculty fellows in UNT's Institute for the Advancement of the Arts in the 2013-14 academic year.

The Institute for the Advancement of the Arts (IAA) aims to showcase, support and advance excellence in the visual, performing and creative literary arts. The three central components of the Institute are UNT on the Square, the IAA Faculty Fellows program and the IAA Artist-in-Residence program.

Robert Jessup

Robert Jessup, Institute for the Advancement of the Arts, 2013-14Professor of Studio Arts Robert Jessup, a faculty member since fall 1991, will use the fellowship to challenge his own style of painting. Jessup went to Europe five years ago as what he calls a “self-styled Realist painter” but came back with a desire to shake up his artistic style.

“The easiest description is to say the work has gone from Realistic Figuration to Abstraction – but that is not quite right. What I have been after is a new pictorial language, one where abstract forms signify in ways similar to figurative ones,” Jessup said. “I also want, once again in my work to make narrative pictures – albeit ones whose configurations are unfamiliar, or rather may in fact be familiar but only in subterranean psychological ways.”

Jessup intends to show the work at UNT on the Square, and in Dallas and Houston.

“New ways of picture-making have consolidated in the last year and this fellowship will enable me to fully develop, explore and express these new ideas.”

Jessup instructs drawing and painting students in the College of Visual Arts and Design. His work is in several prominent public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Brooklyn Museum of Art, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, University of Virginia Museum of Art, Blanton Museum of the University of Texas at Austin, and Art Museum of Southeast Texas.

He has been exhibiting for more than 30 years and has had multiple solo exhibitions in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston.

Bonnie Friedman

Bonnie Friedman, Institute for the Advancement of the Arts, 2013-14Assistant Professor of English Bonnie Friedman, a faculty member since fall 2008, will use the fellowship to continue work on essays for her “Kingdoms of the Bronx” collection, which will be nine lyric creative-nonfiction essays when complete. Five of the essays for the collection have been published or accepted to be published in top-tier literary venues, with two of the essays nominated for prestigious Pushcart prizes and one selected as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays of 2012. 

“‘Kingdoms of the Bronx’ is about the tension between the narrow material circumstances of a Bronx community and the imaginative aspirations that promise escape,” Friedman said.  One person tries to escape through the intense study of physics, another through fierce devotion to the iron, old-world God of her grandmother, another through Weight Watchers, and another through sheer affability, even at the cost of downplaying his considerable intellect. The people examined in this collection are searching for ways out of constricting circumstances, and often finding them, although they come with unexpected trade-offs."

Essays from Friedman’s first book, “Writing Past Dark,” are anthologized and excerpted in seven different writing textbooks. The book was also selected to be a Village Voice Bestseller.  Friedman was selected to be a fellow at the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown and also at the MacDowell Arts Colony. She was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Her essays have been chosen for inclusion in The Best American Movie Writing, the Best Writing on Writing and The Practical Stylist. 

Claudia Howard Queen

Claudia Howard Queen, Institute for the Advancement of the Arts, 2013-14Assistant Professor of Music for Dance Claudia Howard Queen, a faculty member since fall 2008, will use the fellowship to travel to sacred Celtic sites in Ireland known as "Thin Places, where the veil between heaven and earth are thin." Inspired by these sacred places, she will compose a 20-minute music score for a new dance work based on Celtic mysticism. The music will explore the use of female Sean-nós, a type of traditional Irish a cappella singing, and the mystical qualities of the pentatonic (five-tone) scale, and their effect on the body.

Queen plans to premiere the final music/dance work in New York, choreographed by critically acclaimed choreographer, Sėan Curran and performed by the contemporary Irish dance company, Darrah Carr Dance.

“I truly believe that the arts can work hand-in-hand with science to uplift and improve the human condition intellectually, emotionally, spiritually and physically,” said Queen. “I see the IAA Fellowship as a great honor and also as a responsibility to strive to create something of significance toward this goal.”

As a composer and multi-instrumentalist for dance, Queen creates uplifting, kinesthetic music that both moves the dancers physically and moves audiences emotionally. Her scores have toured the U.S., Ireland, England, Uruguay and Taiwan.

She has collaborated with more than 200 instructors as a dance musician at the American Dance Festival, in NYC and Chicago studios, at universities throughout the U.S., in China and Taiwan. Queen has received two Fulbright Specialist Awards to share her music for dance with Taiwan's foremost dance school, Taipei National University of the Arts. She has earned three awards from the National Endowment for the Arts for her original music. She holds an MFA from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

-Margarita Venegas, News Promotions

(Above, from left to right, Robert Jessup, Bonnie Friedman and Claudia Howard Queen. Photo by GaryPayne/URCM)

Posted on: Mon 05 August 2013

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