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Inaugural Arts for All Fellows To Work Across Art, Tech, Science and Social Justice

June 13, 2024 School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies | School of Music | Art | The Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | English

Image of dancer with robot

The 10 faculty and 5 students come from units across campus and will work on projects that engage the public.

By Jessica Weiss ’05

Research into making natural color textile dyes more sustainable. A musical performance, workshop and recording project in collaboration with incarcerated youth. An interactive game that allows players to journey through Afrofuturist worlds.

These are among the research proposals that have received funding from Arts for All through its inaugural Faculty and Graduate Student Fellowship. Ten faculty members and five graduate students received a total of $112,500 in awards for 2024–25.

As Arts for All completes its third year, the expansion to include faculty and graduate student fellows is an important step in supporting researchers whose work “integrates the arts throughout campus and within our community,” said Craig Kier, Arts for All director.

“I am thrilled with the interest in this new funding program and the breadth of student and faculty research we’re able to support with these inaugural fellow cohorts,” Kier said. “We're excited to share their research activities with our community throughout the coming year.”

Arts for All was especially interested in supporting publicly-engaged research activities, so many of the projects have a public facing component. The inaugural fellows include: 


Adriane Fang, associate professor of dance

Fang and a multidisciplinary team will continue to develop their work DANCExDANCE, an interactive performance piece that involves a robot, a dancer and the audience, which invites participants to consider their relationship with emerging tech like AI and robotics. The team will present it at Oregon State University in January. 

Sarah Frisof, associate professor of flute

Two commissioned composers will complete works to be performed by four Terp musicians, including Frisof. The musicians will be in residence at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center over three days, performing the works as well as teaching students. They will also produce a professional video recording. 

Jason Kass, senior lecturer in the Department of Art 

Kass’ research will explore “appreciative failure,” or the recognition that general audiences often find exhibitions of contemporary artworks challenging and sometimes struggle to appreciate individual works. He will conduct an online study and in situ data collection that asks participants to reflect on their experience with contemporary art works, with the larger goal to ultimately impact how the public understands and interacts with contemporary art. 

Elizabeth Massey, assistant clinical professor with the First-Year Innovation and Research Experience (FIRE) program in the Office of Undergraduate Studies 

In FIRE’s Music & Social Identity stream, which Massey leads, students conduct original research into music history based on examinations of power structures, individual agency and intersectional social identities, then create research products that are accessible and meaningful to a public audience. Funding will support an ongoing physical exhibit installation, develop a more visible exhibit on campus, fund undergraduate conference presentation and participation, support digital humanities software implementation and support site and graphic design development.

Shelbi Nahwilet Meissner, assistant professor in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Resources will support the growth and development of Meissner’s "Bead, Weave, and Read" workshops at the Indigenous Futures Lab. In Fall 2024, workshops will focus on basket weaving, and in Spring 2025, regalia-making. Funds will support the purchase of necessary supplies and compensate the Indigenous experts who come in to teach and share their knowledge. 

Irina Muresanu, associate professor of violin

Muresanu will expand the development of her “Four Strings Around the World” project, in which her image performing violin works is immersed in various 3D locations around the world in the form of a “virtual concert” accessed by VR headset. She will introduce the project to large audiences at other universities and concert venues and continue the recording of its virtual reality component, which was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Maile Neel, professor in the Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture

Neel, who teaches “The Quest for Color: Science, Culture, History, and Practice of Dyeing Fiber,” will conduct replicated, controlled experiments with natural dyes to test the effectiveness of methods that would reduce the use of tannin and mordant—both which are used in the natural dyeing process—to improve sustainability without sacrificing quality. In addition to publishing at least one peer-reviewed, open-source journal article, she will aim to publish in outlets accessed by non-academic natural dye artists and artisans.

Tim Powell, assistant clinical professor of saxophone

Powell aims to introduce Maryland youth to diverse composers through classical saxophone repertoire chosen from living composers from a wide variety of backgrounds. He will perform a rotating program at a combination of 8-10 high schools and community colleges in the state throughout the academic year.

Andrew Smith, visiting assistant research professor of digital humanities and digital studies

Smith’s interactive arts installation “LiteraryDJ” brings viewers and participants on an immersive journey across African American artistic heritage, weaving together works of computational poetry, natural language processing and hip hop lyrics. Taking both virtual and physical forms, “LiteraryDJ” will strategically expand reach to diverse audiences on campus and beyond. 

Krishnan Vasudevan, associate professor in visual communication

Vasudevan will use his fellowship to support “Signs of Life,” a feature-length documentary that focuses on the efforts of residents of Curtis Bay, Baltimore, to envision a sustainable future in the wake of generations of industrial exposure. The film builds upon over a decade of ethnographic research and media collaboration with residents and community organizers in Curtis Bay. Vasudevan will present scenes from the film at the 2024 International Visual Sociology Association Conference in Xalapa, Mexico later this year.


Elizabeth Abena Osei, doctoral student in English

Abena Osei seeks to translate the vivid and immersive worlds depicted in Afrofuturist and Africanfuturist literature—including Nalo Hopkinson’s “Midnight Robber,” Nnedi Okorafor’s “Binti Trilogy,” Akwaeke Emezi’s “Pet” and Rivers Solomon’s “The Deep—into an interactive gaming experience. Players will embark on journeys through these worlds, encountering unique cultures, technologies and narratives that reflect the Afrofuturist ethos of imagining alternative futures rooted in African and African diasporic experiences. 

Daniela Arias Gallego, doctoral student in violin performance 

To share the “genius” of a musical masterpiece with audiences that haven't studied music, and help them understand and appreciate its hidden elements, Arias Gallego plans to approach audiences at venues like schools, churches and community centers with art, readings and texts that explore the historical context and background of a single piece for string quartet, paired with a full performance of the piece. 

Marjorie Justine Antonio, master’s student in the History and Library and Information Science program  

Antonio will investigate transnational Filipino arts activism in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area through the lenses of historical inquiry, community archiving and open-source intelligence. A formal academic paper will build up to a Master’s thesis, arts programming such as community archiving workshops, and community discussion and teach-ins about activist security.

Kriti Singh, master’s student in human computer interaction

Singh will create an interactive art installation exploring themes of computational resources, remembrance, digital presence, and slowness in technology. 

Erica Spear, doctoral student in flute performance

Spear will work in collaboration with Sarah Frisof and the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center project, and will be among the performers of the commissioned works. 

Photo is from DANCExDANCE by Dylan Singleton.