Graduate Research Grant

Each year VCUarts awards several Graduate Research Grants to support students’ creative practice, research and scholarly activities relevant to their academic programs and professional goals.

Students who have achieved candidacy in a VCUarts graduate program are eligible to apply for awards up to $3000.

Deadline to apply for Fall 2017 is Friday, November 17th.

To apply, complete the on-line application form (below), which includes a prompt to upload a single pdf file that includes:

  • Your name in the header at the top of each page.
  • Project narrative, approximately 750 words: Describe the proposed project, including an explanation of your conceptual approach or research theory and methodology, as well as an account of how the proposed project advances your studio practice or research trajectory.Explain how your proposed work contributes to your field—keeping in mind that your proposal will be reviewed by faculty members from all graduate departments/programs.Delineate how the grant award will be used—expenses can include materials or supplies (disposal goods), equipment (re-usable goods), travel, and shipping. Grant funds cannot be used to hire part-time studio or technical assistants or to purchase equipment or software that is already available to students in the department or school. Equipment purchased with grant funds will be property of VCUarts.Provide a rationale for the proposed timeline. Proposals with the greatest clarity tend to be most competitive.
  • Timeline of activities: List specific dates for activities described in the project narrative. Grant recipients must be enrolled during the Spring 2017 semester in order to remain eligible for funds. If the proposed project requires IRB approval, indicate when the approval process was or will be completed.
  • Budget: Provide a straightforward detailed list of how grant funds would be spent. Clearly indicate the total requested funds. There is no need to list expenses for which grant funds will not be used. Proposed travel expenditure that includes lodging and/or per diem must correspond to prescribed government rates. For information about travel, go to
  • List of professional activities and awards, up to two pages: e.g., exhibitions, performances, publications, conference presentations
  • Work samples: Studio and design students may include up to eight work samples. Images may be pasted into in the pdf; sound or moving image files (each of which is no longer than 2 minutes) may be provided via a link to Vimeo or sound cloud. Students submitting proposals to support written research may provide a three-page writing sample as well as images illustrating the subject of their research.
Review process and criteria

All applications are reviewed by a faculty member from each of the VCUarts graduate programs. Reviewers rank the applications based on the following:

    • clarity of the proposal narrative, timeline and budget;
    • account of how the proposed project advances the student’s studio practice or research trajectory;
    • significance of the proposed project to the student’s area study, as described in the project narrative;
    • quality of work samples.

Awards are competitive; students are encouraged to work with their advisors as they prepare their applications


  • (e.g. exhibition, written thesis or qualifying paper, dissertation research)
  • This text will be used to announce the awards.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

2016-17 VCUarts Graduate Research Grant Awards

2016-17 Awards

Twelve graduate students have been awarded grants ranging from $1,190-$3,000 to support creative practice, research and scholarly activities.

J. Avery Collins, Sculpture + Extended Media
“The moon cuts like pie, but not cherry” is a durational performance depicting the interior of one ‘living’ entity- that invites visitors into five of its many symbiotic compartments occupied by seven keepers (performers) and three symphonic lungs (musicians). These performers are linked through laborious action devoted to the transformation of the whole. This sensorially immersive environment excretes our yearning for a speculative existence, one toiling to unearth and investigate what humanity could be through a consistent questioning of our current realities, our histories, and our definition(s) of ‘self.’
Award: $3,000

Cassandra Ellison, Graphic Design
Working from the proposition that Design methods have therapeutic and destigmatizing value for those in recovery for mental health issues, intellectual disabilities, and substance use disorder, this thesis project sets out to explore the efficacy of those methods utilizing fabric printing workshops which will culminate in a fashion show in partnership with the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority, and Storefront + mOb.
Award: $2,241

Alexis Holcombe, Interior Design
A conceptual redesign of a building in Richmond for promoting increased health and well-being will be informed by travel to the Well Living Lab in Rochester, Minnesota, which conducts evidence-based research on the connection between interior environments and human health. The redesign is also inspired by the “Blue Zones,” which are five areas in the world where people naturally live longer.
Award: $1,191

Elizabeth Hunter, Sculpture + Extended Media
A series of sculptural medical instruments will be created and situated in an installation of a clinical and otherworldly room that interrogates the architecture of anesthesia as a psychological space, asking what it means to be an inactive or deactivated body.
Award: $2,239

Anthony Iacono, Sculpture + Extended Media
“Darkroom / Dark Room” is a voyeuristic maze-like installation consisting of mirrors and flat collaged works. Visual effects in the objects and surreal installation insert the viewer into the images. Queer scenarios involving anonymous subjects surrounding themes of desire, control, and anxiety are depicted in the psychological collaged works.
Award: $3,000

Stephen Nunes, Craft/Material Studies
The installation “DFF_Use” aims to compound idealized components of simulated spaces with carefully constructed material assemblages within a multi-sensory environment. The project will be an amalgam of objects, sounds, and animations that are direct extensions of my most recent work with sound diffusion and acoustic architecture.
Award: $2,855

Patrick Smith, Photography & Film
This exhibition examines our mediated understanding of climate change through consumerism and technology and the way in which we can read images as material, spatial, and ideological models of the world. Materials often associated with hurricane-proofing like plywood, storm shutters, solar panels, sand bags, etc., are engaged and misused in order to highlight the power of banality and of the socialized acceptance of the fate of our environment.
Award: $3,000

Joana Stillwell, Kinetic Imaging
“A Moment of Pause” is about creating a space of sustained attention. By combining the commonplace and banal (elements that root us in our material world) with video and text (extensions of self-consciousness), the researcher will create an immersive installation exploring ideas of a tangible consciousness as it relates to ritual, routine, objects of direct experience, and a nonlinear approach to time.
Award: $3,000

Ryan Syrell, Painting + Printmaking
Informed by recent studies in haptics, architecture, and the body, a series of paintings will be created to articulate sensory spaces, in opposition to the mass de-materialization of experience brought about by the internet.
Award: $2,296

Saskia Turpijn, Art History
The grant will be used to conduct archival research on eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century engravers in London. Studying the correspondence and biographical papers of British engravers is essential for my dissertation, which is focused on the working practice and professional lives of British engravers in the Georgian era (1714-1837).
Award: $3,000

Katya Yakubov, Photography & Film
“The Watering Room” is a 25-minute narrative film that complicates the pagan Russian witch Baba Yaga with a contemporary feminist reading of the grotesque female body as a site of slipping boundaries and ambiguous gender. Questioning the role of motherhood as defining a woman’s sexual identity, the film is a carnivalesque celebration of the taboo and lewd , meant to open a space for psychological change and shifting norms of sexuality.
Award: $3,000

Weijian Zhou, Graphic Design
This project will build an enclosed immersive space to provide playful views and emotional experiences of broken reality—contextualizing fragmented personal memories from digital space and the altered interactions between men and physical reality. The researcher is aiming to blur the perceptions inside and outside digital space, and investigate the evolving notions of masculinity and its relationship to social media.
Award: $2,650