Dean’s International Research Grant
Created in 2006, the Dean’s International Research Grant program was started by the VCUarts Dean’s Office to fund students’ international exploration. That first year, six $1,000 grants were awarded to students. Today, up to ten $2,500 grants are awarded each year as the Dean’s Office continues to strive to support international travel and enforce the importance of a global perspective on creative and scholarly endeavors.
The mission of the Grant is to help fund international travel that is not in conjunction with any credit bearing coursework or faculty led programs affiliated with the University. Although proposals for support of non-VCU faculty led programs will be considered, they are not encouraged. The Dean’s Office seeks proposals for independent travel that inform a student’s research and will provide an experience in relation to their creative or intellectual trajectory.
The grant is closed, and will reopen Fall 2019.
Students applying for the Dean’s International Research Grants must meet the following criteria:
- A declared VCUarts undergraduate major enrolled full-time and considered a continuing student at the time of travel and travel reimbursement.
- A current sophomore or junior in terms of credit hours earned (not including current in progress courses) at the time of application as described in the Bulletin here or have at least one semester of required VCUarts courses to complete after the return from your proposed trip.
- Have a cumulative VCU GPA of 3.0 and 3.50 in your major. This can be found on DegreeWorks.
- Travel between the dates of 5/12/19 and 8/22/20.
- Travel independently for academic and/or creative research outside of faculty led, credit bearing programs.
Keep in mind you can not save a partially completed application. If you do not receive an email confirming your submission or if you have questions, please contact Jody Symula at email@example.com.
Photo + Film
Jonah will travel to Karasjok, Norway and Kiruna, Sweden with film students Noah Carpenter and Victoria Lowry to film a short documentary about the Sami cultural practice of reindeer herding as well as the massive industrial complexes that exist in Arctic Scandinavia. During their stay, they plan to assist in herding reindeer, care for a kennel of Alaskan Malamutes, and explore a town forced to move 3 kilometers east to avoid collapsing into the largest iron ore mine in the world.
Photo + Film
Samuel traveled to Hong Kong with his father, where his father was born and raised before he immigrated to the United States. As an artist of mixed-race ancestry, Samuel’s artwork has explored the relationship of his genealogy to place and culture. Having grown up and been enculturated in suburban Maryland for the majority of his life, traveling with his father to the location of half of his ancestry served as an excellent opportunity to explore the space and culture of Hong Kong.
Noah traveled to the Svalbard archipelago to study the walrus population and the ways animal-based art can be used as an environmental advocacy tool. Working with scientists, policy-makers, historians, and artists, he learned about the walrus and about the ways artists and others are advocating for, and depicting the walrus and other species.
Matin traveled to the remote village of Çifteköprü in Turkey to produce a short documentary about a young tea farmer and social media enthusiast that serves tea to local people and visitors. The tea farmer has a background in English and economic studies and initiates creative discussions among his guests. Matin also produced a three-channel video installation based on the tea farmer’s story.
Nicholas traveled to the city of Tartu, Estonia to study the emerging practice of bioart — art which makes use of organic elements as a medium — utilizing semiotic methods developed by the Tartu–Moscow Semiotic School. He spoke to professors and students at the University of Tartu working on the semiotics of culture, utilized the public art libraries of the University, and visited contemporary art spaces throughout the city and in Tallinn, Estonia to produce a research paper which was submitted to the academic journal Biosemiotics.
Rachel traveled to Merida, Mexico to study the intersection of immersive art, architecture and spirituality in the ancient Mayan culture, while making comparisons to modern ideas of graphic design and the practice of viewing art. Through focused research in Mayan ruins and cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula, she explored the universality of panoramic and immersive art, comparing and contrasting the findings to contemporary technologies such as the mass-printed poster and virtual reality.
Craft + Material Studies
Lily will travel to Cambridge, U.K. to examine Antarctic travel diaries written by Western explorers of the Heroic Era using the archives of the British Antarctic Survey and the Scott Polar Research Institute. These documents will be used to continue her research on how the coded sociopolitical values and ‘objecthood’ of these diaries have affected global perceptions of the continent of Antarctica. Her findings will be used to create an artist’s book that appropriates the form of travel diaries to question how narrative distorts fact.
Hannah researched Chennai, India’s historic architecture to examine how Western ideals of design affects and changes the culture’s built environment. She used her design education as a framework to look at the ethics of making in an international community.
Qiduo traveled to the Shanxi Province of China to visit five templates and two museums to study the line art in Chinese mural. His research focused on religious murals from the Yuan and Ming Dynasty.
Photo + Film
Rebeca traveled to Paris to complete a documentary photo series and subsequent book. In a city famous for its idyllic Haussmann boulevards and residents’ classic sense of style, she documented its lesser-known brutalist architecture and youth fashion subcultures. Her work presented a more stark Paris that reflects its current and historic unrest amongst the youth.
Keenan traveled to the village of Spannum, Netherlands to study the sustainable practice of wool felting and natural dyeing as an intern for Dutch artist, Claudy Jongstra. During his internship, he assisted in the tending of Jongstra’s botanical garden which cultivated the dye wool fiber used throughout her work. Utilizing naturally dyed fiber sheared from Jongstra’s flock of Drenthe Heath Sheep, he learned the traditional process of wool felting. After the internship, he designed a creative installation in response to the sustainable practices he experienced.
Julia spent two weeks traveling to London, Paris and Amsterdam to sketch, paint, and photograph the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements in the cities that bore them. This grant allowed her to understand these movements, by observing them in the context of complete holistic aesthetics.
Priscilla traveled to Shandong University of Arts in Jinan, China to explore and practice Chinese traditional ink painting, language and theatre. She applied her study in traditional Chinese painting to theatre scenic painting and studied the Chinese language in order to translate Chinese play scripts. This allowed her to understand the meaning behind some dialogue that cannot be directly translated like popular Chinese idioms. She also visited famous ancient architecture as inspiration for her future theatre scenic designs.
Elena spent three weeks in Serbia exploring the presentation of iconography in religious and secular institutions. She studied iconography as it is displayed in Belgrade museums, as compared to its function in ancient monasteries of the Fruška Gora region. Elena interviewed both curators and practicing iconographers, to gain insights from a range of perspectives about how to display and contextualize sacred objects outside of their religious settings.
Mason traveled to Tokyo to study Japanese design, both historic and contemporary. He met with current Japanese designers to discuss inspirations, methods of making and practices. The experience helped him inform, inspire and hone his work as a designer.
Photography & Film
David traveled to Odense and Billund, Denmark to conduct documentary research on the LEGO community. Denmark serves as the headquarters and origin for the famous toy brick. Over its 60 year lifespan, LEGO has not only become an iconic toy to the public but also as a medium of art. The community’s research supported his education in the visual and creative language of documentary filmmaking.
Matthew traveled to Dubrovnik and Zagreb in Croatia and Budapest, Hungary to study the traditional folk music and the teaching methods of this music. He sat in on rehearsals, met with musicians, and learned how to play native and traditional folk instruments. In addition, he studied the methods of teaching these styles of music to adapt them into his own processes of education.
Daisy traveled to the Mexican cities of Guadalajara, and Oaxaca de Juarez, to study the division between fine arts and crafts in contemporary Mexican culture. She studied the influence of race, class and gender on this divide and the effects of the legacy of philosopher Immanuel Kant on how art is viewed. Daisy spoke to local artists, artisans and gallery owners about their beliefs on what they believe defines art in order to explore less Eurocentric perspectives.
Sculpture + Extended Media
Caroline traveled to Ravenna, Italy to take a mosaic workshop and study the work of Marilyn Stokstad, a prominent art historian, who specialized in Medieval art and wrote about Byzantine mosaics. With the tactile and art historical information that she learned through making and viewing these mosaics in their city of origin, she created studio-based extensions of Stokstad’s writing that ask questions about who makes and views mosaics today and why.
Alexandra traveled to the Asturias province of Spain to learn traditional stone cutting and timber-framing techniques while helping a young couple restore their 19th century Spanish home and gardens. Her research focused on learning hard skills when it comes to traditional construction craft and restoration methods and how attempts to preserve places of the past can help create a more sustainable future.
Catherine Buffington – Sculpture + Extended Media
For two weeks in June 2017, Catherine received instruction in marble sculpture from an expert artisan at Campo dell’Altissimo in the village of Azzano. The beautiful imperfections of marble and the lengthy process required to shape it challenged her creative energy in ways that made her a stronger and better artist.
Amena Durant – Dance + Choreography
Amena traveled to the Dance in Africa Workshop in Senegal and learned different styles of African dance. The workshop not only expanded Amena’s dance training, but allowed a deeper understanding of Senegalese culture.
Madison Holt – Art Education
Madison traveled to Finland — known for its innovative, highly successful approach to education. There she collaborated with art education professors and students at Aalto University, located in Helsinki. She researched Finland’s principles of education and ways American educators might apply those principles.
Madeline King – Art History
In June of 2017, Madeline traveled to Italy to participate in an intensive language and cultural immersion program. She studied Caravaggio’s workshop, focusing on Artemisia Gentileschi.
Marin Leong – Kinetic Imaging
Marin spent nearly two weeks in Iceland exploring the valleys, hot springs and highlights of the southern coast in order to capture the land and seascape as a necessarily spatial experience. Marin’s research reflects the framework of “landscape as art,” – a historically rich and socially reflexive language, often mandating a culturally idealized curation of terrain and a critical reduction of space into frame.
Rachel Lustig – Music
Rachel’s project focused on Czech composers of contemporary flute music since World War II. During the summer of 2017, utilizing her bilingual background, she traveled to the Czech Republic to explore musical works by Jindřich Feld, Sylvie Bodorová, Miroslav Kabeláč, Jan Novák, and others, many of whom are unknown in the U.S.
Quinton Mason – Interior Design
In June 2017, Quinton traveled to Reykjavik, Iceland, to study nature’s direct influence on design. His research was applied to his studio work in order to decrease his own carbon footprint in the U.S.
Joy McMillian – Sculpture + Extended Media
Joy traveled to three regions of Ghana over the course of two weeks to study the divide in experiences between Black Americans and Africans. Her research challenged herself to open dialogues with Africans, learn about Ghanaian women’s labor and the process of harvesting shea butter.
Julia Schillo – Graphic Design
Julia traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal in the summer of 2017 to study typography using the Devanagari script, the alphabet used by the Nepali language. From her research, she was able to better inform her work exploring language revitalization in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, specifically to aid with problem-solving techniques for non-English alphabets and development of typefaces for languages recently transitioning to written form.
Joe Shaffer – Art History
Joe traveled to Berlin to study the means through which censorship has played a role in the methods of representation and visual language in contemporary art and art writing. He researched the physical remnants of cold war giftschränke -translated into “poison cabinets,” which were methods of storing texts on culture, politics, identity and art which were deemed too inflammatory for the public. In addition, he examined the latent history of this censorship in art institutions and witness how it is being dismantled by the contemporary theorists and artists working in the city today.
Kate Duggan – Sculpture + Extended Media
Kate spent three weeks in Barcelona to study how light transforms spaces. She studied how the medieval theory of light informed Gothic cathedrals and stained glass windows, but also how it influenced Gaudí’s modernist mosaics and architecture. During her trip she visited landmark sites such as Casa Batlló and notable museums such as The Museum of Catalan history to better understand the history of Barcelona. Her findings were recorded in a blog and used to create a light-based installation upon returning to VCU.
Isabella Call – Communication Arts
Isabella traveled to Andalucía, Spain from May 10th-May 20th 2016 to document the early palaces and mosques in Seville, Cordoba and Granada to create six character designs based off of the integration of Islamic architectural patterns and the human figure. Her work gave her a better understanding the visual resonance between the architecture of buildings and the structure of the human body by extensive documentation and observation of the architectural sites built during the era of Islamic Iberia. She then used 3D modeling to explore the connection between human form and architectural elements.
Esther Cho – Craft/Material Studies
Esther spent a month in South Korea taking traditional craft classes and immersing herself into the culture of her ancestors. During her study, she visited design academies, museums, galleries and met professionals at the Heyri Art Valley and Incheon Ceramics Village to study traditional Korean craft culture, aesthetics, methods and principles. This trip expanded her body of work that focuses on self-identification, cultural disconnect and her experiences as a “child of immigrants.” Upon returning to VCU, Esther conducted art classes to pass down traditional Korean crafting techniques to 2nd and 3rd generation Korean-American students at LJKC Moogunghwa Korean School.
Kathryn Carney – Art History
In August 2016, Kathryn spent two weeks studying Surrealist art and artist archives in Berlin and Paris, the Surrealist centers of productivity. Her researched focused on the representation and treatment of the female body in Surrealist art as a historically specific Freudian fetish object. At the end of her trip she published a brief catalog with a selection of works she viewed with her own perspective and research on the complex themes and ideas underlying the male Surrealist conception of the female body and sexuality.
Jessica Kraemer – Theatre
In summer 2016, Jessica traveled to Prague, Paris and Kaiserslautern Germany, retracing the steps of poet Rainer Maria Rilke, to create a series of lyric essays. These essays explore a European architecture that has aged a hundred years since Rilke last captured it in writing and a psychological landscape that is still ringing with his influence. In the same way, Rilke’s writing struggled to comprehend his physical displacements, her essays were used to better understand as a writer, and to balance the psychological displacement she has experienced as an actor.
Triet Le – Kinetic Imaging
Triet traveled to the 2016 Annecy Festival, the world’s largest and most prestigious animation festival, which took place in Annecy, France from 13th to 18th June 2016. During the one-week event, she studied the development, techniques and traits of the winning films, gained valuable observation about the presence and the future of animation and connected with animated filmmakers worldwide.
Isabel Lee – Sculpture + Extended Media
In the summer of 2016, Isabel traveled to Seoul, South Korea in order to research the construction of personal space in public transit, with the goal of deconstructing the psychology of the self in Korean culture. Spending three weeks in Seoul, of the world’s best cities for public transportation, she rode the metro daily to collect observations of passengers’ exchanged interactions. Through these observations, she was able to better understand Eastern attitudes about identity from a Westernized perspective in order to better inform her artwork.
Brittany Justice – Graphic Design
Brittany spent two weeks exploring the public art and architecture of the Japanese Seto Islands, as part of the 2016 Setouchi Triennale Summer Exhibitions. This contemporary art festival is held in seasonal blocks, inviting artists, musicians and dancers from around the world to create site-specific installations and performances that engage with the islands’ nature, history and culture in an act of restoration. During her study, she documented the convergence of contemporary art culture with nature and the collaborative transformation of once-decayed space through photography, sound and moving image.
September Banks – Interior Design
September studied the factors and players that determine “good taste” in regards to domestic spaces in post-colonial Ecuador. She traveled to the capital of Ecuador, Quito, and the city of Cuenca. She collected materials, interviews, photography, interactions with representatives of the International Interior Design Association and supplementary research. Her work gave her insight into the relationship between international designers and the locals for whom they design.
Tiffany Vander Laan – Sculpture + Extended Media
Tiffany spent three weeks in Japan to better understand her bi-racial identity which she has explored in her self-referential artwork. During her trip, she directly engaged with Japanese culture for the first time as an adult. Her artwork on cultural identity has evolved because the experience exposed doubts about what has been inherited and not understood, to help her in unraveling the truths that have shaped Asian-American stories.
2014 - 2015
Yushan Sun – Craft/Material Studies
Yushan had a gallery showing in Richmond with art pieces made by VCUart students and local artists that focused on a disappearing technique of traditional Chinese art. She then traveled to China, bringing with her pieces from the show in Richmond, for another show in Beijing in order to revive the craft and research ways to improve passing down traditional craft techniques to younger generations.
Kara Robertson – Dance + Choreography
Kara traveled to Vienna, Austria. She attended ImPulsTanz, the 2015 Vienna International Dance Festival where thousands of dance artist convened from across the world to study and investigate contemporary dance.
Anna Shcherbakova – Graphic Design
Anna compared public spaces in Reykjavik, Iceland to Richmond, Virginia by mapping out daily routes in one city, overlaying them on a map and retracing the steps in another. The resulting maps will become part of a larger book of diagrams produced by Studio Zaterdag and will release Fall 2015.
Michael Walker – Graphic Design
Michael spent two weeks in Amsterdam to study contemporary poster design, specifically cataloging techniques used by designers to grab the attention of iPhone savvy bikers, boaters, and pedestrians. He then created a series of posters that explain how Dutch commercial posters differ from informational posters on VCU’s campus.
Danielle Deneys – Interior Design
Danielle traveled to Denmark to study the elements of forest kindergartens that increased children’s learning. Through photographs and interviews with children and educations, she hopes to bring inspired, affordable interior designs to schools around America, bolstering our children’s cognitive ability.
Meredith Brindley – Kinetic Imaging
Meredith recorded the sounds of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. She then created sound art using the recordings, to contribute to our understanding and knowledge of coral reef environments and to serve as a record of the natural history of the reef.
Kotone Deguchi – Sculpture + Extended Media
Kotone took an immersive trip to Japan to expand her artwork that focuses on cultural disconnect, loss of lineage, and westernization as a Japanese immigrant raised in America. When she returned she started work on a solo gallery show, directly responding to her experiences traveling.
Lauren Terry – Sculpture + Extended Media
Lauren traveled to the small village Shipton-under-Wychwood in the English countryside to explore her family’s heritage and to see the the miniature villages that the village is known for producing.
Aria Roach – Dance + Choreography
Aria traveled to the ImPulsTanz Festival, Europe’s largest contemporary dance festival, which takes place in Vienna, Austria during summer 2015. She was able to experience an unparalleled multitude of contemporary styles while exploring her own personal movement language.
Keith Boylan – Kinetic Imaging
Keith spent two weeks in Tokyo exploring the iconic neighborhoods of Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Harajuku. He studied the romanticized vision of Japan adopted by the visual aspect of American music culture and left to see if that has any bases in reality while also seeing if Japan as a similar distorted perception of the United States.
2013 - 2014
Alex Barton – Communication Arts
Alex spent a month in Cumbria, England painting the historic monuments and lakes that earned the area the title “The Lake District.” He created detailed oil landscape paintings that exposed him to the dedications of painting en plein air without modern conveniences and distractions.
Liesa Collins – Photography and Film
Using Medium Format film, Liesa traveled to Scotland to photograph her eighteen-year-old god sister to examine the universally shared values, ambitions, and relationships teenagers create for themselves no matter the country.
Elizabeth Anne Forrester – Photography & Film
Elizabeth traveled to the small village of Pichanaki in Peru to work with a local community outreach program and to create an abstract documentary presentation that explores the way multi-languages exist within a place.
Jenna Holton – Art Education
Art Education major Jenna traveled to Finland to attend the International Summer School arranged by the Teacher Education College of JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä to connect with various students and professionals from around the world. She learned about different educational theories about creative learning and teaching and then gave a presentation about Finnish education for VCU students and faculty when she returned.
Kaitlin Kobs – Graphic Design
Kaitlin was interested in gaining a better understanding of the methodologies used in Dutch Design, so for two weeks she traveled to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Breda. She visited design academies, museums, studies, and met professionals to study and discuss the dutch design culture, methods, and theory.
Ryan Martin – Sculpture + Extended Media
Ryan traveled to Berlin to attend the Berlin Biennale, a prominent international contemporary art exhibition that is held every two years. She also visited the Node Center for Curatorial Studies where she gained some insight into the career path of becoming a curator.
Leah Schmidt – Graphic Design
Leah traveled to Zanzibar, in Tanzania, Africa to learn from artisans who design and create handcrafted fabrics rich in graphic patterns which embody generations of cultural traditions and philosophical meaning. She spent six weeks studying and documenting the patterns and their meanings.
Anna Shcherbakova – Graphic Design
Anne spent two weeks in Bayonne, France to research what factors shape letterforms to their cultural context. She lived with a french family and fully immersed herself in French culture and connected with the spirit of French lettering.
Erin Warner – Craft/Material Studies
Erin visited the LLadró Factory and the José Martínez Gimeno Factory in Valencia, Spain to take tours and workshops. These two ceramic studios have a history of producing figurines and utilitarian objects through a process called slip-casting.
Jessica Lipsett – Sculpture + Extended Media
Jessica joined a group of volunteers in Eastern Europe for Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village program to participate in a multiple-day build, providing housing to families who desperately need it. She learned traditional home-building methods of the area and how to apply them using native resources and then presented a lecture to the VCU community about her experience.
2012 – 2013
Wade Angeli – Communication Arts
Sandra Whittington – Photography & Film
Rachel Van Liere – Craft/Material Studies
Madeleine Zimmerman – Sculpture + Extended Media
Lee Ahlskog – Graphic Design
Jose Henriquez – Photography & Film
Inga Schunn – Photography & Film
Haley Garvis – Art Education
Connor Vaughn – Art History
Alyssa Kelly – Art Education
2010 – 2011
Jaime Barnett – Art Education
Ginnie Driggers – Art Education
Cory Martin – Art History
Catherine Gellatly – Craft/Material Studies
Eleanor Doughty – Communication Arts
Byerly Young – Communication Arts
Anne Lantz – Kinetic Imaging
Youngyoon Chung – Painting and Printmaking
Virginia Wade – Photography and Film
2011 – 2012
Youngyoon Chung – Painting & Printmaking
Sean Donlon – Craft/Material Studies
Jordan Fust – Interior Design
Bethany Gingrich – Craft/Material Studies
Jennifer Guillen – Painting & Printmaking
Emily Herr – Communication Arts
Weston Lowe – Sculpture + Extended Media
Inga Schunn – Photography & Film
Rachel Van Liere – Craft/Material Studies
2009 – 2010
Grace Manno, Communication Arts
Gina Kang, Graphic Design
Roxanne Baer, Music
Vreni Michelini-Castello, Painting and Printmaking
Justin Moore, Photography and Film
Alexa Leister-Frazier, Sculpture + Extended Media
2008 – 2009
Jessica Ferey, Art History, Internship in French museum/photograph hidden architecture in Paris
Maureen Elswick, Craft/Material Studies, Glassmaking in Murano, Italy
Roberto Celis, Craft/Material Studies, Wood sculpture, Uruguay
Alexandra Barao, Sculpture + Extended Media, Peruvian textile techniques
John Ziol, Sculpture + Extended Media, Japanese culture
Emily Rosko, Theatre, Operafestival di Roma