About Dean’s International Research Grants
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.
Applications are currently closed
Browse Past Recipients
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.