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.
Approved grant recipients will need to go through the ITAC petition process if you are planning on traveling to a Level 3 or Level 4 travel advisory country upon award. Additionally, all recipients will also need to complete a general travel registry through the Education Abroad office.
Application deadline 11:59pm, January 24, 2024
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 5/13/24 and 8/22/25.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Browse Past Recipients
Eileen will be traveling to Blönduós, Iceland to attend the Icelandic Textile Center Ós Textile Artist Residency program for the month of June. She will be drafting patterns, dyeing wool using Icelandic flora, and knitting a series of works exploring language, concrete poetry, and the use of text in art. Iceland’s rich textile history and local yarn production—as well as a knitting festival in June—serves as both inspiration and fuel for a body of fiber work, and this focused time will be invaluable for her studio practice.
Hope Ollivant will be traveling to London for a University of the Arts London short course at Central Saint Martins in the first week of June. The course, “Introduction to the Jewellery Business,” will reveal unknown and unseen aspects of the jewelry industry, from market stall to luxury brands. Hope will also be conducting independent research by visiting art galleries and the Central Saint Martins Library during the week. Hope recently completed a three-week winter course at UAL College of Communication on the creative industries in London and is interested in taking a deeper dive into her area of focus, jewelry.
Very few cities contend with the architectural duality of old and new like Copenhagen, Denmark. The city boasts both a plethora of 19th Century castles and some of the most cutting-edge design in the world today. This research project would go to the streets of Denmark’s capital in May 2023 to conduct a series of creative field studies including writing, sketching, photography, and video that would be compiled in order to answer the question: how exactly does the architecture of the past and the architecture of the future work together to create the distinct, vibrant, Copenhagen seen today?
Painting + Printmaking
This summer, Ellyx Martinez will be funded to attend Joya’s art and ecology artist residency. Time at this residency will give them the opportunity to rekindle connection to a piece of their mixed Mestizo identity, investigating land’s capacity for memory and story-telling. Having never been to Spain, time spent as a Joya alongside the neighboring landscape will offer the invaluable opportunity to continue ancestral research while gaining perspective on present and future land/community relations. It will also enable them to tell their story with a deep clarity speaking to a wider return to sustainable cycles.
Photography + Film
Aija will travel to Riga, Latvia to photograph cultural festivities that celebrate the bond between people and nature: the Summer Solstice, and the Latvian Song and Dance Celebration, which takes place every five years. Latvian culture—including its songs, folklore, and spiritual life—focuses on the harmonious bond between humans and nature. As an artist focusing on humans within the natural world, Aija will photograph events where this bond is explicitly celebrated with age-old songs and rituals; with human bodies adorned with flowers; and with woods, fields, and beaches that are the venues for all-night celebrations.
Photography + Film
Joel will travel to Jamaica for a photography project where he will focus on capturing the country’s vibrant and unique fashion scene through his lens. His goal is to photograph locals and Jamaican fashion, and to gain a deeper understanding of the culture and people of Jamaica. With the help of a friend who was born and raised in Jamaica as a tour guide, he believes that this experience will be a valuable addition to my personal and professional development as a photographer.
Photography + Film
Lillian Parker will travel to Flam, Norway to create an experimental photography series in collaboration with the Norwegian fjords. The fjords were created by massive glaciation movement 2.5 million years ago and have served as a place of protection. The project engages the sediments found in the fjord particularly in trace metals and their interactions with silver halide of 120 film. This opportunity will allow Lillian to capture the fjord in this moment of history through her interaction with the physical aspects of the landscape.
This grant would enable Anna to travel to England to continue her research of feminist art history and contemporary feminist artists and movements, which began in connection with her work on social psychology of childbirth funded by the VCUarts Interdisciplinary grant. U.S. museums’ collections contain limited references to childbirth. British museums are making much more concerted efforts to include and highlight modern and contemporary feminist art and historical references to women’s experience with reproduction, pleasure and power. In addition to museum research, she plans on meeting some of the artists working in England to address structural inequalities.
Molly will be traveling to London to research “Live Cinema,” a new medium that merges cinema and theatre. This style of performance has not yet reached the U.S. in a significant way, but her goal is to bring this art form back to VCUarts. She plans to gain hands-on experience with “Live Cinema” among the pioneers of a new multimedia approach that re-imagines classical texts and enhances the performance with technology.
Photo + Film
EB will travel to the port city of Rotterdam, Netherlands to film a short documentary about the major land reclamation project happening on the Dutch coast. Since the early 1800s, the Dutch have been working to reclaim land from the North Sea using a technique called poldering. She will spend 10 days in early September studying the environmental impacts of this project and the large-scale fight against climate change. The findings from the Netherlands will then be juxtaposed with that of Tangier, an island off Virginia’s Eastern shore that is being completely overtaken by the bay.
Photo + Film
Lillian will be traveling to Ballyvaughan, Ireland to attend the Burren College of Art Artist Residency program in mid July. She will explore the glacio karst landscape of the Burren, focusing specifically on the distinct geological formations caused by the glaciation of Ireland over 20,000 years ago. Lillian will create a series of photographs communicating her research findings, depicting the necessity of a human relationship to deep time and the importance of glacial landscapes to the health of our planet. She will be able to establish an independent studio practice and have round the clock darkroom and studio space.
Photo + Film
From July 1st to July 8th, Barrett Reynolds and Jack Fox will travel to Nova Scotia, Canada to create a photography series combining documentary and narrative storytelling portraying the excessive amounts of shipwrecks the area experiences due to heavy fog. Through photographing local townspeople, native wildlife species, and exploring sailor’s tall tales surrounding shipwrecks, they will create a series that captures speculations surrounding the abnormal occurrences in the province. This opportunity will allow Barrett and Jack to explore how Nova Scotia’s peculiar environment shapes the collective identity of its inhabitants.
Elise will travel to Ireland in late May to investigate bog, where she will create a series of sculptural photographs in collaboration with this unique and essential environment, completing an ongoing body of work centering this landscape. The project engages with the mystical and macabre qualities of boglands from an feminist perspective, while revealing their environmental necessity in an age of climate decay.
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.