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CBMR Digest is a publication of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago

ISSN # 2168-3301fall 2013 | Volume 26, No. 2

Faculty Fellowship Program

The CBMR is happy to introduce its Faculty Fellowship program and its inaugural faculty fellow, Fo Wilson. While the CBMR has developed successful fellowship programs and opportunities over the course of its history—including multiple rounds of the Rockefeller Residential Research Fellowships in the Humanities and the CBMR Travel Grant program that continues to support important hands-on work for scholars and practitioners—this is its first fellowship designated specifically for Columbia College Chicago faculty. It is designed to support a faculty member who is currently working on or is interested in creating a project that would benefit from interaction with CBMR materials, research expertise, and other resources and to generate projects that model cross-disciplinary scholarship, teaching, and/or creative practice.

The Center for Black Music Research Faculty Fellowship, generously funded through the Columbia College Chicago Provost’s Office, provides essential course release time and a competitive research stipend. Fellows will pursue significant new or continuing scholarly and/or creative projects such as, but not limited to, the development of new curricula; digital or traditional publications, tools, or apps; and/or public programs or events, such as exhibitions, symposia, or performances, all designed and hosted in collaboration with CBMR staff. Preference will be given to projects that

  • creatively disregard or problematize the theory/practice divide or that grapple with the connection between scholarship and art making;
  • have a strong and thoughtful student engagement component;
  • model collaborative and/or cross-disciplinary work;
  • feature in-depth, sustained, and creative use of CBMR resources.

The recipient of the CBMR Faculty Fellowship will receive one course release each fall and spring semester of the fellowship year. To support their work, the fellows will also receive a stipend of up to $5,000 beyond their base salary for the academic year, work space and office resources at the CBMR, and CBMR staff support as appropriate (research, reference, administrative, programmatic).

Art and Design assistant professor Fo Wilson has been named the 2013–2014 CBMR Faculty Fellow. Wilson graduated with a M.F.A. degree from the Rhode Island’s School of Design’s Furniture Design Program in 2005 with a concentration in Art History, Theory, and Criticism. Prior to her graduate studies, she founded and ran Studio W, Inc., a design consultancy with offices in New York and the San Francisco Bay area. She writes and lectures about art, craft, and design to international audiences. Her furniture-based work is exhibited nationally, and her design work is included in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

As Fellow, Wilson will continue work begun at the CBMR last summer on 100 Chairs (tentative title), a sound installation project that uses the symbology and presence of water as a way to connect communities to a shared humanity. Water can be a destructive, transformative, transcendent, and redemptive force. Using environmental sounds and over one hundred samples of recorded music researched at the CBMR that reference water as a theme, Wilson will be producing a large-scale contemporary sound installation within a “praise house-like” structure that mixes sound, music, and spoken-word into a media rich experience that various audiences and communities can share. Student engagement is an important element of the fellowship program and Wilson has designed a course, CBMR Research Studio, which will “create a collaborative classroom experience for a diverse cross section of Columbia students.” Participants will have the opportunity to “research, create, record, and edit environmental sounds and musical samples of diasporic musical traditions like West African griot songs, African-American field hollers and work songs, spirituals, blues, jazz, gospel, classical, spoken word, and hip hop.” Students might also develop other media, help build a praise house structure prototype, or participate in performances.

CBMR staff members are excited to work with Wilson on these and related activities. Her approach to research in/as creative practice epitomizes the values and concepts at the heart of this fellowship.

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