Columbia College Chicago

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James Falzone, 2014-2015

James Falzone
James Falzone. Photo by Andrew Gill.

James Falzone, former Senior Lecturer in Columbia College’s First Year Seminar program, was the second CBMR Faculty Fellow (2014-2015). His proposal titled “Performing the Self in Black Music” identified Falzone's use of material from the life and work of artists such as John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and those associated with Chicago’s own Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians to encourage students to “question, explore, communicate, and evaluate issues pertaining to identity, community, and the nature of artistic practice.”

These are, in fact, major goals of the First Year Seminar (FYS), an intra-disciplinary course required of all first-year students at Columbia College Chicago.

Falzone worked across a range of artistic disciplines in the course he developed, but his background as a practicing musician with training in jazz and contemporary classical music drives his frequent use of music as a means to examine these concepts with students. During his Fellowship, Falzone developed teaching modules, a new course, talks, presentations, and guest artist performances and panels. Falzone notes:

Though I am open to examining a variety of artists and genres, two categories of black music in particular are of interest to my research, sustained by my own artistic practice as a jazz artist and the work I have already begun in the classroom: [the first category includes] Jazz artists of the 1960’s [including those listed above]. These musicians were forging a unique sense of identity within their music, fusing elements of African culture, Western classical music, and early jazz traditions. The [CBMR’s] close proximity to the Chicago-based AACM would make this a particularly interesting research component and I have established relationships with many of these artists for interviews and connections to the CBMR. [Falzone’s second category of special interest is] expressions of the Self in hip hop—particularly in artists who see their music as a means of artistic expression beyond the entertainment industry and include socially conscious lyrics. Of particular interest for me have been black rappers from the U.K., such as Akala, whose music manifests deep searching about issues of identity in relation to his mixed race and the oppressive society he sees around him.

The Fellowship committee, the provost, and the CBMR staff are all impressed with Falzone’s knowledge, curiosity, and commitment to the goals of the fellowship, and the CBMR looks forward to supporting his work.

Fo Wilson 2013-2014

Fo Wilson, CBMR Faculty Fellow 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 and the Travel-to-the-Collections grant program that continues to support important hands-on work for scholars and practitioners—this is its first fellowship designated specifically for Columbia College 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.

Art and Design assistant professor Fo Wilson has been named the 2013-2014 CBMR Faculty Fellow. Wilson graduated with a MFA from the Rhode Island’s School of Design’s Furniture 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.

Stephanie Doktor, Fall 2013 Travel-to-the-Collection Award Recipient

Stephanie Doktor, CBMR Travel Grant recipientStephanie Doktor has been awarded the fall 2013 CBMR Travel-to-the-Collection Grant in support of her research project titled “Jazz and Classical Music in Jim Crow America.” In her project, Doktor will examine the race relations and racial ideologies that materialized from intersections of jazz and classical music in the early twentieth century. Many composers have fused these styles, deliberately crossing racial boundaries and blurring musical categories, yet existing scholarship encourages one to consider this music to be an exception in the repertories of only a few composers, including George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Duke Ellington. Doktor will examine other composers who explored the jazz/classical music boundary, including Edmund Thornton Jenkins, Harry T. Burleigh, James P. Johnson, George Antheil, John Alden Carpenter, Louis Gruenberg, and John Powell. She will also explore how race and musical training shaped the perception and consumption of this music in Jim Crow America. Doktor is a Ph.D. student in Critical and Comparative Studies at the University of Virginia, where she studies with Scott DeVeaux.


The Fellowship committee, the provost, and the CBMR staff are all impressed with Falzone’s knowledge, curiosity, and commitment to the goals of the fellowship, and the CBMR looks forward to supporting his work.