2021 Recipients

For more information, visit the online exhibition of the 2021 Albert P. Weisman Recipients.

Caitlyn Doran - MFA Art and Art History

The Fantastic Familiar
According to philosopher Soetsu Yanagi, “Someone living in proximity to a flowering garden grows insensitive to its fragrance.” Under the umbrella of these ideas, I have spent the last few months on a project called The Fantastic Familiar. This series consists of several large scale paintings that I consider cinematic, nondescript narratives revealing everyday encounters between humans and household objects. I constantly question the worth of objects within human custody and the nature of our relationships with them. Since starting the project, I have come to feel differently towards these items and have reached new levels of understanding.

Jessica Eckerstorfer - MFA Creative Writing

Voices in a Room

Voices in a Room is a multi-disciplinary project, combining short stories with a visual arts exhibition. With a focus on male created, female forms, the project will give voice to literal man-made depictions of female bodies by crafting a story that pours from the wall onto the gallery floor, physically filling the room with their words. Artist, Jessica Eckerstorfer, first photographs female forms, writing a short story that parallels the archetype in which they embody. Then this image is repurposed onto handmade paper, on which their story will be written. Constructed accordion books will hang from the walls and extend into the space. Patrons will be able to read these stories, view the new forms, and, hopefully, understand the power of providing a vocal platform.

Chelsea Fetherlin - MFA Art and Art History

Shout!Shout! for Your Health: Journals for Grrrly Hush Hush Things
Through the creation of a personal health archive, SHOUT! SHOUT! FOR YOUR HEALTH: A Journal for Grrrly Hush Hush Things seeks to educate and empower women to advocate and care for their health for the benefit of themselves, other women, and future generations. This publication, in addition to loads of space to write, provides historical information about women’s health, information on female-biology related medical issues, personal testimonies, do-it-yourself (DIY) instructions, and a list of resources and organizations for women. It is meant to serve all female-identifying people and to help them serve one another through sharing their own experiences and research. The personal is political, and the female body is a battleground. This journal is an arsenal.

Jessica Hayes - MFA Photography

The Sun Sets Midafternoon - Wildland Fires
My project examines the effects and aftermath of wildfires on nearby communities. The project has its roots in the 2018 fire season, an especially devastating season in Montana, where I was located at the time, and expanded significantly during the 2020 fire season, the worst on record nationwide. The work investigates the ways fires impact humans, depicting burned areas, smoke shrouded landscapes, fire columns, and families affected. I plan to continue to photograph the work as the 2021 fire season begins, further examining the impacts these ever worsening fire season have on the people who live near them and ask what can be done in the face of these climate driven catastrophes. 

Tommy Keith - MFA Photography

To Hold This Mystery (working title)
To Hold This Mystery is a photographic series examining the natural world in an enigmatic, mysterious light to suggest there is more to our surrounding environment than meets the eye. This project presents common, local occurrences as something more complex, evocative, and magical than we often give them credit for, transforming the world into something familiar yet unknown. If we’re to ever have a chance of living in harmony with the Earth we need to fundamentally shift the way we visualize and think about nature, and this project offers an alternative.

Yihan Lin - MFA Cinema Television Arts

Yesterday I Was the Moon
In collaboration with Robert Guo
The purpose of this film is to raise the problem of the elderly being ignored and suffering during the city modernization today. The world changes rapidly every day and for the elderly who are facing their houses being demolished with the growth of the city, they are facing the loss of their faith and gap between family members. Through this film, the problem of the elderly will be raised among us and appeal people pay attention to the elderly and understand them, help them overcome the gap they encounter in the modern society just like how they helped us when we were born.

Ava Makenali - MFA Art and Art History

Baliyyah the Shotor
This project is an experimental and architectonic installation of camels supplemented by additional sculptures, drawing, and performance. The camels, made out of cardboard and fabric, will be disassembled, and placed throughout the gallery. Fragmented camel heads, humps, and legs will be stacked on top of each other like rocks or Kentucky fried chickens, creating a sort of landscape or environment. A small, 3D-printed polar bear sculpture will sit somewhere on this structure of camel parts. In a machine-powered type of performance, a lone camel leg will repeatedly kick outward and therefore symbolically kick viewers out of the gallery space. Finally, the project will include a marker drawing depicting my daily life and relationship to camels on the exterior window of the Glass Curtain Gallery.

Xiwan Miao - MFA Cinema Television Arts

Farewell Symphony
In collaboration with Francesco Raffo
After auditioning and receiving a job offer from a prestigious Chicago based orchestra to become a professional cellist, Yang Yang will struggle to find support from her loved ones as she decides to pursue her dream of becoming a musician far away from her home in Hefei, China. Her family’s views on women and their conservative values end up pushing Yang Yang away, across the ocean. She will only find understanding and unconditional love in her grandfather, who will back her fight for independence, as she leaves her home and land behind, hoping to create a better future for herself. Brave women always pay a higher price.

Lola Monsoya - MFA Cinema Television Arts

Room Rodeo
In collaboration with Chloe Herring
Room Rodeo is a stylized drama-documentary about a wide-eyed boy determined to complete a class project that proves his great grandfather is a legendary Black cowboy. But when his beliefs are challenged, he takes matters into his own hands, discovering a truth bigger than he could’ve ever dreamed. The aim of Room Rodeo is to expand representation of Black stories, those both urban and rural, while educating children aged 8-10 on the rich history and legacy of Black Cowboys in America

Sabrina Pastard - MFA Art and Art History

Currently Untitled
This thesis practices reifying whiteness with sculptures and two dimensional compositions. These works ask the white viewer to wrestle with their whiteness and white fragility. To recognize whiteness and it’s agents as it enters black spaces and how whiteness exists in very familiar and mundane spaces; such as their home. 

Jacob Pesci - Photography

Fighters Don't Quit
This work Fighters Don’t Quit is a multidisciplinary project using photographic documentation to chronicle Jamyle Cannon's West Side boxing organization, The BLOC, as well as direct community engagement through tutoring and mentoring, open communication and language, along with enrichment education in the arts and photography to empower fighters and students to narrate their own stories.

Oliver Rigsby - Music

No Time 2 Waste
No Time 2 Waste is a charity art-athon with all proceeds going to the Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention in LGBTQ youth. Individuals or organized groups may sign-up to take part in this 26.2-hour dash to design, create, and complete a project in any medium of choice. Such mediums include, but are not limited to: a short film, short musical, poetry, painting, comedy sketch, dance, etc. At the start of the event, each individual and/or group will randomly select the theme that will correspond with a statistic found in the Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. One week after project completion, entries will be showcased at the Roxy in Lockport, IL.

Charlette San Juan - MAM Business and Entrepreneurship

Filipino Theatre Artists in America
The Filipino Theatre Artists in America is a project that aims to collect stories and narratives of Filipino Theatre Artists who are currently in residence in the United States. The project will be a platform to promote visibility, share their stories, illustrate the diverse lives and experiences of these artists, inspire others of their struggles and their achievements, and celebrate the important contributions of the Filipino people to the colorful and dynamic theatre arts industry.

Lindy Stokes - MFA Cinema Television Arts

Where Monsters Lurk
A woman tormented by her depression and the monster in the mirror seeks refuge and finds a rare moment of honesty with herself. After weeks of withdrawing from the outside world, Kelly is now isolated, depressed and self-medicating. She wakes up late in her dingey apartment and attempts to survive the day. If she’s lucky, she can do this in relative peace. If not, she suffers through a litany of cruel insults in her mind until she numbs herself. Unless she turns this spiral around, it will be the beginning of her end.

Tso-Chih Yeh - MFA Cinema Television Arts

In collaboration with Wei Lun Chen
Created by two emerging Taiwanese filmmakers, 8Teen is a short film that allows the audience to see the world through the eyes of a group of teenagers who are born and raised in a small town. The big city dream they weave together constantly reminds them of their endeavor to leave. However, does their leaving mean a dream comes true? 8Teen speaks about the pain of growth and is a story that centers on youth voices with a touch of the unique culture in Taiwan. The filmmakers intend to transform their experiences of pursuing dreams in Chicago into a message to the teenagers who are currently confused and uncertain--while exploring their future, they don't have to rush to become the best version of themselves.