Paris Studio 2022-2023

Posted by Sam Fox School July 16, 2020


Works by Vanessa Gravenor, Amy Thompson, Rebecca Naegele, Denise Ward-Brown, and Sage Dawson.

The Sam Fox School has selected the next group of artists and designers for residencies at the College & Graduate School of Art’s Paris studio at the Cité Internationale des Arts.

For more than three decades, the Paris studio residencies have provided alumni, faculty, and students of the College & Graduate School of Art a place to focus on the development of their work, while broadening their international network and immersing themselves in French culture.

Alumni Vanessa Gravenor, Amy Thompson, and Rebecca Naegele, along with professor Denise Ward-Brown and lecturer Sage Dawson, have each been awarded a residency for two months or more. Excerpts from each of their proposals are listed below. Due to complications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the dates of the residencies have been moved back, and will take place during the span from January 2022 through August 2023.

The School issues a biennial call for applications from alumni and faculty, and recipients are selected by a committee of faculty and previous recipients. Graduating students are selected through a separate application process for the John T. Milliken Foreign Travel Award (undergraduate students) and the John T. Milliken Graduate Foreign Travel Award (graduate students); those recipients are announced annually during Commencement week.

Vanessa Gravenor, BFA14

In her artistic practice, Gravenor uses video, animation, and lecture performance as conduits for her research on the relationship between language, trauma, and violence. At the Cité, she plans to conduct research for a forthcoming video work, No Think, examining how official remembrance is formed through cybernetics and technology. Following the Paris attacks in 2015, The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) launched a biomedical study on post-traumatic stress disorder with 180 participants called “Resilience and modification of brain control network following November 13” at Centre Cyceron. This study uses “Think No Think,” a form of therapy that focuses on words and their association to images, and will use machine learning to identify the most commonly used words of victims following the attacks. Gravenor has already conducted interviews with some participants of the study, as well as one of the historians who heads the project, and will conduct further on-site research with personnel in Paris and in Caen, France, during her residency. Following her research, she will create a modified, fictional reenactment of the CNRS study. The video would also emphasize the interplay between images and words, as used in “Think No Think.” Residency dates: January-April 2022.

Image credit: Vanessa Gravenor, still from This Weapon Drags Like a Boomerang, HD Video, 12 min., 2018.

Amy Thompson, MFA07

Thompson’s work centers around ideas of progression and potential. Interdisciplinary investigation is innate to her practice. As a printmaker, she is drawn to process and play; as a designer and book artist, she seeks systems and structure. She is planning to collaborate with David Abel, a poet with whom she has worked previously, on a new book project. The text is a series of experimental poems constructed of spontaneous word pairings and sequences developed out of observations made during Abel’s travels. Thompson plans to create and print the imagery for the book during her residency, influenced not only by the text, but also by her own experiences of travel to, within, and around Paris, drawing particular inspiration from the city’s rich typographic history. This immersion in Parisian design culture will also support her work at the University of Utah, where she teaches courses in Typography and Book Design & Production. Residency dates: May-June 2022.

Image credit: Amy Thompson, Selected Durations. Letterpress on Yupo, perfect bound and housed in a custom clamshell box. Text by David Abel.

Rebecca Naegele, BFA12

Naegele’s ongoing work is invested in creating an experiential sense of instability related to unstable economic systems and unbridled habits of consumption. Recent installations have merged video, photography, and sculpture to articulate U.S. cities undergoing a rapid economic shift. This image-based project focuses on the exteriors of commercial spaces—specifically their reflective storefront technologies, which prevent those on the outside from seeing in through one-way reflective vinyl. More recently, large, reflective one-way windows have become synonymous with new residential development—an aestheticized architecture that often signals social displacement and marks a rapid economic shift in gentrifying U.S. cities. Naegele’s interest in reflective architectural surfaces as indicating a contemporary neoliberal shift has led her to extensive research, including Walter Benjamin’s writing on the Paris Arcades. During her residency, she will delve into the archives and cultural criticism of the Paris Arcades, seeking to historically ground architectural relationships to economy and commodity culture, while also consider the parallels to recent international privatized consumer developments, such as the Hudson Yards in New York. She also plans to research early histories of cinema, including Charles-Émile Reynaud’s praxinoscope animation device and George Méliès illusionist stop trick films, to inform new sculptural and image-based works. Residency dates: July-August 2022.

Image credit: Rebecca Naegele, Chiasmus (still), 5:16 min digital video, 2018. View the video here>>

Denise Ward-Brown, Professor

Ward-Brown has started filming for a feature-length documentary project titled Katherine Dunham’s “Rites de Passage.” The world-renowned dancer and choreographer created a dance pedagogy—the Dunham Technique—that synthesized Caribbean & African dance with European ballet. The film moves from choreography to class to stage to archive, capturing the essence of “Rites de Passage,” a classic ballet that premiered in 1941. Ward-Brown aims to transform the video archives that exist into what dancers refer to as a living treasure/archive where “the dance lives in the body,” complementing the archived materials with interviews with Dunham dancers and choreographers and humanities scholars, as well as biographical information about Dunham. To accomplish this, she will film the choreography being taught by Dr. Glory Van Scott—who danced one of the lead roles in the ballet when it was first taped in 1980—to master Dunham dancers Ruby Street and Heather Beal Hines, who in turn will teach the choreography to a younger generation of Dunham-trained dancers. While at the Cité, Ward-Brown plans to interview Marie-Christine Dunham-Pratt, the daughter of Katherine Dunham; film locations connected with Katherine Dunham while she lived and worked in Paris; and find venues for screening the final feature-length documentary. She also plans to create a digital archive that all Dunham-certified teachers and their attached organizations can access. Residency dates: May-June 2023.

Image credit: Denise Ward-Brown, Never Been a Time (still, filming poet Cindy Reed), documentary, 2017.

Sage Dawson, Lecturer

Dawson’s work examines dwelling rights, domestic labor, and the identity of spaces. During her residency, she plans to create a new series of site-responsive, textile-based works that examine Paris’ historic building program, urban planning, and textile history. The goal of her project is to examine and expand her understanding of these elements–both historically and contemporaneously–and to push her practice to develop in new and exciting ways. A strong research component underpins this work, including site visits to the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine—Paris’ museum of architecture and textiles—whose permanent collection includes architectural reconstructions from the Romanesque and Gothic periods, as well as stained glass, tapestries, murals, and models. Additional sites of interest include the Institut Français d’Architecture, the École de Chaillot, and the museum’s architectural library. Dawson will also visit the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which houses a unique collection of decorative textiles, wallpapers, and works on paper; Le Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes, which holds a printed textile collection from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries; and the Musée National du Moyen Âge, which has a rare collection of decorative tapestries from the Middle Ages. Residency dates: July-August 2023.

Image credit: Sage Dawson, site-specific installation at 1105 N 7th, Springfield, Illinois. Collagraphy on fabric, serigraphy, acrylic, thread, fringe, and brooms, 2017.

About the Cité

Since its founding in 1965, the Cité Internationale des Arts has accommodated artists from around the world to take part in its residency programs. The foundation has partnerships with 135 French and international organizations, with many artists in residence at any one time.

Residents may practice their artistic disciplines and develop their creative techniques for the duration of their stay at the Cité Internationale des Arts. The residence also houses an exhibition area where artists can display their works and an auditorium where they can perform concerts.