All MFA-VA students are eligible to apply for the grants, which are offered each fall semester. Proposals are reviewed and awarded by a faculty jury based on the following criteria:
- A creative vision for enhancing graduate-level academic activity, teaching, learning or research
- Use of materials or facilities not available or easily accessible in the ordinary course of student work
Jorge Rios Morales
Project title: El Hombre Extraño (The Strange Man)
El Hombre Extraño (The Strange Man) is inspired by the lyrics of the song by the same name from Cuban composer Silvio Rodríguez, which narrates the story of a man who kisses everything he encounters. Because of this “weird” behavior, he is confined to an asylum where he continues kissing his cell’s bars, walls, and bed. The song ends with a description of how, after a sudden death and burial, flying birds discover that a pair of lips have emerged out of the world.
This song is a paradigmatic example of the Latin American magical realism style, in which esoteric and mystical events are described as a fundamental and trivial quality of life, and not an extraordinary, otherworldly phenomenon. They also imply a deeper understanding of the human condition. In this case, it can be understood as an existential affirmation of the everyday life and a poetical statement of gratitude towards the world.
Started in 2019, this body of work consists of a series of black-and-white photographs that capture Rios as he kisses different things, both manmade and from the natural environment. With support from the Production Grant, Rios, intends to show a selection of these images in Sam Fox School exhibition spaces and conduct talks, gallery visits, and roundtables with both undergraduate and graduate students.
Project title: Sanctuary
The project seeks to embody the complexities and ambivalencies of the experience of Venezuelan diaspora. The project employs the deconstruction of elements associated with Venezuelan identity and forced displacement, the latter becoming a relevant characteristic of the Venezuelan community in recent years.
This installation project consists of three TVs displaying a 3-channel video of Venezuelan immigrants working in their professions. The videos will be placed in three contiguous walls of a small room with theatrical lighting. These TVs will be respectively framed by assemblages made of wood, whose top ends will be cut in shapes based on the pediment of baroque churches of Caracas. An emergency blanket will irregularly cover the surface. Other elements, such as a geometric module made of Venezuelan corn flour wrappings and hand-drawn baroque ornaments, will complete the composition.
Sanctuary builds on Salazar-Lermont’s previous work with the Venezuelan Association of Missouri (AVMO), which was supported by both an MFA-VA Production Grant and an CityStudioSTL Student Award.