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Past Artists in Residence

Winter 2023

Sarah Kanouse

In residence February 6-10, 2023

Kanouse's residency was co-sponsored by the Department of Art History and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Residency Highlights:

Sarah Kanouse headshotSarah Kanouse is an interdisciplinary artist and critical writer examining the politics of landscape and space. Migrating between video, photography, and performative forms, her research-based creative projects shift the visual dimension of the landscape to allow hidden stories of environmental and social transformation to emerge.

A habitual collaborator, Sarah Kanouse recently worked with Ryan Griffis and Nicholas Brown, on the the Anthropocene Drift field station for Mississippi: An Anthropocene River, sponsored by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. She was one half of the National Toxic Land/Labor Conservation Service, a ‘wishful’ government agency addressing the cultural and ecological impacts of nuclear militarism, and a core member of Compass, an art collaborative best known for staging a series of performative hearings into the intergenerational and inter-species impacts of industrial agriculture on regional and global eco-social systems.  With Nicholas Brown, she explored landscapes of settler commemoration in the Midwest in the photo-text book Re-Collecting Black Hawk (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015).

Her creative work has been screened or exhibited at Documenta 13, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Cooper Union, the Clark Art Institute, the Smart Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and in numerous academic institutions as Tufts University, the CUNY Graduate Center, George Mason University, University of California Berkeley, Colorado College, and the University of Wisconsin. She has written extensively about performative and site-based contemporary art practices in the journals Passapartout, Acme, Leonardo, Parallax, and Art Journal, as well the edited volumes Ecologies, Agents, Terrains; Critical Landscapes, Art Against the Law, and Mapping Environmental Issues in the City.

A 2019-2020 Rachel Carson Fellow at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Sarah Kanouse holds a permanent position as Associate Professor in the Department of Art + Design at Northeastern University.



Tickets (FREE):

Tues., February 7, 2023
6:00 pm
Mussetter-Struble Theater/ Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts
1949 Campus Drive, Evanston


(Sarah Kanouse, still from My Electric Genealogy.)

My Electric Genealogy is a 75-minute, auto-ethnographic lecture-performance that weaves together live narration, choreographed movement, documentary video, and sound to address the climate justice ramifications of the electrical grid my grandfather helped to design and build.

"For nearly forty years, Ed Kanouse designed, planned, and supervised the spider-vein network of lines connecting Los Angeles to its distant sources of electric power. He made a second family of the grid and its substations, converter stations, and interties, photographing these monuments of the modern everyday with one foot in the aesthetic and another in the techno-scientific sublime. When he died, he left behind boxes of snapshots that mixed birthday parties and family Christmases with portraits of power plants and transmission towers. Years later, I learned his legacy also included some of the most polluting fossil fuel infrastructure in the country—mostly located on Navajo land. Both aesthetically and politically, then, his vision of progress was rooted in modernist models of extraction, centralization, and consumption that are both highly racialized and gendered. Any just transition to a post-carbon society demands not only an overhaul of the electric grid but also the underlying values and assumptions that produced it. Taking up Donna Haraway’s call to “make oddkin,” My Electric Genealogy proceeds from an imaginative re-reading of my family tree, refiguring as relations both the electrical infrastructure of Los Angeles and the desert ecologies, organisms, and human histories it connects. Weaving together episodes of my grandfather’s life, anxious fantasies about my child’s climate-challenged future, and stories of resistance and resilience from the front lines of centuries of extractivism, My Electric Genealogy is an essayistic, auto-ethnographic working-through of this personal and collective inheritance."


Fall 2022 - Visiting artist

Doreen Baingana

Visiting Artist, November 2022

Co-presented by the Program of African Studies, the Creative Writing Program, and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.


(Doreen Baingana photo by Jérémy Baron)

Doreen Baingana is a Ugandan writer whose short story collection, Tropical Fish, won a Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction and a Commonwealth Prize. Her other awards include three nominations for the Caine Prize; a Miles Morland Scholarship; a Rockefeller Bellagio Residency; a Sustainable Arts Foundation grant; a Tebere Arts Foundation Playwright’s Residency, and a Gretchen J. Bryant Freedom to Write Distinguished Fellowship. She has also published two children’s books as well as stories and essays in many journals including Agni, Callaloo, Chelsea, Glimmer Train, The Guardian, UK, Caravan: A Journal of Politics and Culture (India), Chimurenga, Kwani?, Ibua, Evergreen Review, Transition, and The Georgia Review. She is about to complete a novel-in-progress, Tongues of Fire, based on the life of a charismatic female rebel leader, Alice Lakwena. Baingana has adapted her stories for the stage that have been performed in Uganda and Germany. She has an MFA from the University of Maryland, College Park and worked at Voice of America radio for ten years before she became managing editor at Storymoja Africa, a Kenyan press, and later chairperson of FEMRITE, the Uganda Women Writers Association. Based in Entebbe, she has taught creative writing across Africa for two decades.



vartan avakian

In residence May - June 2022

Vartan's residency is co-sponsored by the Middle East and North African Studies Program (MENA) and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Vartan will present a two public events during his residency. See below for more details on these:

Vartan Avakian is an artist working with video, photography and sculpture. He studied Communication Arts at the Lebanese American University and Architecture and Urban Culture at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. Avakian’s work has been shown at MuCEM, Marseille; Sursock Museum, Beirut; Apexart, New York; Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; MAXXI, Rome; SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; Beirut Art Center, CCA Warsaw; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Transmediale 2K+12, Berlin; Sharjah Biennial X, Sharjah; Home Works V, Beirut; Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York; The Cube, Taipei; South London Gallery, London. Avakian is a board member of the Arab Image Foundation and is a recipient of the Abraaj Group Art Prize. He is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens-Thessaloniki and Marfa’ Projects, Beirut.

You can view Vartan’s artwork at


 (Image above from Suspended Silver (2015): Accumulated dust on film negatives from Studio Mario collection found in Barakat Building. Image Courtesy of Arab Image Foundation)


In Studio

During his residency, Vartan conducted work on a film project in the Kaplan artist studio.


archives-without-documents-monday-may-9-300px.pngArchives Without Documents
Monday, May 9, 2022
12:30 pm CST
Via Zoom
Register here:

avakian_may-25_11x17-300px.pngArtist Talk
Your Skin Shall Bear Witness Against You: On Memory, Materiality, and the Body of the Witness
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
5:30 pm CST
Block Museum of Art (40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston)

Free and open to all!

“This is the story of a judicial investigator, a biochemist, and a salamander. They stand centuries apart each staring at a trace.” 




Spring 2022 Course

With visiting practitioners Kristine Khoury and Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh from the Arab Image Foundation, Vartan is teaching the Humanities/MENA course (Im)material Layers in Archives: Affect, Landscapes, and Photographic Agency. The seminar will investigate the ways in which archives can function as a space for renegotiating the agency of photographs and their (im)material layers, and how these processes can allow for rethinking archival practices in complex political, economic, and social contexts today.

winter 2022

Monica Trinidad

In residence January 31 - March 7, 2022

Trinidad's residency is co-sponsored by the Council for Race and Ethnic Studies and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Monica will present a series of events during her residency. See below for details on these:


(Monica Trinidad photo by Grae Rosa)

Monica Trinidad is a queer Latinx cultural strategist and visual artist, born, raised, and residing in Chicago. Over the past several years, Monica has created zines, digital graphics, mixed media posters, and other visual art amplifying youth-led, intersectional, and grassroots abolitionist organizing work in Chicago and nationally. Her creative practice invites individuals to reimagine a better and more just world, centered around experimentation, interdependence, abundance over scarcity, process over product, and following the leadership from directly-impacted communities.

Emphasizing the power of cultural strategy in organizing for political change, Monica co-founded Brown and Proud Press (2011) and For the People Artists Collective (2015), organized with grassroots efforts such as We Charge Genocide (2014) and No Cop Academy (2017-2019), and most recently became a member of Justseeds Artists Cooperative. Monica holds a Bachelor's Degree in Gender and Women’s Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was awarded the Civic Engagement, Community Service, and Community Organizing (CESCO) award. Her work has been exhibited at the National Museum of Mexican Art, Sullivan Galleries, DuSable Museum, and the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. 

You can view Monica’s artwork at or most recently on the cover of Mariame Kaba’s New York Times bestseller book, We Do This ‘Til We Free Us. You can listen to Monica on her podcast, The Lit Review, a literary podcast by, with, and for community organizers, wherever podcasts are available.




(Images above by Monica Trinidad. Left: We Keep Each Other Safe; right: Assata Taught Me)

In Studio

Trinidad will be working in the Kaplan artist studio in Kresge #2315 during her residency.

Residency Highlights

mtrinidad-poster-300px.pngStudent Workshop: Making Art for the People
Two (2) Mondays: Feb. 21 and Feb. 28, 2022
5:00 - 6:30pm

Explore collaborative, community-based art-making as a key site of transformation, power building, story­telling, and activating people to become catalysts for social change. A combination of presentation, dialogue, and hands-on art making, the workshop will cover tips and best practices for creating visual artwork in collaboration with grassroots organizations working towards racial, economic, gender, and disability justice.

trinidad-2_10_22-workshop-preview_flyer-200px.pngArtist Talk and Workshop Preview

Your chance to meet Monica and ask questions about the February workshop series, Making Art for the People. (Download flyer here.)

Thurs., February 10, 2022
5:15 pm
Via Zoom
Register at:


spring 2021

Mel Keiser

In residence May - June 2021

Keiser's residency is co-sponsored by the Department of Art Theory and Practice and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Mel Keiser (b.1985, 2003, 2007, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2018, 2020) is a multidisciplinary artist exploring the social and psychological impact of treating herself as a stratified series of distinct selves rather than a single person in fluid development. Her practice blends installation, object-making, and performance with research methodologies and knowledge hybridized from disciplines like evolutionary biology, sociocultural anthropology, and personality psychology. Her work appropriates taxonomic structures from natural history and academia to disrupt her “familiarity to her subject matter,” only to exploit the same familiarity through the appropriation of social rituals and customs, intimate and vulnerable.

Keiser received grants from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts at Northwestern University, and the Judith Dawn Memorial Fund. She co-directed and starred in The Life and Deaths of The Mels, a short film with Diego Ongaro (2019), and her written work has been published in the peer-reviewed Performance Philosophy Journal (2018) and ASAP/J (forthcoming). She co-lead an artist writing group at Wedge Projects with Matthew Goulish from 2017-2019.

About The Life and Deaths of The Mels: Here Lie the Bones

project image from Mel Keiser's work "The Life and Death of The Mels: Here Lie the Bones" at Wedge Projects, Chicago_2020_09-400x600.jpgKeiser rewrites her personal history as the births and deaths of a linear progression of discrete selves. This project builds evidence that these selves exist: she makes a body for each self and buries it in a cemetery. 

Entangling the borders of reality and fiction, this project is a journey to understand self-death. Keiser collaborates with experts to prepare a funeral for her first self. Modeled from 3D scans of her body, they hand-carve disarticulated bones as a surrogate body for burial. Concurrently, a gravestone is hewn by a stone carver trained to be a priest; a casket is hand-built from a tree that clones itself; and mourning clothes are tailored from the clothes of the living and deceased selves. With these objects, Keiser will hold a public funeral, burying the bodies of these past selves, incorporating a small plot of land in Illinois as a family cemetery, creating a public art site.


About Melga Blank & the Museum of The Mels

Museum of the Mels_Melga and Mel7-400x600.jpgKeiser also performs, writes, and curates as alter-ego, scientist Melga Blank. Keiser uses Blank to explain why and how Keiser is a series of discrete selves rather than a single person in fluid development.

In Keiser’s work, Blank founded the field of self-evolutionary biology when she discovered The Mels (Keiser), the first known species to evolve as psychically discrete selves in a single physical body. To share her discovery with the public, she became the head curator of the Museum of The Mels, a natural-history-museum-like institution dedicated to The Mels and self-evolution. Through collecting, cataloging, and analyzing, Melga Blank and her museum are an interface between real scientific inquiry; the fictional evolution of The Mels; and Keiser’s quixotic, obsessive self-determination.

Residency Highlights

A Practicum for Digging a Grave with Mel Keiser
This will be a live, in-person event
Sat., May 15, 2021
9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Location: Behind 618 Colfax Street, Evanston

Facebook event:
PlanitPurple event:

gravedigging-practicum-with-mel-keiser-5-15-21-300px.jpgLed by Kaplan Humanities Institute Artist in Residence Mel Keiser and certified grave diggers Kris Bloedow and Bill Jessen, participants will learn the increasingly forgotten but age-old skill of manually digging a grave. We will reflect on the ability of this labor to simultaneously inter the deceased, mirror the process of grieving, and direct emotion into social action.

Entangling the borders of reality and fiction, Keiser’s multidisciplinary work explores the social and psychological impact of treating herself not as one single person but a series of distinct self-versions. Claiming these self-versions born and died—in 2003, twice in 2007, 2011, 2014, 2018, and 2020—Keiser is currently making a body for each of her selves and burying them in a cemetery.

Dig site
We will dig behind 618 Colfax, Evanston, which is the site of an unoccupied residential hall. There is street parking and a parking lot nearby at Elder Hall (see this map:

Participants must wear masks and adhere to campus visitor COVID safety protocols.

This event is co-presented by the Department of Art History, the Department of Art Theory and Practice, and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.

In Studio

Keiser will be working in the Kaplan artist studio in Kresge #2315 during spring quarter 2021 beginning May 1. In the meantime, you can view a short video of her work in the studio window.


winter 2019

meredith-zielke-iva-radivojevic-yoni-goldstein-kaplan-institute-2019-01-25.jpgMeredith zielke and Yoni Goldstein

In residence January 9 through March 16, 2019
Zielke and Goldstein's residency was co-sponsored by the Department of Radio/Television/Film's MFA in Documentary Media and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

(In photo, from left: Meredith Zielke, Iva Radivojevic [editor], and Yoni Goldstein)

Meredith Zielke and Yoni Goldstein make video documentary work / fabled documentaries / hyper-real documentaries which leak fiction into nonfiction, and vice versa, creating fantastical depictions of concrete landscapes. They ask “What can experimental documentaries do in the age of the neural image?” Zielke and Goldstein are currently developing a new sci-fi documentary, tentatively titled “A Machine to Live In,” linking the cosmic power structures of the state to the mystical architecture of cults and utopian cities in the distant hinterlands of Brazil. This hybrid film provides a complex portrait of life, poetry, and myth set against the backdrop of the space-age city of Brasília and a flourishing landscape of UFO cults and transcendental spaces.

zielke-goldstein-image from "A Machine to Live In" project

zielke-goldstein-image from "A Machine to Live In" project

(Images from work in progress "A Machine to Live In.")


Introductory Artists Talk with Zielke and Goldstein
January 10, 2019
7:00 pm
Annie May Swift Auditorium

 Zielke and Goldstein will show selections from their work-in-progress and propose a utopian methodology for speculative / polyphonic documentaries. Talk will be followed by Q&A conversation and light refreshments!

zielke-goldstein-open-studio-2019_04_04-poster-260px.pngOpen Studio Conversation and Screenings
April 4, 2019
7:00 pm
Kresge #2315



FALL 2018

baker-deborah-300x400.jpgDeborah baker

In residence October 6 through November 14, 2018
Baker's residency was c

o-sponsored by the Department of History, the Department of English, The Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, the Alumnae of Northwestern University, and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Deborah Baker is the author of In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding, which was shortlisted for the 1994 Pulitzer prize in Biography (Hamish Hamilton, Grove Press).  In 2008 she published, A Blue Hand: The Beats in India (Penguin Press, Penguin India). The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism (Graywolf, Penguin India) was a finalist for the National Book Award in Non-fiction and has been translated into Arabic, Indonesian, and Malayalam.  Her most recent book, The Last Englishmen: Love, War, and the End of Empire, was published in August (Graywolf, Chatto & Windus, Penguin Random House India). She lives in New York and India. Deborah Baker photo ©Julienne Schaer.


Lunchtime Talk with Deborah Baker: Tricks of Perspective
November 1, 2018
12:30 - 1:50pm
Harris Hall #108

In conversation with Deborah Cohen (Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Humanities and Professor of History), Deborah Baker will discuss how she found the stories on which her books have been based and her thoughts on making archives—and people—come alive on the page. 


Spring 2018

malik-rohina-300x400px.jpgRohina Malik

In residence April through June, 2018
Malik's residency was co-sponsored by Northwestern's MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage, Department of Radio/Television/Film, and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Rohina Malik is a critically acclaimed Chicago playwright and solo performance artist. She was born and raised in London of South Asian heritage. Her one-woman play UNVEILED was developed and had its world premiere at the 16th Street Theater, where it received critical acclaim. She has been nominated twice for the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play: first for her play THE MECCA TALES, produced by Chicago Dramatists in 2015, and most recently for YASMINA’S NECKLACE, directed by Ann Filmer, which had its world premiere at the 16th Street Theater in January 2016 and was recently remounted at the prestigious Goodman Theater. Malik is a Resident Playwright Emeritus at Chicago Dramatists, an Artistic Associate at the 16th Street Theater, an Artistic Associate at Voyage Theater Company in NYC and an Artistic Affiliate at the American Blues Theater. In March 2018, The League of Professional Theatre Women selected Malik to receive the 2018 Lee Reynolds Award, given annually to a woman whose work for, in, about, or through the medium of theatre has helped to illuminate the possibilities for social, cultural, or political change. Malik's plays have been produced at the 16th Street Theater, The Goodman Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Crossroads Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Next Theater, Brava Theater, Voyage Theater Company, Silk Road Rising, Theater Project Baltimore, Mustard Seed Theater, New Rep in Boston and the Greater Boston Stage Company. UNVEILED was presented in two South African Theater festivals: The Grahamstown Arts Festival and the 969 Festival in Johannesburg. Malik is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America.    

Campus Engagement

Rohina taught a spring quarter class, Writing the Contemporary Play, in the Department of Radio/Television/Film. This course is designed to help students develop new work with an emphasis on fostering their voices as storytellers and creating works characterized by simple yet effective narrative structure.


malik-air-poster_5.4.18d-300px.pngKEEPING FAITH: SISTERS OF STORY 
at the Arts on Equality Festival 
Saturday, April 14, 2018 
12-1:30pm (Struble Theater, Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts)

What if we all told stories from our faiths with the goal of bringing people together and showing peace, curiosity and similarities amongst the faiths? With the uptick of hateful and vitriolic language in the US since the 2016 election, three women storytellers—Rohina Malik (Muslim), Susan Stone (Jewish), and Kim Schultz (Christian)—created this project to demonstrate peace and commonalities between us all. Each woman tells three stories inspired by her personal faith journey, joined by Lucia Thomas, a cultural musical storyteller, on violin, oud, and guitar.

UNVEILED performance
May 2, 2018
12-1:30pm (Kaplan Seminar Room, Kresge #2350)
Open Studio
May 24, 2018
5-7pm (Artist Studio – Kresge 2315)

Come meet Rohina Malik in the Kaplan Artist Studio, where she will share new work developed during her residency: a TV pilot about the lives and friendships of Muslim women. At this event, professional actors will perform a staged reading of the pilot, followed by conversation and refreshments—public welcome!



Winter 2018

jen-bervin-300px.jpegJen Bervin

In residence January 8 to March 23, 2018
Bervin's residency was co-presented by the Block Museum of Art and the Kaplan Humanities Institute. Additional program and teaching support was provided by the Department of Art Theory and Practice, the Center for the Writing Arts, and Northwestern Libraries.

Jen Bervin is an artist and poet whose research-driven interdisciplinary works weave together art, writing, science and life. Exploring the intersection of traditional craft and cutting edge technology, Bervin’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Des Moines Art Center and Granoff Center for the Arts at Brown University, and has been featured in group exhibitions at MASS MoCA, MCA Denver, The Power Plant in Toronto, and the Walker Art Center. Bervin has published ten books, including Silk Poems—a long-form poem presented both as a book (Nightboat Books, 2017) and as an implantable biosensor made from liquefied silk developed in collaboration with Tufts University’s Silk Lab. She is a SETI Institute Artist in Residence, a program that facilitates a cross-disciplinary exchange of ideas between artists and scientists.

Campus engagement

In addition to connecting to Northwestern’s staff, faculty and students across disciplines, Bervin conducted research for future art projects in the diverse collections of Northwestern University Libraries—from its John Cage archives in the Music Library to textiles and ancient manuscripts in the Melville J. Herskovits Africana Library.

jen-bervin-artist-residency-feb18-300px.jpgBervin’s residency culminated in an interdisciplinary writing workshop for faculty and students using the Library’s collections. The workshop was developed by the artist; the Block Museum’s Susy Bielak, the Susan and Stephen Wilson Associate Director of Engagement/Curator of Public Practice; Martin Antonetti, the Library’s Head of Distinctive Collections; and a team of the Libraries’ curators and conservators. Participants drew inspiration from library holdings, as well the architecture of the historic Deering and Main Libraries themselves, examples of the Collegiate Gothic and mid-century Brutalist styles.

Bervin’s other campus engagement activities included a rich array of programs and learning opportunities, including teaching Advanced Materials 390, a studio course focused on the intersections of art and science through exploration of traditional craft and technological innovation. Offered through the Department of Art Theory & Practice in collaboration with the McCormick School of Engineering, the course was open to all Northwestern undergraduate and graduate students and faculty.


Meet the Artist

For faculty and staff: Happy Hour in the Artist’s Studio
February 8, 2018, 4-6pm, Kresge Hall #2315.

For students: Meet the Artist in the Studio
February 15, 2018, 4-6pm, Kresge Hall #2315

Artists' Talk with Jen Bervin
February 21, 2018
6pm, The Block Museum

Artist and writer Jen Bervin embraces subjects as wide-ranging as the Mississippi River, Emily Dickinson’s poetry, and the history of silk, weaving, and nanotechnology. The artist was joined by Jeanne Dunning, professor in Art Theory & Practice, and Susy Bielak, Susan and Stephen Wilson Associate Director of Engagement/Curator of Public Practice, for a conversation about Bervin’s work.

Interdisciplinary Workshop
Read with the Spine: Experiences & Experiments in Northwestern Libraries Collections

March 2, 2018, 1-5pm - Faculty, students, and staff
March 3, 2018, 9am-1pm - Students only

Jen Bervin’s residency culminated in Read with the Spine: Experiences & Experiments in Northwestern Libraries Collections, an interdisciplinary writing workshop for faculty and students using the Library’s collections. This workshop used the site of the library to explore fundamental questions about human experiences and the nature of books and libraries themselves, such as: What does it mean to listen, especially now? How is a history made, on the human level? What do we keep in our archives and why? Why choose a book as the form for ideas? What is the sensory ecosystem of a library? Working individually and collectively, participants immersed themselves in looking, listening, reading, writing, and responding to sites and materials across Northwestern's libraries.

Read with the Spine was developed and led by Jen Bervin; the Block Museum’s Susy Bielak; Martin Antonetti, the Library’s Director of Distinctive Collections; and a team of the Libraries’ curators and conservators—including from the Art Library, Archival Processing, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Music Library, Preservation and Conservation, Transportation Library, and University Archives. Participants drew inspiration from library holdings, as well the architecture of the historic Deering and Main Libraries themselves. The workshop was open to anyone on campus seeking new modes of research and inspiration. Workshop facilitator bios are here.

Fall 2017

Hamdi Attia Hamdi Attia

In residence Fall 2017
Attia's residency was co-sponsored by Northwestern's Middle East and North African Studies Program and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Hamdi Attia (b. 1964 in Assiut, Egypt) lives and works in Cairo and Chicago. He studied at the College of Fine Arts in Cairo, at the Egyptian Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, and at the University of Pennsylvania. His work engages in experimental vocabulary, using video, mapping, drawing, and sculpture. He represented Egypt at the Venice Biennial in 1995, where he received the top pavilion prize with Akram Al-Magdoub. His work was also exhibited in the Cairo Biennial in 1997 and the Canaries Biennial in 2006. His work has been featured in private and group exhibitions in Cairo, New York, Paris, Rome, Sao Paulo, Detroit, Copenhagen, Zanzibar and Philadelphia. Attia has been commissioned for a number of public works in Egypt, Italy, and the U.S.


Open Studio Hours
Thursdays, 12 - 2 pm - Kresge Hall #2315
MENA Monday talk with Chris Abani (Board of Trustees Professor of English and Comparative Literature)
October 23, 2017 - 12 pm

This event is co-sponsored by the Middle East and North African Studies Program, Kaplan Humanities Institute, and Northwestern's Arts Circle.

Open Studio: Maps, Politics and Power
November 16, 2017 - 5:30 pm

Paromita VohraParomita Vohra

In residence: November 5-19, 2017
2017 Jean Gimbel Lane Global Humanities Initiative/Kaplan Humanities Institute Visiting Artist in Residence

Paromita Vohra is a prominent feminist filmmaker, writer, and multimedia artist and critic based in Mumbai, India. Her work variously focuses on gender, popular culture, city life, art, and literature. She has directed and written several international-award-winning documentary films. Retrospectives of her films have been held at the Lille 3000 Festival in France and the Persistence/Resistance Festival in India, and have been screened at the Tate Modern and Wellcome Art Galleries in London.

Paromita is a regular contributor to Indian newspapers and periodicals, with articles and a regular column (“Paro-normal Activity”) on love, sex, and gender and popular culture. Her fiction and non-fiction writings appear in several anthologies. She has taught classes and workshops on screenwriting and filmmaking at universities in India and around the world, and is involved with several international media collectives including A Woman’s Place and the Girls Media Group. She runs a media production house in Mumbai called Parodevi Pictures, and is the founder and creative director of, a multimedia project about love, sex, and desire.


"Imagining a Feminist Life" Workshop
November 8, 2017 - 11 am to 1 pm
Film Screening
November 17, 2017 - 5 pm

Screening of three short films directed by Paromita Vohra, followed by conversation with Ulka Anjaria from Brandeis University.

Rosy Simas & heid E. erdrich

In residence November and December 2017
We welcomed Rosy Simas and Heid E. Erdrich as Artists in Residence of Northwestern's Center for Native American and Indigenous Research and the Kaplan Humanities Institute. Co-presenters of the residency were the New England Foundation for the Arts, Mellon Dance Studies, the Department of Performance Studies, Program in American Studies, the Center for Writing Arts, and the Department of English.

Rosy Simas headshotRosy Simas

Rosy Simas is an award-winning Haudenosaunee (Seneca Nation, Heron Clan) mid-career choreographer based in Minneapolis. She is a designer and director of dance, solo and collaborative performer, movement-based and multidisciplinary teacher, and mentor of diverse artists. Her work critically centers Indigenous cultural/political persistence and addresses how ancestry, homeland, culture, and history are stored in the body and can be expressed through dance. For over 20 years, her immersive, intersectional, Indigenous-centered artistic practice has remained historically situated, geographically grounded, and politically current. Building community across difference while maintaining a Native cultural focus, Simas collaborates with Indigenous, feminist/womanist, Two-Spirit/queer, people of color, and other differently embodied dancers and artists to deepen and amplify her practice of engaging stories that create complex somatic, visual, and acoustic landscapes. Simas was a 2013 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellow, 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, 2016 McKnight Choreography Fellow and 2016 First Peoples Fund Fellow. Her work has been supported nationally by NEFA National Dance Project Production and Tour awards, and the National Presenters Network Creation Fund.


Skin(s) - Performance by Rosy Simas Danse
December 1-2, 2017 - 7:30 pm 

Skin(s) shares the beauty and diversity of how Native people identify and examine the contradictions, pride, joy, pain, and sorrow that arise out of our many dimensions of identity. The dance explores what we hold, reveal, and perceive through our skin.

Heid Erdrich headshotHeid E. Erdrich

Heid E. Erdrich is a poet, writer, and filmmaker. She is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media and Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest, which was a City Pages Top Ten food book for 2014. Heid has curated many exhibits of contemporary Native American art since 2007. Her collaborative poem films have been selected for screening at festivals internationally including ImagineNative, Native Film Festival, Vision Maker, and at the Santa Fe Indian Market film festival, Class-X. These poem videos have won Best of Fest, and a Best Experimental Short awards in 2014 and 2015. Heid grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. She teaches the MFA Creative Writing low-residency program of Augsburg College.


Author Reading
November 16, 2017 - 12:30 pm

Erdrich will read from her work Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media


winter 2017

Emad Tayefeh

Emad Tayefeh

In residence Winter 2017
Tayefeh's residency was co-sponsored by the Department of Radio/Television/Film in the School of Communication, supported by a pilot program for artist-scholar refugees with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

Emad Tayefeh is a documentary and fiction filmmaker, photographer, animator, and human rights activist. He was born in Tehran in 1985 and holds a B.A. in Artificial Intelligence from Shomal University (Mazandaran Poly Technic University) in Amol-Mazandaran, Iran. Tayefeh was completing coursework toward his MFA in film directing and writing from Tehran South University when he was expelled for anti-government activism. Since June 2016, he has been based in New York seeking asylum. His prizewinning short films include Selfie (2014, about a couple’s breakup told through selfies) and Hope (2012, about an invisible boy who comforts troubled people). His continued documentary filmmaking in the face of government persecution has been covered in media outlets including the Guardian and the Huffington Post.

As a faculty member in Radio/Television/Film during his residency, Tayefeh taught media-centered courses and gave public talks and screenings of his work. 


Public talk (panelist): "Resettlement Realities" 
March 11, 2017 - 1:45pm 

Resettlement Realities was convened by Northwestern's Center for Forced Migration Studies and ARTWORKS Projects.

Adam TalibAdam Talib

In residence Winter 2017
Adam Talib is the 2016-2017 Jean Gimbel Lane Global Humanities Scholar/Artist-in-residence of the Global Humanities Initiative, co-sponsored by the Buffett Institute for Global Studies and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Talib teaches classical Arabic literature at the American University in Cairo. His monograph on the popular genre of short occasional verse in classical Arabic poetry, How Do You Say "Epigram" in Arabic?, will be published soon by Brill, and his next book project is a study of representations of sexual violence in classical Arabic literature. He recently co-edited a volume of essays on obscene literature in classical Arabic called The Rude, the Bad, and the Bawdy: Essays in Honour of Professor Geert Jan van Gelder, which was published by the Gibb Memorial Trust in 2014. Talib has also translated numerous Arabic novels and short stories by writers from across the Middle East and North Africa, including Egyptian, Syrian, Saudi, Palestinian, Algerian, Iraqi, and Sudanese authors. His most recent translation (with Katharine Halls) of Raja Alem's award-winning novel The Dove's Necklace came out in summer 2016.


How do you say "epigram" in Arabic? (Public talk)
January 10, 2017 - 5:00 pm
Global Humanities Translation Salon, with Rebecca Johnson (English & MENA)
January 12, 2017 - 6:00 pm
The Predatory City (Public talk)
January 17, 2017 - 12:15pm 
Cute Cairo (MENA Monday event)
January 23, 2017 - 12pm


Fall 2016

John PreusJohn Preus

In residence Fall 2016

John Preus (b. 1971) (MFA-University of Chicago; BA-Gustavus Adolphus College) is a Chicago-based trans-disciplinary artist, designer and furniture-maker, amateur writer and musician. He has fabricated for other artists including Dan Peterman, Theaster Gates, and Omer Arbel. Preus founded Dilettante Studios in 2010, co-founded SHoP with Laura Shaeffer (2011), and Material Exchange with Sara Black (2005), and collaborated with Theaster Gates on the Dorchester Projects, and was project lead for 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, at Documenta 13, the culmination of a six-year collaboration with Gates.

Preus creates platforms for engagement, creative action and transformation. The Chicago-based artist has garnered considerable attention for his recent solo work: his installation, The Beast, at the Hyde Park Art Center was internationally acclaimed; his work in The Freedom Principle at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago is considered by many to be an important and poetic meditation on education, public space, and ruin; and his writings on process, ethics, and transformative art have been widely distributed and discussed in the realm of Socially Engaged/Social Practice Art.

The Beast artwork by John Preus

 The Beast. Solo exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center. 2014.




Oracle artwork by John Preus

Oracle 4. 28″ x 38.″ Blueprint from closed Chicago Public school. Paint, cabinet doors, glass, felt. 2016.




John Preus in Conversation with Laura Kipnis (RTVF faculty)
November 10, 2016 - 1:00pm 
John Preus Open Studio 
November 30, 2016 - 5:00pm 

(Preuss in conversation with Michael Rakowitz, Art Theory and Practice, and Hannah Feldman, Art History)

TJ DEMA & Mayda Del Valle

In residence Fall 2016
TJ Dema and Mayda Del Valle were visiting poets with the Fall 2016 course, "The Poetics of Engagement: Global/Local Poetry in Conversation," taught by Chris Abani and Susannah Gottlieb. They connected with students both in class and in the field, as they taught community workshops beyond the walls of Northwestern.

TJ DemaTJ Dema

TJ Dema has toured the world extensively as a performance poet, and has developed and implemented live-literature educational non-profits in her native Botswana. Her work combines poetry and activism around gender, a poetics of witnessing, an interrogation of poetic voice, and global capitalism, with a skill and delivery that are impeccable both in craftsmanship and conscience.

In Botswana, Dema orchestrated the establishment of the African Poetry Book Fund Poetry Library Initiative. She participated in Lancaster University’s Crossing Borders program and later mentored the all-female team of national champions for the British Council’s seven-country Power in the Voice initiative.

She is an honorary fellow of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (2012), former chairperson of the Writers Association of Botswana and founder of Sauti A&PM, a Botswana-based arts administration organization.

For her work within Botswana’s literary community she was named an Arise Magazine African Changemaker (2013), a St Louis Top 40 under 40 catalyst (2014) and in the lead up to Botswana's 50th anniversary she has been nominated a GabzFM/Mail&Guardian Africa's Top 50 under 40 Changemaker.

Her chapbook Mandible (2014) was published by Slapering Hol Press for the African Poetry Book Fund as part of the Seven New Generation African Poets.

Mayda Del ValleMayda Del Valle

Poet and performer Mayda Del Valle has been described by the Chicago Sun-Times as having “a way with words. Sometimes they seem to flutter and roll off her lips. Other times they burst forth like a comet streaking across a nighttime sky.”

A proud native of Chicago’s South Side, Mayda got her start at New York City's legendary Nuyorican Poet's Cafe, where she was the 2001 Grand Slam Champion and went on to win the 2001 National Poetry Slam Individual title, becoming the youngest and first Latina poet to do so. She went on to appear on six episodes of Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on HBO, and was a contributing writer and original cast member of the Tony Award-winning Def Poetry Jam on Broadway.

She has been featured in Latina Magazine, The Source, The New York Times and was named by Smithsonian Magazine as one of America’s Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences. Oprah’s O Magazine selected her as one of 20 women for their first ever “O Power List,” a group of visionary women making a mark in business, politics, and the arts. In May of 2009 she was invited to perform at the White House for President Obama.
Since 2011 Mayda has been a teaching artist with the poetry-based non-profit youth organization Street Poets, facilitating workshops around the Los Angeles area in high schools and probation camps. She is also a dancer and vocalist with the LA-based Afro-Puerto Rican bomba group Atabey, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at California Institute of The Arts.

spring 2016

Brendan fernandes

Brendan FernandesIn residence March and April 2016
Brendan Fernandes's residency was co-presented by Performance Studies, Dance, and Mellon Dance Studies. 

Brendan Fernandes is a Canadian artist of Kenyan and Indian descent. He completed the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art (2007) and earned his MFA (2005) from The University of Western Ontario and his BFA (2002) from York University in Canada. He has exhibited internationally and nationally including exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Art and Design New York, The National Gallery of Canada, Art in General, Mass MoCA, The Andy Warhol Museum, the Art Gallery of York University, Seattle Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Sculpture Center, Deutsche Guggenheim and the Stedelijk Museum. He was a finalist for the Sobey Art Award (2010), and is on the longlist for the 2015 prize. He was a recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Residency Fellowship in 2014. Brendan is based between Toronto and NY. (Brendan Fernandes photo © 2014 Laurie Lambrecht)


Performed in the Present Tense Symposium
April 9, 2016
Artist Talk and Studio Performance 
April 21, 2016 - 5 -7 pm 



Ali Aftab SaeedIn residence Spring 2016

Ali Aftab Saeed's residency was co-presented by the Buffett Institute for Global Studies and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Ali Aftab Saeed is a Pakistani musician, composer and vocalist, actor, producer, journalist and documentary filmmaker. He has been working with mainstream media houses, management companies, NGOs and theater groups to advocate social change through music, films, media campaigns and infotainment programming. Ali writes political satire and contributes to different national dailies. He is also fond of studying literature, history and cultural expression.


Live in concert on Evanston campus
April 19, 2016 

Ali Aftab Saeed and Saad Sultan with Chris Stromquist. Special guests: Northwestern's South Asian a cappella group Brown Suger and Bollywood dance team Anubhav

Concert at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago
April 20, 2016

Ali Aftab Saeed and Saad Sultan



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Walter Kitundu
John Neff


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Christopher Cozier


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Marco Nereo-Rotelli
Jenny Polak


Maximillian Goldfarb
Nicolas Lampert
Antonio Martorell


Amanda Herman
Jesal Kapadia
Simon Penny


Valentina Fratti
Patrick Killoran


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