LAWRENCE —The Spencer Museum of Art will host an inaugural colloquium for its recently launched Integrated Arts Research Initiative (IARI) on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Colloquium participants will discuss the goals of the Integrated Arts Research Initiative, learn about similar undertakings at peer institutions and explore opportunities for future collaborative projects with the Spencer Museum. The public is invited to colloquium’s keynote lecture by Peggy Levitt at 7 p.m. at the museum.
Levitt serves as chair and professor of sociology at Wellesley College and senior research fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Her keynote lecture will explore how modern museums make sense of immigration and globalization. Levitt investigates this topic further in her book “Artifacts and Allegiances: How Museums Put the Nation and the World on Display.” Her talk is co-sponsored by the KU Center for Migration Research and is open to the public.
“Dr. Levitt’s discussion of her research into museums in Europe, the United States, Asia and the Middle East reveals the sea change underway in the museum world,” said Celka Straughn, Spencer Museum director of academic programs. “Her interdisciplinary approach to research aligns with the goals of the Spencer’s Integrated Arts Research Initiative.”
This new initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its first four years (2016–2019), aims to infuse the arts into research at the University of Kansas by stimulating interdisciplinary collaborative projects that integrate ideas and approaches embodied in the arts. IARI builds on the momentum of the Spencer’s previous Arts Research Collaboration initiative. To help lead the charge for this new research endeavor, the Spencer Museum has created a full-time staff position to coordinate and advance the museum’s efforts to integrate art into university research endeavors.
In January 2017, Joey Orr will begin his tenure as the first assistant curator for research. A writer, curator and artist whose practice explores the boundaries between research and creative production, Orr has focused on public intervention, queer memor, and archival practices. He holds an master’s degree in visual and critical studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a doctorate from Emory University.
“I am thrilled to join the team at the Spencer Museum of Art in realizing a bold and timely vision for how art and knowledge production can advance research across the sciences and humanities,” Orr said. “Although research has influenced visual art on many levels for decades, recent trajectories in contemporary art are directly engaging a wide spectrum of academic, social and political thought.”
As part of IARI’s mission to fuel interdisciplinary artistic research, the Spencer Museum hosts faculty and student fellows each semester as well as visiting scholars and creative specialists annually. So far, IARI fellows have included KU students and faculty from disciplines such as music, computer science and poetry. The first faculty fellowship, held by Associate Professor Forrest Pierce, resulted in a vocal composition that premiered Oct. 15 as part of the Spencer Museum’s Reopening Weekend festivities.
“IARI is intended to be a campuswide endeavor because together we can make discoveries that could not happen independently,” said Spencer Museum Director Saralyn Reece Hardy.
The fall 2016 faculty fellow is Assistant Professor of English Megan Kaminski, whose current project explores the ways we shape and are shaped by place, architectures and systems as well as our interactions with plants and animals. Her work contributes to investigations by Spencer Curator Stephen Goddard for the upcoming exhibition “Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World.”
IARI’s first creative specialist will be Park Jaeyoung, a mixed-media artist from Korea whose art takes inspiration from science fiction and Korean history, mythology and politics. Park’s artistic practice has influenced Spencer Museum Curator Kris Ercums’ examination of time and history in contemporary Asian art, which will be presented in the exhibition “Temporal Turn: Art and Speculation in Contemporary Asia,” opening Nov. 10.