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Last modified: Tuesday, February 5, 2008

IU faculty explore “New Frontiers” in arts and humanities

Feb. 5, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities, Indiana University's unique arts and humanities grant program, has announced a new round of 30 grant winners. The New Frontiers program is funded by a $5 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

Each year, the New Frontiers competition focuses on a broad theme of topical interest to provide focus to the program. The theme for this year, "Politics and the Arts and Humanities," has yielded a remarkable array of projects from many disciplines including fine arts, folklore, sociology and anthropology, Polish studies, English and history.

Olafur Eliasson

New Frontiers funding will enable Jean Robertson and Craig McDaniel of IUPUI's Herron School of Art and Design to visit an exhibition of work by Olafur Eliasson, a Danish/Icelandic artist who makes large-scale immersive installations, creating environments of sun and mist indoors, such as this one at the Tate Modern in London.

"This university truly has a glorious tradition in the arts and humanities," said Indiana University President Michael McRobbie. "The New Frontiers Program, funded generously by the Lilly Endowment, is enabling our outstanding faculty to broaden their reach, sharing their work with other regions of Indiana and with the rest of our country and the world. We are so grateful to the Lilly Endowment for their continuing investment in IU's arts and humanities, which are the foundation of the excellent liberal education IU has provided to generations of students."

Now in its fourth year, the New Frontiers program supports innovative projects, workshops, performances and visits from scholars and artists. The awardees undertake to enhance their own understanding and the understanding of others in their discipline as well as benefit students and boost the reputation of Indiana University. The impact of the program so far has been significant and is still unfolding, said IU's Vice Provost for Research Sarita Soni.

"The New Frontiers Program has been a powerful stimulus to an already active and internationally renowned arts and humanities faculty at Indiana University. As a result of New Frontiers funding, we have seen an impressive number of publications, performances, works of art, and conferences," Soni said. "Faculty have used their New Frontiers-funded projects and experiences to garner more than $1 million in external funding, with almost another million dollars still pending."

Jeff Wolin, Ruth N. Halls professor of photography and a 2008 New Frontiers recipient, will use his award to photograph Vietnamese war veterans. "The faces and voices of Vietnamese veterans (on both sides of the war) have largely been unheard," Wolin said. "With the help of New Frontiers funding, my project will take a small step towards remedying this situation."

New Frontiers 2008 awardee Jean Robertson, a professor of art history at IUPUI's Herron School of Art and Design, said, "The grant will support research on art being made in response to new discoveries and technologies in the sciences. Along with the gift of time for research, the funding will support travel to view new art in person, such as an exhibition of work by Olafur Eliasson, a Danish/Icelandic artist who makes large-scale immersive installations, creating environments of sun and mist indoors, among other effects."

"Indiana University's arts and humanities faculty are brimming with ideas for research and creative projects, and the New Frontiers program helps them pursue those ideas and bring those projects to fruition," said IU Bloomington Provost Karen Hanson. "These faculty are making art, investigating philosophical questions, contributing to and illuminating various cultures. The work they do, aided by these generous grants, both enriches the education of our students and connects the activity of the Bloomington campus to communities throughout Indiana -- often, in fact, to communities around the world. We are proud of the work of these faculty, and we are enormously grateful for the support the Lilly Endowment has provided them through the New Frontiers program."

Selected projects funded by the New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities program for 2008 include:

  • Indiana University Black Plays Lab; Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe, Department of Theatre & Drama, IU Bloomington: The Indiana University Black Plays Lab will address the dearth of development opportunities and lack of exposure for black drama by creating a laboratory for the development of plays from Africa and the Diaspora.
  • New Directions in Law & Society Scholarship Workshop Series; Michael Grossberg and Ajay Mehrotra, IU School of Law, Bloomington: This year-long colloquia series will be organized by the Law School's Center for Law, Society & Culture, which focuses on a comprehensive understanding of law and legal problems, including cultural aspects of law expressed through political theory and the humanities and scientific aspects of law expressed through advances in biotechnology, environmental science, and information technology.
  • Constructing Democracy in America: Tribal-State Conflict and Cooperation in American Indian Health Policy, 1970-2005; Lauren Morris MacLean, Department of Political Science, IU Bloomington: This study will analyze how different state governments have consulted with American Indians and Alaska Native tribes, who have the lowest life expectancy of any ethnic group in the United States, on health care policies.
  • Art (Re)Views Science, Jean Robertson and Craig McDaniel, Herron School of Fine Arts, IUPUI: This project will explore how contemporary visual artists are responding to new research and methodologies in the sciences, particularly the life sciences.
  • New Paradigms in French Revolution Studies: A Franco-American Colloquium; Lesley Walker, World Languages and Cultures, IU South Bend: This conference will create a transatlantic dialogue between French and American scholars to reconsider interpretations of causality, agency and periodization during the French Revolution.
  • Vietnamese War Veterans: Portraits and Stories from the Other Side, Jeffrey Wolin, School of Fine Arts, IU Bloomington: Following his publication and exhibition "Inconvenient Stories" -- portraits of 50 Vietnam War Veterans with their war stories -- Wolin is photographing and interviewing Vietnamese who fought in the war. In Vietnam, he will work with North Vietnam Army veterans and Viet Cong for their perspectives on the "American War."

A complete list of 2008 recipients is available at