State arts fellowships

Four UD faculty members awarded state arts fellowships

Four University of Delaware faculty members have received prestigious 2012 Delaware Division of the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship (AIF) grant awards.

The IAF fellowships recognize artists for the high quality of their work in the visual arts, literature, music, jazz composition and crafts.

Xiang Gao, internationally acclaimed violinist and UD professor of music, received the top honor, the master's fellowship, which includes a $10,000 financial award.

David Brinley, assistant professor of art, and Marianne Gythfeldt, associate professor of music and faculty clarinetist, each received $6,000 established professional fellowships.

Mahasveta Barua, adjunct faculty in the Department of English, received a $3,000 emerging professional fellowship.

Gao, the founding artistic director of the UD Master Players Concert Series, was honored for "the outstanding quality of his work, his commitment to Delawareans and students, and his international impact.

Recently, Gao also was awarded a visiting professor position by the Fujian Normal University in Fuzhou, China. The visiting professorship is the highest honor FNU grants to world-class scholars and artists who have made an impact in their field worldwide.

"Like all honors, I receive this one on behalf of my colleagues at this great University," Gao said. "This is the highest honor granted to a Delaware artist by the state, and I consider this achievement as part of my run on the Path to Prominence for the University of Delaware."

Teaching violin and encouraging the larger community to appreciate the arts also helps to spread the word internationally that UD is one of America's great public institutions of higher learning, Gao said.

"As a concert producer and performer, I am a faculty who takes UD's and my social responsibility seriously," Gao said. "All my concert productions on campus will serve the entire Delaware community."

Fellowship recipients also are asked to have a public exhibit or performance during the coming year to showcase their work.

"I am brainstorming now on the creative programming that I will offer for the fellowship, and will make an announcement on a concert in July," Gao said. "I came to UD to teach, and the future is in the hands of the Blue Hens."

Brinley was commissioned last year by the Washington Post to paint eight larger-than-life historical figures whose names have become adjectives, including Queen Victoria, Sigmund Freud and Niccolò Machiavelli.

"The Delaware Division of the Arts has a long established reputation, and I'm thrilled to be included in such great company," Brinley said. "The fellowship will allow me to pursue much more of the experimental personal oil painting work that I have been planning for some time to broaden my approach to image making."

Brinley said he hopes to have an exhibit in the gallery of the Carvel State Office Building gallery in Wilmington in November.

Arts professionals from around the country judged the work of 99 applicants for the IAF grants that provide artists with the affirmation, recognition and exposure needed to successfully promote their work.

"I didn't realize that there were so many applicants, and that they only 16 award winners," Gythfeldt said. "It feels great to receive an 'established professional' fellowship, and I am honored to be one of those selected for this distinction."

As a clarinetist performing classical music, Gythfeldt hopes that performing electro acoustic (clarinet and live electronics) before children in schools across the state will raise awareness about the field of electronic music.

"So little classical music comes into the school environment, and certainly not the cutting-edge or avant-garde," Gythfeldt said. "I have found that children of all ages respond very positively to new sounds, and this is a great way to open minds and ears."

Barua, who recently visited New Delhi, India, with UD students and faculty to host the second annual Crossing Borders through Service and Education conference, said that sending her work to the Delaware Division of the Arts for evaluation was both new and difficult.

"I have thought of myself more as a teacher of literature, and never before as a writer," Barua said. "This award validates my attempts at writing so far, and encourages me to continue."

Besides offering feedback, the award will be a motivation to finish a collection of short stories that she hopes to present online and through a reading in the UD/Newark community, Barua said.

"The feedback that I have received from others who received this fellowship is that it forced them to continue their work," Barua said. "This also led them to publish their work and establish themselves as authors."

Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

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