Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Foundation and Granting Agency Support Advances Spencer Museum of Art Programs and Research

LAWRENCE, KS.- The Spencer Museum of Art announced several important grants supporting a variety of initiatives at the Museum.

· A three-year, $50,000 grant from the William T. Kemper Foundation will support the Museum’s International Artist-in-Residence program. Shanghai-based experimental calligrapher Wang Tiande, who held a residency during the month of April, was the first artist in the program.

“We are exhilarated by the prospect of welcoming practicing artists to the Spencer to develop new work in a supportive, collaborative environment and to be part of the artistic life of the Museum and its diverse audiences,” says SMA Director Saralyn Reece Hardy.

“As we build relationships in the region to further integrate the riches of the Spencer in to everyday life, we owe a great debt of gratitude to the generous organizations such as the William T. Kemper Foundation who support our efforts.”

· SMA Curator of Asian Art Kris Imants Ercums will use a $21,500 curatorial research fellowship grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to investigate more deeply his interest in how the introduc­tion of new technology—cell-phone texting capabilities, internet blogs, digital cameras and camera-phones, for example—has affected Asian artists who have grown up in the digi­tal age and who have adopted visual and artistic strategies informed by the mutating culture of our time.

Beginning in 2010, Ercums will make three research field trips over a 14-month period. The first will be to Korea, China, and Vietnam, the second to the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, and the third to the Himalayan region and Central Asia—North India, Nepal, Uzbeki­stan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan.

“I’ll be looking at both the social context of this change and the art and artists who are driving new cultural phenomena as a way of both advancing curatorial and artistic understanding of contemporary Asia in the United States and building a thriving exhibition and residency program at the Spencer,” Ercums says.

“I am grateful to the Warhol Foundation for its generous support of these objectives.”

· A one-year, $12,900 grant from the Shumaker Family Foundation will fund the inaugural year of “An Ear for Art”—the Spencer’s new cell-phone tour program.

It is with great sorrow that we note here the death on July 5 of Paul K. Shumaker, who established the foundation. Shumaker, a dedicated philanthropist, was a founding partner in the Olathe-based company Garmin, Ltd., a world leader in global positioning systems, and was a committed philanthropist with a focus on peace-building missions around the world and other humanitarian efforts.

“This generous grant significantly increases our ability to add supportive technology to our galleries and provide meaningful experiences for our audiences—first in the form of first-hand encounters with visual art in the Museum and then as online audio access to our cell-phone tours, something unique in the area,” SMA Director of Education Kristina Walker says.

“The cell-phone initiative will make a great difference in our ability to serve communities of learners in the region, on the KU campus, and across Kansas .”

Other recent awards to the Spencer are:

· $7,808 from the Kansas Arts Commission supporting general operating expenses during the 2010 fiscal year.

· $4,000 from the KU Student Senate to fund a visitor kiosk at the Museum’s main entrance.

· $2,000 from the Price R. and Flora A. Reid Foundation to provide a student assistant in support of the Spencer’s ongoing collection digitization project.

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