MSU’s College of Arts & Letters’ Critical Race Studies Artist-in-Residence program is bringing two dynamic artists to campus for the 2021-2022 academic year to enrich the life of the greater Lansing community by cultivating diversity and facilitating practices of inclusion through art and design.
This year’s Critical Race Studies Artists-in-Residence are:
- Dan Paz, visual artist
- Elka Stevens, textile and mixed media artist
“We are delighted to be able to host Dan and Elka this year, returning the residency to its ‘in-person’ format,” said Karin Zitzewitz, Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design and Coordinator of the Critical Race Studies Residency. “Although they work in different art and design disciplines, they share a sense of the fundamental role of the aesthetic in everyday experiences of race and identity. I am certain that their effect on our community will be galvanizing, helping us to think more carefully and deliberately about some of the most important issues of our time.”
Offered by the Department of Art, Art History, and Design (AAHD) and established in 2017 thanks to a $750,000 gift from the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU), the Critical Race Studies Residency gives artists the opportunity to produce substantial public projects that engage in critical approaches to diversity and inclusion through creative practice. Paz and Stevens also will teach courses in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design and participate in community outreach throughout the year.
I am certain that their effect on our community will be galvanizing, helping us to think more carefully and deliberately about some of the most important issues of our time.Karin Zitzewitz, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Critical Race Studies Residency
“As a new member of the Art, Art History and Design community and a new chairperson, the Critical Race Studies Artist-in-Residence opportunity at MSU makes me feel proud and was one of the reasons I decided to join the program at MSU after 24 years at the University of Kansas,” said Tani Hartman, Chairperson of the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. “The residency is utterly current and relevant to our investigations as a society about how to weave a diversity of voices and points of view into a daily expectation of what is of value in a pluralistic and progressive culture. I have great respect for the artists who have come to MSU to share their talent and vision and am thrilled to welcome both Dan Paz and Elka Stevens.”
As part of the Critical Race Studies Residency, both Paz and Stevens will give lectures via Zoom that are free and open to the public. However, preregistration is required for these virtual events.
I have great respect for the artists who have come to MSU to share their talent and vision and am thrilled to welcome both Dan Paz and Elka Stevens.Tani Hartman, Chairperson of the Department of Art, Art History, and Design
The lecture given by Paz is on Wednesday, September 29, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. For more information or to register, visit the Dan Paz Artist-in-Residence: Critical Race Studies Artist Lecture page.
The lecture by Stevens is scheduled for Monday, October 4, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. For more information or to register, visit the Elka Stevens Artist-in-Residence: Critical Race Studies Artist Lecture page.
Dan Paz is a visual artist and educator who explores the labor of imaging production to query the ability of documentary processes to be manipulated – to be multiplied and replicated, stopped and started, rewound and advanced. Paz works within the impossibilities of absolute replication to question the very ability of the image to truly represent.
“I am really looking forward to building relationships with students, faculty, and the larger community here at Michigan State University,” Paz said. “(SCENE) Metrospace will be a meeting space, gallery space, and public space to host public mapping workshops and to develop the work over the next nine months.”
This fall, Paz is teaching the Experiments in Digital Video (STA 384) course, titled “Mobility, Visibility, and the Other,” which is a time-based studio course focusing on contemporary forms of documentary practice to analyze representations of stillness and movement as it affects marginalized communities in the West. The class will explore analog and digital forms of sequencing through slow animation and video.
During the Spring 2022 semester, Paz will teach the Studio Seminar in Critical Race Studies: “The sun never knew” (STA 491 SEC. 001), which takes its name from an ongoing project by Paz. This seminar/studio course will collaboratively trace the architecture of municipal power to better understand the perpetuity of incarceration as it relates to aesthetics. It will look at carceral legislation and support of incarceration (youth and adult) in Michigan, historically linking how incarceration has impacted communities of color and LGBTQIA+ populations.
I am really looking forward to building relationships with students, faculty, and the larger community here at Michigan State University.Dan Paz, 2021-2022 Critical Race Studies Artist-in-Residence
Since 2018, Paz has worked on “The sun never knew how great it was until it struck the side of a building,” an interdisciplinary project that explores the conditions of youth incarceration, architecture, and grassroots activism. Motivated by familial relationships to incarceration, the project builds a genealogy of how power articulates itself through image production and access to information.
Paz continues to research captivity and the commodification of bodies to further understand, through emergent technologies, how light and shadow are used as a mechanism of power.
Paz’s work has been in international and national exhibitions and screenings, including Hayward Gallery, London, United Kingdom; the 12th Havana Biennial at Fábrica de Arte Cubano, Havana, Cuba; Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; NYC Media Lab, New York City; Lee Center for the Arts, Seattle, Washington; and HOLDING Contemporary, Portland, Oregon. Paz’s exhibitions have been generated out of residencies with El Centro Desarollo de Artes in Havana, Cuba; The Studios of Key West; Chicago Artist Coalitions’ HATCH Residency; The Luminary, St. Louis, Missouri; ACRE Residency, Steuben, Wisconsin; and the High-Resolution Media Arts Residency, Seattle University.
Paz received an M.F.A. in Visual Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies in Art Theory and Practice from The University of Chicago and a B.F.A. in Video, minoring in Photography and Art History, from the Atlanta College of Art (SCAD). Selected Awards include The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Connection Fund, Ann Metzger National Award for Prints, and the Open Practice Committee Grant.
Paz has worked as a lecturer in the Department of Comparative History of Ideas, Gender Women and Sexuality Studies, and the School of Art at the University of Washington, and was an Assistant Professor at Harry S. Truman College in Chicago, Illinois, and held adjunct positions with Columbia College Chicago, the Lo Res MFA program at Sierra Nevada University, and Seattle University.
Elka Stevens is a textile and mixed media artist whose scholarly interests lie at the intersections of visual and material culture, international trade, gender, and identity. She uses textiles and clothing as a lens of analysis, inspiration, and media for her work to explore themes of sizeism, repurposing, pedagogy, digital humanities, archival methodologies, and social justice.
Three of her current research projects examine the impact of globalization and trade policy on visual and material culture, the impact of political iconography on public attitudes, and the digitization of a historic costume collection. Stevens recently was commissioned to create garments to accompany a traveling exhibition, Alma W. Thomas: Everything is Beautiful, as well as a series of commemorative quilts. Her work has been displayed in institutions and exhibitions across the United States.
“I am excited and humbled to have been selected as Critical Race Studies Artist-in-Residence,” Stevens said. “As an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and scholar who engages critically with race through creative practice and scholarship, I look forward to engaging students, collaborating with faculty in AAHD, MSU’s College of Arts & Letters and other colleges, exploring the campus libraries and collections, and preparing for my exhibition in the spring, which will visually interrogate aspects of race, genetics, and self-(re)presentation using textiles and clothing.”
This fall, Stevens is teaching the Dress, Culture, and Human Behavior course (ATD 430), titled “African American Dress,” at MSU, which explores African American culture using dress as a lens of analysis to examine African and African American appearance practices, consumption patterns, and other facets of a Black visual aesthetic. Socio-psychological, technological, political, economic, environmental, historic, and philosophical frames of reference help students identify and discuss forces impacting the aesthetic choices of Black people and their individual personal and social visual identities.
I look forward to engaging students, collaborating with faculty in AAHD, MSU’s College of Arts & Letters and other colleges, exploring the campus libraries and collections, and preparing for my exhibition in the spring.Elka Stevens, 2021-2022 Critical Race Studies Artist-in-Residence
During the Spring 2022 semester, Stevens will teach the Special Topics in Apparel Critical Race Studies: Cross-Cultural Design (ATD 491A) course, which is a studio-based introduction to select surface design techniques from a variety of cultures and places throughout the world that can be applied to fabric and other materials. Specific attention will be given to creating custom fabrics and/or trims that showcase traditional methods and modern adaptations to develop a range of unique, culturally inspired apparel and home goods.
Stevens has taught for more than 20 years in the United States and Africa. She currently is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at Howard University where she also serves as the Fashion Design Program Coordinator and a Curator of the Fashion and Textiles Collection. She has served as a Lecturer and Fashion Program Coordinator at Morgan State University, an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Ghana at Legon.
Stevens is a published author, with her works published in the Creative Quarterly: The Journal of Art & Design and The Way We Look. To expand her teaching, research, and practice, she received fellowships to explore global dress and culture from the Council of American Overseas Research Centers – American Institute of Indian Studies (CAORC – AIIS) in 2019-2020 and the Schusterman Center’s Summer Institute at Brandeis University in 2021.
In addition to her work in academia, Stevens has worked as a product development specialist, a micro-enterprise trainer for the Peace Corps, a technology trainer in Ghana, and a creative and marketing consultant for businesses in the United States and Ghana.
She has a Ph.D. in Design, Housing, and Apparel from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in Microenvironmental Studies and Design from Howard University.