Alshaibi earns praise from Regents, has solo show in UAE

Just weeks after Sama Alshaibi was formally inducted as a Regents Professor, a mid-career solo exhibition of the Iraqi-born artist began in the United Arab Emirates.

The Arizona Board of Regents honored the School of Art professor during the University of Arizona’s Outstanding Faculty Awards Ceremony on Feb. 15 at Crowder Hall.

Regents Professor Sama Alshaibi

In large part to Alshaibi’s contributions, the school’s Photography, Video and Imaging program has grown substantially and is ranked No. 3 in the U.S. News & World Report’s list of best photography schools.

“We are in awe of your impact,” said John Milbauer, associate dean for Faculty Affairs for the College of Fine Arts, who introduced Alshaibi at the ceremony.

Tell it to the River,” a mid-career survey of Alshaibi’s work, started Feb. 27 at the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah, UAE. The solo exhibition, which runs through June 30, 2023, brings together significant parts of her practice over the last two decades.

The exhibition debuts two commissions, one of them inaugurating Alshaibi’s 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship and the other marking the closing chapter of an eight-year long photographic series. The two new projects mark the return of Alshaibi to her homeland of southern Iraq following a 40-year displacement.

Alshaibi’s work “explores the notion of aftermath — the fragmentation and dispossession that violates the individual and a community following the destruction of their social, natural and built environments,” Milbauer told the audience on Feb. 15.

In her photographs and videos, Alshaibi often uses her own body as both subject and medium.

“Your work is exemplary, as your professional accolades demonstrate: an extensive list of fellowships, exhibitions, publications and awards on both national and international levels,” Milbauer said.

Among those accolades, in addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, are an exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale, a monograph published by Aperture (“Sand Rushes In”), a 2014 Fulbright research fellowship to the West Bank city of Ramallah and a 2019 Artpace International Artist Residency in San Antonio.

Regent Larry Edward Penley formally inducted Alshaibi as a Regents Professor on Feb. 15.

Earlier Provost Liesel Folks, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, told the audience that the Regents Professor is “the highest honor the university system can bestow on a faculty member.” The honor is “reserved for faculty scholars with exceptional ability who have achieved national and international distinction while maintaining a robust portfolio of student-facing work,” Folks said.

Alshaibi joined the School of Art in 2006. In her field, she is among the most sought-after presenters, having given nearly 100 presentations, and among the most frequently cited visual artists, with more than 200 citations. Her work has also been featured in recent exhibitions such as “Women in the Face of History and Migration(s)” and “Meaning in Art.”

Four other University of Arizona faculty members were formally named 2022 Regents Professors: Jean-Luc Brédas (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Juanita L. Merchant (Gastroenterology and Hepatology), David Pietz (History) and Donata Vercelli (Cellular and Molecular Medicine).

Mosley showcases social justice storytelling

Before bringing her storytelling skills to the University of Arizona School of Art’s graduate program, Semoria Mosley found out just how impactful her photography could be during a social justice reporting project for the San Diego Union-Tribune called ­“____ while Black.”

Mosley amplified the voices of seven Black Americans who faced subtle and overt discrimination and exclusion in San Diego after interviewing more than 300 people. She told her editors, “I have hopes that the photographic art I create will give the invisible the superpower of being seen and probe the ones who never saw them to ask themselves, ‘How long have I ignored this voice?’”

Semoria Mosley’s project for the San Diego Union-Tribune

Her hopes were answered.

“When it was published online and in print, I started getting calls and emails from San Diegans who felt moved by the work — it caught me by surprise honestly,” Mosley said. The seven profiles online contained film and digital photography, along with audio clips from her interviews.

She was one of six young journalists from diverse backgrounds selected to participate in the 2019 project, which won national and local awards. She grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, which has a 40 percent Black population compared to 6 percent in San Diego.

Mosley, 26, is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Photography, Video and Imaging after earning her B.A. in Mass Communication and Media Studies from Claflin University in South Carolina. “While emphasizing the Black American experience, my work is a portal to multicultural understanding,” she writes on her LinkedIn page.

She answered questions for the School of Art during February’s Black History Month.

Q. How did your Southern roots help you become a better photographer and storyteller?

A. Being from the South taught me that there is a truth that’s subjective (and pretty objective in my opinion, but y’know) to my lineage and a truth that is subjective to their lineage. It inspired me to look beyond the normal bounds of truth and storytelling to see where the proof could exist; beyond devices like bondage, history, racism and representation.

Q. How important is authenticity and preserving cultural identities in your work?

A. Preserving cultural identities in my work is imperative because it assists me in being resistant to colonial constructs and more uplifting of the “discredited way of knowing that discredited people often have” (to quote Toni Morrison) — which I find in myself. It’s the permission I’ve given myself to fully immerse in the actuality of my experiences. With representation on everyone’s plate, at the dinner party where all men are created equal, I have hopes that outside the smoke and mirrors, my work can serve as reference to a life truly lived — in all of its subjectivity, nuance, and vision.

Q. You attended the same middle and high schools as Dylann Roof, convicted in the 2015 racist slayings of nine members of a Black South Carolina congregation. How does that reminder affect you and your work?

A. It reminds me that Black, Brown and other colored communities are in close proximity to racists whose ideals can manifest in extreme ways and not even know it. In creating work, I realize I have no time to be slight in my expression as an artist; nor do I have time to explain. Walking on eggshells is a disservice to the resilience of my people. I think we’ve been cornered into being submissive to the voice that is not ours for far too long. My voice is my gift, so I work it as such.

Q. How did your Social Justice reporting project with the San Diego newspaper come about? What was the experience like?

A. I applied after my photo editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune suggested it. Of course, there weren’t any guarantees, but I’d just done 10 portraits for their front-page Sunday story — about a week after George Floyd was murdered. The editor knew I was eager to do more print work and that I would deliver, so it was a good opportunity. Working on that project solidified the passions I have for documenting, community and creating. I worked on it for about six months.

While I was excited, I was hesitant to speak about a community I had only been in for a year. Careful not to impose my idea of Black, my identity politics on to them, I asked the Black community what they dealt with. I interviewed anybody who considered themselves Black and was a native of San Diego — making exceptions for individuals who migrated to San Diego and/or lived there 10-plus years.

After listening to 300-plus people’s experiences, I picked seven to express the recurring sentiments I heard of Growing up / Birthing / Speaking up / Identifying / Fostering / Parenting /  being Homeless … while Black. It was hard to meet the subjects because Covid was extremely new, we were about four months in. The subjects changed often due to feelings of health anxiety, targeting from the (police department) and not wanting to lose their jobs — I understood. I’d like to do a shout-out (to the subjects) — Mikey, James, Ms. Shelley, Eryn, Billy, Ms. Ebony, Diamondz and Ra — for lending their stories and voices. The community appreciated it. I appreciated it, much gratitude. …

I spoke on San Diego’s NPR about it which made more people engage with it. It made me more confident. Now, I have community in pockets across San Diego, that are just one call away if need be. I also keep up with what’s going on, always still there to lend a hand.

Q. What attracted you to attend the MFA Photography, Imaging and Video program at the School of Art?

A. friend of mine (alumna Nassem Navab, MFA, ’19) who I met in San Diego suggested it to me. She was a graduate of the PVI program and knew it’d benefit me. I had always wanted to go to art school and the opportunity presented itself as organically as it could. The care from the School of Art and PVI’s welcoming arms, it felt right — and you always do what feels right. I’d like to give a shout out to Nassem; you’re a real one!

Q. What project(s) are you working on now?

A. I’m working more with the moving image, making myself the subject, challenging my visual language. I’m definitely in an experimental phase, but I enjoy.

Q. What are your career goals after you graduate?

A. It’s too early to tell. Circle back in 2025!

Prof Taylor helps launch archive sharing stories of detained immigrants

A group of University of Arizona faculty members and their community partners have launched a public archive containing the stories of asylum-seekers and undocumented migrants incarcerated in Arizona.

The DETAINED: Voices from the Migrant Incarceration System project is a collaborative effort involving UArizona, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project and Salvavision. The Florence Project provides free legal and social services to individuals in immigration detention in Arizona. Salvavision is a Tucson-based organization that provides aid and support to asylum-seekers and migrants displaced in the remote town of Sasabe, in Sonora, Mexico.

Professor David Taylor

The DETAINED archive is available online.

The archive grew out of School of Art Professor David Taylor’s decades-long focus on the nature and changing circumstances of the borderlands – an interest he developed after moving from the East Coast and thinking about the tropes that make up society’s conception of Western history. A photographer, Taylor said any story he told would not be that of a person who personally crossed the border or someone seeking asylum or work. Instead, he strives to let those people tell their own stories.

“My goal in all of this is to ensure that people’s experiences do not disappear. These are people who don’t get to write history. They don’t usually have their say,” Taylor said.

Taylor worked alongside professor of English Susan Briante, author and translator Francisco Cantú, School of Information graduate student Aems EmswilerCollege of Law alumnus David Blanco, former UArizona associate professor Anita Huizar Hernández and staff from the Florence Project to interview a dozen former detainees of the detention centers in Florence and Eloy. Those interviews were recorded, transcribed and translated for the archive. The team also collected images of artwork and memorabilia provided by detainees.

Cantú, who works alongside Briante as co-coordinator of the Southwest Field Studies in Writing Program for the UArizona Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, said detention facilities are the most underreported and least understood facet of border enforcement. A general lack of public awareness creates a need to tell the stories of directly impacted individuals, Cantú said.

“These are places that are very rarely infiltrated and seen, and it’s very hard for stories to come out of these spaces,” he said. “We want people to realize this is happening right now on the scale that it is. The archive has a real pulse, a heartbeat.”

A Digital Borderlands Grant of nearly $60,000 was awarded for the establishment of the DETAINED archive. The three-year, $750,000 Digital Borderlands project was funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. University of Arizona Libraries disburses those funds to projects that “support the integration of library services into data-intensive, humanities-focused research on the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.”

“The Mellon grant has been really enormous just to get this project going, and our partnership with the Florence Project is fundamental to this work,” Briante said. “Now, we are committed to seeing it continue.”

Alumna Crabbe wins Eisner research runner-up award

Kendall Crabbe (Ph.D. ’22, Art and Visual Culture Education) has been selected by her peers to receive the Elliot Eisner Doctoral Research Runner-Up Award in Art Education.

The National Art Education Association will honor the University of Arizona School of Art graduate April 13 in San Antonio.

Kendall Crabbe

“There is no greater testament of your exemplary contributions to the field of visual arts education than being chosen for this prestigious award,” said Mario R. Rossero, NAEA executive director.

Crabbe’s 2022 dissertation, “Intergenerational Counternarratives of Creative Agency: Reimagining Inclusive Practices Through Youth Participatory Action Research,” analyzed the effectiveness of programs aimed at increasing youth participation in the arts.

Associate Professor Amelia (Amy) Kraehe was Crabbe’s dissertation adviser.

“I wanted to share this exciting news and to thank each of you for supporting me. I appreciate you and your time,” Crabbe told Kraehe and fellow AVCE faculty members at the School of Art: gloria j. wilsonCarissa DiCindio and Ryan Shin.

Crabbe is a lecturer and director of the BFAAE Program at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and assistant editor of the Art Education journal.

Her research interests grew from her teaching practice within youth programs in art museums.

Crabbe received her M.A. in Art History in 2011 from the University of East Anglia (United Kingdom) and B.A. in Art History in 2008 from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, where she also was a Division III national champion diver in 1- and 3-meter springboard.

“Your colleagues throughout the United States and abroad join the NAEA Board of Directors in applauding your leadership, commitment and service to the profession,” Rossero told Crabbe.

Elliot Eisner, who died in 2014, was a professor of Art and Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

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