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Research Fellows Expand MICA's Global Research

MICA hosted two leading international research scholars

Posted 11.01.13 by mica communications

(left to right) Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral and Professional Research Fellow Unni Karrikat; President Fred Lazarus IV; Founding Director of the Center for Race and Culture and Graduate Dean Emerita Leslie King-Hammond, PhD; and Robert Merrill, PhD, interim vice provost, graduate school and research.

MICA's Office of Research is committed to advancing art and design scholarship by engaging students and faculty in project-based research experiences. This past academic year, the College was able to host two leading international scholars-one from Bangalore and the other from Poland-who helped further that mission.

Both scholars came to MICA to further research their doctoral dissertations. The College provided mentorship to the scholars as they conducted their research, while the scholars engaged with the MICA community through guest lectures and as guest faculty in studio and art history classes.

"Hosting research fellows at MICA expands the dialogue about creative practice and research, and broadens our sense of an academic community through meaningful and productive relationships with those from other countries and cultures," Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies Gwynne Keathley said.

READ: Research at MICA

The first to join MICA was Unni "UK" Krishnan Karrikat, who began his tenure at the College in November 2012 as MICA's first Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral and Professional Research Fellow. Karikkat is a PhD candidate in the Department of History of Art and Aesthetics at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. He came to MICA to work closely with MICA's Center for Race and Culture (CRC), an interactive center that researches and investigates the relationship between race, culture, and visual art traditions.

"MICA is incubating not just artistic leadership, but right-brain, abstract thinkers who are going to be crucial to solving global issues," said Leslie King-Hammond, PhD, founding director of the CRC and graduate dean emerita.

Karikkat, whose main interest is the comparative study of popular culture and iconic imagery in the United States and India, applied to work at MICA because of its excellent reputation and the unique combination of art history, the humanities, and practice-based disciplines that the College provides. CRC turned out to be the perfect location for him to further strengthen his methodology in the study of visual and popular culture for his dissertation.

Before coming to MICA, Karrikat had won more than 50 prizes, awards, scholarships, and titles in local, regional, national, and international art competitions. After receiving his master's degree, he worked as an illustrator and cartoonist, as well as an artist, strategist, and research scholar. Apart from being an activist, Karrikat has also volunteered with several nonprofit organizations to help people affected by natural disasters in India.

During his tenure at the College, Karrikat represented MICA at world-renowned institutions, including University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, both in the United Kingdom, where he was invited to present the research he completed at MICA. The response to the presentation of his research paper, titled Peace, Identity, and Religion of South India: Mother Goddess of the Nation and Her Beloved Daughters, was overwhelmingly positive.

"It was a pleasure for me to represent MICA on an international research platform," Karrikat said. "The kind of hospitality I received from MICA and the ability to explore and research were fabulous. The amount of projects, discussions, and research productivity in such a small amount of time was unbelievable."

The second research scholar MICA hosted this past year was Katarzyna Kozera, a Polish scholar who is a PhD candidate at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Poland. Kozera came to MICA through a grant from the Kosciuszko Foundation, one of two programs in Poland (the other being the Fulbright program) that gives doctoral students an opportunity to conduct research in the United States. She was hosted by the Photographic and Electronic Media graduate program under the mentorship of the program's director, Timothy Druckrey.

Kozera has been studying the history of billboards in the United States since last spring for her doctoral dissertation. She became interested in outdoor advertising because of her experience working as a commercial graphic designer and art director at advertising companies for many years.

"A crucial part of my research project is gathering information about the functioning of the individual through advertising images within the United States," explained Kozera, who went on a months-long trip across the country to study advertising.

Kozera, who was first introduced to MICA as part of a cultural exchange program in 2004, said the College proved to be an undeniable match for her by supporting her research and evolving educational experience.

"This experience left a lasting influence on my future educational ambitions. MICA offers access to a wide variety of academic resources. Among these are lectures and student discussions, as well as the library, which stocks the most current publications," Kozera said.

"All of these factors make MICA a unique place with seemingly endless opportunities to realize a multitude of projects in the quest for my artistic goals."

In her doctoral project, titled Society in the State of Danger, Kozera merges photography and video to explore the relations between advertising images and those who consume them.

"It's an analysis and observation of a visual language code created by the advertising world," Kozera explained. "Carrying out the project, I have started to take a closer look at the surroundings in which I function."

The Office of Research plans to continue to welcome research scholars from across the world. Their presence adds richness to the departments and centers that host them, and in turn, the scholars' lives are significantly shaped by their experiences at MICA.

Image caption: (left to right) Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral and Professional Research Fellow Unni Karrikat; President Fred Lazarus IV; Founding Director of the Center for Race and Culture and Graduate Dean Emerita Leslie King-Hammond, PhD; and Robert Merrill, PhD, interim vice provost, graduate school and research.