Bill Gaskins returns to MICA as Director of the Photographic & Electronic Media MFA uniquely suited to lead and take it to the next level. His depth of experience represents a rich tapestry of practice, teaching, and research in photography and media.

Bill Gaskins is an informed and inspired professor, acknowledged by his students and peers for his teaching as a winner of the Watts Prize for Faculty Excellence, Cornell University Department of Art in 2016, and the University Distinguished Teaching Award at the New School University in 2011.

Bill explores questions about visual and media culture in the twenty-first century through photography and media from an interdisciplinary professional and academic foundation that includes his body of arts and culture writing framed through photography, the history of photography, visual and material culture, and American and African American Studies scholarship. A critical entry point for Gaskins’ work is his fascination with the myths of photography, and American life through depictions of race in visual culture.

He is the author of the groundbreaking monograph, Good & Bad Hair: Photographs by Bill Gaskins, and has published essays and reviews in numerous journals including, The Society of Contemporary Craft, Artsy, Exposure The Journal of The Society of Photographic Education, and The New Art Examiner, among others. His relevance as a contemporary artist has garnered attention through books, catalogs, solo and group exhibitions at major venues including the Crocker Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, and The Smithsonian Institution.

Critic in Residence: Danni Shen

Danni Shen is an independent curator and writer. She is currently Project Director & Curator of the next Jamaica Flux: Workspaces & Windows 2021 produced by the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL), which commissions new, site-specific, public projects by artists in collaboration with local business and social organizations around Jamaica, Queens, New York. Previous curatorial roles include at SPRING/BREAK Art Show LA Frieze + NY Armory week editions, OUTPUT Shanghai (byoutput), and Empty Gallery—a black-cube space dedicated to time-based, non-object-oriented, interdisciplinary practices physically located in Hong Kong. She is based in New York, where she was also the Curatorial Fellow at Wave Hill, Curator-in-Residence at Residency Unlimited, and Guest Critic at NYU Tisch-ITP. Shen has also managed various media initiatives for Prospect New Orleans U.S. Triennial, ArtsConnection, Empty Gallery, and the Today Art Museum in Beijing included. She is a regular contributor to various publications including BOMB Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Hyperallergic, Rhizome, onscreentoday介面, and has written catalogue essays for artists Jillian Mayer, Wonjung Choi, Esperanza Cortés, Mo Kong, and Rina Banerjee among others. Shen is the current recipient of the Art Writing Workshop and the Art Critic Mentoring Program in collaboration with CUE Art Foundation x International Association of Art Critics.

Shen’s curatorial research investigates the intersections of techno-ecological practice, unpacking the anthro- in Anthropocene, and culture as a survival mechanism within post-colonial, digital times + global supply chains. Upcoming exhibitions include at 601artspace, Herkimer Place, and in 2020.

Artist in Residence: Ari Melenciano

Ari Melenciano is a designer, creative technologist, artist, researcher, and pedagogue.

Her work and research explore how various forms of design impact the human experience, and how to create artistic environments that cultivate curiosity and imagination. Current areas of focus include architecture, biomimicry, ancestral intelligence, critical race theory, and speculative design.

She is the founder of Afrotectopia, a social institution fostering innovation at the intersections of art, design, technology, Black culture, and activism. Ari teaches human-computer interactive tech and design at New York University, Pratt Institute, and Hunter College. Ari has guest lectured and presented at MIT Media Lab, Harvard GSD, SVA, Parsons, EYEO, and Google SPAN, amongst others.

Her work is currently being supported by Eyebeam, NYU Future Imagination Fund, NY Live Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art, Guild of Future Architects, New Inc., and the Onassis Foundation. In the past, her work has been supported by the Processing Foundation, Apple, New Inc. (with Nokia Bell Labs and Rhizome), Google, Pioneer Works, The New York Times, NYC Dept. of Education, Ace Hotel, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.