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UGA Arts Lab awards initial graduate student fellowships

Alan Flurry

Two UGA graduate students have been awarded fellowships through the university’s recently established Arts Lab Cluster, a multi-year initiative to enhance research, practice and community engagement in the arts. Zaira Castillo-Ramos, who is pursuing a Masters in piano in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, and Sayantika Mandal, a creative writing PhD candidate in the department of English, are the first graduate students to benefit from this support.

“Being selected for the Arts Lab Fellowship will allow me to significantly expand the scope of my creative research project, Identity through Sound, which will include premieres of five new solo piano works by composers of the BIPOC community at the School of Music along with corresponding documentary videos this coming fall,” Castillo-Ramos said.

“Through this fellowship, I will also be able to further continue my research on how to make music composition more accessible to all ages through workshops and presentations in the Athens community and public school systems. I am passionate not only about the classical contemporary music field but also about being able to showcase music by living underrepresented composers, and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my research through this fellowship.”

While Castillo-Ramos works to nurture local community relationships as part of her scholarship, Mandal’s research is global in its scope.

“I am working on a project to create a digital archive of stories of cross-border migrations in South Asia, while simultaneously working on a novel,” Mandal said. “The Arts Lab fellowship will give me the time and opportunity to create research on this often-neglected issue in detail and help me create a realistic representation in my fiction. I am also excited to meet the other fellows and get to know more about their creative projects!”

The Arts Lab Cluster is funded by the Office of the Provost, the Office of Research, Graduate School, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and the Willson Center.

The UGA Arts Council, chaired by Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Marisa Pagnattaro, spearheaded the initiative that established the program.

“The Arts Lab Cluster supports and showcases the University of Georgia’s outstanding arts research and creative practice,” Pagnattaro said. “Our talented graduate students play a vital role in these areas, and these fellowships help catalyze their creativity and scholarship.”

The Arts Lab will support two faculty fellowships for spring 2022, which will be announced in the fall.

Image: Zaira Castillo-Ramos in performance.

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