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Three St. Olaf faculty members awarded McKnight fellowships

Three St. Olaf College faculty members have been awarded fellowships from the McKnight Foundation.

Japanese Language Assistant Asuka Kakitani received the McKnight Fellowship for Composers, an award that includes $25,000 in funding to support her artistic and professional development.

She is the founder of the Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece ensemble whose first recording, Bloom, has been featured on the international radio program PRI’s The World, named one of the best debut albums of the year by DownBeat Magazine Critics’ Poll and NPR Music Jazz Critics’ Poll, and called “absolutely superb” by All About Jazz.

After she relocated to Minnesota from Brooklyn, New York, in 2016, Kakitani co-founded the Twin Cities Jazz Composers’ Workshop, which aims to foster creative and forward-looking composition for the modern jazz orchestra in the Twin Cities area. She also co-founded and conducts Inatnas Orchestra with her husband, composer/trombonist JC Sanford, that features both of their music and some of the best jazz musicians in the Twin Cities area.

Kakitani has been the recipient of grants and awards including from Jerome Fund for New Music from the American Composers Forum, Brooklyn Arts Council, American Music Center, and the BMI Charlie Parker Award. Inatnas Orchestra will make its first appearance at Crooners Lounge in July. Kakitani’s new string quartet piece, inspired by birds, will premiere at the Bridge Chamber Music Festival in Northfield in August.

Associate Professor of Art and Art History Peter Becker Nelson ’04 is one of four artists selected to receive the 2019 McKnight Fellowship for Media Artists.

The McKnight Fellowships for Media Artists support mid-career artists residing in Minnesota whose work is of exceptional artistic merit. The $25,000 fellowships will enable these four artists to study, reflect, experiment, and explore over a 12-month period with support and assistance from FilmNorth and the McKnight Foundation.

The program supports its fellows by creating opportunities to meet with local and national art professionals, by organizing a year-end McKnight Retrospective featuring the fellows, by providing assistance to attend the annual Film Independent Forum in Los Angeles, and by offering special class and workshop opportunities through FilmNorth. The fellowships are funded by the McKnight Foundation and administered by FilmNorth.

“I plan to use the fellowship period to develop a new film that critically examines whiteness and white privilege. I will spend the first few months reading, researching, and conducting interviews and then begin developing the characters and narrative in the fall. I hope to be in production by the new year,” Becker Nelson says. “This is an incredible opportunity to focus and reflect on my work. I am deeply grateful to the McKnight Foundation and the folks at FilmNorth for their generous support.”

Associate Professor of Art and Art History Peter Becker Nelson ’04This is an incredible opportunity to focus and reflect on my work.

Becker Nelson’s work has been shown recently at The Walker Art Center, San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, D.C. Shorts Film Festival, Currents New Media, and Truckstop Gallery in Minneapolis. A collaborative project that Nelson led with St. Olaf students culminated in a stop-motion animated film, Intruder Man, that has won several awards as it played at film festivals across the country.

Professor Emerita of Art and Art History Mary Griep is one of six recipients selected to receive the 2019 McKnight Fellowship for Visual Artists from a group of 210 applicants.

Designed to identify and support outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists, the McKnight Fellowships for Visual Artists provide recipients with $25,000 stipends, public recognition, professional encouragement from national visiting critics, and an opportunity to participate in a speaker series. The fellowships are funded by the McKnight Foundation and administered by the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Griep, a visual artist who has shown her work from Finland to Thailand, will use the fellowship to continue and expand her work on The Anastylosis Project.

Begun in 1998 on a St. Olaf Interim trip, The Anastylosis Project is a series of large drawings depicting monuments from the 12th and 13th centuries. “Anastylosis” is a term from art history which refers to the attempt to reconstruct buildings from the past as close to the original as we can.

“Over the past 21 years and 14 large drawings, I look for a way of drawing that can represent a palimpsest of the original (to the extent we can know it), the depredations of time, and all those who have worked on, despoiled, visited and studied the site. Each drawing needs to respond to the individual site and its own particular narrative,” Griep says. “As I have immersed myself for 1 to 2 years in each site, the inescapable awareness of the fragility of our worldwide cultural heritage has become apparent. With the support of the McKnight Fellowship, the series will continue to evolve, considering possible futures rather than only a record of a storied past.”

Griep shared The Anastylosis Project in an exhibit in St. Olaf’s Flaten Art Museum in the fall of 2016, and she presented a Mellby Lecture, titled Descent Into Detail, on campus in the spring of 2017 that explored her work.