Fisher Center Awards First Woodworth Fellowship – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Fisher Center Awards First Woodworth Fellowship

Apraez ’11 looks at Language, Race and Gutterspace Have you ever stared at a blank, white page or computer screen? Ever skimmed over the thin colorless divides between comic book scenes? Or maybe you’ve been surrounded by the pale walls of an art gallery? All of the above, perhaps, but have you ever wondered how these whitenesses relate to racial whiteness? Probably not. However, that’s exactly what first-year Reina Apraez will explore this summer in her project, “Language, Race and Gutterspace,” in the first-ever Stephen W. Woodworth ’54 Fisher Center Student Summer Fellowship. “The basic concept was to provide writers, researchers and artists the opportunity to follow up on a question that they’d been curious about,” said Fisher Center Director and Women’s Studies Associate Professor Betty Bayer. “The project is completely separate from any course or professor’s research. It comes solely from the student’s passions.” To pursue his/her passions, the fellowship offers one student a stipend of approximately $3,360.00 ($420.00 per week for eight weeks) and campus housing for the summer, allowing them to devote themselves fully to exploring their own ideas and interests in fields such as English, dance, religious studies, history, education, art, sociology, women’s studies, lesbian and gay studies and others while also reflecting The Fisher Center’s mission of social justice around issues of gender, race and class. “We received 12 stellar proposals,” said Bayer. “The entire committee was deeply appreciative of the sound and wonderful thought, ideas and documents that students submitted. However, Reina’s proposal was the strongest and most compelling. She is both a powerful artist and theorist.” “Reina is a very talented and creative artist with a fine visual sense,” said Professor of Art Patricia Mathews, Apraez’s project advisor. “As a first year student, she has developed a sophisticated and expansive project. I especially applaud her clear recognition of the subtle forms that racism takes and her desire to help rid the world of it.” “The initial concept for my project came from the first-year seminar, ‘Seeing Whiteness,’ I took with Professor Anna Creadick,” Apraez said. “The course examined what it is to be white and what it is to be a minority.” Sparked by a course, Apraez began envisioning something. “The goal of my project is to describe the politics that lead to the construction of race,” Apraez explained. “I plan to create a unified vocabulary that will draw off of the elements of sequential art, using text and image, panel placement and sound to create a narrative or several narratives that tell the story of race construction, specifically focusing on whiteness.” “In addition to the narratives told through the panels, I want to incorporate sound as a voice of the ideologies about race and whiteness,” Apraez said. “At the moment, I’m not sure if this will be a PA system, a megaphone or if I’ll have people standing by the panels to act as this voice. I also haven’t yet decided if this will be a public or private exhibition.” “I do like the idea of having it in a public space,” said Apraez. “It would probably affect many more people. In a public space I would be able to create a white box that a mass of people could physically step into. In a private space, like an art gallery, I could use the white walls to create that whiteness.” Public or private, Apraez is set on getting her message out. “It’s important for us to have ideas and talk about these issues in academia,” Apraez said. “But there will only be change if non-academics are exposed them as well.” Getting her work into the public eye, Apraez will first exhibit “Language, Race and Gutterspace” in Syracuse before it makes its way to the Hobart and William Smith campus, where the project’s inspiration came from. Exhibition locations will be posted in the fall. As the semester closes and the project starts, Mathews said, “I’m really looking forward to seeing the artistic solutions that Reina works out for her project. Since racism is a topic of concern for me and for many of the contemporary artists whom I teach, I am very pleased to work with a student so engaged and committed to this issue.”

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