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Digital Arts and New Media MFA students give talks at the 15th Annual Graduate Research Symposium

Kathleen Deck

Kathleen Deck awarded Best in Arts Division

On April 26, 2019, the Division of Graduate Studies at UC Santa Cruz hosted its 15thAnnual Graduate Research Symposium at McHenry Library. Chancellor George Blumenthal and Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Lori Kletzer kicked off the event as 64 students from divisions throughout UC Santa Cruz gave talks in their fields of expertise.

Representing the Arts Division were two current Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) MFA candidates, Kathleen Deck and Shimul Chowdhury. Deck’s talk, entitled Enviro-Envision, was given under the “alternative media presentation” category and won the Best in Arts Division, for which she was awarded $250.

Deck’s Enviro-Envision is an interactive, large-scale 16x9 ft.installation that reflects research about the complex interactions that happen within the Santa Cruz coastal redwood ecosystem. Deck showed the judges an example of the project on her laptop screen, while explaining the goals and functions of the project.

Detail from Enviro-Envision by Kathleen Deck

“It was wonderful to win the award because it felt meaningful to be recognized for the work that I am doing in the effort to communicate and visualize climate change through art,” said Deck. “In my eyes, both Shimul and I won, because we had the opportunity to share about the amazing work that is being done in our Digital Arts and New Media program.”

Shimul Chowdhury spoke in the “talk presentations” category on Stitching Solidarity: Belonging as a Muslim in the U.S.

Stitching Solidarity: Belonging as a Muslim in the U.S.

“My presentation at the Graduate Research Symposium centered around my MFA thesis work, also titled Stitching Solidarity,” said Chowdhury. “I described the inspiration and process that went into the development of the installation, as well as my dedication to engagement with the Muslim community. In explaining the legacy of kanthas, my commitment to collaborative craft as a mode for healing, and the power of describing lived experience through image, I hoped to share how the many components of my installation work together to detail a complex history.”

Chowdhury’s Stitching Solidarity creates an enclosed space out of quilts embroidered with images representing the lived experiences of young Muslim people. The cathartic dialogue within their hand-stitched memories reflects conflicting notions of belonging and citizenship that resonate with Muslim communities across the U.S.

Shimul Chowdhury’s Stitching Solidarity

"Along with their colleagues, Kathleen and Shimul are very talented students in the Digital Arts and New Media MFA program and their talks were not only thought-provoking, but really revealed how deeply engaged these students are with their work and its relevance,” said Interim Dean, Division of the Arts Edward C. Warburton.“I'm especially proud that Kathleen's won the Best in Arts Division award." 

Kathleen Deck

The presentation formats at the symposium consisted of either an eight-minute-maximum talk with or without a visual component, a 44.5” wide x 44.75” high poster, or an alternative media presentation.

Judging at the symposium was based on five proficiencies: oral communication, enthusiasm, accessibility of language, visuals, and articulation of research relevance and importance. The symposium awards were determined by judges from among faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, alumni, trustees, donors, and community members who were invited by the Division of Graduate Studies.

Kathleen Deck’s Enviro-Envision and Shimul Chowdhury’s Stitching Solidarity were part of Receivership, the Digital Arts and New Media MFA 2019 Thesis Exhibition.