Webster Faculty Member Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

| May 3, 2012
Bee Sanctuary proposal

Pruit-Igoe Bee Sanctuary proposal by Juan Chavez

A prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship was recently awarded to Juan Chavez, adjunct professor in Webster’s Department of Art. Known as “midcareer” awards, these annual grants are intended for advanced professionals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awards only 220 fellowships each year from a total of 3,500 to 4,000 applications. This is the second Guggenheim Fellowship to be awarded to a Webster University faculty member; the first was awarded in 2010 to Van McElwee, professor in the Electronic/Photographic Media Department.

Chavez has an impressive record of creating art in the public realm. His Guggenheim Fellowship will allow him to focus on his most recent project, the Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary. This site-specific installation of beehives is modeled after the original Pruitt-Igoe design by architect Minoru Tamasaki.

Juan Chavez

Juan Chavez

Chavez describes his proposal as an opportunity “for the City of St Louis to transform the urban forest where the Pruitt-Igoe housing development once stood into a public space that cultivates community through urban agriculture. Drawing parallels to the depleting population of bees and shrinking cities, this interdisciplinary project provides a unique opportunity to reignite the conversation about urban abandonment and creative strategies for addressing it.”

With 2012 marking the 40th anniversary of the first Pruitt-Igoe high-rise building being demolished, it is an appropriate time to bring the Bee Sanctuary project into a wider public view,” Chavez said. “Recognition by the Guggenheim Foundation will allow me to focus and dedicate the time necessary to increasing the potential impact of disseminating the project nationally and internationally as an innovative approach to addressing issues that affect shrinking cities.”

Chavez, who describes himself as an artist and a cultural activist, was born in Lima, Peru. He has been an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Art since 2008, where he regularly teaches drawing courses. This semester, the Department of Art gave Chavez an opportunity to apply his commitment to cultural activism by teaching a topics course, “Art in the Public Realm.”

His studio studio practice focuses on the potential of space by developing creative initiatives that address community ad cultural issues. He has been an adjunct faculty member at Webster University since 2008, where he regularly teaches drawing courses. Underscoring his commitment to cultural activism, Chavez also teaches a topics course at Webster, “Art in the Public Realm.”

Category: Faculty, Featured, Webster News

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