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Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Anna Schuleit among the 25 awarded the prestigious fellowship this year
Anna Schuleit, a 2005 graduate of Dartmouth's Master of Arts and Liberal Studies Program, today was named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The commemorative artist will enjoy a $500,000 "no strings attached" award. Schuleit says the award has come entirely by surprise.
"My first thought upon hearing the news over the phone was that the grant committee must have made a big mistake in the database somewhere, that they perhaps mistook me for someone else," she said. "My second thought was that I have to run and get back to work. I feel so grateful for this honor."
Schuleit is known for bringing historic sites to life through original artistic interpretations. She is currently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, where she is working on a series of paintings and drawings. She is also preparing two large site-specific installation projects for next year: a commission by the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston for an uninhabited island in Boston Harbor, and a commission by the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, N.H., for their centennial celebration.
"My time as a grad student at Dartmouth allowed me to study with several extraordinary professors whose teachings, support, and critical guidance truly changed the way I approach my work," she said.
In much of her work to date, she has honored the lives lived within mental health institutions by transforming abandoned facilities into moving, site-specific memorials. Her powerful public works are designed to endure not as objects but as vivid memories. For Habeas Corpus (2000), Schuleit filled Massachusetts' historic Northampton State Hospital with a recording of J. S. Bach's Magnificat that poured through windows and doors, stirring a rapt audience of former patients, caregivers, and hundreds of others assembled below. Schuleit drew her inspiration for her next major work, Bloom (2003), from the fact that few psychiatric patients ever receive flowers. To mark the closing of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center's original building in Boston, she and a corps of volunteers blanketed the structure's empty hallways with vibrantly colored, flowering plants-begonias, lilies, pink heather, tulips-and played recordings of ambient sounds from the hospital's former life.
The MacArthur Fellowship is designed to provide recipients with the flexibility to pursue their creative activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements. Individuals cannot apply for this award; they must be nominated. According to the MacArthur Foundation, there are three criteria for selection of fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.
Anna Schuleit was born in Mainz, Germany in 1974 and received a B.F.A. (1998) from the Rhode Island School of Design and an M.A.L.S. (2005) from Dartmouth College. She was a visiting artist at the Westborough State Hospital in Westborough, Mass. (2001-2004), an arts instructor at the Nightingale-Bamford School in New York (2005), and a consultant for the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Arts for Transit program (2005). She has been an artist-in-residence and fellow at such institutions as the Blue Mountain Center (1998), Banff Center for the Arts (1999), the Corporation of Yaddo (2005), and the MacDowell Colony (2002, 2006).
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