School of Art, School of Music, School of Theatre, Film & Television

The University of Arizona Office for Research, Innovation and Impact (RII) has awarded its 2021-2022 production seed grants to five group projects involving numerous College of Fine Arts faculty.

In 2020, RII launched dedicated seed grants to aid in the production of original works and scholarship. 

“This new program has been a great asset to the College of Fine Arts,” said Ellen McMahon, associate dean of research for the College of Fine Arts. “In the first two rounds of grants, CFA faculty have served as principal investigators (PIs) or co-PIs in all of the nine projects and have received approximately $100,000 of internal support for their research in the arts. Several of the recipients of the first round of funding are leveraging their seed funding by applying for external resources to continue developing and scaling their research.

“These projects demonstrate exciting synergies between research in the arts and research in other disciplines across campus in addressing the critical issues of climate change and social justice, as well as redressing the historical record to reveal underrepresentation in music and art.”

Principal Investigators

  • Kevin Bonine, Director of Education and Outreach, Biosphere 2, 
    in collaboration with Aaron Bugaj, MFA candidate, and Nicole Antebi, Assistant Professor, School of Art
  • Molly Gebrian, Assistant Professor, Fred Fox School of Music
  • Yuanyuan (Kay) He, Assistant Professor, Fred Fox School of Music
  • Lisanne Skyler, Professor, School of Theatre, Film & Television
  • Michelle Tellez, Associate Professor, College of Social & Behavior Sciences
    in collaboration with Beverly Seckinger, Professor, School of Theatre, Film & Television

CFA faculty awarded RIII production seed grants

Kevin Bonine
Director of Education and Outreach
Biosphere 2
Arizona bio | Project website

Science in Motion

Scaling Broader Impacts of UArizona Resilience Science Through Student-Engaged Filmmaking, Animation, Data Visualization, and Motion Arts-Science Pedagogy

“Science in Motion” is a collaborative multimedia initiative of Biosphere 2 (B2), Arizona Institutes for Resilient Ecosystems and Societies (AIRES), and the School of Art, College of Fine Arts (CFA) aimed at reimagining the fields of ‘Science Illustration’ and ‘Science Communication’ for the digital age through in-depth multimedia stories. This initiative engages UArizona undergraduate and graduate students in exploring high impact UA research through filmmaking, animation, web design, and data visualization mediums. In their animated short film, Assistant Professor Nicole Antebi’s motion arts students were so enthralled by the ants during their class visit to Biosphere 2 that they created a short film, Who Put These Ants in my Biosphere?, from the perspective of an ant colony exploring Biosphere 2 research. Each student contributed 10 seconds of animation to the five-minute short film, which premiered at the Loft Cinema in early May.

Science in Motion will continue this summer, as nine School of Art animation students take part in a paid “Science in Motion Residency” at Biosphere 2 to continue their animation work. This convergence of science storytelling, research, and art is catalyzed by a passionate and dynamic leadership team of scientists, artists, and storytellers including Nicole Antebi (School of Art), Aaron Bugaj (Biosphere 2, MFA Candidate), Dr. Kevin Bonine (AIRES, Biosphere 2), Betsy Arnold (EEB), Dr. Greg Barron Gafford (AIRES, B2, SNRE), Kai Lepley (School of Geography, Biosphere 2), Ash Black (Eller School of Management), Scott Saleska (EEB) and Diane Thompson (Geosciences, Biosphere 2).

Molly Gebrian
Assistant Professor
Fred Fox School of Music
School bio | Personal website

Late-Romantic Sonatas by Women Composers

A Transcription, Recording, and Performance Initiative

This project brings three nearly forgotten works by women composers to audiences and musicians around the country. This project will result in a concert tour around the US, a professionally produced and recorded album that will be commercially available, new transcriptions of these works for viola and piano, and professionally engraved new editions of the music which other musicians can purchase to perform this music themselves. The three works that will be the focus of this project are the Sonatas for Cello and Piano by Dutch composer Henriëtte Bosmans, Croatian composer Dora Pejačević, and British composer Ethel Smyth. Despite the outstanding musical output of all three women, their names and their music are largely unknown today.

“As a performing artist, I am most interested in introducing audiences to music and composers they may not have encountered before. I make it a priority to program music by composers from communities who have traditionally been marginalized in the classical music world, namely works by women and composers of color. My main collaborator is pianist/percussionist Danny Holt, with whom I’ve worked for over a decade. This project will be our second album together, the first being six world-premiere recordings of pieces written for our Trios for Two project, released in 2016. Together, we have toured around the United States, presenting recitals, masterclasses, and workshops to students ranging in age from elementary school through graduate study.” – Molly Gebrian

CFA faculty awarded RIII production seed grants, StellarScape
StellarScape on view at the University of Arizona Wonder House at SXSW 2022.

Yuanyuan (Kay) He
Assistant Professor
Fred Fox School of Music
Arizona bio | Personal website


StellarScape is an immersive multimedia performance synthesizing music, science, visual art, and technology. An unprecedented combination of music, dance, and cinematography, blended with state-of-the-art data visualization and astrophysical simulation. The theme is astronomical, but the vision is humanistic. It is the story of a massive star, from its birth to its death, echoing a primordial theme of darkness and light. 

​StellarScape is a collaboration at the University of Arizona between the Fred Fox School of Music, Astronomy, School of Dance, School of Information, and UArizona Research Technologies. This convergence collaboration is catalyzed by a powerful union of concepts at the confluence of astronomy, humanity, and socio-technical experience advanced by Professor Yuanyuan (Kay) He (Principle Investigator, Fred Fox School of Music), co-principle investigators Chris Impey (Astronomy) and Winslow Burleson (School of Information), in collaboration with Devin Bayly (University Research Technologies),  Gustavo Almeida (Closed Loop Sensor Lab, HS/Bio5), and Hayley Meier (School of Dance), and with internationally renowned visual artist Georgios Cherouvim (ch3 studio, Greece).

CFA faculty awarded RIII production seed grants, Lisanne Skyler
On location in Los Angeles: Lisanne Skyler with cinematographer Brody Anderson (BFA ’12, Film & Television) 

Lisanne Skyler
School of Theatre, Film & Television
Arizona bio | Personal website

This Side of Midnight

Revisiting urban history from the B-side, This Side of Midnight follows the generation of creators who grew out of the legendary 1980s New York club scene as writers, visual artists, performers, designers, musicians, and filmmakers. Following the personal journeys of the artists whose lives, loves and creative output became inextricably linked to New York nightlife, this is the story of an ephemeral community who made culture flourish when the city was economically crippled.

This Side of Midnight received funding from the University of Arizona Research, Innovation and Impact Production Grant Program, the College of Fine Arts Small Grants Program, the Ray and Wyn Richie Evans Foundation and the Kadima Foundation. The film is being produced by Erin Wright (The New Bauhaus) and is currently in postproduction.

“Inspired by memories of this time,This Side of Midnight is driven by a quest to understand why New York nightlife was once so crucial and transformative, who were the people that made it what it was, and what these places mean to us. The film will take the rise and fall of the New York club scene as a point of departure into the subjective memories and personal journeys of our main characters as they navigate a radically changing city landscape. With the voices and on-camera interviews of our characters as our guideThis Side of Midnight will immerse audiences into the hyperkinetic, visceral creative energy of NYC nightlife. Most of the film will be constructed from the densely varied, beautiful, and often dreamlike creative output of the era: video art and public access tv show tapes; letters, diary entries and personal memorabilia; photography, films and ephemera. Ultimately, I seek to reimagine an art history on the brink of being lost and synthesize a collective memoir of the way we once lived.” – Lisanne Skyler

CFA faculty awarded RIII production seed grants, Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith
Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, co-founder of local non-profit Pima County Justice for All, on June 16, 2021. Image: Courtesy of the Arizona Daily Star.

Michelle Téllez
Associate Professor, Mexican American Studies
College of Social & Behavioral Sciences 
Arizona bio | Personal website

Las Mujeres de Manzo

The proposed film profiles the work of four longtime Chicana feminist activists at the forefront of immigration rights organizing here in Southern Arizona: Isabel Garcia, Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith (pictured), Guadalupe Castillo, and Margo Cowan. 

Garcia, Rubio-Goldsmith, Castillo and Cowen first worked together in the early 1970s on the Manzo Area Council, a war on poverty program begun by President Johnson, and became known as Las Mujeres de Manzo. In the ’80s the group was the lone voice identifying and opposing the militarization of the border. They went on to shape many other humanitarian relief groups including Coalición de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths, and to be actively involved in the Sanctuary Movement. Their collective efforts have given rise to many of the international human rights activities in our region and beyond as their work has had national and international implications. They are currently spearheading the Justice for All campaign for a ballot initiative that would provide public defense attorneys for people facing charges in Pima County’s Immigration Court.

The film will interweave interviews and archival material with observational footage of the JFA ballot initiative campaign currently in progress. This is an urgent moment to make a film on the long history of border activism, sanctuary, detention/deportation, and human rights.

The team includes Téllez and Associate Professor Ana Cornide (Department of Spanish and Portuguese) as co-Principal Investigators Professor Beverly Seckinger (TFTV) and Trayce Peterson from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

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