Past Artists in Residence

2016-2017 Artists in Residence

The Kaplan Humanities Institute is proud to recognize and financially support working artists across the visual, performing, and literary arts.

For Winter 2017, we welcomed Emad Tayefeh and Adam Talib.

Emad Tayefeh

Emad Tayefeh

Emad Tayefeh has been named the 2017 Northwestern School of Communication artist in residence, supported by a pilot program for artist-scholar refugees with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant will be administered by the Department of Radio/Television/Film. Tayefeh, a documentary and fiction filmmaker, photographer, animator, and human rights activist, was born in Tehran in 1985 and holds a BA in Artificial Intelligence from Shomal University (Mazandaran Poly Technic University) in Amol-Mazandaran, Iran. Tayefeh was completing coursework toward his MFA in film directing and writing from Tehran South University when he was expelled for anti-government activism. Since June 2016, he has been based in New York seeking asylum. His prizewinning short films include Selfie (2014, about a couple’s breakup told through selfies) and Hope (2012, about an invisible boy who comforts troubled people). His continued documentary filmmaking in the face of government persecution has been covered in media outlets including the Guardian and the Huffington Post. Over the next year, as a faculty member in RTVF, Tayefeh will be teaching media-centered courses, giving public talks, and screening his work. His residency is offered in cooperation with the Kaplan Humanities Institute’s Artist in Residence Program; he will be based in Kaplan’s artist studio in Kresge Hall where he looks forward to being a part of the broader Northwestern community. More about Emad Tayefeh can be found on his website at http://www.emadtayefeh.com.

Events with Emad Tayefeh:

March 11, 2017 - 1:45pm - Public talk (panelist): "Resettlement Realities" convened by Northwestern's Center for Forced Migration Studies and ARTWORKS Projects.


Adam TalibAdam Talib

Adam Talib is the 2016-17 Jean Gimbel Lane Global Humanities Scholar/Artist-in-residence of the Global Humanities Initiative, co-sponsored by the Buffett Institute for Global Studies and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Talib teaches classical Arabic literature at the American University in Cairo. His monograph on the popular genre of short occasional verse in classical Arabic poetry, How Do You Say "Epigram" in Arabic?, will be published soon by Brill, and his next book project is a study of representations of sexual violence in classical Arabic literature. He recently co-edited a volume of essays on obscene literature in classical Arabic called The Rude, the Bad, and the Bawdy: Essays in Honour of Professor Geert Jan van Gelder, which was published by the Gibb Memorial Trust in 2014. Talib has also translated numerous Arabic novels and short stories by writers from across the Middle East and North Africa, including Egyptian, Syrian, Saudi, Palestinian, Algerian, Iraqi, and Sudanese authors. His most recent translation (with Katharine Halls) of Raja Alem's award-winning novel The Dove's Necklace came out in summer 2016.

Events with Adam Talib:

January 10, 2017 - 5:00 pm - Public talk: How do you say "epigram" in Arabic?

January 12, 2017 - 6:00 pm Global Humanities Translation Salon, with Rebecca Johnson (English & MENA/Northwestern)

January 17, 2017 - 12:15pm - Public talk: The Predatory City

January 23, 2017 - 12pm - Cute Cairo (MENA Monday event)


For Fall 2016, we welcomed John Preus, TJ Dema and Mayda Del Valle.

John PreusJohn Preus

John Preus (b. 1971) (MFA-University of Chicago; BA-Gustavus Adolphus College) is a Chicago-based trans-disciplinary artist, designer and furniture-maker, amateur writer and musician. He has fabricated for other artists including Dan Peterman, Theaster Gates, and Omer Arbel. Preus founded Dilettante Studios in 2010, co-founded SHoP with Laura Shaeffer (2011), and Material Exchange with Sara Black (2005), and collaborated with Theaster Gates on the Dorchester Projects, and was project lead for 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, at Documenta 13, the culmination of a six-year collaboration with Gates.

Preus creates platforms for engagement, creative action and transformation. The Chicago-based artist has garnered considerable attention for his recent solo work: his installation, The Beast, at the Hyde Park Art Center was internationally acclaimed; his work in The Freedom Principle at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago is considered by many to be an important and poetic meditation on education, public space, and ruin; and his writings on process, ethics, and transformative art have been widely distributed and discussed in the realm of Socially Engaged/Social Practice Art.

Events with John Preus:

November 10, 2016 - 1:00pm - John Preus in Conversation with Laura Kipnis (RTVF faculty)

November 30, 2016 - 5:00pm - John Preus Open Studio (in conversation with Michael Rakowitz, Art Theory and Practice, and Hannah Feldman, Art History)

The Beast artwork by John PreusThe Beast. Solo exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center. 2014.

Oracle artwork by John Preus Oracle 4. 28″ x 38.″ Blueprint from closed Chicago Public school. Paint, cabinet doors, glass, felt. 2016.


TJ Dema and Mayda Del Valle were visiting poets with the Fall 2016 course, "The Poetics of Engagement: Global/Local Poetry in Conversation," taught by Chris Abani and Susannah Gottlieb. They connected with students both in class and in the field, as they taught community workshops beyond the walls of Northwestern.

TJ DemaTJ Dema

TJ Dema has toured the world extensively as a performance poet, and has developed and implemented live-literature educational non-profits in her native Botswana. Her work combines poetry and activism around gender, a poetics of witnessing, an interrogation of poetic voice, and global capitalism, with a skill and delivery that are impeccable both in craftsmanship and conscience.

In Botswana, Dema orchestrated the establishment of the African Poetry Book Fund Poetry Library Initiative. She participated in Lancaster University’s Crossing Borders program and later mentored the all-female team of national champions for the British Council’s seven-country Power in the Voice initiative.

She is an honorary fellow of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (2012), former chairperson of the Writers Association of Botswana and founder of Sauti A&PM, a Botswana-based arts administration organization.

For her work within Botswana’s literary community she was named an Arise Magazine African Changemaker (2013), a St Louis Top 40 under 40 catalyst (2014) and in the lead up to Botswana's 50th anniversary she has been nominated a GabzFM/Mail&Guardian Africa's Top 50 under 40 Changemaker.

Her chapbook Mandible (2014) was published by Slapering Hol Press for the African Poetry Book Fund as part of the Seven New Generation African Poets.

Mayda Del ValleMayda Del Valle

Poet and performer Mayda Del Valle has been described by the Chicago Sun-Times as having “a way with words. Sometimes they seem to flutter and roll off her lips. Other times they burst forth like a comet streaking across a nighttime sky.”

A proud native of Chicago’s South Side, Mayda got her start at New York City's legendary Nuyorican Poet's Cafe, where she was the 2001 Grand Slam Champion and went on to win the 2001 National Poetry Slam Individual title, becoming the youngest and first Latina poet to do so. She went on to appear on six episodes of Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on HBO, and was a contributing writer and original cast member of the Tony Award-winning Def Poetry Jam on Broadway.

She has been featured in Latina Magazine, The Source, The New York Times and was named by Smithsonian Magazine as one of America’s Young Innovators in the Arts and Sciences. Oprah’s O Magazine selected her as one of 20 women for their first ever “O Power List,” a group of visionary women making a mark in business, politics, and the arts. In May of 2009 she was invited to perform at the White House for President Obama.
Since 2011 Mayda has been a teaching artist with the poetry-based non-profit youth organization Street Poets, facilitating workshops around the Los Angeles area in high schools and probation camps. She is also a dancer and vocalist with the LA-based Afro-Puerto Rican bomba group Atabey, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at California Institute of The Arts.