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Past Artists in Residence

 winter 2019

Meredith zielke and Yoni Goldstein

In residence January 9 through March 16, 2019

Zielke and Goldstein's residency is co-sponsored by the Department of Radio/Television/Film's MFA in Documentary Media and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Meredith Zielke and Yoni Goldstein make video documentary work / fabled documentaries / hyper-real documentaries which leak fiction into nonfiction, and vice versa, creating fantastical depictions of concrete landscapes. They ask “What can experimental documentaries do in the age of the neural image?”

Zielke and Goldstein are currently developing a new sci-fi documentary, tentatively titled “A Machine to Live In,” linking the cosmic power structures of the state to the mystical architecture of cults and utopian cities in the distant hinterlands of Brazil. This hybrid film provides a complex portrait of life, poetry, and myth set against the backdrop of the space-age city of Brasília and a flourishing landscape of UFO cults and transcendental spaces.

zielke-goldstein-image from "A Machine to Live In" project

zielke-goldstein-image from "A Machine to Live In" project

(Images from work in progress "A Machine to Live In.")

Introductory Artists Talk with Zielke and Goldstein

January 10, 2019
7:00 pm
Annie May Swift Auditorium

 Zielke and Goldstein will show selections from their work-in-progress and propose a utopian methodology for speculative / polyphonic documentaries. Talk will be followed by Q&A conversation and light refreshments!

zielke-goldstein-open-studio-2019_04_04-poster-260px.pngOpen Studio Conversation and Screenings

April 4, 2019
7:00 pm
Kresge #2315


FALL 2018

Deborah baker

In residence October 6 through November 14, 2018

Deborah's residency is co-sponsored by the Department of History, the Department of English, The Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, the Alumnae of Northwestern University, and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

baker-deborah-300x400.jpgDeborah Baker is the author of In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding, which was shortlisted for the 1994 Pulitzer prize in Biography (Hamish Hamilton, Grove Press).  In 2008 she published, A Blue Hand: The Beats in India (Penguin Press, Penguin India). The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism (Graywolf, Penguin India) was a finalist for the National Book Award in Non-fiction and has been translated into Arabic, Indonesian, and Malayalam.  Her most recent book, The Last Englishmen: Love, War, and the End of Empire, was published in August (Graywolf, Chatto & Windus, Penguin Random House India). She lives in New York and India. 

Lunchtime Talk with Deborah Baker

Tricks of Perspective
November 1, 2018

12:30 - 1:50pm
Harris Hall #108

In conversation with Deborah Cohen (Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Humanities and Professor of History), Deborah Baker will discuss how she found the stories on which her books have been based and her thoughts on making archives—and people—come alive on the page. 

Deborah Baker photo ©Julienne Schaer.


Spring 2018

malik-rohina-300x400px.jpgRohina Malik

In residence April through June, 2018

Rohina's residency is co-sponsored by Northwestern's MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage, Department of Radio/Television/Film, and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Rohina Malik is a critically acclaimed Chicago playwright and solo performance artist. She was born and raised in London of South Asian heritage. Her one-woman play UNVEILED was developed and had its world premiere at the 16th Street Theater, where it received critical acclaim. She has been nominated twice for the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play: first for her play THE MECCA TALES, produced by Chicago Dramatists in 2015, and most recently for YASMINA’S NECKLACE, directed by Ann Filmer, which had its world premiere at the 16th Street Theater in January 2016 and was recently remounted at the prestigious Goodman Theater. Malik is a Resident Playwright Emeritus at Chicago Dramatists, an Artistic Associate at the 16th Street Theater, an Artistic Associate at Voyage Theater Company in NYC and an Artistic Affiliate at the American Blues Theater. In March 2018, The League of Professional Theatre Women selected Malik to receive the 2018 Lee Reynolds Award, given annually to a woman whose work for, in, about, or through the medium of theatre has helped to illuminate the possibilities for social, cultural, or political change.

Malik's plays have been produced at the 16th Street Theater, The Goodman Theater, Victory Gardens Theater, Crossroads Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Next Theater, Brava Theater, Voyage Theater Company, Silk Road Rising, Theater Project Baltimore, Mustard Seed Theater, New Rep in Boston and the Greater Boston Stage Company. UNVEILED was presented in two South African Theater festivals: The Grahamstown Arts Festival and the 969 Festival in Johannesburg. Malik is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America.    

Campus Engagement

Rohina will be teaching a spring quarter class, Writing the Contemporary Play, in the Department of Radio/Television/Film. This course will help students develop new work with an emphasis on fostering their voices as storytellers and creating works characterized by simple yet effective narrative structure.

Events with Rohina Malik:

Arts on Equality Festival – Saturday, April 14 (all day)


Performance at 12-1:30pm (Struble Theater, Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts)

What if we all told stories from our faiths with the goal of bringing people together and showing peace, curiosity and similarities amongst the faiths? With the uptick of hateful and vitriolic language in the US since the 2016 election, three women storytellers—Rohina Malik (Muslim), Susan Stone (Jewish), and Kim Schultz (Christian)—created this project to demonstrate peace and commonalities between us all. Each woman tells three stories inspired by her personal faith journey, joined by Lucia Thomas, a cultural musical storyteller, on violin, oud, and guitar.

UNVEILED performance — Wed., May 2, 12-1:30pm (Kaplan Seminar Room, Kresge #2350)

Open Studio – Thursday, May 24, 5-7pm (Artist Studio – Kresge 2315)

Come meet Rohina in her studio, where she will share new work developed during her residency: a TV pilot about the lives and friendships of Muslim women. At this event, professional actors will perform a staged reading of the pilot, followed by conversation and refreshments—public welcome!


Winter 2018

artist Jen Bervin holding two silksJen Bervin

In residence January 8 to March 23, 2018

Jen's residency is co-presented by the Block Museum of Art and the Kaplan Humanities Institute. Additional program and teaching support is provided by the Department of Art Theory and Practice, the Center for the Writing Arts, and Northwestern Libraries.

Jen Bervin is an artist and poet whose research-driven interdisciplinary works weave together art, writing, science and life. Exploring the intersection of traditional craft and cutting edge technology, Bervin’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Des Moines Art Center and Granoff Center for the Arts at Brown University, and has been featured in group exhibitions at MASS MoCA, MCA Denver, The Power Plant in Toronto, and the Walker Art Center.

Bervin has published ten books, including Silk Poems—a long-form poem presented both as a book (Nightboat Books, 2017) and as an implantable biosensor made from liquefied silk developed in collaboration with Tufts University’s Silk Lab. She is a SETI Institute Artist in Residence, a program that facilitates a cross-disciplinary exchange of ideas between artists and scientists.

Campus engagement

In addition to connecting to Northwestern’s staff, faculty and students across disciplines, Bervin will conduct research for future art projects in the diverse collections of Northwestern University Libraries—from its John Cage archives in the Music Library to textiles and ancient manuscripts in the Melville J. Herskovits Africana Library.

Bervin’s residency will culminate in an interdisciplinary writing workshop for faculty and students using the Library’s collections. The workshop will be developed by the artist; the Block Museum’s Susy Bielak, the Susan and Stephen Wilson Associate Director of Engagement/Curator of Public Practice; Martin Antonetti, the Library’s Head of Distinctive Collections; and a team of the Libraries’ curators and conservators. Participants will draw inspiration from library holdings, as well the architecture of the historic Deering and Main Libraries themselves, examples of the Collegiate Gothic and mid-century Brutalist styles.

Bervin’s other campus engagement activities will include a rich array of programs and learning opportunities, including teaching Advanced Materials 390, a studio course focused on the intersections of art and science through exploration of traditional craft and technological innovation. Offered through the Department of Art Theory & Practice in collaboration with the McCormick School of Engineering, the course will be open to all Northwestern undergraduate and graduate students and faculty.

Events with Jen Bervin:

Meet the Artist

For faculty and staff: Happy Hour in the Artist’s Studio, Thursday, February 8, 2018, 4-6pm, Kresge Hall #2315.

For students: Meet the Artist in the Studio, Thursday, February 15, 2018, 4-6pm, Kresge Hall #2315

Artists' Talk with Jen Bervin

Wednesday, February 21, 6pm, Block Museum. RSVP here.

Artist and writer Jen Bervin embraces subjects as wide-ranging as the Mississippi River, Emily Dickinson’s poetry, and the history of silk, weaving, and nanotechnology. Join the artist, along with Jeanne Dunning, professor in Art Theory & Practice, and Susy Bielak, Susan and Stephen Wilson Associate Director of Engagement/Curator of Public Practice, for a conversation about Bervin’s work.

Interdisciplinary Workshop

Read with the Spine: Experiences & Experiments in Northwestern Libraries Collections

Friday, March 2, 2018, 1-5pm - Faculty, students, and staff

Saturday, March 3, 2018, 9am-1pm - Students only

Jen Bervin’s residency will culminate in Read with the Spine: Experiences & Experiments in Northwestern Libraries Collections, an interdisciplinary writing workshop for faculty and students using the Library’s collections. This workshop will use the site of the library to explore fundamental questions about human experiences and the nature of books and libraries themselves, such as: What does it mean to listen, especially now? How is a history made, on the human level? What do we keep in our archives and why? Why choose a book as the form for ideas? What is the sensory ecosystem of a library? Working individually and collectively, participants will immerse themselves in looking, listening, reading, writing, and responding to sites and materials across the libraries.

Read with the Spine is being developed and led by Jen Bervin; the Block Museum’s Susy Bielak; Martin Antonetti, the Library’s Director of Distinctive Collections; and a team of the Libraries’ curators and conservators—including from the Art Library, Archival Processing, Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Music Library, Preservation and Conservation, Transportation Library, and University Archives. Participants will draw inspiration from library holdings, as well the architecture of the historic Deering and Main Libraries themselves. Workshop facilitator bios are here.

The workshop is open to anyone on campus seeking new modes of research and inspiration.

To participate, please email Holly Lee Warren,, with your statement of interest; include your department affiliation(s); whether you are a graduate or undergraduate student, faculty, or staff member; a three-sentence biography; and up to a paragraph on what interests you about this opportunity.

Workshop space is limited! Statements of interest are requested by February 19, 2018.


Fall 2017

Hamdi Attia Hamdi Attia

Hamdi Attia (b. 1964 in Assiut, Egypt) lives and works in Cairo and Chicago. He studied at the College of Fine Arts in Cairo, at the Egyptian Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, and at the University of Pennsylvania. His work engages in experimental vocabulary, using video, mapping, drawing, and sculpture. He represented Egypt at the Venice Biennial in 1995, where he received the top pavilion prize with Akram Al-Magdoub. His work was also exhibited in the Cairo Biennial in 1997 and the Canaries Biennial in 2006. His work has been featured in private and group exhibitions in Cairo, New York, Paris, Rome, Sao Paulo, Detroit, Copenhagen, Zanzibar and Philadelphia. Attia has been commissioned for a number of public works in Egypt, Italy, and the U.S.

Hamdi's residency is co-sponsored by Northwestern's Middle East and North African Studies Program and the Kaplan Humanities Institute.

Events with Hamdi Attia:

Open Studio Hours - 12 - 2 pm every Thursday - Kresge Hall #2315

October 23, 2017 - 12 pm - MENA Monday talk with Chris Abani (Board of Trustees Professor of English and Comparative Literature/Northwestern)

This event is co-sponsored by the Middle East and North African Studies Program, Kaplan Humanities Institute, and Northwestern's Arts Circle.

November 16, 2017 - 5:30 pm - Open Studio: Maps, Politics and Power

Hamdi is available to visit classes, and the Northwestern community is encouraged to see him in the Kaplan Artist in Residence studio in Kresge Hall #2315. To arrange a visit, please email Rosie Roche, Northwestern Arts Manager.

Paromita VohraParomita Vohra

2017 Jean Gimbel Lane Global Humanities Initiative/Kaplan Humanities Institute Visiting Artist in Residence

In residence: November 5-November 19, 2017

Paromita Vohra is a prominent feminist filmmaker, writer, and multimedia artist and critic based in Mumbai, India. Her work variously focuses on gender, popular culture, city life, art, and literature.

She has directed and written several international-award-winning documentary films. Retrospectives of her films have been held at the Lille 3000 Festival in France and the Persistence/Resistance Festival in India, and have been screened at the Tate Modern and Wellcome Art Galleries in London.

Paromita is a regular contributor to Indian newspapers and periodicals, with articles and a regular column (“Paro-normal Activity”) on love, sex, and gender and popular culture. Her fiction and non-fiction writings appear in several anthologies. She has taught classes and workshops on screenwriting and filmmaking at universities in India and around the world, and is involved with several international media collectives including A Woman’s Place and the Girls Media Group. She runs a media production house in Mumbai called Parodevi Pictures, and is the founder and creative director of, a multimedia project about love, sex, and desire.

Events with Paromita Vohra:

November 8, 2017 - 11 am to 1 pm - "Imagining a Feminist Life" Workshop (Free and lunch provided; registration required: please email

November 17, 2017 - 5 pm - Screening of three short films directed by Paromita Vohra, followed by conversation with Ulka Anjaria from Brandeis University.

For November and December 2017, we welcome Rosy Simas and Heid E. Erdrich as Artists in Residence of Northwestern's Center for Native American and Indigenous Research and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities. Co-presenters of the residency are the New England Foundation for the Arts, Mellon Dance Studies, the Department of Performance Studies, Program in American Studies, the Center for Writing Arts, and the Department of English.

Rosy Simas headshotRosy Simas

Rosy Simas is an award-winning Haudenosaunee (Seneca Nation, Heron Clan) mid-career choreographer based in Minneapolis. She is a designer and director of dance, solo and collaborative performer, movement-based and multidisciplinary teacher, and mentor of diverse artists. Her work critically centers Indigenous cultural/political persistence and addresses how ancestry, homeland, culture, and history are stored in the body and can be expressed through dance. For over 20 years, her immersive, intersectional, Indigenous-centered artistic practice has remained historically situated, geographically grounded, and politically current. Building community across difference while maintaining a Native cultural focus, Simas collaborates with Indigenous, feminist/womanist, Two-Spirit/queer, people of color, and other differently embodied dancers and artists to deepen and amplify her practice of engaging stories that create complex somatic, visual, and acoustic landscapes. Simas was a 2013 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellow, 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, 2016 McKnight Choreography Fellow and 2016 First Peoples Fund Fellow. Her work has been supported nationally by NEFA National Dance Project Production and Tour awards, and the National Presenters Network Creation Fund.

Events with Rosy Simas:

December 1-2, 2017 - 7:30 pm - Skin(s) - Performance by Rosy Simas Danse

Skin(s) shares the beauty and diversity of how Native people identify and examine the contradictions, pride, joy, pain, and sorrow that arise out of our many dimensions of identity. The dance explores what we hold, reveal, and perceive through our skin.

Heid Erdrich headshotHeid E. Erdrich

Heid E. Erdrich is a poet, writer, and filmmaker. She is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media and Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest, which was a City Pages Top Ten food book for 2014. Heid has curated many exhibits of contemporary Native American art since 2007. Her collaborative poem films have been selected for screening at festivals internationally including ImagineNative, Native Film Festival, Vision Maker, and at the Santa Fe Indian Market film festival, Class-X. These poem videos have won Best of Fest, and a Best Experimental Short awards in 2014 and 2015. Heid grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. She teaches the MFA Creative Writing low-residency program of Augsburg College.

Events with Heid Erdrich:

November 16, 2017 - 12:30 pm - Reading from Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media


2016-2017 Artists in Residence

For Winter 2017, the Kaplan Institute 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

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 Preus

 The 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.

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