Critical Race Studies Residency Program Begins Second Year


MSU’s College of Arts & Letters Critical Race Studies Residency program has brought two dynamic artists to campus for the 2018-2019 academic year to enrich the life of the greater Lansing community by creating opportunities for shared experiences that cultivate diversity and facilitate practices of inclusion through art and design.

Part of the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, the Critical Race Studies Residency program empowers artistic creativity that drives cultural transformation through shared engagement with creative practice.

Helina Metaferia and Qais Assali complement one another while enriching our department greatly.

Karin Zitzewitz
AAHD Interim Chair

This year’s Artists-in-Residence of Critical Race Studies are:

  • Qais Assali, an artist, designer, and educator
  • Helina Metaferia, an interdisciplinary artist working in performance, video, installation, and collage

“With interdisciplinary practices that involve research but plumb very different artistic media and aspects of race and experience, Helina Metaferia and Qais Assali complement one another while enriching our department greatly,” said Karin Zitzewitz, Interim Chair of the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. “We are excited to welcome them to our department and support them as they build upon and exhibit their already impressive bodies of work.”

As part of their residency, Assali and Metaferia will produce substantial public projects that engage in critical approaches to diversity and inclusion through creative practice. They will each mount solo presentations of their work, teach courses in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, and participate in outreach to the community throughout the year, working in some of MSU’s most publicly accessible spaces, such as (SCENE) Metrospace, MSU Union Art Gallery, Broad Art Museum, and Kresge Art Center, as well as locations in the greater Lansing community.

The College of Arts & Letters is committed to putting our core value of equity into practice in ways that transform community life.

Christopher P. Long
College of Arts & Letters Dean

“The College of Arts & Letters is committed to putting our core value of equity into practice in ways that transform community life,” said Christopher P. Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. “Through the generous funding of the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, the Critical Race Studies Residency program brings innovative artists and designers to the greater Lansing community to empower us to more intentionally live out our commitment to diversity and inclusion. This year, we are very happy to welcome Qais Assali and Helina Metaferia to Michigan State University.”

The Critical Race Studies Residency program was established in 2017 thanks to a $750,000 gift from the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU). The MSUFCU gift is being spread out over a five-year period (2018-2022) in annual installments of $150,00.

“MSUFCU is proud to support the College of Arts & Letters in this residency program,” said April Clobes, President and Chief Executive Officer of the MSUFCU. “The Credit Union’s core values include embracing diversity and this program enables students and the community to have access to prominent artists and their work. By providing funding for arts and cultural programs, we enable the College of Arts & Letters to bring important work in discussion, collaboration, and inclusion to our community.”

Qais Assali

headshot of man with facial hair smiling at camera
Qais Assali, Visiting Assistant Professor and Artist-in-Residence of Critical Race Studies


Qais Assali, Visiting Assistant Professor and Artist-in-Residence of Critical Race Studies, his works with video, installation, sculpture, lecture performance, sound, photography, and in the archives seek to engage and subvert national geopolitical power dynamics. His interdisciplinary work stages questions between site and the body in relation to his own identity and locale in order to debunk metaphoric surrounding contested geographies.

art installation- carved rock in brick room with yellow curtains
Qais Assali’s latest work is now on display at 6018North in Chicago as part of the “Living Architecture” exhibition.
 


Assali has exhibited his work internationally, including at Jeune création, Paris; Festival Artes Vertentes de Tiradentes, Brazil; Terrain Biennial, Chicago; Tang Teaching Museum, New York; 6018North, Chicago; and solo exhibitions at Akademirommet, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, and Khan Al Wakala, Nablus. He has been a faculty member at a number of academic institutions in Palestine including Al-Ummah College, Jerusalem. Assali holds two master’s degrees – an M.F.A. from Bard College, New York, and an M.A. in Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

mosiac box sitting on mosaic tile floor
"tiles," a piece in Assali's mixed media installation, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”


Assali’s project at MSU this year is called "Doubling Displacement” where he is exploring mimetics in art and diasporic aesthetics to open an American “New Palestine” as a political and metonymic space for discussion. The project will deal with creating connections between the U.S. Midwest and the Middle East, as well as the past and the present to question political future. Assali is linking between sites, communities and ideas he is discovering in areas such as New Palestine, Ohio, and New Palestine, Indiana; the Orientalist Shriners; and Dearborn, Michigan.

Helina Metaferia

headshot of woman standing in front of art looking at camera
Helina Metaferia, Visiting Assistant Professor and Artist-in-Residence of Critical Race Studies


Helina Metaferia, Visiting Assistant Professor and Artist-in-Residence of Critical Race Studies, has presented her work in solo and group exhibitions at venues including the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, California; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; New Museum, New York, New York; Galeria Labirynt, Lublin, Poland; and Museum of Modern Art, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her work has been reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Bmore Art, and Performa Magazine.

woman in blue dress kneeling in circle of white sand with holding paper in cupped hands
Metaferia in "Slow Dirt," a performance piece that commemorates her mother, Maigenet Shifferraw, an Ethiopian women's rights advocate who passed away in February 2016.
 


Metaferia received her M.F.A. from Tufts University’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts in 2015 and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Her other artist residencies include Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska; MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, New Hampshire; Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, New York; Ox-Bow, Saugatuck, Michigan; and Lighthouse Works, Fishers Island, New York. She was a 2015-2017 AICAD (Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design) Teaching Fellow at the San Francisco Art Institute.​​​​

Metaferia will screen her work, "(Middle) Passage for Dreams,” at MSU, and will work on a new project, titled "By Way of Revolution," which engages performative actions in sites of protest and the archives of those experiences.