Graduate Arts Fellowship


Aaron-2-400The Kenan Institute for Ethics offers a fellowship for students enrolled in the MFA|EDA program entering her or his second year. The Graduate Arts Fellowship is meant to encourage a student with interests in the area of ethics, broadly construed, to deepen this connection through engagement with the faculty, fellows, staff, and students at the Kenan Institute for Ethics over the course of an academic year. Responsibilities for the fellowship include curation of an exhibit and associated program during the spring semester; engagement with undergraduates during the fall and spring semesters; and serving as a judge for Team Kenan’s annual What Is Good Art? visual art competition in late spring.

The fellowship comes with a $5,000 stipend (paid quarterly in the late summer, fall, winter and early spring) that supplements any other funding a student already receives.

For more information, contact Dan Smith at

Responsibilities include:

  1. The Exhibit During the spring semester, fellows will curate an exhibit rooted in at least one of the Institute’s core areas of substantive inquiry: human rights; global migration; rethinking regulation; morality & decision-making; and religion & public life. The exhibit may consist entirely or partially of the fellow’s original work, but the fellow may also curate a show comprised of others’ work. The exhibit should be at least partially displayed in the Keohane-Kenan Gallery at the Kenan Institute for Ethics in the West Duke Building, on-display beginning no later than January 12, 2018.The fellow will also plan and coordinate a lecture, panel, or similar program related to the exhibit. In addition to the fellowship stipend, some funds and assistance will be available for the exhibit, associated program, and a reception.
  2. Student Engagement During each of the fall and spring semesters, the fellow will participate in at least one engagement activity with undergraduates. The parameters of engagement are deliberately broad, and we welcome suggestions for activities from applicants. Possibilities include guest lecturing for an Ethics Certificate Program discussion course session; planning and participating in an experimental and/or documentary arts-themed intervention with Team Kenan; or working with the professor of a course on a component germane to the fellow’s interests.
  3. What Is Good Art? Judging The fellow will sit on the jury of experts in visual art and/or ethics for Team Kenan’s annual visual art competition and show, What Is Good Art? The fellow will be an integral part of the judging dinner, to be held in March, and must be present at the What Is Good Art? opening reception in early April.


2016-2017 Kenan Graduate Arts Fellow

Salima Al-Ismaili - Self

Salima Al-Ismaili is an Omani documentary artist whose previous work explored issues of migration and displacement in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Amman, Jordan. Al-Ismaili’s current focus explores the constructed and blurred assigned gender roles of women within religion, and the role of women’s leadership in Islam over time.

Her exhibition in the Keohane-Kenan Gallery, Nests of the Nu Ahong, visits nusi – women’s mosques – in China’s Henan province and the community of Hui Muslim minorities it serves. Under the echoes of the call to prayer, whispering women gather under the leadership of the nu ahong, women serving the role of teachers, social engagers and leaders of the mosque. This series documents the predominantly aging community of women that congregate, questions the future of the nu ahong as they struggle to attract a younger generation and explores how women’s mosques in China not only serve as a religious space of worship and social engagement, but also how they have been turned into a domesticated space for women through the nu ahong‘s role as mothers, wives and ultimately nurturers in their community.

The exhibition opens with a reception, from 5:30-8:30pm on Friday, October 21, 2016 and will be on-display through January 12, 2017.

Past Kenan Graduate Arts Fellows

2013-2014: Caitlin Margaret Kelly
Kelly curated an art exhibit in the fall of 2013, The Icon Industry: The Visual Rhetoric of Human Rights and also worked with undergraduates on an interactive project around global migration, #Migrations.

2014-2015: Aaron Kutnick
Kutnick created new works for an exhibition, Docu{rithm} at the Kenan Keohane Gallery examining how algorithms are shaping our narratives.

2015-2016: Alex Cunningham
Cunningham presented Shifting Water: Lenses on Mythology and Environmental Change in India, a multimedia exhibit examining the impact of global climate change on the sacred rivers of India.