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Professor SA Smythe receives multiple arts awards

Submitted on Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Faculty of Information Assistant Professor SA Smythe, who is also a poet and transdisciplinary artist, has recently been recognized with two important awards for artists.  

Earlier this month, it was announced Smythe, who teaches Black Studies and the Archive, has received a much coveted fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), whose mission is to provide time and space to promising national and international writers, visual artists and composers looking to bring forth their finest work.  

At VCCA, Smythe plans to build on work they did as a 2023-24 MacDowell fellow in multimedia installation. They will craft the last few parts of their nine-movement sound composition for proclivity, pieces of which they performed in Toronto last year at the Power Plant and the FADO Performance Arts Centre as well as in Rome. Smythe will also continue drafting their second book collection, Neither/Nor/Necessity: Anarchiving Black Trans Life 

In addition, Smythe and their art collaborator, Autumn Knight, have both received summer artist residencies at the Villa Lena Foundation in Tuscany. Previously, the pair were recipients of the American Academy of Rome – Rome Prize and Knight was also both MacDowell fellows.  

During their upcoming summer-long Villa Lena residency, Smythe and Knight will make use of field and underwater aquatic recordings – made by Smythe last summer off the coast of Tangier, Morocco (the “Door of Africa”) and across Southern Italy (Lampedusa, Rome, Venice, Milan). From the conquests of the Holy Roman Empire to contemporary Mediterranean routes for migration and capital, these are sites of historical imperial relevance, which Smythe further discusses in their forthcoming book, Where Blackness Meets the Sea: On Crisis, Culture, and the Black Mediterranean. Smythe’s plan is to work with the recordings to make a sound composition to accompany a deconstructed libretto and series of monoprints, created together with Knight, that depict modern and contemporary archives of black possibility and aesthetics of invention.  

In the Fall, Smythe wants to host more monoprint and audio/sound production workshops through their Collaboratory for Black Poiēsis, which launched last year. 

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