2019 Emerging Creatives Student Summit

The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) Emerging Creatives Student Summits bring together students who have an interest in the arts, crossing disciplinary boundaries, and developing collaborative projects.

Summit Overview
The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) Emerging Creatives Student Summits bring together students who have an interest in the arts, crossing disciplinary boundaries, and developing collaborative projects. Each year, 80-100 undergraduate and graduate students attend the summit from a2ru partner universities across the country, along with 12-15 administrators, faculty, and staff. Summits have a strong project-based component with activities such as panel discussions with special guests, keynote speakers, site visits or field trips, performances and exhibitions, networking opportunities, and skill-building experiences throughout to collaboratively solve challenges with projects that integrate the arts and design with other disciplines to produce new knowledge; as part of a process of systematic questioning and inquiry; as part of creative activity and scholarship; as a mode of creative activity and scholarship; and in the exploration and discovery of processes, information, applications, ideas or performances.

This year’s theme is Food and PlaceFood is the common language of life. Across the world, people use it to establish and maintain relationships and to celebrate important events. Food also frequently takes on a symbolic dimension in culture, representing everything from love to social status. Differing approaches to its production and consumption profoundly affect our economic systems, public health, and climate. Our connection to food is multi-faceted, inspiring a wide range of creative works.

This summit will be hosted by James Madison University, which is located at the center of the Shenandoah Valley, a diverse community long-defined by food production, from family-run farms to large-scale commercial agriculture. This event brings together students from a variety of disciplines to work on projects that consider the relationship between food and place. The summit will feature panels and working group leadership from distinguished professors at James Madison University, as well as leading artists and scholars from around the country.

Join us this coming February 7-10 to advance your own creative work or research through interdisciplinary collaboration with your peers at leading institutions across the U.S. Undergraduate and graduate students in any and all fields are welcome, particularly those that care about and have a deep interest in the concept of this year’s theme. We especially encourage student research teams from biology, ecology, and related fields, as well as artists/designers, to apply.

In advance of the summit, we recommend viewing and exploring some of these supplemental materials to get you inspired and ready to collaborate!


Vienna Veggie Orchestra

In Vienna, Austria, there is an orchestra that performs with instruments made from vegetables. For the past 18 years, these musicians have been purchasing produce from a local market, turning that produce into instruments and performing with them in front of a live audience. The vegetable scraps are made into soup, which the group then serves to the audience at the end of each performance.

On Designing the Future of Food

Andrea Lipps is the Assistant Curator at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum


Canned Food Drive

A poem by Kathleen Lynch
For centuries, it’s been both medium and topic; now, an emerging cohort is challenging what it means to play with the most essential material.
New York Times, November 2018


When published in 2007, ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE was embraced by readers worldwide and quickly earned its place as a credo for the locavore movement. The family’s chronicle of struggles and triumphs as they rooted themselves to their Appalachian farm and adopted a locally-produced diet was met with critical acclaim, spent years on bestseller lists and won the James Beard Award.

The Ark of Taste is a catalogue of foods at risk of disappearing that are a part of the cultures and traditions of the entire world. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity coordinates Slow Food projects that preserve food and agricultural biodiversity: the gardens in Africa, the Ark of Taste (a catalogue of endangered traditional foods), the Presidia (projects sustaining small scale producers to save traditional products), the Earth Markets (farmers’ markets) and the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance (a network of chefs using and promoting local products).

This women-led organization uses a wide range of communications tools—including videos, radio, podcasts, social media, public speaking, and storytelling—for food system transformation. Based in Chicago, Minneapolis, and the San Francisco Bay Area, much of their work happens via screens, but they also place a high premium on “de-virtualizing”: participating in events and movements in the communities where they live. Strategic partnerships play a central role in their work and they see themselves as part of the fabric of this diverse and growing food movement.

Schedule details will be added as they develop over the coming weeks – schedule below updated 12/17/18

Thursday, February 7, 2019
Check-In3pmHotel Madison, Appalachian Ballroom
Icebreaker and Group Formation4:15pm
Opening Activity - Food + Place5:15pm
Welcome Dinner6:15-7:30pm
Friday, February 8, 2019
Panel Discussion: Food Justice9amHotel Madison, Appalachian BallroomKate Daughdrill, Michelle Hesse, Michael Snell-Feikema
Team Working Time10:30amHotel Madison - Appalachian Ballroom, Madison Room, Blue Ridge Room available as well as off site locations
Lunch on your own12pmD-Hall
Meet at Hotel for bus to downtown Harrisonburg1pmHotel Madison Lobby
Field Experience1:15pmDowntown HarrisonburgVisit with local organizations that focus on community and food
Team Working Time3pmHotel Madison - Appalachian Ballroom, Madison Room, Blue Ridge Room available as well as off site locations
Dinner on your own5:30pmForbes
Performance7pmForbes CenterIan Cheney, Ross Gay, Stephanie Williams, JMU Jazz Ensemble
Team Working Time8:30pmHotel Madison - Appalachian Ballroom, Madison Room, Blue Ridge Room (available until 11pm) as well as off site locations
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Panel Discussion: Making Art Out of Food9amHotel Madison, Appalachian Ballroom
Project Review with Guest Artists10:30amSign-up for short time slots with guest artists for input and feedback on team projects
Lunch on your own12pm
Team Working Time1pmHotel Madison - Appalachian Ballroom, Madison Room, Blue Ridge Room as well as off site locations
Low-cost, Local Dinner5:30pmD-Hall
Team Working Time7pmHotel Madison - Appalachian Ballroom, Madison Room, Blue Ridge Room (available until 11pm) as well as off site locations
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Breakfast8amHotel Madison, Appalachian Foyer
Final Team Presentations9amHotel Madison, Appalachian Ballroom
Closing Thoughts and Next Steps11am

Ian Cheney is an American documentary filmmaker, cinematographer, and producer. Cheney grew up in Massachusetts and Maine, attended The Mountain School, a semester school for high school juniors, and graduated from Milton Academy in 1998. Cheney received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University in 2002 and 2003. He shared a Peabody Award in 2008 for King Corn, which he co-produced and starred in. In 2011 he and longtime collaborator Curt Elliswere the youngest recipients to receive the Heinz Award. Cheney received an Emmy nomination in 2013 for his film The City Dark, which aired on PBS’ POV. Cheney runs Wicked Delicate Films, a documentary film production company based in Brooklyn and western Massachusetts. He is a co-founder and former member of the board of directors of the FoodCorps non-profit organization.

Kate Daughdrill is an artist, urban farmer, writer, and speaker based in Detroit. She received a BA in Studio Art and Political & Social Thought from the University of Virginia and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Recent projects include Detroit SOUP, a monthly dinner that funds micro-grants for creative projects in Detroit, and the Edible Hut, a community space with a living, edible roof in a public park in Detroit’s Osborn neighborhood. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Fred Torres Collaborations, the Art Gallery of Windsor, Second Street Gallery, Cranbrook Art Museum, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Kunstverein Wolfsburg. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, NYT’s T Magazine, the Toronto Star, Dwell, Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and the Huffington Post. Recent artist talks include the Airbnb’s Design Talks, Detroit Institute of the Arts, AIGA San Francisco, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Grand Valley State, Hand-in-Glove, New City Arts Forum, and the University of Virginia. She was recently awarded a 2013 Kresge Artist Fellowship and the Robert C. Larson Venture Award and has received grants from Community + Public Art: Detroit and the Knight Foundation. Daughdrill lives and works on Burnside Farm on Detroit’s east side. She is currently cultivating gatherings and dinners that explore the connections between plants, ceremony, and artistic energy. She is also focusing on her writing, offering talks, and immersing herself in learning experiences to deepen her integration of meditation, wildness, yoga, and artistic practice. 

Ross Gay is the author of three books: Against WhichBringing the Shovel Down; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Catalog was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, the Ohioana Book Award, the Balcones Poetry Prize, the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, and it was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Ross is the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook “Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens,” in addition to being co-author, with Richard Wehrenberg, Jr., of the chapbook, “River.”  He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’, in addition to being an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press.  Ross is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Ross teaches at Indiana University.

Stephanie J. Williams is an interdisciplinary artist living in the northeast quadrant of Washington, DC. Her three-dimensional sculpture and stop-motion animations investigate our relationship to food culture. In particular, her visual emphasis on food consumption explores the complex narratives that humans struggle to digest, and often leave out of polite conversation. The following text is an excerpt of my interview with Williams, conducted in the summer of 2017. It demonstrates her attentiveness to material culture and its ability to create a theater of familiarity through a time-based medium. Whether producing soft-sculpture installations on the scale of Claes Oldenburg or meditative animation work that recalls videos by Simone Leigh and Steffani Jemison, Williams creates pieces that require prolonged visual engagement.

The following a2ru partner institutions are holding their own internal review of applications to build the interdisciplinary team of 5 students to represent their school. Please click below to contact the appropriate person on your campus if interested.

  • Penn State: Cynthia Mannella-Nickell, Administrative Assistant to the Interim Associate Dean, College of Arts and Architecture
  • University of Arizona: Colin Blakely, Director, School of Art
  • University of Cincinnati: Jennifer Krivickas, Assistant Vice President: Integrated Research
  • University of Colorado Denver: Laurie Baefsky, Associate Dean for Research, Collaboration, and Innovation, College of Arts & Media
  • University of Florida: Anthony Kolenic, Assistant Dean of Research, Technology and Administrative Affairs, College of the Arts
  • University of Kansas: Emily Ryan, Director, The Commons
  • University of Michigan: Deb Mexicotte, Managing Director, ArtsEngine

All other interested students may apply by clicking below. Applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis to fill 5 student spots for each partner institutions. Applications will be reviewed and applicants notified within one week of submission. Additional applications from a particular institution will be notified if space is available after the deadline.

Deadline extended thru January 15, 2019

A limited amount of funding is available to help defray costs of travel.


Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center
710 S. Main Street
Harrisonburg, VA  22801

Reservation deadline: January 20, 2019 at 5pm



JMU Campus

Most of the summit events will be held at the conference hotel:

Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center
710 S. Main Street
Harrisonburg, VA  22801

Additional events held around campus will be updated here as the schedule develops over the coming weeks – stay tuned!

Traveling to and from JMU

For information on local transportation in Harrisonburg, visit Transportation at JMU

Shenandoah Airport offers flights to Chicago, D.C.

Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport welcomed United Airlines, and now offers regular flights to Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare International Airports. The flights will run once a day to O’Hare, twice a day to Dulles on weekdays, and once a day on weekends. Learn more.

Daily Shuttle to Washington, DC

Launching December 1, 2017, a new intercity bus service called the Virginia Breeze will run from Blacksburg, VA to Washington DC’s Union Station with stops in Lexington, Harrisonburg (JMU), Front Royal, and Dulles Airport. Learn more.

From out of state without a car? It’s easy to get home!

JMU operates a shuttle service to and from the Charlottesville airport, Amtrak station and Greyhound bus station for JMU students prior to and returning from Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring breaks.
Tickets are $35 and reservations are required. Learn more.

Distance from JMU...

Washington, DC 130 miles (~2 hrs)

New York City 350 miles (~5.5 hrs)

Nearest airport (SHD) 15 miles (~20 mins)

Nearest train (Amtrak) 27 miles (30 mins)

Car rental (Zipcar) – on campus