Division of the Arts celebrates 2020 Creative Arts Awards recipients

2020 Awards in the Creative Arts header
Image credit: Painting courtesy of Leslie Smith III, recipient of the Emily Mead Baldwin Award in the Creative Arts. “Redaction,” oil on shaped canvas. 62.5″ x 118″

Each May, the UW­–Madison Division of the Arts celebrates artistic achievement, recognizes service to the arts, and supports arts research by bestowing the Awards in the Creative Arts. Nominations for these awards are juried by a panel of seven previous recipients of the Awards and campus arts research administrators. Five awards for a total of $61,500 were bestowed this year.

“The Creative Arts Awards are integral to recognizing and supporting the research excellence generated by UW­–Madison artists,” stated Susan Zaeske, Interim Director of the Division of the Arts. “Each of the honorees expands artistic knowledge within their specific discipline and advances the Wisconsin Idea.” Zaeske expressed regret that this year we are unable to celebrate the recipients at a Creative Arts Awards ceremony, and thanked the donors that make the awards possible as well as members of the selection committee.

Here is the list of recipients. Further information about each of them and their projects is listed below.

Faculty Research

Creative Arts Award

Fred Stonehouse, Professor, Art Department

Emily Mead Baldwin Award in the Creative Arts

Leslie Smith III, Associate Professor, Art Department


Edna Wiechers Arts in Wisconsin Award

Anna Campbell, Assistant Professor, Department of Gender & Women’s Studies

Joyce J. and Gerald A. Bartell Award in the Arts

Sherry Wagner-Henry, Directy and Faculty Associate, Bolz Center for Arts Administration

Student Achievement

David and Edith Sinaiko Frank Graduate Fellowship for a Woman in the Arts

Midori Samson, DMA Candidate, Mead Witter School of Music

Click here for more details on each of the individual awards and previous recipients.

Thank you to this year’s committee: Susan Zaeske (chair), Interim Director, Division of the Arts and Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities, College of Letters & Science; Lisa Gralnick, Professor, Art Department; Florence Hsia, Professor, Department of History and Associate Vice Chancellor for Research in the Arts & Humanities, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education; Carolyn Kallenborn, Associate Professor, Design Studies Department; Sarah Marty, Madison Early Music Festival Program Director, Division of the Arts; Johannes Wallmann, Associate Professor, Mead Witter School of Music; and Jin-Wen Yu, Professor, Dance Department.

Donors that support the awards include the Joyce J. and Gerald A. Bartell family, Suzanne and Roberto Freund, Bassett and Evjue Foundations, Edna Wiechers Arts in Wisconsin Fund and Emily McKay and Ruth and Hartley Barker.

We are also pleased to share the recipients of The Studio Creative Arts Community’s Creative Arts Awards, with funding provided by the Division of the Arts.

The Studio Research Award

Siena Laws headshot

Siena Laws, Education Studies

Siena Laws will “investigate our inner thoughts and feelings in social settings: our anxieties, joys, and feelings of disconnection.” She plans to create wearable sculptures that participants can choose to interact with. These pieces will reflect those inner thoughts and feelings and lead to a discussion with participants on how they connected to the work in order to better understand the pressures of daily life.

The Studio Service Award

Malcom McCanles headshot

Malcom McCanles, Theatre and Drama, and Asher Bernick-Roehr, undeclared

Malcom McCanles and Asher Bernick-Roehr will reference Raymond Carver’s book of short stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, to examine connection and relationships in a COVID-affected world.

Asher Bernick-Roehr headshotTheir plan is to take each story in the book and give it to a performer to use as inspiration when creating their piece, in order to have a coherent theme and feeling running through the entire performance. Their main goal is to reference the book in order to create multi-disciplinary performances, which celebrate, analyze, critique, and explore connections and relationships.

Awards in the Creative Arts – Short Biographies (Alphabetical by last name) and Summaries

Anna Campbell headshotAnna Campbell (Wiechers)

Using sculpture and site-specific installation, Anna Campbell’s work deconstructs signifiers of gender and heteronormativity. Appropriated and abstracted references to domestic spaces, gay bars, and building construction are employed to access new attachments of possibility and desire. Her work has been featured in publications such as Queer Holdings: A Survey of the Leslie-Lohman Collection and in ASAPjournal.com, the Advocate.com, Hyperallergic.com, GQ.com, and the Chicago Reader. Campbell has been in residence at ACRE (Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions), FIAR (Fire Island Artist Residency), Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Ox-Bow, and the Vermont Studio Center.

The award will support Campbell’s project Prototype for a Dream Sequence, which is is an immersive art installation driven by material metaphors associated with steel scaffolding, aluminum anvils, CNC-milled copies of classical sculptures, and archival photographs. This work collectively deconstructs and queerly rebuilds historical and contemporary representations of masculinity. The title of the exhibit is drawn from a desire to support the complex preparatory labor of constructing just futures under the lived conditions of historical and quotidian subjection.

Midori Samson headshotMidori Samson (Sinaiko Frank)

Midori Samson is a bassoonist, educator, and activist. She holds positions in the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Beloit-Janesville Symphony. She is a former Fellow of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and has performed with the Chicago, Omaha, and Madison symphony orchestras, Japan’s Pacific Music Festival, and the New York String Orchestra. Samson is the Co-Founding Artistic Director of Trade Winds Ensemble, an organization that hosts composition workshops for children in Haiti, Kenya, and Tanzania. Samson holds degrees from The Juilliard School and The University of Texas at Austin and has been a Collins Fellow at UW–Madison.

In 2018, Samson commissioned the composition of eight new works for solo bassoon by composers from across the continent of Africa. This culminated in a 50-minute multi-media recital, which she has performed in Chicago and Stevens Point, Wisconsin. It is her hope to also eventually perform this recital in various locations within Kenya and Tanzania. With her commission and the  recital, she strives to perform, create awareness, and add music to the bassoon repertoire written by Black composers, which is historically lacking.

Leslie Smith III headshotLeslie Smith III (Baldwin)

Leslie Smith III is an oil-based painter. His studio practice is centered on using abstraction to communicate the human experience. Smith received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and received his MFA from Yale University School of Art. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the High Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. Recent exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Maus Contemporary in Birmingham, AL, and Galerie Isabelle Gounod in Paris along with exhibitions in Madrid and New York City.

This award will help Smith create a series of abstract paintings that includes industrial materials to expand, challenge, and alter the perception of what defines a “painting.” The purpose of this project is to empower an audience to evaluate contemporary abstraction, its relationship to race, culture, and identity. Smith’s series of “Bilateral Gestures” will emphasize African American contributions to the field with expectations of different sensibilities than those offered by first and second generation African American abstractionists.

Fred Stonehouse headshotFred Stonehouse (Creative Arts)

Fred Stonehouse’s work has been variously characterized as neo-surrealism, fabulism, magic realism, and pop surrealism. He had his first solo show in Chicago in 1983 and his work is shown on a regular basis at the Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago, Howard Scott Gallery in New York, and at the Koplin/DelRio Gallery in Los Angeles. Besides domestic exhibitions, he has exhibited in Germany, Italy, Mexico, and the Netherlands. He has been the recipient of an NEA Arts Midwest Grant and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Individual Artists Grant and was the subject of a mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in 2015. He received his BFA from UW­-Milwaukee and began the academic aspect of his career in 2006.

Stonehouse’s new project will reference various common outsider and vernacular folk forms such as lawn ornaments, butler ashtray stands, and figural signs to create works that sit somewhere between painting and sculpture. Many of the works will go beyond 2D format to a 3D format and will be able to be viewed from all sides. A number of these works will be large in scale and will include antique stepladders and wooden doors. This project will incorporate Stonehouse’s personal research in “outsider aesthetics,” which usually hasn’t been well documented or understood.

Sherry Wagner-Henry headshotSherry Wagner-Henry (Bartell)

Sherry Wagner-Henry has spent her career working in arts leadership, arts-based community development, and creative community placemaking. She has served since 2012 as Director of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration in the Wisconsin School of Business. In relationship to her work in nonprofit leadership, she is a frequent speaker, presenter, and moderator on creative placemaking, arts entrepreneurship, public/private partnership, and nonprofit board governance. She has been actively involved on boards and committees locally and across the country, including serving on these national boards, Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE) and Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru).

Her work has benefited hundreds of students and practitioners. At the Bolz Center, she manages recruitment, teaching, community engagement, and impact consulting through creative placemaking, campus leadership, and student placement. Throughout her time at UW­­­–Madison she has developed high-impact programs including a Non-Profit Board Leadership class for graduate students, an Aesthetics and Business course for undergraduate business students, the Arts Business Research Symposium, and training and applied learning in arts-based community development (Creative Placemaking) for students and community members across the state. Most recently she created and is launching a new professional master’s in Arts and Creative Enterprise Leadership.