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June 17, 2010
Swann Foundation Announces Awards for 2010-2011
The Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon, administered by the Library of Congress, announces fellowship awards to two applicants for the academic year 2010-2011: Leora Maltz-Leca and Jeffreen M. Hayes.
Because of an unusually large number of strong applications, the foundation’s advisory board did not award a single fellowship this year but instead decided to support two applicants’ projects with smaller awards.
Maltz-Leca, an assistant professor of contemporary art, history of art and visual culture at the Rhode Island School of Design, will receive a fellowship to support her post-doctoral research on her dissertation titled "William Kentridge: Process as Metaphor and Other Doubtful Enterprises." In her proposed book project, she will analyze the animated cartoons of Kentridge, a South African artist born in 1955, whom she credits largely with bringing drawing in general—and the drawing of cartoons in particular—to the forefront of contemporary international art.
Kentridge is well-known for a signature creative process that he describes as "stone age." In this process, Kentridge continuously draws and erases schematic subjects on a single charcoal drawing, all the time taking photographs of his changing drawing. He then films his photographic records and, thereby, produces film narratives that often feature his stock characters Soho Teitelbaum and Felix Eckstein, both caricatures of apartheid-era stereotypes. Such figures can be seen to stem from earlier European models of political caricature.
Maltz-Leca aims to explore Kentridge’s relationship to the aesthetics of cartooning in general and to 19th and 20th century European political cartoonists represented in the Library’s strong collections of cartoon drawings and prints. The sequential-mode and serial approach that characterizes Kentridge’s creative process, his early cartoon strips of action figures and his numerous flipbooks all affirm technical parallels with cartoon art.
Hayes, a doctoral candidate in American studies at the College of William and Mary, will receive a fellowship to support her proposed investigation into African American cartoonists who challenge and broaden notions of blackness while commenting on political and social structures in white America.
African American cartoonists from 1930-2009 who have been selected for her study include Oliver W. Harrington (1912-1995), E. Simms Campbell (1906-1971), Brumsic Brandon (born in 1927), Keith Knight (born in 1966), Darrin Bell (born in 1975) and Aaron McGruder (born in 1974). These artists represent pioneers in cartoon and comic art as well as emerging contemporary creators in the field.
Hayes’ project will provide a contextual framework for her dissertation titled "Real Talk: Interrogations of Blackness and Whiteness in African American Post-Soul Visual and Popular Culture," which focuses particularly on McGruder.
During the next academic year, Maltz-Leca and Hayes will conduct research primarily in the rich holdings of graphic art of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division.
New York advertising executive Erwin Swann (1906 1973) established the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon in 1967. An avid collector, Swann assembled a large group of original drawings by more than 500 artists, spanning two centuries, which his estate bequeathed to the Library of Congress in the 1970s. Swann's original purpose was to build a collection of original drawings by significant creators of humorous and satiric art and to encourage the study of original cartoon and caricature drawings as works of art. The foundation's support of research and academic publication is carried out in part through a program of fellowships.
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