A creative laboratory

Over 20 years of generous investment in the
artistic process.


As a research and development laboratory for the arts in all disciplines, the Wexner Center has offered significant support to artists in myriad ways since its inception in 1989. Residencies and commissions sponsored by the Wex have allowed hundreds of artists working in all disciplines from around the globe to create new work or explore new creative directions. The center’s support for artists underscores a core commitment to inspire cultural curiosity and fuel the creative expression of our time, while complementing Ohio State’s mission as a leading research institution. Works produced under the auspices of Wexner Center residencies and commissions often premiere here and then travel the globe, and they virtually always allow for meaningful interaction among the artists, the university community, and the public at large.

Among the diverse artists who receive production assistance each year, recipients of the Wexner Center Artist Residency Award constitute a special category. A handful of artists spanning all creative disciplines are selected annually by the center’s director and curators to receive this distinction. Celebrating its 22th anniversary this season, the Artist Residency Award program (previously known as the Wexner Center Residency Award program) offers the most substantial support: considerable financial resources, along with technical, intellectual, professional, and moral support to develop new work. A total of $200,000 annually is earmarked for distribution across the center’s disciplines—visual arts, performing arts, film, and, soon, education. Each residency is specifically tailored to the particular needs and rhythms of the artist. We in turn bring the full resources of the Wexner Center and Ohio State to their pursuits, often brokering collaborations across campus—not only with faculty, staff, and students in the arts and humanities, but with those in the sciences, as well as in business, law, and medicine—and in the broader local community.

Wexner Center Residency Artist Award recipients to date have hailed from four continents and numerous countries, including China, Argentina, France, Germany, Iran, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom, in addition to the United States and Canada. Frequently, the work produced under the auspices of the Wex travels on to major national and international venues. Wexner Center Artist Residency Award recipients have gone on to receive MacArthur Foundation fellowships, National Medal of Arts awards, Tony Awards, “Bessie” Awards (New York Dance and Performance awards), Oscar nominations, Cannes Film Festival awards, Film Independent Spirit awards, and the Wexner Prize, among other recognitions.

Find the full list of Artist Residency Award recipients (since 1991-92) at right. Artist Residency Award recipients for 2012–13 and their projects are discussed below.

Wexner Center Residency Awards 2012-13

Film/Video: Matt Porterfield

Matt Porterfield makes exquisitely shot narrative films that employ surprising documentary techniques to create portraits of working-class life. With his Artist Residency Award, the Wexner Center supports a new film currently in development. As part of his residency activities, Porterfield will do post-production work at the center’s Film/Video Studio. He will also engage with local college and high school students and screen his work in a public program.

His feature, Putty Hill (set in his hometown of Baltimore), which Porterfield introduced and screened at the Wex last year, is one of the most acclaimed American indie films of recent years. Called "extraordinary" by New Yorker film editor Richard Brody, it received many "best-of" mentions for 2011 and was also included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. Porterfield’s first feature film, Hamilton, was released theatrically in 2006 and continues to tour festivals, museums, and repertory theaters around the world. He’s in the final stages of post-production on his third film, I Used to Be Darker, which is expected to premiere during the 2012 fall film festival season. Porterfield, who also recently received a coveted Creative Capital grant, lectures on screenwriting, theory, and production in the Film & Media Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University.

Performing Arts: Bebe Miller Company and Palissimo

Ohio State dance professor Bebe Miller and her award-winning company will premiere the dance theater work A History September 27–30, following a series of creative Wexner Center residencies with her team of collaborators. Both reflective and forward-thinking, the evening-length duet involves mining the creative processes she has closely developed with dancers Angie Hauser and Darrell Jones, and dramaturgical collaborator Talvin Wilks. In particular, they have delved into the past decade of works, from the Bessie Award-winning Verge (2001) to Landing/Place (2005, also a Bessie winner), and Necessary Beauty (2008)—all of which were also supported by the Wexner Center. Amplified with video by Lily Skove that juxtaposes their live and virtual bodies, Miller and the dancers reveal the nuanced interpersonal dynamics that informs their creative quests. As the Washington Post has noted, "Bebe Miller is a cartographer of human emotions, mapping the landscape of the passions of her dance with luminous intelligence." And the the New York Times writes, "what makes Miller's choreography so moving are the sudden moments of mystery...coolly thoughtful yet dispatched with consummate ease."

The premiere of A History will be complemented by the exhibition Bebe Miller: Tracing History, which will be on view downtown at Ohio State’s Urban Arts Space in downtown Columbus August 25–September 29, 2012. Curated by the Wexner Center’s Jerry Dannemiller, this exhibition will provide further insight into Miller’s trajectory as one of the leading choreographers of her generation. It will also feature a new video installation by Maya Ciarrocchi that will tour nationally as a companion piece to the performance A History.

During their Wexner Center-sponsored residency, Bebe Miller and her collaborators will offer a series of discussions, workshops, open rehearsals, and post-performance talks connected to both their performance and the exhibition that will be of particular interest to Ohio State dance students, the local dance community, and Miller's avid Columbus audience.

Bebe Miller was recently selected as one of first class of 21 Doris Duke Artists, a program that extends direct funding of up to $275,000 to outstanding performing artists. She is also the recipient this year of Ohio State’s Sphinx Award, which recognizes outstanding faculty and staff members who have been role models and inspirations to Ohio State students.

More info: bebemillercompany.org.

The Artist Residency Award to the New York City-based dance theater company Palissimo, led by Czechoslovakian-born artistic director and choreographer Pavel Zuštiak, affords the group the opportunity to rehearse and mount all three full-length sections of its enigmatic and atmospheric Painted Bird Trilogy for the first time in sequence. The trilogy (Bastard, Amidst, and Strange Cargo) is inspired by the classic Jerzy Kosinski novel of the same name set in wartime Eastern Europe, in which a brilliantly painted bird, mistaken for an imposter, is violently killed by its own flock. Zuštiak's ambitious project excavates the tale's themes of identity, otherness, displacement, and transformation in three separate, uniquely staged performance events. Each section of this tour-de-force features live music by composer Christian Frederickson (well-known to Wexner Center audiences as a former member of the chamber-rock band Rachel’s). The New Yorker notes, "A vivid, often anguished, imagination shines through in Zuštiak’s work."

Audience members attend either a pairing of two sections or come on the final day of performance for the full three-part experience, which will utilize both the Performance Space and the Black Box on Mershon Stage in novel configurations. The residency begins September 4, and performances are September 12 (parts 1 and 2), 13 (parts 2 and 3), and 16 (all 3 Parts), 2012. While in residence, the company will also work with a large group of local volunteers who will perform in Part 1 of the trilogy. (Those interested in volunteering should contact Sarah Swinford at 614 292-6190 or sswinford@wexarts.org.) In addition, company members will offer a master class and discussion for dance students at Ohio State as well as members of the Columbus dance community.

The Painted Bird Trilogy is a Palissimo production co-commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University, Stanica Zilina in Slovakia, La MaMa, Baryshnikov Arts Center, and Performance Space 122.

More info: thepaintedbird.org and www.palissimo.com.

Updates on Recent Artist Residency Award Projects

In March 2013, filmmaker Lewis Klahr premiered his False Aging trilogy at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York; the short film False Aging, part of the trilogy, showed at the center during Klahr's 2010 residency. 

Palissimo's residency enabled the company to present their complete Painted Bird Trilogy in sequence here in September 2012. In July 2013, the trilogy was nominated for two Bessie Awards (Outstanding Production and Performance).

The Builders Association’s multimedia theater production HOUSE / DIVIDED, which premiered here in October 2011, toured nationally in the 2012-13 season and was seen in New York City and at several prestigious university venues.

The wall painting artist Ernst Caramelle created and debuted in January 2012 remained on view in the center’s lower lobby through July 1, 2012.

Dani Leventhal, a Brooklyn-based artist and Columbus native, is developing a new multichannel installation. She was here for a series of public events in the fall of 2011 and will return to work in the center’s Film/Video Studio.

New York-based French filmmaker Marie Losier was here in April 2012 to introduce The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, which she worked on in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio Program last year. She is currently working on a film on Warhol superstar Mario Montez with the support of her Artist Residency Award.

Matt Meindel, a Columbus-based filmmaker, created a new experimental animation that premiered in the Box, the center's video screening space, late in 2012. Don’t Break Down also screened at the 2013 Ann Arbor Film Festival. 

Filmmaker Michael Robinson shot a 16mm feature-length film in fall 2011 and has made three visits since then to do post-production work in the center’s Film/Video Studio. Robinson’s Circle in the Sand (2012) premiered at the 2012 New York Film Festival: Views from the Avant Garde in October and screened in March at the 2013 Ann Arbor Film Festival, where it received a jury award.

Los Angeles visual artist Paul Sietsema is engaged in an ongoing residency to create a new multimedia piece, Chinese Box, which was on view as part of an exhibition of his work in the Wexner Center galleries in the summer of 2013.

​Film/Video Studio Program, Commissions, and Other Kinds of Artist Support

Among the most active "labs" at the center is our Film/Video Studio, a video and sound editing facility that also provides access to on-site staff expertise. Each year, about 20 visiting filmmakers and video artists from around the world are invited to work in the Film/Video Studio. (Some of these artists are or have been Artist Residency Award recipients.) Films and videos created or post-produced through the Film/Video Studio Program are often screened here. For example, filmmaker and New York-based Ohio native Kevin Jerome Everson spent time in the Film/Video Studio Program in May 2011 completing Chevelle, a meditation on the American auto industry that showed continuously in the Box space during the month of January 2012. Projects developed in conjunction with the Film/Video Studio Program also are frequently shown at prestigious film festivals, museums, and galleries around the world. Read more about the Film/Video Studio Program.

Throughout the year, the Wexner Center also is involved in commissions of new work by additional individual artists and companies, some of whom come to work at the center. Some projects involve working in the Wexner Center's Film/Video Studio Program, others relate to specific exhibitions, still others are connected to commissions and co-commissions in the performing arts. Here are a few recent examples. Composer/guitarist Bill Frisell’s collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison The Great Flood was co-commissioned by the Wexner Center and performed here March 31, 2012. Choreographer John Jasperse’s dance work Canyon, co-commissioned by the Wex and BAM Next Wave Festival, was performed here in April 2012. In the fall of 2011, Paula Hayes designed and installed a permanent roof garden for the Wexner Center, at the time of a solo exhibition of her work in our galleries. The garden sits above the center’s underground Film/Video Theater just outside the Wexner Center’s entrance. These are but a few of the recent projects created under the auspices of Wex residencies and commissions outside of the Wexner Center Artist Residency Award Program.