Humanities Iowa Awards $59,124 in Major Grants

Fall 2013

Humanities Iowa, the local affiliate for the National Endowment for the Humanities, awarded $59,124 in grants to fund projects across the state during its board meeting on November 1 and 2 in Fort Madison, IA. This year, the major grants will be distributed to 10 different organizations. The awards were selected through a competitive application and review process and are made possible through Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Mini grants are awarded on a continual basis throguhout the year. Min-grants awarded in the last year are as follows: 2013

The grants awarded are:

Title of Project: 2014 AViD
Sponsoring Organization: Des Moines Public Library
Grant: $5,000
Project Description: Authors Visiting in Des Moines is a free public lecture series designed to appeal to a diverse audience. Well known authors discuss the challenges and rewards that come with being an author. They describe their creative process and talk about a variety of topics from their fiction and non-fiction books. A Selection Committee picks authors to stimulate critical thinking, deepen understanding of current and historical social issues, create a community dialogue, and develop a greater appreciation of the written word and books. Author selection emphasizes the issues of ethnicity, diversity, and identity

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Title of Project: The Barn Builders
Sponsoring Organization: Kansas Public Telecommunications
Grant: $9,362
Project Description: “The Barn Builders” is a historical documentary feature film that will tell the story of barns in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest by examining the architecture of these majestic rural structures. Viewers will learn what barn settings, styles, methods and materials tell us about the people who built them, the life they lived, and how our lives today are still connected to these vanishing country cathedrals. The realities of farm life, past and present, are merely abstract notions for most Americans. A vast number have no idea of the role that farming played in the settling and building of the nation. Food is purchased in stores with no awareness of where it came from or how it was produced. Almost all city dwellers can find barns in their personal heritage if they look back far enough. “The Barn Builders” will introduce a wide variety of viewers to barns, the people who built them and an important way of life that ha s been largely forgotten. The film will remind viewers that remnants from America’s rural past are still here to be interpreted and experienced.

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Title of Project: Celebrating Community Sculpture Park
Sponsoring Organization: Celebrating Community Foundation
Grant: $10,000
Project Description: The Celebrating Community Project celebrates the life-long passion and commitment made by the advocates we are honoring and celebrates each of the groups they represent. Celebrating Community Project will tell the inspiring and life-changing stories of 13 Iowans who are local “unsung” champions of humanity. We plan to develop a sculpture park to recognize those who have advocated for the disadvantaged and promoted positive change in our community. The sculpture park will be located on the east side of the Martin Luther King Transportation Center at one of the busiest thoroughfares in downtown Sioux City, Iowa. Thirteen life-size illuminated bronze busts will be permanently displayed along with plaques describing how the honoree from each group advocated for justice and equality. The local groups to be honored are: Women, Children, Veterans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native/Indigenous Americans, Latino/Hispanic Americans, Homeless, Elderly, Victims of Violence and Sexual Abuse, Jewish Americans, Disabled Americans, and those Recovering from Substance Abuse.

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Title of Project: Keith Carter Middle East Heritage
Sponsoring Organization: Buena Vista University
Grant: $9,840
Project Description: The Keith Carter Middle Eastern History Project seeks to utilize the objects gifted to Buena Vista University as centerpieces for humanities-based discussion geared to two (at times intertwined) audiences in northwest Iowa. While many of these pieces may be appreciated for their artistic beauty, the collection consists primarily of the objects of daily life – cultural artifacts that, when combined with humanities-based dialog, provide a window for a deeper and more personal understanding of Middle Eastern cultures.

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Title of Project: FORTEPAN Iowa
Sponsoring Organization: University of Northern Iowa
Grant: $5,000
Project Description:This project is about bringing new perspectives to Iowa identity and history through an interactive photo website showcasing thousands of amateur photos of everyday Iowans, 1900-1990. The photographs will be immediately accessible in chronological (slideshow) view with an easy-to-navigate horizontal scrollbar and will contain date, place and time data on every photograph and connect to numerous oral history interviews. The site will also enable social media components so the public can offer their own historical commentary and interpretation. FORTEPAN IOWA (which takes its name from the pioneering public historical photo project in Hungary, FORTEPAN) can be used as a tool for any Iowa citizen with Internet access to explore Iowa’s State heritage and identity. The project will serve as an ever-growing public website, providing opportunities for deep reflection on who we are as a state.

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Title of Project: Hollywood in the Heartland
Sponsoring Organization: State Historical Society of Iowa
Grant: $5,000
Project Description:The State Historical Society of Iowa is presenting the exhibition Hollywood in the Heartland: A Century of Moviegoing in Iowa which will be featured at the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines. This project will explore the impact of movies, and the places in which they were experienced, on Iowans in the twentieth century. The Hollywood in the Heartland exhibition script and selection of objects will intertwine architectural history, social history, and popular culture to engage the public with Iowa’s movie legacy and the architecture of the movie theatre. The exhibition will occupy approximately 6,500 square feet and will be on display at the State Historical Museum of Iowa beginning June 2014 for a minimum of three years. The exhibit and associated programming that will be developed to complement the exhibition is appropriate for audiences of all ages, but the primary audience is the general adult public.

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Title of Project: Saint John's Bible
Sponsoring Organization: CommUniversity
Grant: $2,000
Project Description: CommUniversity offers continuing education classes during Sunday afternoons in February on the St. Ambrose University campus. A keynote address kicks off the program. Emphasis this year is on the Saint John’s Bible with up to five special classes being offered for attendees to learn about this important piece of literature, theology, and art under the direction of local experts.

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Title of Project: Glass Collection Research
Sponsoring Organization: Muscatine Art Center
Grant: $2,922
Project Description: The Muscatine Art Center proposes to hire a Humanities Scholar to complete five essays on topics connected to a significant art glass collection that was gifted to the Art Center in 2007. The project includes creating an informational, illustrated booklet and interpretive panels for a long-term exhibition of the glass collection. The Scholar is to explore themes such as economics, labor, material supply, the role of the consumer, technology, and glass making techniques. A professional graphic designer will layout the booklet and interpretive panels.

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Title of Project: One Land, Two Nations
Sponsoring Organization: Museum of Danish America
Grant: $5,000
Project Description: Nearly 150 years have passed since the 1864 conflict that left the provinces of Schleswig and Holstein – formerly under the rule of the Danish monarchy – under the governance of Prussia and an emerging German nation. A long history of dual Danish and German identities contributed to the contested rule over this region, strategically situated at the southern end of the Jutland peninsula, a gateway between mainland Europe and Scandinavia. Though this region of Europe is no longer a critical location for international tension, the legacy of this region can still be seen in Iowa through the town names of Schleswig and Holstein (in Crawford and Ida counties, respectively), and in the settlement patterns of both Danes and Germans who immigrated to Iowa in the 19th century.

The Danish Immigrant Museum plans to marks the 150th anniversary of the Dano-Prussian War by exploring the history of this region and its role in immigration – both among Danes and among Germans – in three different formats.
• The museum will collaborate with the German American Heritage Center in Davenport to develop and host a gallery exhibition in 2014 titled "One Land, Two Nations: Schleswig-Holstein on the Danish-German Border."
• Both museums will coordinate related public programs in communities across Iowa, especially the Danish Villages of Elk Horn and Kimballton, the towns of Schleswig and Holstein, Manning, Cedar Falls / Waterloo, Davenport and the Quad Cities, and others.
• A third outcome will be a traveling version of the exhibition that will be present at public programs and also available for installation in a variety of host venues.
The 150th anniversary of the 1864 war offers a focal point for the exhibition and programs, but the larger project seeks to place the history of the region in a longer historical context, and explore this region’s impact on immigration to the United States and to Iowa in particular.

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Title of Project: Resilience Thinking in Dystopic Times
Sponsoring Organization: Iowa State University
Grant: $5,000
Project Description: The Annual Symposium on Wildness, Wilderness and the Environmental Imagination, now in its tenth year, brings together artists and scholars of the humanities with environmental thinkers for a series of readings, lectures, films, and panel discussions about intriguing and pressing cultural and environmental issues. The theme for the spring 2014 symposium is “Resilience Thinking in Dystopic Times.” The timeline of events is as follows: 1) a public lecture/panel discussion featuring invited humanities scholar, Alan Weisman, on February 24, 2014; and 2) a two-day symposium in early April of 2014 (date TBD) featuring the remaining scholars listed in the project narrative.

This year’s symposium takes inspiration from the book, Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World, written by Australian ecologist Brian Walker, and the science writer David Salt. Resilience Thinking offers five case-studies of how resilient responses to catastrophe can allow individuals, organizations and ecosystems to absorb disturbance and maintain function in difficult times. All systems undergo natural cycles of growth, reorganization, and renewal, Walker and Salt argue, and failure to think and respond with resilience to these dynamic environments can and often does lead to disaster. In this symposium, we will also focus on the ideation of catastrophe: What are its roots and causes? Is the preponderance of representations of catastrophe—particularly in popular culture—a manifestation of some underlying anxiety about the shrinking planet and the large and out-of-control problems that plague our populations? How might artists and humanists adopt strategies of resilience thinking in their work, to suggest pathways for individuals and communities to absorb and survive disturbance.

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