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Social Practice Queens Brings Art to the People

A burgeoning program hosted by Queens College and the Queens Museum is embracing the potential of mixing art and activism. Launched in 2012 by professors Gregory Sholette and Maureen Conner, Social Practice Queens is one of the country's first programs to offer an MFA and advanced certificate in the artistic medium of social practice.

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A Message about DACA from Jan and Marica Vilcek

We were greatly dismayed to learn about the government’s recently announced intention to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

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Nari Ward Follows Vilcek Prize Win with Three Solo Shows

Nari Ward is having a busy summer, or at least his art handlers are. The 2017 Vilcek Prizewinner currently has three solo exhibitions on view: two in New York and one in Boston.

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José Andrés and the New American Dream

Chef José Andrés has long been a champion for immigrants and refugees, through every forum available to him—he has been an outspoken critic of nativist policies, he has embraced American multiculturalism through the 28 diverse restaurants he owns, and he has even dropped bars on Smule advocating for immigration reform.

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On Loan: Four Pieces on View at the Met Breuer’s “Marsden Hartley’s Maine”

Four pieces from the Vilcek Foundation American Modernism Collection are currently on view at the Met Breuer as part of Marsden Hartley's Maine. Featuring approximately 90 paintings and drawings, the exhibition explores the evolution of Hartley's varied oeuvre through his depictions of his home state.

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Summer Reading List

Looking for summer reading suggestions? In every genre from fiction to memoir, poetry to graphic novels, immigrant writers are publishing exciting, award-winning works. Check out our recommended list of books by or about immigrants and first-generation Americans!

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Call for Applications: 2018 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise

The Vilcek Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2018 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise! The Creative Promise Prizes are awarded annually in biomedical science and in the arts and humanities; in 2018, the arts prize will recognize the field of architecture and building arts.

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Iman Issa: The question of art

“I believe that the experience of having settled here, and the distance it has afforded me from my past experiences,” says Egyptian-born artist Iman Issa, “is what motivates the very substance of my work.”

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Michaela Gack: An infectious excitement

“Nowadays, the younger generation doesn’t find research in an academic setting very attractive,” says German-born Michaela Gack, winner of a 2017 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise.

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Carlos Motta: The art of democracy

“There is a commonplace cliché that all art is political,” says Carlos Motta, winner of the 2017 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. “But I don’t really think so. I think art needs to be conceived of and thought about and shaped to actually engage with politics.”

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Ahmet Yildiz: Nature’s smallest machines

“The laws of physics cover everything from the entire universe to subatomic particles,” says Turkish-born Ahmet Yildiz, winner of the 2017 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise.

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Meleko Mokgosi: No time for epiphanies

Meleko Mokgosi, from Botswana, was in high school when he first realized painting’s potential for political commentary. The 2017 Creative Promise Prizewinner was then in his third year, at a time when students in his high school in Gaborone are required to select their future paths of study.

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Michael Halassa: From matter to imagination

“There’s creativity everywhere,” says Michael Halassa. “But I think it’s amplified in the U.S., because of the diversity, because of how different everybody is, because of all the different points of view.” Altogether, Michael believes, this array of voices creates a chaotic but vibrant milieu that gives rise to some of the most innovative research in the world.

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Nari Ward: The Empowerment of Place

Like many immigrants, Nari Ward has a particular fascination with place. The 2017 Vilcek Prizewinner in Fine Arts emigrated from Kingston, Jamaica, at the age of 12, and arrived at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

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Working on a puzzle: Lily and Yuh-Nung Jan

“What we have been doing all these years,” says Lily Jan, “it really is like working a puzzle.” The simile is an apt one; Lily, along with her partner and collaborator, Yuh-Nung Jan, have made several discoveries in the field of neuroscience, including insights into how neurons diverge.

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Introducing the 2017 Vilcek Prizewinners

The Vilcek Foundation is pleased to introduce the winners of the 2017 Vilcek Prizes for Fine Arts and Biomedical Science, awarded annually in recognition of outstanding immigrant contributions to American society.

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A Message from Jan and Marica Vilcek

We were dismayed to watch the heart-wrenching scenes unfolding at the airports in the United States and abroad, resulting from the Administration’s recent executive order.

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A Look Back at 2016

A Busy Year for Vilcek Prizewinners in Theatre: The honorees of the 2016 Vilcek Prizes for the Arts wasted no time demonstrating the impact immigrants have on American theatre.

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Grantee Spotlight: Journalist Mario Kaiser at the MacDowell Colony

Mario Kaiser got his first taste of journalism as a writer at his high school newspaper in his hometown of Rheydt, Germany. There, he experienced firsthand the consequences and challenges of journalism.

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Grantee Spotlight: NYFA’s Doctor’s Hours, now in Spanish

For 10 years, the New York Foundation for the Arts has been providing a wide array of resources for immigrant artists living and working in New York City, including mentoring programs, consultation sessions, an online directory of awards and grants, and a monthly newsletter featuring topics of interest to the community.

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Rick Kinsel accepts TCG award commending work promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion

On Monday, November 14, theatre artists and sponsors gathered in New York City’s Edison Ballroom for the Theatre Communications Group’s annual gala and fundraiser.

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Grantee Spotlight: At DC Doors, Providing Shelter Is Just the Beginning

DC Doors does more than offer support to immigrant Latino families and single women facing homelessness in Washington; as its mission statement declares, it provides “culturally competent and comprehensive support to move people from homelessness to permanent, stable and affordable housing.”

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When some of the world’s brightest minds meet for pasta

By their very nature, Vilcek Prize honorees come from all over the world: Since the inaugural Vilcek Prize ceremony in 2006, the foundation has recognized immigrants from more than 40 countries.

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Moving on up: The Vilcek Foundation announces several new positions

The Vilcek Foundation is pleased to announce that Rick Kinsel, our longtime executive director, has been promoted by the board of directors to the position of president. Rick has been with the Vilcek Foundation since its inception, and the promotion reflects his ongoing commitment to the organization and its expansion in scope.

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Grantee Spotlight: SuSu Studio combines on-trend fashion with timeless modesty

Born in the south of Somalia but raised, since the age of six, in Saint Paul, SuSu Mohamud considers Minnesota home. As a young, observant Muslim, however, she struggled to find clothes that expressed both these sides of her identity.

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Vilcek Foundation to Be Honored by Theatre Communications Group

The Vilcek Foundation will be honored at the Theatre Communications Group’s annual fall gala, for its efforts in promoting immigrant theatre-makers over the last year.

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"A Stray" brings an immigrant community to the big screen

Musa Syeed knows immigrant stories. A first-generation American himself, the filmmaker has written and directed several films based in immigrant communities around the U.S.

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Vilcek Foundation Lends Paintings to Georgia O’Keeffe Retrospective at Tate Modern

Three works from the Vilcek Foundation Art Collection are currently on display at the Tate Modern, London, as part of the recently opened exhibition Georgia O’Keeffe.

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Immigrant scientists lead the way in STEM

Last fall, we tracked the extent of foreign-born contributions to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields with our “Immigrant Nation, American Success” infographics series.

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Meet the 2017 Creative Promise Prize Applicants

Meet the applicants for the 2017 Creative Promise Prizes! An astounding 465 fine artists and biomedical researchers responded to our annual call, breaking a record for the number of applications submitted.

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Exhibition Spotlight: Mezcala Models at the Met

Two Mezcala architectural models from the Vilcek Foundation collection are currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition "Design for Eternity: Architectural Models from the Ancient Americas."

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Meet the Consultant: Curator Deborah Cullen

To shape the upcoming 2017 Vilcek Prizes for Fine Arts, we enlisted the help of curator Deborah Cullen. Drawing on her experience working with immigrant and emerging artists, Deborah helped us set the parameters for the prizes, and recommended jurors, specialists in the arts with expertise in various media and specialties.

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"Love and Science" at the New York Public Library

In celebration of New York City’s Immigrant Heritage Week, our president and co-founder Jan Vilcek read from his memoir, "Love and Science," at the Mid-Manhattan Library last week.

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Immigrant Achievements in Science and Theatre Celebrated at 2016 Vilcek Prize Ceremony

On April 5, leaders in scientific research and dramatic performance gathered at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City to honor the winners of the 2016 Vilcek Prizes. The awards, which have been given annually since 2006, recognize the contributions of immigrants in biomedical science and the arts, this year commending accomplishments in theatre.

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The Vilcek Prize: An Evolving Design of Typography and Innovation

The Vilcek Foundation believes that immigrant contributions are invaluable to advancing American arts, sciences, and culture. The Vilcek Prizes were created in 2006 to pay tribute to individuals whose accomplishments embody this belief.

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Dan Littman: A Pioneer in Immunology

Dan Littman has been an explorer since childhood. A prominent immunologist at NYU’s Skirball Institute and an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Dan was born in Bucharest when Romania was a part of the Soviet bloc.

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Sarah Benson: Cultural Dislocation in Theatre

As an immigrant from the United Kingdom, Sarah Benson understands cultural dislocation: “There wasn’t a language barrier,” she says, “but there was a completely different set of cultural assumptions.

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Roberta Capp: Humanizing Health Care

“Health care is a business, but people are not iPads,” says Roberta Capp, one of the 2016 winners of the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. “So how do you put that human aspect back into the health care business?”

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Desdemona Chiang: The Lost Generation

“A good friend of mine and I like to say—kind of jokingly, but kind of not—that there is a lost generation of Asian American artists between the ages of 30 and 45, because of social patterns, immigration patterns, because of a clash between old-world values and new-world values,” says Desdemona Chiang.

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Now Open: 2017 Creative Promise Prize Applications

The Vilcek Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2017 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise! For this cycle, prizes will be awarded in the fields of biomedical science and fine arts.

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Houra Merrikh: Conflicts and Collisions

“When you’re an immigrant, the problems you face are unusual ones, so you have to come up with creative solutions,” says Houra Merrikh, winner of a 2016 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. “That principle influences what I do.”

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Yi Zhao: Sculpting light itself

There’s a quote that lighting designer Yi Zhao is fond of: “99% of the audience does not notice lighting, but 100% of the audience is affected by it.”

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Fernando Camargo and the scientific currency

Fernando Camargo doesn’t believe in comfort zones. “Whenever I have people starting in my lab, I tell them that they need to think of new biological questions, as opposed to just pursuing what others have started,” he says.

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From Refugee to Philanthropist: Jan Vilcek Tells It All

Love and Science, a memoir by our president and co-founder Jan Vilcek, hits bookshelves today! Published by Seven Stories Press, Jan tells two intertwined stories: The first an illuminating tale of scientific discovery, and the second, a story of fate and daring that would lead to his immigration to America.

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Blanka Zizka: Danger, dissent, and theatre

When Blanka Zizka defected from Czechoslovakia, 21 years old and pregnant, she had no idea where she would end up—all she knew was that she would pursue her love of theatre.

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A Standing Ovation for the 2016 Vilcek Prizewinners

The Vilcek Prizes, presented annually to immigrants who have made outstanding contributions to their fields, are this year awarded in biomedical science and theatre.

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  • A Message from Jan and Marica Vilcek

    Our founders arrived as penniless refugees over fifty years ago, but with the kindness and opportunity they received in the United States, they went on to accomplish great things in biomedical science and art history. Read their statement on the recent executive order imposing a travel ban.