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Drake University professor awarded Guggenheim Fellowship


Phillip Chen, the Ellis and Nelle Levitt Distinguished Professor of Art and Design at Drake University, has been awarded a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.

Chen, who teaches courses in printmaking and drawing, is one of only 173 Guggenheim Fellows and the only Iowan to be honored in 2018; about 3,000 people applied for the prestigious honor. He’s only the second Drake faculty member in the history of the grant, given annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in New York.

Past recipients have included author James Baldwin and composer Aaron Copland, among Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. Nearly 3,000 people applied for the prestigious this year.

“My printmaking over these many years has been influenced importantly by inter-disciplinary studies,” Chen said. “As a Guggenheim Fellow, I am most deeply honored in being associated with not only highly accomplished visual artists, but writers, scholars, and scientists.”

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Phillip Chen is descended from generations of sojourners and immigrants who labored under the force of anti-Chinese and Chinese Exclusion Act culture in the United States—the son of a “paper son” and “war bride” challenged by processes of legalization and marginalization. In his ongoing series of prints, Phillip Chen activates the dismantling of categories and the multiplicity of vision, utilizing a range of visual languages by which to explicate and redress cultural-historical events while infusing personal and global perspectives.

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Chen has taught at Drake since 1996. He received his B.F.A. degree from University of Illinois at Chicago and M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Over a 40-year career he has received numerous awards and honors, including the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and the Pollack Krasner Grant. He currently is a nominee for the Queen Sonja Print Award, the largest international award given in the field of printmaking.

His prints have been exhibited in numerous locations nationally and internationally and are held in public collections that include the Brooklyn Museum, New York Public Library, Carnegie Institute Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Des Moines Art Center, and San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts. His work has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, and Iowa Arts Council.

Chen is only the second faculty member in Drake’s history to receive the Guggenheim Fellowship. The first was Richard Abel, a longtime professor in the Department of English (1970 to 2002), who received the award in 1993 in the field of film, video and radio studies.

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