The University of Iowa

Grant Wood Art Colony

Grant Wood Fellow Tameka Norris and Anaïs Duplan at the Grant Wood Fellows Exhibition 2016-17 at C.S.P.S. Hall, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The Grant Wood Art Colony celebrates the life and legacy of Iowa’s most famous artist, Grant Wood. After painting one of the most recognizable images in the world, American Gothic, Wood joined the University of Iowa faculty. Each year, the Colony provides three Fellowships in Painting, Printmaking, and Interdisciplinary Performance. Fellows teach courses, engage Iowans, and pursue their artistic endeavors. The Colony also hosts a biennial symposium and provides outreach to perpetuate Wood’s legacy as an artist and advocate of contemporary art.

During the 2016-17 academic year, the Colony hosted three talented fellows: Colin Lyons (printmaking), Tameka J. Norris (painting & drawing), and Christopher-Rasheem McMillan (Dance). Each artist brought their unique talents, skills, and interests to Iowa and used them to pursue their goals. Their practices led them to address environmental sustainability, the policing of minority communities, and underserved youth.

Grant Wood Fellow Tameka Norris and Anaïs Duplan at the Grant Wood Fellows Exhibition 2016-17 at C.S.P.S. Hall, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


Colin Lyons’s Contingency Plan is a site-specific, public monument which will be installed in 2018 at Site 1 (Mount Trashmore) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He designed this installation to integrate with the site's proposed rehabilitation projects, while shedding light on both the complex history of this location and the prospect of geo-engineering on the horizon. This project will present an archaeology of the site, mining its history as Snouffer Quarry, Stumptown, and Mount Trashmore. Lyons accepted a printmaking faculty appointment at SUNY Binghampton after leaving the Grant Wood Fellowship. 

In coordination with Arts Share, Tameka J. Norris help lead an initiative at The Dream Center of Iowa City, which works to empower underserved youth. She guided students in the development of “The Black History Living Museum: A Moment in Time Part II.”  During the Living Museum, Dream Center students were "on exhibit" enacting over 20 biographies of African American fore-bearers. Her peers recognized Norris’s contributions to campus, and after a national search, the university hired her to be an assistant professor in painting & drawing. 

Grant Wood Art Colony engages with communities

The photograph, left, depicts a panel discussion following a performance of Black Lōkəs at the African American Museum of Iowa.

Christopher-Rasheem McMillan used dance and movement to reflect on race relations in America. Starting with the death of Emmett Till and culminating with the Black Lives Matter movement, McMillan re-imagined Trisha Brown’s 1975 work Locus to address African Americans’ interactions with law enforcement in his piece, Black Lōkəs. McMillan’s performance of Black Lōkəs at the African American Museum of Iowa was followed by a panel addressed the topic of policing in black communities. The panel included representatives from the CRPD, the NAACP, and UI student body. McMillan received a joint appointment in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and Dance at the university.

The Grant Wood Art Colony welcomed Grant Wood scholars and enthusiasts from across the country to the 5th Biennial Grant Wood Symposium in October. Six art historians presented original research on the theme, Myth, Memories, and the Midwest: Grant Wood and Beyond. The 2016 symposium culminated with the Iowa City premiere of 1142: Beyond the Bricks, a documentary about Grant Wood’s home while he was on the University of Iowa faculty.

Grant Wood Symposium
Erika Doss, right, University of Notre Dame, provides the keynote address at the 2016 Grant Wood Symposium.

Watch the presentations.

2016 marked 125 years since Grant Wood’s birth. To honor this occasion, the Colony introduced a Friends of Grant Wood campaign to enhance the program in several meaningful ways. The campaign produced $3,405 during the symposium, which will go towards broadening the Fellowship offerings, providing scholarship for young artists, and supporting new research on Grant Wood.