University of Iowa

Grant Wood Public Art Residency

The 2019 Grant Wood Public Art Residency of the Office of Outreach and Engagement

University of Iowa students can apply for a new week-long, intensive residency program that will take place March 18-21, 2019. It will be an immersive exploration of public art theory and community engagement best practices. The residency is open to 12 students who, upon acceptance, will be eligible to enroll in the one credit hour course: ARTS:4200:0003.  Upon completion of the program, residents may be selected to continue to work with a community partner and receive a commission for a mural of their own design to make in that community. Residents may be paid up to $4,000 for each commission.

Residents will be selected through a competitive application process open to University of Iowa students.  The Office of Outreach and Engagement staff worked closely with CLAS and relevant departmental faculty to develop the 2019 Grant Wood Public Art Residency of the Office of Outreach and Engagement. 

When: March 18-22, 2019, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm each day 

Where: University of Iowa campus. Exact location TBD.

Applications for the 2019 Residency are due Friday, February 1, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.


Public Art Residency Application


Information Session

January 18, 9:00 a.m., E105 Visual Arts Building

If you are interested in applying, we encourage you to attend our information session to learn about the Institute and ask questions of a former graduate fellow. Office of Outreach and Engagement Directors Travis Kraus and Maura Pilcher will lead the session. If you have questions, contact Maura Pilcher.

About the Residency

Spurred by increased interest from communities across Iowa for public art projects, the Office of Outreach and Engagement and the Stanley Museum of Art developed the new Grant Wood Public Art Residency at the University of Iowa. Participants in the week-long, intensive residency are selected through a competitive application process open to University of Iowa undergraduate and graduate students. Those chosen will have demonstrated interest in and aptitude for creating art in public spaces and community engagement. Topics that will be covered during the residency include design, community engagement, urban and regional planning, engaged practice, materials, ownership, presentation skills, and more.


Thomas Agran, director of public art, Iowa City Downtown District; MFA Painting, Indiana University

Vero Rose Smith, associate curator, Stanley Museum of Art; MDesS Art, Design, and the Public Domain, Harvard, MA Art and Architectural History, University of Iowa


University of Iowa undergraduate and graduate students in any program and at any level of their studies are eligible to apply. The residency will cover theory and best practices surrounding public art. If you are an artist interested in working in communities, please consider the value of this aspect of the residency to your future aspirations.


As Public Art Residents, students will learn about innovative practices and techniques through a series of expert lecturers and instructors.  Concurrently, the students will apply their learning to the development of a public art engagement process and initial design alternatives.  The residency will focus on the following objectives:

  1. Learning the process of public art and community engagement
  2. Learning about proper technical aspects of mural installation
  3. Creating design alternatives for eight Cedar County murals   

Required Items

  1. An academic CV: This should be no longer than 2 pages and should include: 
    • Your projected date of graduation and your final degree

    • A list of academic accomplishments, including presentations, publications, exhibits, and teaching assignments

    • Your current contact information (mailing address, phone, and e-mail), academic department, and advisor’s name. Upload your CV as a pdf into the application. Be sure your name and email address appear at the top of the first page. 

    • Portfolio: If applicable, please provide a link to a website providing digital documentation of your recent work

  2. A confidential letter of support from your faculty advisor or faculty member: Graduate students are to provide a confidential letter of support from your faculty advisor, undergraduate students may select a faculty member. This should address: 
  • Your standing in your academic program
  • The value of the Public Art Residency to your present and future practice
  • Your potential for collaborative, community-engaged artwork. [For a definition of community engagement, see below.] Your faculty writer should email this letter directly to and include “Public Art Residency” in the subject line.

You may include an optional confidential letter that addresses your abilities or potential abilities to work as partner with a community organization or work experience with public engagement: This letter might come from a faculty member, a mentor, or a supervisor in a volunteer position. It can address any or all of the following:

  • Your potential to complete commissioned work
  • Your ability to work with a community partner

Please have this letter e-mailed directly to and include “Public Art Residency” in the subject line.


Carnegie defines Community Engagement as the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The University of Iowa is proud to have been selected to receive the 2015 Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It may prove useful to you and those writing letters on your behalf to consider the Carnegie Foundation’s definition of Community Engagement.

The definitions of public art and engaged practice will be explored during the course of the residency.

Other perks 

A delicious lunch will be provided each day of the residency.


Annually, the Provost’s Office of Outreach and Engagement receives more requests for public visual art in Iowa communities than the current University resources can provide. In 1934, Grant Wood was appointed head of the Public Works of Art Project for Iowa. This appointment led to Wood’s eventual hiring as an associate professor in the art department at the University of Iowa.  This residency will honor Grant Wood’s career in public art, provide tangible benefit to communities across Iowa, and create opportunities for the next generation of artists.


The Office of Outreach and Engagement has worked with several communities to develop vision plans. Often, these plans lay out several opportunities to enhance the area, including the arts. Many communities have decided to enact these recommendations. The Office works with them to match them with student artists.


During the residency, students will work closely with residents and leaders to identify sites and finalize mural designs, so that the murals will reflect each community’s unique character. At the conclusion of the residency, students may be selected to complete the project by physically painting a mural in one of the partner communities.