University of Oregon

College of Design

Two graduate art students awarded prestigious Singer Fellowship

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Master of Fine Arts students Lee Asahina and Chelsea Couch are this year’s recipients of the University of Oregon’s Georgianne Teller Singer Dean’s Graduate Fellowship. Due to the exceptional quality of both students’ applications, this year’s award recognizes two students for the first time. Both are in the Department of Art.

The Singer Fellowship recognizes outstanding research activities and creative work encompassing the systematic exploration of a body of knowledge.

Awardee Lee Asahina holds a BFA in studio art from Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah) and has worked as a curatorial assistant at the Utah Museum of Fine Art. In discussing her painting practice, she referenced literary theorist Roland Barthes’ notion that texts have the ability to locate the reader both as the site and the producer of meaning.

“When I begin a painting, I often start with colors or a basic structure in mind, but allow myself to continually respond to what I’ve already put on the canvas,” Asahina wrote. “Just like the extended arrangements, repeated musical phrases, and improvisatory attitudes of disco music extend the life and liveliness of a party, repetition of shapes and active engagement with my work as it unfolds enable me to manifest meaning in my paintings, opening up the possibility for a conversation between my work and the viewer.”

Untitled, 2016, by Lee Asahina
Above: Untitled, 2016, by Lee Asahina. Oil on canvas, 55" x 60" 

Chelsea Couch works with video, performance, and sculpture. She holds a BFA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in painting and drawing and studied art history at King’s College of London.

In a description of how she plans to reconcile working with her chosen media, Couch wrote, “I am attempting to expand my understanding of the body as an object, its relation to its subject(s), as well as their combined role in representation. I will continue to explore how my body can act as a body that is nonspecific yet relatable—outside the realm of language and yet identifiable.” She described how her considerations “of materiality … allow [her] the opportunity to invest images and objects with new meaning, approaching the self as a hybrid and fragmentary subject.”

The Singer Fellowship’s generous award supports the vision and potential of the students’ terminal projects toward the completion of their Master of Fine Arts degrees.

Attempts to Obliterate by Chelsea Couch
Above: Attempts to Obliterate, I, 2016, by Chelsea Couch. Digital video still.

Story by A&AA Communications