Professor of Sculpture Claire Lieberman and Professor of Communication Brent Simonds have been awarded Outstanding University Creative Activity Awards, and Assistant Professor Dan Ozminkowski has been honored with the Creative Activity Initiative Award. All will be honored at the Founders Day Convocation on February 21.
Lieberman is a sculptor and installation artist whose practice explores the relationship between play and violence in contemporary culture. She carves marble and sometimes combines it with unexpected materials such as Jell-O and video. Lieberman is represented by Massey Klein Gallery in New York, which published a hard-bound book on her work in 2018. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and Boston Museum School and has an MFA with distinction from Pratt Institute.
Her sculpture will be shown at Forum Schlossplatz in Aarau, Switzerland, in spring 2019. Lieberman has had solo shows at Massey Lyuben Gallery, New York City; Hot Wood Arts, Brooklyn, New York; THE LAB, New York City; Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta; Gebert Contemporary, Scottsdale, Arizona; Seoul Art Center, Korea; University of Alaska, Anchorage; Virginia Commonwealth University; and PDX Gallery, Portland. She is known also for her prints and toy guns in glass. Her group shows include: Line of Sight at mudac museum, Lausanne, Switzerland; Mein Lieber Schwan, ACC Galerie Weimar, Weimar, Germany; The Food Show: The Hungry Eye, Chelsea Art Museum, New York; I-Thou, Kimmel Galleries, New York University; and the International Print Center, New York.
Lieberman’s work has been written about in artcritical, Whitehot magazine, The Conversation Project NYC, Sculpture magazine, the New York Times, Art on Paper, Glass Quarterly, VIEWS magazine in Zurich, and art21 magazine. She has given interviews about her work with Yale University Radio and National Public Radio. A two-page image of her sculpture, Camouflage Jell-O, was included in Camouflage, a book published by the Imperial War Museum of London with Thames and Hudson.
She has received numerous awards including: The Arctic Circle, Territory of Svalbard; Seaside Institute, Florida; National Endowment for the Arts; Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris; Friche La Belle de Mai, Marseilles, France; Künstlerhaus, Salzburg, Austria; Yaddo; and MacDowell Colony.
Simonds began work at Illinois State as a non-tenure track faculty member in 1997. Upon earning his doctorate in 2003, he assumed a tenure-track position, earned tenure in 2009 and full professor in 2014.
Although he has also published more traditional scholarship, it is his more than 30 works of creative productivity that is celebrated with this award. From instructional CD-ROMs to experimental video stimuli, to his true stock in trade—the video documentary, the sheer volume is almost as impressive as the content.
His most recent documentary, “Sweet Dreams Do Come True,” shows off his skills as a scholar-documentarian. The work has seen six prestigious screenings and received the Award of Excellence in the highly competitive Festival of Media Arts sponsored by the Broadcast Education Association. The work was also the winner of the best feature documentary at the Red Dirt International Film Festival and took home the best music film award at the Franklin International Independent Film Festival. It was also nominated for best music documentary at the Bare Bones International Film and Music Festival.
Simonds gained vigorous Kickstarter support in order to properly license the music and images necessary for completion of this documentary about a legendary songwriter and performer, Verlon Thompson.
Dan Ozminkowski is a lighting designer whose associate and design credits cover more than 200 productions at spaces including LORT (League of Resident Theatres) venues, North American tours, dance, live events, and on Broadway. Ozminkowski received his bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts & Film at Purchase College and his master of fine arts degree from Parsons, The New School. His current collaborations include a new musical with lyrics by Tim Rice, From Here to Eternity. It recently launched its U.S. premiere and continues to gain national attention with an industry-only development workshop scheduled this January in New York City.
Other lighting designs for regional theatres across the country have included Smokey Joe’s Café (Arena Stage), Treasure Island, A New Musical (Arkansas Repertory Theatre), Let Me Down Easy (Wexner Center for the Arts, Philadelphia Theatre Company, San Diego Repertory Theatre, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre), and 16 musicals at the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival.
His designs for the dance troupe Spirit of Uganda have been presented at dozens of theatres from 2010 to 2014 across North America including the 2010 Winter Olympics. These connections have led to a pending collaboration on a new production in both Kenya and Uganda this coming summer. He has served as the associate/assistant designer for A Night With Janis Joplin (Broadway); Impressionism (Broadway); and Le Rêve (Wynn, Las Vegas). He is a member of United Scenic Artists USA Local 829 and has been nominated for a Barrymore PECO Award for Outstanding Lighting Design on an Anna Deavere Smith play titled Let Me Down Easy.