Arts Initiative announces 2023 Creative Careers Residents


The University of Michigan Arts Initiative has announced three master’s degree-level residents for its Creative Careers Residency, a transitional program providing support for full-time, self-directed creative practice in architecture, art and design, performing arts, intermedia arts or creative writing.

Upon graduation, many practitioners lose their networks of support necessary to develop significant work, posing a significant barrier to the transition from degree to sustained work. Maintaining a creative practice takes focus and time, and taking on a full-time job often leaves little of both.

The Creative Careers Residency seeks to reduce these barriers by providing the time, structure and funding support to transition from academia to post-graduate endeavors. Residents receive a $40,000 work stipend, health insurance and desk space, among other benefits.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Provide the necessary structure for academic disciplines to transition from “graduate student” to “creative professional.”
  • Set up U-M graduates of creative disciplines for success in a deep creative practice by providing a necessary support infrastructure.
  • Reduce barriers for artists to develop sustainable careers as artists by providing reliable income and health insurance.
  • Increase the presence and interactions of artists-in-residence across campus.

The Arts Initiative is leading the way in this kind of institutional support for graduates in the arts. The Creative Careers Residency enables student-artists to create a significant project that will bridge the gap to the next art-making opportunity.

The 2023-24 Creative Careers Residents are:

  • Caroline Harper New, a 2022 Master of Fine Arts graduate of LSA and fellow in the Helen Zell Writers Program. New is a poet and visual artist who works with narrative poetry, filmmaking, painting, sculpture and choreography.
  • Madeline Merwin, a 2023 Master of Music graduate of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Merwin is a contemporary classical music composer who works on multimedia collaborative projects.
  • Michelle Inez Hinojosa, a 2023 Master of Fine Arts graduate of the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. Hinojosa works with storytelling, fiber techniques, shaped paintings and immersive artworks.

“This is the first chance I’ll have to combine all three areas of study (anthropology, visual arts, and poetry) towards something I care about,” New said.

“I’m also thrilled to be able to mentor students who are in the position I once was: pursuing art alongside their own academic interests. It was so important to me to learn not only that artists exist in all fields, but that you can bring really valuable insight into art from studying other disciplines deeply.”

The residency support for these early-career artists models pathways toward the national-level engagement that the Arts Initiative supports. In addition to developing their proposed projects, the Creative Careers Residents will mentor students and offer a public opportunity to experience their work.

Project descriptions

Caroline Harper New

Her main goal is to complete a poetry book manuscript that integrates image and text. “Archives of Extinction” documents legends from the Georgia-Florida region of the United States in the form of poetry.

The goal of this project is to interrogate concepts of extinction — species, stories and love — in a way that highlights webs of dependency in this ecological region and contributes unheard local perspectives to the rhetoric on climate change. Her project also seeks to create a narrative installation where the public can engage with intersections of poetry and art experientially.

An experimental film, a collection of sculptures and a series of sketches will imagine new forms of life from remnants of destruction, inspired by the imagination of sea and swamp creatures.

Madeline Merwin

The culmination of her work will be a full-length symphonic ballet, incorporating artists in the music, dance and stage performance spheres where she can write and perform a full, large-scale interdisciplinary collaborative piece, working with many artists and creative connections through her master’s program.

Michelle Inez Hinojosa

She will install art interventions on windows in high-traffic areas around the U-M campus in order to bring joyful color into university buildings while also creating space and representation for Latinx students who can often feel “othered” in large, primarily white universities.

This sense of othering can be tied to language differences, immigration status, financial pressures and many other factors. These artworks will reference quilting and textiles from across Central and South America to bring a sense of warmth and home for Latinx students into spaces that can often feel unwelcome and stressful.


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