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Grantee Spotlight: MacDowell Fellow Chin Chih Yang Mixes Cultures and Disciplines

Chin Chih Yang, the recipient of the 2017 Vilcek Foundation Fellowship at the MacDowell Colony, was making art before he even knew what art was. “When I was a child, I would take materials, like nails and stones, and put them together to make an object,” he says. “I didn’t know that was art.”

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Found in Translation: Jan Vilcek Speaks with Czech Journalist Emma Smetana

In this wide-ranging conversation with Czech DVTV journalist and actress Emma Smetana, Jan Vilcek speaks about growing up during World War II, his accomplished scientific career, the experience of immigrating to America, and much more.

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Happy birthday, America!

In celebration of July 4th, our friends at the Carnegie Corporation are launching their annual Great Immigrants campaign, honoring the foreign-born, naturalized citizens who “enrich the fabric of American culture and strengthen our democracy through their lives, their work, and their example.”

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Grantee Spotlight: Soho Rep Studio presents world premiere of “Fairview”

Fairview, the latest play by Jackie Sibblies Drury, officially opened at the Soho Repertory Theatre in New York City this past Sunday. The play begins as the Frasier family prepares for Grandma’s big birthday dinner, but soon outside forces start to upend their best-laid plans.

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Grantee Spotlight: "Maineland" sees America through eyes of Chinese teens

Filmmaker Miao Wang explores the fast-growing phenomenon of Chinese students attending American schools in her new documentary, Maineland. Filmed over three years, Maineland follows two Chinese students—Henry, a quiet, introspective gamer, and Stella, an outgoing cheerleader—through their high school education at Fryeberg Academy, a private boarding school in rural Maine.

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Jan Vilcek Receives Honoris Causa to Celebrate!

Jan Vilcek, our co-founder and CEO, returned to the city of Prague this week to receive the title of doctor of medical sciences, honoris causa, from Charles University in recognition of his lifelong scientific achievements.

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A Busy May for Social Practice Queens

Even though the school year is coming to an end, Social Practice Queens isn't slowing down its efforts to share socially engaged art. In the next month, the collaborative graduate program (run by Queens College in partnership with the Queens Museum) will showcase MFA students' art at its annual group exhibition, release a textbook on social practice, and share two students' work at a major conference.

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Immigrant Innovators Honored at 2018 Vilcek Prize Ceremony

On Thursday, April 5, notables from the architecture and biomedical science communities gathered at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to their fields at an awards ceremony for the 2018 Vilcek Prizes.

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Jing Liu: The Generosity of Architecture

“My intention is to use architecture as a means to communicate and to create discourse on our collective values, whether on an intimate, domestic scale or a larger, cultural scale,” says Creative Promise Prizewinner Jing Liu.

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Feng Zhang: From ESL to Revolution

Credited with the development of transformative technologies such as CRISPR, the revolutionary genome editing tool, Feng Zhang’s resume is littered with the names of biomedical science’s top honors: He is the recipient of the Gairdner Award, the Albany Medical Center Prize, the Lemelson-MIT Prize, and the Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists, to name just a few. Despite this proliferation, however, the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise holds a special place in Feng’s heart. “This prize is a recognition of all the Americans who welcomed an immigrant into their society with open arms,” he says.

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James Leng: Architectural Afterlives

“For our generation of designers, the notion of having a blank slate to design from is largely a myth,” says Creative Promise Prizewinner James Leng. “The reality is that there’s a great deal of existing building fabric that’s out there already. Things like preservation, resilience, renewal—these are instead the strategies that we have to work with.”

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Sergiu P. Pasca: Reaching for the Inaccessible

“This prize is a recognition that it is possible to do exciting research in the U.S.,” says Creative Promise Prizewinner Sergiu P. Pasca, “even if you start [somewhere] far away.”

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Now open: 2019 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise

Applications are now open for the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise! Awarded annually, the 2019 Creative Promise Prizes will be bestowed in the fields of biomedical science and culinary arts.

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Mona Ghandi: Between Dreams and Reality

Creative Promise Prizewinner Mona Ghandi can pinpoint the origins of her interest in architecture to one fateful flight delay during a family vacation. Unexpectedly stuck in the city of Yazd, a little over 300 miles away from their home city of Tehran, the family took the opportunity to explore.

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Polina Anikeeva: Born to be Wild

“What attracts me to the brain is its incredible complexity and beauty,” says Creative Promise Prizewinner Polina Anikeeva.

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Teddy Cruz: A Tale of Two Cities

When Vilcek Prizewinner Teddy Cruz first emigrated from Guatemala, he had no idea that San Diego was a border town. He did not speak English, and his relatives had warned him that going downtown would be risky and dangerous.

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Alexander Rudensky: A Life of Chance and Discovery

A scientific career as storied as Vilcek Prizewinner Alexander Rudensky’s requires discipline, dedication, and unwavering intellectual rigor. And yet, Sasha—as he’s known to his friends and close colleagues—maintains that his life and career has been largely shaped by random twists of fate and history.

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Meet the 2018 Vilcek Prizewinners!

The Vilcek Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Vilcek Prizes, this year awarded in biomedical science and architecture.

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A Look Back at 2017

From amazing scientific recognitions to renowned art exhibitions, Vilcek Prizewinners held the spotlight last year. Take a look back at our favorite moments of 2017.

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Social Practice Queens Brings Art to the People

A burgeoning program hosted by Queens College and the Queens Museum is embracing the potential of mixing art and activism. Launched in 2012 by professors Gregory Sholette and Maureen Conner, Social Practice Queens is one of the country's first programs to offer an MFA and advanced certificate in the artistic medium of social practice.

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A Message about DACA from Jan and Marica Vilcek

We were greatly dismayed to learn about the government’s recently announced intention to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

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Nari Ward Follows Vilcek Prize Win with Three Solo Shows

Nari Ward is having a busy summer, or at least his art handlers are. The 2017 Vilcek Prizewinner currently has three solo exhibitions on view: two in New York and one in Boston.

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José Andrés and the New American Dream

Chef José Andrés has long been a champion for immigrants and refugees, through every forum available to him—he has been an outspoken critic of nativist policies, he has embraced American multiculturalism through the 28 diverse restaurants he owns, and he has even dropped bars on Smule advocating for immigration reform.

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On Loan: Four Pieces on View at the Met Breuer’s “Marsden Hartley’s Maine”

Four pieces from the Vilcek Foundation American Modernism Collection are currently on view at the Met Breuer as part of Marsden Hartley's Maine. Featuring approximately 90 paintings and drawings, the exhibition explores the evolution of Hartley's varied oeuvre through his depictions of his home state.

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Summer Reading List

Looking for summer reading suggestions? In every genre from fiction to memoir, poetry to graphic novels, immigrant writers are publishing exciting, award-winning works. Check out our recommended list of books by or about immigrants and first-generation Americans!

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Call for Applications: 2018 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise

The Vilcek Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2018 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise! The Creative Promise Prizes are awarded annually in biomedical science and in the arts and humanities; in 2018, the arts prize will recognize the field of architecture and building arts.

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Iman Issa: The question of art

“I believe that the experience of having settled here, and the distance it has afforded me from my past experiences,” says Egyptian-born artist Iman Issa, “is what motivates the very substance of my work.”

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Michaela Gack: An infectious excitement

“Nowadays, the younger generation doesn’t find research in an academic setting very attractive,” says German-born Michaela Gack, winner of a 2017 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise.

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Carlos Motta: The art of democracy

“There is a commonplace cliché that all art is political,” says Carlos Motta, winner of the 2017 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise. “But I don’t really think so. I think art needs to be conceived of and thought about and shaped to actually engage with politics.”

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Ahmet Yildiz: Nature’s smallest machines

“The laws of physics cover everything from the entire universe to subatomic particles,” says Turkish-born Ahmet Yildiz, winner of the 2017 Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise.

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Meleko Mokgosi: No time for epiphanies

Meleko Mokgosi, from Botswana, was in high school when he first realized painting’s potential for political commentary. The 2017 Creative Promise Prizewinner was then in his third year, at a time when students in his high school in Gaborone are required to select their future paths of study.

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Michael Halassa: From matter to imagination

“There’s creativity everywhere,” says Michael Halassa. “But I think it’s amplified in the U.S., because of the diversity, because of how different everybody is, because of all the different points of view.” Altogether, Michael believes, this array of voices creates a chaotic but vibrant milieu that gives rise to some of the most innovative research in the world.

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Nari Ward: The Empowerment of Place

Like many immigrants, Nari Ward has a particular fascination with place. The 2017 Vilcek Prizewinner in Fine Arts emigrated from Kingston, Jamaica, at the age of 12, and arrived at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

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Working on a puzzle: Lily and Yuh-Nung Jan

“What we have been doing all these years,” says Lily Jan, “it really is like working a puzzle.” The simile is an apt one; Lily, along with her partner and collaborator, Yuh-Nung Jan, have made several discoveries in the field of neuroscience, including insights into how neurons diverge.

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Introducing the 2017 Vilcek Prizewinners

The Vilcek Foundation is pleased to introduce the winners of the 2017 Vilcek Prizes for Fine Arts and Biomedical Science, awarded annually in recognition of outstanding immigrant contributions to American society.

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A Message from Jan and Marica Vilcek

We were dismayed to watch the heart-wrenching scenes unfolding at the airports in the United States and abroad, resulting from the Administration’s recent executive order.

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  • Announcing the 2018 Vilcek Prizewinners

    Congratulations to the remarkable biomedical scientists and professionals in the architecture field who have been awarded the 2018 Vilcek Prizes. Learn more about their incredible accomplishments:


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  • In Support of DACA

    2017 was a tumultuous year for immigration policy in the United States, with several controversial restrictions issued by the new administration. As former refugees and green card holders, our founders Jan and Marica Vilcek share their thoughts on these policies.