Island University Photography Faculty Member Is One of 168 Guggenheim Fellows for 2019

By Richard Guerrero | Published: April 17, 2019

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – It is a great honor to be recognized as a top-tier university, and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has done just that by providing students a high-quality education taught by world-class professors. Part of a diverse group of 168 scholars, artists, and writers, Assistant Professor of Art Jennifer Garza-Cuen has been awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship by the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Chosen on the basis of prior achievement, exceptional promise, and selected from a group of almost 3,000 applicants, Garza-Cuen is one of 12 Fellows in the Photography category under the umbrella of Creative Arts in the Foundation’s 95th annual competition.

“For my Guggenheim Fellowship, I intend to track the movement of my immigrant ancestors in images as a way of accessing the myth of assimilation,” Garza-Cuen said. “I intend to mingle archive photos, newspaper cuttings, letters, and other ephemera with contemporary images in order to create a narrative of multigenerational migration. My intention is to photograph the trajectory as well as the two American towns where each side of the family settled, namely, El Paso, Texas, and Juneau, Alaska.”

The Foundation offers Fellowships to further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions and irrespective of race, color, or creed, according to the Foundation’s website.

 “I am honored to be included amongst such an extraordinary group of artists and intellectuals,” Garza-Cuen said. “It is incredibly validating, and I just want to thank all of the individuals and institutions that have supported my work and made a moment like this in my career possible.”

The selection process is an especially rigorous one. Applicants are first pooled with others working in the same field and examined by experts in the field, all of whom are former Guggenheim Fellows. The recommendations made by the experts are then forwarded to a selection committee before a final list of recommendations is sent to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

The Fellowship program was established in 1925 by former U.S. Senator and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim, in memory of their eldest son, John Simon, who died in 1922 at the age of 17. The Foundation has since granted more than $360 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals over the years. The list of Guggenheim Fellows includes scores of Nobel Prize laureates, Fields Medalists, poets laureate, and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as Fellows who received other significant, internationally recognized honors, according to the Foundation. 

“These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best,” Foundation President Edward Hirsch says. “Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

A native of Seattle who studied photography and visual culture at the Rhode Island School of Design, Garza-Cuen joined the Island University’s Department of Art faculty in 2016. Most recently, Garza-Cuen completed a six-week residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Florida last fall. In addition, she has received fellowships to attend residencies at Light Work, Ucross, Oxbow, Brush Creek and the Vermont Studio Center. Visit Garza-Cuen's website to see some of her work.

Additional Information

In the wake of the Guggenheim Fellowship announcement, Garza-Cuen has also been interviewed by Texas Monthly, and it was recently announced that her photograph "Untitled - Ranch Hand, Buffalo, WY" won first prize at the 25th Annual Texas National, 2019. The Exhibition was curated by Michelle White (senior curator at the Menil Collection in Houston) and will be on display at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in Nacogdoches, Texas, from April 13 through June 9. In Corpus Christi, two of Garza-Cuen’s images -- "Untitled - Amtrak Waiting Room, Reno NV" (2016) and "Untitled - Man on White Horse, Buffalo, WY" (2017) -- will be on display as part of the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Department of Art faculty biennial exhibition, “Confluence,” which runs April 19 through Aug. 11 at the Art Museum of South Texas.