Blanton’s SoundSpace Curator Steven Parker Wins 2021 Rome Prize

by Christopher Blay July 27, 2020
Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Rome Prize winner Steven Parker

Rome Prize winner Steven Parker

The American Academy in Rome has announced the winners of the 2020–21 Rome Prize and Italian Fellowships. Among them is Steven Parker. The College of Liberal and Fine Arts lecturer at the University of Texas at San Antonio — and Founder, Curator, and Artistic Director of the SoundSpace program at the UT Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art — is one of 22 American and two Italian artists and scholars honored.

“In Rome, I will design a series of novel instruments and sound suits to be used in a new form of participatory opera,” Parker writes in an email to Glasstire. “Merging influence from the Italian Futurists, World War II surveillance tools, commedia dell’arte, and Marconi’s early radar experiments, I will create wearable listening devices, sonic headdresses, and intuitive graphic scores. In the end, these items will be used to create a ritual performance that employs audience members as operatic performers to examine the history of listening in conflict.”

Steven Parker's Listening Sculpture

Steven Parker’s Listening Sculpture

Parker is one of two Texas-based recipients on the list and like the others, will recieve a stipend, workspace, and room and board for a period of four to seven months at the Academy’s eleven-acre campus in Rome. Christy Q. Schirmer, PhD Candidate in the Department of Classics at UT Austin, has won the 2020-21 Rome Prize in the Ancient Studies category for her work on Exploiting Riverine Resources in the Roman Empire. Artist and MacArthur Fellow Mel Chin was one of two visual arts jurors for the prize (and is well-known to the Houston art scene).

Because of the impact COVID-19 has had globally, the 2020–21 residential Fellowship season will begin in January and end in August of 2021. “We look forward to welcoming Avinoam and some of the world’s brightest artists and scholars to the Academy in January,” states Mark Robbins, AAR President and CEO. “Avinoam’s expansive and global scholarship will bring an exciting aspect to the season’s programming, which will focus thematically on The City.”

Rome Prize honors are bestowed after juries of independent artists and scholars evaluate applicants through a national competition. The disciplines of Literature, Music Composition, Visual Arts, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Design, and Historic Preservation and Conservation, as well as Ancient Studies, Medieval Studies, Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, and Modern Italian Studies are considered.

For a full list of the 2020–21 Rome Prize winners and Italian Fellows, please go here. For more on the Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Rome Prize, please go here.

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