October 24, 2008           

AMHERST, Mass.—Ilán Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture and Five College 40th Anniversary Professor, has received a $600,000 grant from the U.S. State Department in support of an arts exchange program he will be directing for the Institute for Training and Development (ITD) in Amherst. The program seeks to bring together emerging Latin American and U.S. indigenous and Afro-Latino professional artists to address common issues facing them and to express their reactions to these issues through visual artistic media.

 “I hope to use this grant to expand on the channels of communication between the collective imaginations south and north the Rio Grande,” said Stavans. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity to build a bridge.”

In the first phase of the project, 21 U.S. and Latin American emerging visual artists will be selected with the help of partner organizations in the artists’ home countries. During this process, the project’s focus will be narrowed into specific themes with which the selected artist will be invited to engage as the project unfolds. The seven U.S.-based artists and 14 artists from Guatemala, Colombia, Bolivia and Ecuador will then begin several extended exchanges in the U.S. and Latin America to take part in an ongoing and complex debate about the nature of a multi-ethnic state and the preservation of the cultural traditions of minority nationalities within larger states. The project will culminate in a large-scale traveling exhibition and the publication of a book documenting the process, work and achievements of the 21 artists involved in the exchange.

Stavans is the author of two collections of short stories and 16 works of nonfiction, including Mr. Spic Goes to Washington, Resurrecting Hebrew, On Borrowed Words and The Hispanic Condition. His many awards and honors include an Emmy nomination, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Pablo Neruda Medal, the Latino Literature Prize, the Antonia Pantoja Award and Chile’s Presidential Medal. In September, he was the Brackenridge Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. After a decade of work, he has also recently finished editing The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature and is currently putting the finishing touches on the first volume of his biography of Gabriel García Márquez.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, a subsidiary of the U.S. State Department, supports a variety of cultural exchange programs through its Cultural Programs Division that further our nation’s foreign policy, foster America’s artistic excellence and promote mutual understanding and respect for other cultures and traditions. The Cultural Programs Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs carries out these exchanges based on the goals of the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961. The Division’s activities encompass programs in the visual arts, performing arts, film, arts education, arts management and cultural studies.