February 24, 2023

Artistic Research Initiative

Sponsored by the Mellon Foundation, the Artistic Research Initiative (ARI) Fellows Program will bring together artists, curators, scholars, and activists to expand on their own work and also collaborate through the lab’s multi-year signature projects. Fellows will be offered a unique opportunity to address challenging topics, jump-start experiments, manufacture prototypes, and create social and performative models that can then be applied to both public and professional spheres.


ARI Instructors and Fellows


ARI Guest Presenters and Collaborators


ARI Events

Art in the Age of Algorithm: Mingyong Cheng’s Exploration of AI Art & Beyond (3/25/2024)

This artist talk will embark on a journey through Mingyong Cheng’s artistic evolution, starting with her early experimental artworks at Duke University, such as “Under Virus” (2020) and “Water or More” (2021). These initial projects laid the groundwork for her shift towards new media art, marking the beginning of her exploration into the boundless possibilities of generative AI. The presentation will spotlight Mingyong’s foray into AI-driven creativity, showcasing a series of her pivotal works, including “Fluffy Fantasy” (2022), the “Fusion: Landscape and Beyond” series (V1-V3, 2022-2024), “Beyond Characters” (2024) ” and ongoing project “Domy Reviere” (2023-). These pieces not only illustrate her active involvement in AI art but also hint at the direction of her upcoming research in this field during her Ph.D. The talk will conclude by highlighting Mingyong’s latest collaborative efforts that span various disciplines, illustrating the innovative ways new media visual art can intertwine with music, audio, and performance art, thereby pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.

Mexico City Social Practice Lab (LPS_Mx) co-presents INSTAR Cuban Film Festival (12/5/2023-12/7/2023)

Interwoven Bodies: The Art of Assembly XXV (9/19/2023)

The Art of Assembly is a nomadic series of talks and conversations exploring the potential of assembly in activism, art, and politics. This 25th edition of The Art of Assembly takes place in the context of Michael Kliën’s “Parliament,” a social choreography in which citizen-performers work in silence to hold council amidst the elemental phenomena and fundamental concerns of collectively-lived experience.

Meet the Artist with Mavis Gragg (6/29/2023)

Meet artist Jim Lee. “upstART Gallery” is a 1:12 scale miniature space created by Jim Lee. The show features 27 artists who were selected through an open call process. Free and open to the public.

Slow Art Tour with Gail Belvett for upstART Gallery: A Jim Lee Project (6/22/2023)

Join a Slow Art Tour for “upstART Gallery: A Jim Lee Project.” A slow art tour presents a philosophical and literal alternative to the way visitors have traditionally consumed art. The tour challenges the notion that one needs to ‘know’ about art to appreciate it. A group of people gather to slowly savor a single object, looking closely while engaging multiple senses. Facilitated by Gail Belvett.

Art Supply Giveaway by DurmPAC (6/4/2023)

Art Supply Giveaway by DurmPAC will take place at “upstART Gallery: A Jim Lee Exhibit” on view at Pop Box Gallery, from 4-6pm.

Opening Reception for upstART Gallery: A Jim Lee Exhibit (6/3/2023)

“upstART Gallery: A Jim Lee Exhibit” is a 1:12 scale miniature space created by Jim Lee. The show features 27 artists who were selected through an open call process. Exhibit runs 6/2/2023 – 7/1/2023.

Meet the Artist with Mavis Gragg (5/27/2023)

Meet photographer and curator of “In Ecstasy, I Call Your Name So I Won’t Forget,” Kennedi Carter.

Closing Reception for In Ecstasy, I Call Your Name So I Won’t Forget by Kennedi Carter (5/26/2023)

“In Ecstasy, I Call Your Name So I Won’t Forget” is an archival exhibition curated by Kennedi Carter that examines the legacy of Black women in pin up.

Slow Art Tour with Gail Belvett for In Ecstasy, I Call Your Name So I Won’t Forget by Kennedi Carter (5/25/2023)

Join a Slow Art Tour with Gail Belvett for “In Ecstasy, I Call Your Name So I Won’t Forget.” A slow art tour presents a philosophical and literal alternative to the way visitors have traditionally consumed art. The tour challenges the notion that one needs to ‘know’ about art to appreciate it.

Screening of La Principessa Nuda (1978) (5/21/2023)

Ajita Wilson plays an African diplomat who comes to Milan to head a trade delegation. At the delegation she feels haunted by her past in which she appeared in a pornographic magazine. In a series of psychedelic scenes, we learn the sordid secrets of her racy past. The film screening is part of “In Ecstasy – Micro Cinema,” a cinematic salon exploring Black erotica and Black femme sexual performance on screen. Organized by Kennedi Carter and Marcella Camara, “In Ecstasy – Micro Cinema” provides a moving archive surrounding Black eroticism, and a space for both entertainment and conversation surrounding these topics.

Opening Reception for In Ecstasy, I Call Your Name So I Won’t Forget by Kennedi Carter + Screening of Shakedown (2018) (5/20/2023)

“In Ecstasy, I Call Your Name So I Won’t Forget” is an archival exhibition curated by Kennedi Carter that examines the legacy of Black women in pin up. Opening reception is followed by a film screening of “Shakedown” (2018). From 2002 to 2015, filmmaker Leilah Weinraub documents explicit performances in an underground lesbian club in Los Angeles. The film screening is part of “In Ecstasy – Micro Cinema,” a cinematic salon exploring Black erotica and Black femme sexual performance on screen. Organized by Kennedi Carter and Marcella Camara, “In Ecstasy – Micro Cinema” provides a moving archive surrounding Black eroticism, and a space for both entertainment and conversation surrounding these topics.

Screening of Girl 6 (1996) (5/19/2023)

A struggling actress in New York City takes a job as a phone sex operator. The film screening is part of “In Ecstasy – Micro Cinema,” a cinematic salon exploring Black erotica and Black femme sexual performance on screen. Organized by Kennedi Carter and Marcella Camara, “In Ecstasy – Micro Cinema” provides a moving archive surrounding Black eroticism, and a space for both entertainment and conversation surrounding these topics.

Slow art tour for We [don’t] Care (5/6/2023)

Join a Slow Art Tour with Gail Belvett of We [don’t] Care: reclaiming our environment. A slow art tour presents a philosophical and literal alternative to the way visitors have traditionally consumed art. The tour challenges the notion that one needs to ‘know’ about art to appreciate it.

Meet the artists of We [don’t] Care (4/27/2023)

“Meet the Artist” is a conversation series hosted by Pop Box Gallery cofounder, Mavis Gragg. Mavis sits down with an artist or arts professional to discuss their work, providing practical tips for collecting art. In this special edition of the series, Mavis will lead a panel discussion with some of the featured artists in our current exhibit, We [don’t] Care: reclaiming our environment.

Opening Reception for We [don’t] Care (4/22/2023)

In partnership with Pop Box Gallery and Duke’s Artistic Research Initiative, celebrate the opening of We [don’t] Care: reclaiming our environment, curated by Gail Belvett on Earth Day. Free and open to the public.

Community Closet (4/19/2023 and 4/20/2023)

Community Closet is a celebration of fashion, a form of power and tool of resistance for Black people, created and produced by ARI Fellow Sydney Reede. The Community Closet event includes an exhibit and reception, and a fashion show featuring Black-owned brands and Black student models.

Conversation with Lyla Halsted (3/29/2023)

Lyla Halsted, Ph.D., is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University. She specializes in medieval Islamic art and architecture, with a particular interest in material culture. Her research explores material culture as a nexus between practices of healing and protection rooted in magical and medical traditions, and their transformations from late antiquity to the fourteenth century. These themes are examined in her 2022 dissertation, “Seeking Refuge from the Envious: The Material Culture of the Evil Eye from Late Antiquity to Islam.”

Conversation with Nzinga Simmons (3/22/2023)

Nzinga Simmons is an emerging curator and art history scholar based in Durham, North Carolina. She earned a B.A. in Art History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently a third-year doctoral student in Art History & Visual Culture at Duke University. Her research focuses on contemporary Black artists working within the realm of new media ­– that is, making use of the internet, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), artificial intelligence (AI), and other forms of digital technologies in their artistic practice. In her research, she considers how these artists refuse the assumed neutrality of technology and conceptualize the digital realm as a context uniquely primed for the assertion of black futurity. Through her critical art writing and curatorial practice, Simmons aims to highlight the vast and significant contributions of underrepresented artists to the canon of American art.

Conversation with Leonid Tsvetkov (2/22/2023)

Leonid Tsvetkov is an Amsterdam based Russian-American artist best known for his site-specific installations, manufactured spaces, and research into residues, history, and the nature of change. His work investigates the frailty of physical, social, and conceptual boundaries, calling attention to the impermanence of landscapes, borders, and memory. A process-based artist, he employs archaeological deposits, consumer waste, electro-chemical reactions, social en- counters, and material interventions to create objects and landscapes designed to link place and memory, monument and event.

Conversation with Sherrill Roland (2/15/2023)

Sherrill Roland’s interdisciplinary practice deals with concepts of innocence, identity, and community; reimagining their social and political implications in the context of the American criminal justice system. For more than three years, Roland’s right to self-determination was lost to a wrongful incarceration. After spending ten months in prison for a crime he was later exonerated for, he returned to his artistic practice, which he now uses as a vehicle for self-reflection and an outlet for emotional release. Converting the haunting nuances of his experiences into drawings, sculptures, multimedia objects, performances, and participatory activities, Roland shares his story and creates space for others to do the same, illuminating the invisible costs, damages, and burdens of incarceration.