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Guggenheim Grants Fellowships to Three Richmond Artists

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Three thousand applicants from across the United States and Canada competed for the 175 Guggenheim Fellowships awarded this year. Three Richmonders — a composer, an artist and a filmmaker — made the cut.

The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation gives the awards annually to advanced professionals, defined as "those who as writers, scholars or scientists have a significant record of publication, or as artists, playwrights, filmmakers, photographers, composers or the like, who have a significant record of exhibition or performance of their work."

The grants that accompany the awards typically amount to about $30,000 and allow the recipients to work on projects in their fields unencumbered by other duties.

Ben Broening, an associate professor of music at the University of Richmond, says he'll use the grant to compose a 22-minute work for chamber orchestra and a 14-minute violin concerto. The pieces will complete a collection titled, "What the Light Was Like," the first selection of which he published in 2007.

Siemon Allen, a visiting adjunct professor in Virginia Commonwealth University's department of sculpture and extended media, will spend a year archiving South African music, much of which he says has been destroyed or forgotten during decades of political instability. A native of South Africa, Allen focuses on the visual elements of what he refers to as audio artifacts, documenting record labels and album covers. He incorporates the visuals in large-scale installations.

Sonali Gulati, an associate professor in VCU's photography and film department, is a filmmaker whose most recent film, "I Am," has won 12 awards internationally and is still being shown. Gulati grew up in New Delhi, India, and her latest work explores what it's like to come out as gay in her home country.

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