Professor Elizabeth LaPensée Wins 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship Award

Elizabeth LaPensée is among the 25 winners in the Fine Art group to win a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship Award. The winner is chosen through a highly competitive process that narrowed 3,000 applicants in Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Humanities and the Creative Arts down to 173 Fellowships. 

“Guggenheim Fellowships are very prestigious recognitions of individuals who have demonstrated exceptional ability in scholarship and or in the creative arts,” said Johannes Bauer, Media and Information Department Chair. “LaPensée is at an early stage of her career so this is a particularly impressive distinction.”

With the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation appointing Fellowships based off of prior achievement and exceptional promise, LaPensée rose among the rest due to award-winning contributions to Indigenous-led media. As an artist, writer and game designer, her work shares Indigenous stories and knowledge through interaction.

“I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to get work underway as a Guggenheim Fellow,” said LaPensée. “The Fellowship has encouraged me to experiment with merging virtual reality and 360 film with hope for expressing Indigenous scientific teachings.”

This Guggenheim Fellowship led LaPensée to propose a virtual reality game called “Along the River of Spacetime.” This spacetime traveling journey to care for the rivers combines real-life 360-degree video and audio with interaction and art from an Indigenous design lens.

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $360 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals. This significant support will help LaPensée’s work reach new heights.

“It’s quite a dream,” said LaPensée. “Support from the Fellowship allows me to focus on becoming established at MSU and living a balanced life in and around Nkwejong (Greater Lansing). I am excited to begin working on "Along the River of Spacetime" and immersing myself in researching, drawing, animating and coding.”

Elizabeth LaPensee holds a joint appointment in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the College of Arts and Letters.

By Sierra Richards