STANFORD ARTS | 2019-2020

In April 2020, Vice President for the Arts Harry Elam delivered his final presentation to the Stanford Faculty Senate before assuming the presidency of Occidental College. He said that the arts had informed his work, his scholarship and life at Stanford and that in his various roles he sought to make the arts “inescapable” for students. 

In a year shaped by a global pandemic, the arts were also essential. Acknowledging the disruptive impact of COVID-19, which sent students, faculty and staff home before the end of winter quarter, Elam stated, “Clearly, the arts are only the more poignant, relevant and needed when we are sheltering-in-place, whether it is Italians singing from their balconies, or people logging into the Stanford art sites Museums from Home or The Show Must Go Online.

And 2019-20 wasn’t just the year of COVID. Throughout the entire academic year, artists working and studying on campus rose to respond to issues of the day and made art an integral component of local and global dialogues. Exhibitions and performances flourished across in-person and virtual environments. New arts leaders emerged through appointment and application and the face of the campus changed to reflect progress. In a year of dramatic moments, movements and crises, the arts community worked to remain vocal and connected.

Experience an extraordinary year of Stanford Arts.


Political and social issues. Advancing technology. Healthcare and health crisis. 2019-20 was a year of local and global moments and movements and the Stanford arts community responded with creativity and courage.

PICTURED: Inspired by the founding of the Stanford Committee on Black Performing Arts (CBPA), which marked its 50th anniversary in 2019, the multi-media and multi-site experience REVIVAL: Millennial reMembering in the Afro NOW explored the people and events that have catalyzed movements for social change through time. The production by Amara Tabor-Smith, Stanford Institute for Diversity in the Arts artist-in-residence, was an Afrofuturist, site-specific dance theater work co-produced by the Department of Theater and Performance Studies, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, BLACKstage and Stanford Arts Intensive and was performed to sold-out audiences in November 2019.

View the photo gallery and watch videos about the production.


Arts + Justice

The Arts + Justice program, led by the Stanford Arts Institute, partnered with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Department of Theater and Performance Studies to bring artists and scholars to the campus community to reimagine the art of social justice. In winter quarter, SAI cosponsored the Prison Renaissance Project’s exhibition of artwork created through collaborations between Stanford students and faculty and incarcerated artists, including the zine Incarceratedly Yours.”

Read more about the program.


Detention at the Border of Language

In October 2019, Stanford’s Coulter Art Gallery hosted a survey of Professor Enrique Chagoya’s paintings, drawings and prints titled Detention at the Border of Language. The survey spanned two decades of his career and it included five never before seen works that were finished in 2019. Through his work, Chagoya explored issues of ethnicity, immigration and borders using satire and humor to “open the doors to thought-provoking situations we all experience.” Creating art, he says, helps him exorcise anxieties and think about positive changes. The Coulter Art Gallery is managed by the Department of Art and Art History and is located in the McMurtry Building in Stanford’s arts district.

Watch a video of Enrique Chagoya talking about the exhibition.


The Manic Monologues

Geology PhD student Zack Burton’s graduate career was derailed after a series of delusions led him to the top of a campus parking garage, where he seriously considered hurting himself. The crisis, which sent him to the emergency department and into therapy, forced him to delay his academic and professional pursuits. It also tested his personal relationships, most notably with his girlfriend, Elisa Hofmeister, ’18. Perhaps the greatest challenge for Burton was his eventual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and having to come to terms with the shame and stigma associated with mental illness. But on his road to recovery and acceptance, Burton found an unlikely outlet to address his mental health struggles. With Hofmeister, he produced The Manic Monologues, a stage play featuring a series of true stories about mental illness. After a premiere at Stanford in May 2019, the play was performed to sold out audiences in Des Moines, Idaho, in November 2019 and at University of California, Los Angeles in February 2020.

Read more about the creators and the production.


COVID-19 Creative Community Response Grant

The COVID-19 Creative Community Response Grant, administered by the Office of the Vice President for the Arts, provided funding for projects that steward the power of art toward community connection in uncertain times. The grant program ran during the spring quarter of 2020 and 46 grants were issued to support student and campus organization projects. The range of creative projects included mask-making kits, storytelling podcasts, music ensembles performing via Zoom and visual arts displays.  One grantee, Sonia Garcia, a master’s student in design impact and a Knight-Hennessy Scholar, offered live and pre-recorded painting workshops to help forge connections in a time of ongoing uncertainty.

Read more about the grantee projects.


Creative Agency in the Pandemic World

Artists have faced constraints that affected their ability to practice their craft throughout history. The limitations artists face due to COVID-19—from a lack of access to concert halls and theaters to the inability to collaborate freely with others in person—are not necessarily new. Yet they also pose an opportunity for creative growth, according to music professor Mark Applebaum, who came back early from sabbatical to teach the spring course Creative Agency in the Pandemic World. Applebaum, the Leland and Edith Smith Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, wanted to help a wide range of artists figure out how to create in this environment.

Read more about the course and hear Applebaum talk about Pandemic Art.


Stephanie Dinkins: HAI resident artist

Stanford’s new Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), an interdisciplinary, global hub for artificial intelligence thinkers, learners, researchers, developers, builders and users, co-hosted its first HAI resident artist, Stephanie Dinkins, in fall 2019. The residency was a collaboration with Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Lab Programs, and co-hosts on campus were the Office of the Vice President for the Arts and the Stanford Humanities Center. Dinkins was on campus developing her project Not the Only One, a multigenerational memoir of one black American family told from the “mind” of an artificial intelligence entity with an evolving intellect.

Watch a video of  Stephanie Dinkins talking about her project and residency.


Talisman performs "Amazing Grace"

Although members of Talisman were home during spring quarter, that didn’t stop the student a cappella group from coming together in April 2020 for a special performance of “Amazing Grace.” In one of the first digital arts offerings after the shelter-in-place order, members individually recorded their parts, which were then pieced together to form a cohesive ensemble.

Watch the video performance.


Stanford Office of the Vice President for the Arts stands in solidarity with Black students, colleagues, artists and activists fighting against racial violence, inequality and systemic injustice. We believe that the arts can strengthen our capacity for empathy and action and usher in the kinds of transformation the world needs. We work to create environments in which artists thrive, and we work to amplify their voices and visions. And yet we also acknowledge the ways in which we fall short. To truly steward the power of the arts toward equity and justice, we must advance our commitment to enacting anti-racist practices and transform the organizational structures that we operate within.

Read the full statement.


Before the world changed due to the pandemic, thousands of on- and off-campus visitors viewed exhibitions at the Stanford art museums and galleries and attended theatrical and musical performances in a variety of campus venues. The pivot to presenting and performing on screen in the spring was swift and the hope is that in-person art experiences will resume in 2021.

PICTURED: Using over 700 items from the Stanford Family Collections, artist Mark Dion’s installation The Melancholy Museum: Love, Death, and Mourning at Stanford at the Cantor Arts Center explores how Leland Stanford Jr.’s death at age 15 led to the creation of a museum, university, and – by extension – the entire Silicon Valley. Launched in September 2019, two rooms are now filled with beautiful, startling and quirky objects that are grouped together to highlight the Stanford family’s story. Much of the exhibition material can be explored online, but visitors will be able to reflect and make their own connections when the museum reopens.

Stanford Live: Indoor and Out

Through partnerships with the San Francisco Symphony, pop promoter Goldenvoice and Stanford’s Student Concert Network (SCN), Stanford Live’s first season in the newly renovated Frost Amphitheater concluded in fall 2019 with a line-up of music legends. In October 2019, American music icons Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan performed on separate nights and broke outdoor attendance records at Frost Amphitheater. Similarly, in November 2019, Joshua Bell and Jon Batiste played back-to-back capacity concerts on Bing Concert Hall’s main stage. It was a banner year for Stanford Live, indoor and out, and when the shelter-in-place order came, Stanford Live quickly pivoted to digital programming.

Read the Stanford Live magazine.

Terry Berlier: I am what I am not yet

During winter quarter, the Department of Art and Art History presented I am what I am not yet in the Stanford Art Gallery. In this solo exhibition, artist and Associate Professor Terry Berlier brought together her interest in queerness and ecologies using abstract labored forms, kinetic and sound sculpture. Her work suggests a path of reorienting to the world, turning things around so they can be understood differently. Through archival research, Berlier examined collective responses to political threat and those repeated micro-actions and interactions enacted in everyday life. Conceptually, the works in this exhibition did the same, weaving between the crisis in the current U.S. presidency and world instability to queering the possible.

See works in the exhibition.

Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze

Jordan Casteel: Returning the Gaze, on view at the Cantor during the fall and winter quarters, was the first solo museum show for Harlem-based artist Jordan Casteel, who visited campus to engage with Stanford students and speak at an opening celebration. Featuring paintings made in the last five years, Casteel’s large-scale portraits of Harlem community members are intimate portrayals of often overlooked members of society. Her deeply empathetic approach to portraiture makes her one of the most important emerging artists working today.

Hear Jordan Casteel talk about one of the works in the exhibition.

Comedy at the Bing

Stanford Live transformed the Bing Studio into a comedy club for their Comedy at the Bing series that included stand-up comedian Jesus Trejo in September 2019 and New York City-based cabaret comedian Catherine Cohen in February 2020. Student openers from Stanford’s comedy group Stand Up, D performed at both shows. Also in February, Stanford alum Omar Qureshi performed a stand-up set in a show co-presented by Stanford Live and Stanford Concert Network, the student-run organization bringing live music to campus.

Read more about Catherine Cohen and others who performed in Bing Studio.

SLSQ at 30

The St. Lawrence String Quartet (SLSQ), Stanford’s ensemble-in-residence, is fiercely committed to building communities through music and education. Whether they’re playing in a nontraditional venue or teaching students and musicians in person or online, the SLSQ strives to make connections with people who might not otherwise have access to chamber music. In 2019, they celebrated 30 years of bringing their insight and musical passion to classrooms across campus, in free online courses and into the local community.

Read more about the St. Lawrence String Quartet.


In March 2020, when in-person arts events, performances and exhibitions started shutting down due to COVID-19, the arts community rallied to find ways for students, faculty, staff, patrons and visitor to continue to listen, learn, view and make art without being on campus. A collection of podcasts, videos, slideshows, digital showcases, webinars, coloring pages and online courses became Arts@Home, a community and student resources to engage with the arts from wherever you are.

Find your virtual arts experience.


Students, staff and faculty are leading the arts with new ideas and in new directions in 2019-20 and beyond. Many campus arts organizations and academic departments announced new leadership appointments and after three decades of service to the Stanford community, Harry Elam, Vice President of the Arts, said goodbye to join Occidental College as its 16th president.

PICTURED: Student arts leaders included senior Will Paisley who stepped up to be a curatorial fellow with Stanford Live where he played an active role in Stanford Live’s campus and audience engagement programs. He began his senior year by delivering the student address at Stanford’s 129th Opening Convocation Ceremony in September 2019 and was a Stanford resident assistant and a member of the Stanford American Indian Organization and the Associated Students of Stanford University Executive Cabinet. Paisley graduated in June 2020 and is pursuing an M.A. in policy, organization and leadership studies through the Stanford Graduate School of Education.



Professor of education in the Graduate School of Education, appointed Faculty Director of IDA. Read more.



Appointed Cantor Associate Curator of European Art. Read more.

Cantor Arts Center


Appointed Cantor Assistant Curator of Photography and New Media. Read more.



Vice President for the Arts and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, appointed the 16th president of Occidental College. Read more.



Former Associate and then Interim Director of IDA, appointed Director of IDA. Read more.



Associate Professor of Theater and Performance Studies, appointed the Denning Faculty Director of SAI. Read more.



Professor of English, appointed Interim Director of the Creative Writing Program. Read more.



Appointed Assistant Vice President for the Arts. Read more.



Professor of German Studies and of Theater and Performance Studies, appointed TAPS Department Chair. Read more.



Associate Vice President for Campus Engagement, appointed Interim Senior Associate Vice President for the Arts. Read more.


New artwork installations in 2019-20 significantly changed the face of Stanford’s medical campus, Stanford Redwood City and the Cantor Arts Center. New acquisitions went on view at the Anderson Collection and an artful tree took root in the Rodin Sculpture Garden. A digital version of campus was created and the theater in Roble Gym, home of the Department of Theater and Performance Studies, was named Harry Elam Theater and will serve as a visual reminder of the great contributions of the former vice president for the arts.

PICTURED: Recognizing that art can be an integral part of the healing process, the new Stanford Hospital leadership included plans for artwork throughout the new facility that opened in the fall of 2019. A collection of over 400 works of art were installed inside and outside the new facility including an 18-by-10-foot mural designed by Sol LeWitt (1928–2007) installed by a team that included two undergraduates.

Read more about the mural and the art collection.

Stanford Redwood City artwork

One of the final steps in transforming Stanford Redwood City from a state-of-the-art campus into a vibrant workplace in the fall of 2019 was the final installations of more than 300 works of art, including paintings, murals and artist posters throughout the campus. The artworks were chosen to complement the contemporary look of the interior architecture and speak to the indoor and outdoor elements of the campus setting.

Read more about the collection.

Harry J. Elam, Jr. Theater

In August, the black box theater in Roble Gym, home of the Department of Theater and Performance Studies, was named the Harry J. Elam, Jr. Theater. After a distinguished three-decade tenure at Stanford, Elam was named the 16th president of Occidental College. His career at Stanford left an indelible mark on university life, particularly in the arts where he worked to ensure that the university was a vibrant home for art and artists. It is fitting that his name now graces one of the principal performance spaces on campus.

Read about the theater.

Say hello to OY/YO

The main entrance of the Cantor Arts Center was transformed over winter break in 2019 when Deborah Kass’ bold sculpture OY/YO was installed to welcome guests. Cantor hopes its newest sculpture acts as an extension of the museum’s vision to present art and ideas in contemporary and inclusive ways. The piece was installed in December 2019.

Read more about the sculpture.

Club Cardinal

Undergraduates Michelle Qin, ’23; WenXin Dong, ’23; Allison Zhang, ’23; Sreya Halder, ’23; and Azhia Harris, ’20, are the creators of Club Cardinal, a virtual reproduction of the Farm that serves as a space for the community to socialize and experience Stanford life while living, working and studying apart. It was created for the Stanford Women in Computer Science (WiCS) Innovation Challenge, a 10-week spring quarter competition for teams of students to create a project guided by an industry professional. Their innovation earned them first place in the competition, a COVID-19 Creative Community Response Grant from the Office of the Vice President for the Arts, and was recently featured in Stanford mediaX’s Very Virtual Retreat.

Read more about Club Cardinal.

Tree of 40 Fruit

Sam Van Aken is a contemporary artist who works beyond traditional modes of art making, crossing artistic genres and disciplines to develop new perspectives on such themes as communication, botany, agriculture, climatology and the ever-increasing impact of technology. Van Aken’s interventions in the natural and public realm are seen as metaphors that serve as the basis of narrative, sites of place making, and in some cases even become the basis of scientific research. In 2019, he planted one of his Trees of 40 Fruit on the edge of the Rodin Sculpture Garden, which is capable of producing 40 different varieties of native American stone fruit.

Read about the Tree of 40 Fruit in Smithsonian magazine.

New Pollock and de Kooning

To mark its fifth anniversary, the Anderson Collection at Stanford University was gifted two major works of art in 2019, Jackson Pollock’s 1944 Totem Lesson 1 and Willem de Kooning’s c. 1949 Gansevoort Street, by its eponymous supporter Mary Margaret “Moo” Anderson. Anderson donated the works in advance of her death on Oct. 22 in anticipation of the launch of a tandem effort to raise $10 million to enhance funding for the museum’s programs and exhibitions, which are free and open to the public.

Read more about the acquisition.


Adam Banks (ex officio)
Cynthia Lewis Beck ’77, JD ’80
Diana Bowes ’82
Sabrina Buell ’99
Louisa Cheng ’85
Susan Dackerman (ex officio)
Michael Darling ’90
Susan Diekman ’65, MA ’67 (ex officio)
Katharine Duhamel ’83, MBA ’88
Melissa F. Fetter ’82, Chair
Alex Fialho ’11
Doris Fisher ’53
Fred Harman ’82, MS ’83 (ex officio)
A-lan Holt (ex officio)
Leslie Hume MA ’71, PhD ’79
Mary Ittelson MBA ’85
Hiro Iwanaga ’04, MS ’04
Maryellie Johnson ’74, MBA ’76
Ronald Johnson ’80
Roberta Katz ’69
Carolyn Langelier
Chris Lorway (ex officio)
Jason Linetzky (ex officio)
Luke Lorentzen ’15
Christy MacLear ’88
Deedee McMurtry
Nancy Mohr
Wendy Munger ’72
Kitty Patterson ’75
Komal Shah MS ’93
V. Joy Simmons ’74
Matthew Tiews (ex officio)
Christopher Tin ’98, MA ’99
Vaughn Williams JD ’69

Faculty and Staff
Maude Brezinski, Executive Director of Development for the Arts
Harry J. Elam, Jr., Vice President for the Arts
Jisha Menon, Denning Faculty Director, Stanford Arts Institute
Anne Shulock, Assistant Vice President for the Arts


Despite the immense challenges that all of us have faced this year, the generosity of our alumni and friends has helped Stanford Arts engage creatively with our community. Stanford Arts shifted quickly to virtual formats, from lectures and performances presented by our faculty and visiting artists to internship opportunities for our talented students. The virtual doors of the Cantor Arts Center and the Anderson Collection at Stanford University opened to everyone regardless of distance, through Museums from Home and Learning from Home. Stanford Live quickly released their digital season, The Show Must Go Online, which brought performances of many of the scheduled artists directly into our homes. And, with the creativity of our students being of utmost importance especially during times of disruption, COVID-19 Creative Community Response Grants provided funding for projects that stewarded the power of art toward community connection.

Thank you for continuing to advocate for Stanford Arts through your engagement, memberships and gifts, especially during a time when the arts are most vulnerable. We look forward to strengthening the institution together with you as we once again shift creatively from crisis to recovery.

To learn more about any of our art programs at Stanford, please visit Arts Leap.

PICTURED: Through poetry, storytelling and striking visuals, Emmy-award winning shadow puppetry masters of Manual Cinema performed No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks in Bing Concert Hall in January 2020.