June 6, 2011

Each year the University of Chicago Arts Council awards the Claire Rosen & Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists.

Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman, AB’09, is a documentarian whose films have ranged in subject matter from city trash incinerators and urban paramilitary organizations to the lives of spiders and NGOs in Northern Ghana. He delves into the unconscious and even the supernatural. Hurwitz-Goodman’s first feature, Phantom Vibrations, which he developed as an undergraduate thesis project in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, debuted in Chicago and Detroit to critical acclaim. His documentary Incinerator focused on Detroit's waste-to-energy program and was broadcast in 2010 on Detroit Public Television.

“When I was in the 6th grade,” Hurwitz-Goodman said, “my parents bought me my first video camera, and I made a ‘family documentary,’ showing a typical night at home. I was pretty much self-taught until, as a student at the University of Chicago, I enrolled in a documentary production course with Judy Hoffman, which opened my eyes to the idea of the documentary as personal and poetic exploration.”

As the 2011 recipient of the Claire Rosen & Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists, Hurwitz-Goodman can now explore these ideas in earnest. The $30,000 cash award that accompanies the honor—made possible through a grant from the Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation—will enable the artist to spend the next year shooting, editing, marketing, and finding distribution for Detroit Threat Management, a film that explores issues of national security, physical force, community activism, and self image. “At the heart of the story,” Hurwitz-Goodman says, “is the organization’s leader, the ambitious ex-Marine, Commander Brown, and his team of V.I.P.E.R.S.”

Hurwitz-Goodman will also have the opportunity to begin pre-production on a second film, Tamale Tapes, which examines the intersections of tradition and industrialization in Northern Ghana. Tamale, West Africa’s fastest developing city, is located in a region where Islam dominates religious life, where Christian missions are growing in prominence, and where the traditional spirituality of the Dagomba people, which includes ancestor worship, fire ceremonies, and a practical belief in magic and animal sacrifice forms a nexus point between modern development and deeply-rooted mysticism.

Hurwitz-Goodman describes his art as aiming “to create a stirring work, to involve the audience in the story to the fullest” and he describes film as the “ultimate medium in which to create a careful ambiguity...not in order to confuse or alienate, but rather to engage the viewer with the story we are telling together.”

Selected from among a group of 26 recent alumni, Hurwitz-Goodman was identified for the intellectual and creative caliber of his work, his proven track record, and his artistic potential, said Mary Harvey, Associate Provost of Program Development.

"Following the vision of the Edes Foundation, the jury was looking for a candidate who is poised for transformation, someone who would be able to advance his or her professional practice and potentially add a new voice in the arts world," said Harvey. "We are especially grateful to the foundation for its generosity and the vital role it is playing in committing funding to the development of new artists. This program is singular – and singularly important for the career trajectory of young artistic talent," Harvey added.

The Edes Foundation aims to jump-start the careers of promising artists by providing support sufficient to allow them to devote a full year to their arts practice. It has provided similar funding for prizes at Northwestern University, DePaul University and the School of the Art Institute.

"The University of Chicago has put enormous effort into making the Edes Prize a reality," said Nik B. Edes, President of the Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation. "The response to this initiative has been extraordinary, the selection process was rigorous, and we have high hopes that this award will enable Mr. Hurwitz-Goodman to move to the next level of his professional and artistic development. We want to join with the university community in wishing him every success."

By Joshua Casteel, Graduate Arts Management Fellow, UChicago Arts Council

Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman, AB’09, is the 2011 recipient of the Claire Rosen & Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists. To watch previews of Hurwitz-Goodman's video work, visit the related links below.


Tamale Tapes Preview