May 11, 2018

(Chicago – Friday, May 11, 2018) – UChicago Arts today announced that Seth Brodsky, Associate Professor in the Department of Music and in the College, will serve as Interim Director of the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry. Brodsky, who has served on the Gray Center Advisory Council since its inception, will lead the Center from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 while Gray Center Director Jacqueline Stewart is on research leave.

Image: Seth Brodsky. Courtesy UChicago.

“I am excited about the energy and insight that Seth will bring to this unique center, which has become a shining national example for integrating scholarship and practice,” said Bill Brown, Senior Advisor to the Provost for the Arts and Chair of the Provost’s Arts Steering Committee.

Under Stewart’s leadership, and with the support of curator Zachary Cahill, Richard and Mary L. Gray, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Gray Center has continued its signature fellowship program, which supports collaborative experiments that bring scholars and artists together. During the 2017-18 academic year, Robert Bird (Cinema and Media Studies, Slavic Languages and Literatures) and Chicago-based artist Cauleen Smith developed a project that focused on the revolutionary potential of filmic images. Some of their works were on view in the Smart Museum of Art’s exhibition Revolution Every Day. Currently, fellows Judith Zeitlin (East Asian Languages & Civilizations) and Beijing-based composer Yao Chen are creating an opera based on Pu Songling’s short story, “Ghost Village.” Stewart has created a video archive of interviews with past fellows, which will live both on the Gray Center website and in the new Gray Center archive in Special Collections at the Regenstein Library.

The Gray Center has also entered an era of further collaboration, conversation, and documentation. In 2017, working with Los Angeles-based artist Ben Caldwell and his collaborators, Stewart led the Gray Center in launching the annual Sankofa City Summer School. Stewart and Cahill have implemented new and dynamic ways to document and communicate the work that the Gray Center fellows accomplish, including the new monthly conversation series, Sidebar, and the upcoming bi-annual print publication, Portable Gray. They have also launched an ambitious suite of new public programs, most notably Cinema 53, a screening and discussion series centered on films by and about women and people of color. Cinema 53, presented at and in partnership with Hyde Park’s iconic Harper Theater, screened Beyoncé’s landmark visual album LEMONADE earlier this year, featuring filmmaker Julie Dash and musician and poet Jamila Woods in dialogue.

The Interim Director will support the Gray Center’s experimental collaborations and cross-disciplinary conversations during Stewart’s one-year leave. In addition to the Mellon Residential Fellowships for Arts Practice and Scholarship, the Gray Center’s programs include international conferences, incubator initiatives, salons, and institutional collaborations across divisions, departments, and other programs at UChicago.

“I am thankful for Jacqueline’s ongoing leadership of the Gray Center,” said Brown. “And I am looking forward to welcoming Seth into this interim role.”

After Brodsky’s term, Stewart will resume her directorship.

Brodsky, who is also an affiliate faculty member in the Departments of Visual Arts and Germanic Studies, joined the University in 2011, coming to the UChicago from Yale. His work pursues multiple related lines of inquiry in 20th- and 21st-century music, notably engaging with the field of “composerly production,” the role of unconscious processes, and currently, the concept of repetition. His book, From 1989, or European Music & the Modernist Unconscious, was published last year by the University of California Press.

To learn more about the Gray Center for Arts Inquiry, visit