Rita Dove and Matthew Burtner Awarded NEA Works Grant

At the end of 2013, Matthew Burtner and Rita Dove were awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Work Grant—a $30,000 grant to collaborate on a multidisciplinary project involving Ms. Dove’s poetry and Mr. Burtner’s music.

The project, dubbed “The Ceiling Floats Away,” aims to explore creative artwork as a part of living culture and as a guide for an emergent public artwork.

In addition to collaborating on the project, the duo have contributed to the development of a smartphone app called “Nomads” that aims to enhance the experience of audience members and implores them to offer their own sound and text contributions. The app aims to create an experience where audience members are not only watching and listening to art- they are involved in creating it.

Ms. Dove is a poet and author and was the first African American to be appointed to the Library of Congress as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Additionally, Ms. Dove is the second African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.  She is currently an English professor at UVA.

Mr. Burtner is a composer and a professor at UVA- with work exploring environmental systems (ecoacoustics), technological embodiment, and extended polyrhythmic and noise-based musical systems.

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Both Ms. Dove and Mr. Burtner spoke at the OpenGrounds opening in 2012, where their conversation about a future collaboration began. Mr. Burtner has hosted several events at OpenGrounds, including the world-premiere of Auksalaq; the ZeroSpace Conference on Distance and Interaction; and performances with the MICE orchestra.

The OpenGrounds team congratulates Ms. Dove and Mr. Burtner for their winning collaboration and is excited to see the final product of “The Ceiling Floats Away” once it debuts.

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