Art Department to host inaugural postdoctoral research fellow in hip hop and urban arts, education


UW–Madison’s Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) is excited to partner with the Division of the Arts to launch a postdoctoral fellowship program that recruits and retains diverse, talented, and highly qualified postdoctoral fellows across arts disciplines.

Tehan Ketema is the inaugural First Wave Hip Hop & Urban Arts and Education Postdoctoral Research Fellow (FW Fellow) in the School of Education’s Art Department. Ketema will be working with faculty mentor Faisal Abdu’Allah, the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art and associate dean for the arts in the School of Education.

Ketema in front of her work “Untitled (▯▯▯▯),” 2022 (video, 6:28 minutes); Photo: Julius Schlosburg

“We are fortunate to have Tehan Ketema,” shares Abdu’Allah, “an artist and scholar versed in the respective mediums of photography and printmaking. Her work explores the territory of immersion and invisibility with a visceral tension, addressing the need for societal change. This inaugural fellowship will be the catalyst to educate, mentor, and solicit an environment of inquiry in the arts.”

Ketema is an interdisciplinary artist and educator from the Bay Area, California. Her work explores the formation of new media archives and their impact on understanding history, territory, and identity. In her practice and research, she pulls from the intersections of her experiences as an Eritrean American. Ketema is an undergraduate alumna of UW–Madison as a member of First Wave’s eighth cohort, where she received a bachelor’s degree in life sciences and communications with certificates in studio art photography and digital studies. She received her master of fine arts in photography, video, and imaging from the University of Arizona. Ketema’s work has been exhibited and published internationally; this includes in the Kampala Art Biennial, The UCLA New Wight Biennial, and the 2023 Arizona Biennial.

“I am so thrilled to be the inaugural First Wave Hip Hop & Urban Arts and Education Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Art Department,” Tehan shared. “It means so much to be able to come back and work with a community that has been incredibly impactful to me and pivotal to my artistic development. I’m really looking forward to my commitment at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for the next two years and being immersed in the art that is happening in the city.”

“A postdoc in the arts and creative practice is a groundbreaking initiative that invites a broad range of approaches with the potential to diversify arts in the academy,” stated Chris Walker, director of the Division of the Arts, professor in the Dance Department, and founding faculty artistic director of OMAI from 2007-2017 and 2019–2021. “We’re excited about this innovative partnership with the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives to invest in the next generation of multi-hyphenate artist scholars whose creative research lives at the intersection of hip hop and future studies of the arts in the academy. They are by design interdisciplinary and collaborative.”

Please join the Art Department, Division of the Arts, and the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives in welcoming Tehan Ketema to UW–Madison with a visit to her inaugural exhibition as the FW Fellow in the Backspace Gallery at the Art Lofts (111 North Frances Street, Madison) from Monday, Oct. 30 – Saturday, Nov. 4.

During the week of her exhibition, there will be a special reception to meet the artist and learn about the aspirations and impact of the First Wave Hip Hop & Urban Arts and Education Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at UW–Madison. Please RSVP by clicking here to receive the reception date and time via email.

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