Announcing the 2019-2020 Incubator Award Recipients

January 26, 2020

Eight students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will undertake research and creative arts projects at the Wilson Special Collections Library during the spring semester. The students are recipients of Incubator Awards from the University Libraries. The award provides stipends for creative projects that draw inspiration from the special collections. 

Grant recipients will present their work in a program showcase to be held in April 2020. 

Congratulations to the award recipients! 


Renee McGee

Renee McGee

Nick Sengstaken

Nick Sengstaken









Senior music majors Renee McGee and Nick Sengstaken have undertaken the Kay Kyser Tribute Project, in which they will arrange music from the Kay Kyser and Georgia Carroll Kyser Papers for an 8-piece “little big band.” Kyser, who graduated from Carolina in 1927, was an icon in popular music and radio comedy during World War II. The Kyser papers are part of the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library. South Road Swing, a recently-formed vintage jazz band comprised of UNC-Chapel students and alumni, will premiere the arrangements in a free public performance in March. 


Jerry Wilson

Jerry Jameel Wilson

Gilliam Cortland

Cortland Gilliam

Drew Delvyiont

De’Ivyion Drew









Jerry Jameel Wilson, Cortland Gilliam and De’Ivyion Drew  are collaborating on a visual arts project that examines representations of blackness within the UNC-Chapel Hill community, and explores the experiences of black students at Carolina from 1955 to the present, with an eye toward the future. The project consists of two complementary componentssculpture and short film that broaden and deepen conversations about the importance of symbols, the impact of art in the public sphere and the meaning of equal access to the benefits of citizenship. The artist hopes to display the sculptures and the short film together in a multimedia exhibit that challenges our understanding of place, time and progress. 


Jintong Liu

Willow Liu









Willow Liu’s project investigates the experiences of Merce Cunningham, an avant-garde modern dance legend, during his time at Black Mountain College (BMC) in Asheville, North Carolina. Emphasizing a holistic learning of art, BMC provided a collaborative environment for dancers, musicians, painters and other artists. Several avant-garde artists, including John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg and Merce Cunningham, were faculty members or students at BMC during the 1950s. Cunningham originally studied under Martha Graham, who was known as the mother of modern dance, but he deviated from the Graham technique after his time at BMC. The project will seek to research the events that inspired Cunningham to break away from tradition and to create his own style during his time in North Carolina.  


Sally McKinsey

Sally Ann McKinsey









Sally Ann McKinsey’s“The Coffin Is A Table” investigates cultural responses to illness and death in medical and memorial customs in the American South, particularly those that involve corporate labor in giving both medical care and gifts of cards, food and handmade objects to those experiencing illness or loss. Through sculptural installation and printed matter, the project is concerned with medical and social practices that attempt to keep the dying alive, to manage chaos or to control mortality, and the material practices that reveal large, unanswered questions of living, dying and losing. The project explores fiber materials as metaphors for systems of support, examining artistic labor in traditional folk crafts like crochet, embroidery and quilting using medical textiles like operating room sheets and hospital gowns. 


Lulu Zilinskas

Lulu Zilinskas









Lulu Zilinskas  will make three large-format photo/screenprints showcasing imagery created by rubbings of materials found within the University LibrariesThe artist will print textures created from different rubbings on top of each other, acting as a historical sedimentary layer. Each print will take on the tone of the materials used, be it book covers or something yet unknown. The artist intends to pull the records out of context to focus solely on their current state, celebrating their very existence. There is a looming intimidation factor that prevents people from entering institutions and interacting with these valuable objects. When objects are seen purely for aesthetic value there is an opportunity to enjoy without anxiety. 


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