Art and Art History alumna awarded David Driskell Fellowship

Erin I. Falker-Obichigha is a practicing visual artist, accomplished curator and arts administrator. She can now also add to her credentials a David Driskell Fellowship from the Institute of Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA).

Throughout her career, Falker-Obichigha — who earned an M.A. in Art History from Wayne State University’s James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History in the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts — has curated several highly regarded exhibitions and worked on projects such as 30 Americans, Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion, Oh,You Fancy!, and Beyond Space, a compendium and exhibition curated by Carrie Mae Weems.

Erin I. Falker-Obichigha

“(But) I don’t think I can say with any accuracy how significant the belief and support of the IDSVA community of friends, faculty and staff is to me,” Falker-Obichigha said in a statement. “For an institution to value potential in someone is one thing. Potential, to an extent, can be calculated. For an institution to value promise, which is the biggest gamble one can take on people and the unknown, is absolutely incredible. I’m humbled to be chosen and excited to begin.”

The IDSVA awards only one David Driskell Fellowship with each incoming cohort. Driskell Fellows are students of color who show promise in carrying forward David Driskell's mission to encourage worldwide community and equality through art. For more information, visit the IDSVA’s scholarship page.

Falker-Obichigha’s interests as an artist, curator, and thinker lie in investigating the deep-seated need to protect, maintain, and carve out black space as it relates to legacy cultural intuitions. It grows from a desire to investigate how people of color physically navigate majority institutions and the ways in which they resist automatic performative practices of code-switching and respectability in favor of a more authentic performative self. The aim is to identify performative practices that can provide pathways for everyday people to engage in generative struggle that will eventually lead institutions to become more critical of how they engage, include, and exclude.

David Driskell, namesake of the fellowship who passed away in 2020, was a founding member of the IDSVA Visiting Faculty. His message of peace and understanding has inspired countless individuals around the world. The David C. Driskell Fellowship was first established in 2010. In January 2013, Driskell was awarded an IDSVA Honorary Doctorate in recognition of his life service as an artist-philosopher and a world-leading spiritual philanthropist.

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