News Release

Columbia's Zuckerman Institute announces three artists-in-residence

Year-long program embeds award-winning painter, jazz musician and author with scientists studying the mind, the brain and behavior

Grant and Award Announcement

The Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University

Julie Mehretu

image: Alan Kanzer Artist-in-Residence Julie Mehretu view more 

Credit: Anastasia Muna

NEW YORK -- A trio of pioneers in the fields of visual arts, jazz and literature have been named as the 2020 Artists-in-Residence at Columbia's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. Artist Julie Mehretu, musician Miguel Zenón and author Nicole Krauss will spend the next year collaborating with scientists at the Institute in an endeavor that immerses artists in the cutting-edge field of neuroscience.

"Science and the arts have much to learn from each other, and the Artist-in-Residence program provides a concrete way to bridge these disciplines. I cannot think of a better group of artists to enrich our scientific community," said Rui Costa, DVM, PhD, Director and CEO of Columbia's Zuckerman Institute. "By building bridges between neuroscience and creative expression, while also strengthening our links to our neighboring communities, these artists-in-residence will inspire scientists, artists and the public to think creatively about their work, how each of us, using our own medium and expertise, can provide a positive impact on society."

During their residencies, each artist will work with Zuckerman Institute researchers and scientists across the University, as well as engage with the neighboring communities in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. The artists-in-residence, each hosted by a Zuckerman Institute faculty member, will develop, participate and lead a variety of events, from formal lectures, seminars and performances, to informal workshops, collaborations and conversations. By the end of their residencies, each artist -- as well as the scientists and members of the wider Columbia and neighboring communities -- stands to benefit from access to new knowledge and perspectives.

"My goals for this residency are two-fold: I am excited to learn from neuroscience's best minds about how the brain innovates, how it creates something from nothing, such as a rhythmic pattern or a melodic line," said Miguel Zenón, acclaimed jazz saxophonist and the 2020 Jazz Artist-in-Residence. "I am also eager for this opportunity to connect with musically-minded youth in nearby Harlem and the Bronx -- as well as Washington Heights, where I call home -- and explore together the shared wonder of music and science."

Columbia's Zuckerman Institute is committed to building bridges between science and the arts. In 2019, the Institute hosted contemporary artist and sculptor Sarah Sze, as well as jazz pianist, composer and educator Helen Sung, who was the inaugural Jazz Artist-in-Residence. Both the visual and inaugural jazz artist-in-residencies were made possible by the generous support of Alan Kanzer. The Zuckerman Institute's first artist-in-residence was Jeff Koons in 2017.

This year, the program expands to include literature. Together, these three residency programs touch on distinct yet complementary areas of the arts, each focused on the interdisciplinary pursuit of a deeper understanding of the mind, the brain and behavior.

More about the 2020 Artists-in-Residence:

Julie Mehretu, Alan Kanzer Artist-in-Residence

Julie Mehretu is a world-renowned painter, born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who lives and works in New York City and Berlin. Mehretu is a MacArthur Fellow and recipient of the US Department of State Medal of Arts Award. She has shown her work extensively in international and national solo and group exhibitions and is represented in public and private collections around the world. Projects include completing two large-scale paintings for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Atrium in September 2017. Recent exhibitions include Venice Biennale and a mid-career survey at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which travels to The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 2020.

Miguel Zenón, Jazz Artist-in-Residence

Jazz saxophonist Miguel Zenón is a multiple Grammy nominee, as well as a Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow. Widely considered as one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation, he has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Latin American Folkloric Music and Jazz. As a composer he has been commissioned by SFJAZZ, NYO Jazz, The New York State Council for the Arts, Chamber Music America and many of his peers. In addition, he has given hundreds of lectures and master classes at institutions all over the world, and is a permanent faculty member at New England Conservatory of Music and Manhattan School of Music. Zenón was born and raised in Puerto Rico and currently resides in Upper Manhattan.

Nicole Krauss, Writer-in-Residence

Nicole Krauss has been hailed by The New York Times as "one of America's most important novelists." She is the author of the international bestsellers, Forest Dark, Great House, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Orange Prize, and The History of Love, which won the Saroyan Prize for International Literature and France's Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, and was short-listed for the Orange, Médicis and Femina prizes. Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. In 2007, she was selected as one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists, and in 2010 she was chosen by The New Yorker for their "Twenty Under Forty" list. Her fiction has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, and Best American Short Stories, and her books have been translated into thirty-six languages.


Columbia University's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute brings together a group of world-class scientists and scholars to pursue the most urgent and exciting challenge of our time: understanding the brain and mind. A deeper understanding of the brain promises to transform human health and society. From effective treatments for disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression and autism to advances in fields as fundamental as computer science, economics, law, the arts and social policy, the potential for humanity is staggering. To learn more, visit:

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