Columbia University in the City of New York

Call to Artists: Art in the Education Lab Commission for Spring 2021

We are seeking an artist to produce commissioned work for our Art in the Education Lab program.

Ivan Forde artwork at 129th St and Broadway (Credit: Paula Croxson/Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute).

About the Program

Budget: $10,000, inclusive of all costs related to the project, including but not limited to artist fee and expenses, supplies and installation

Release date: December 4, 2020

Deadline: January 3, 2021 (11:59pm EST)

Shortlisted artists will be notified by January 15, 2021

Eligibility: Any artist living and working within New York City

We particularly welcome submissions from artists in Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx. We are strongly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and encourage people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, differently-abled and neurodiverse persons, indigenous peoples, youth, seniors, and women to apply. There is no fee to apply.


At Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute, we believe that understanding how the brain works — and gives rise to mind and behavior — is the most urgent and exciting challenge of our time. The Education Lab, a custom-built street-level space located in the Jerome L. Greene Science Center at 609 W 129th St, is where science and community come together for public and education programs. During normal operation, we host in-person programs in the space and in partnership with local organizations such as the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Arts and Minds, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, for students, teachers and the general public. Our aim is to invite our community to access and enjoy science in fun and inventive ways.

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Project Expectations

Artists are invited to submit a proposal for an artwork to be installed in the Zuckerman Institute Education Laboratory, located on 129th Street and Broadway, or artwork that can be presented digitally via our web page or in another creative format (including talks, workshops, or interactive events). All media are acceptable. The work must be publicly accessible. Visual, audiovisual, digital or installation artists are also welcome to apply.

We seek an artist to create a work that will invite and inspire community members to explore science through an artistic lens. Artists will be invited to spend time meeting with scientists at the Zuckerman Institute to inspire the creation of artwork that helps bring science to the public in novel and inspiring ways. We particularly seek artwork that will engage our local community in Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many interactions with scientists and the public may be virtual in nature, and we encourage the submission of concepts that may help build community and bring people together in these especially challenging circumstances.

The artwork must be completed by June 30, 2021, and will be publicly displayed for a minimum of one year after installation.

The Public Programs team and a selection committee organized by the Zuckerman Institute will review proposals. Shortlisted artists will be selected based on the creativity of the proposal, the proposed engagement with scientists and the community, and the feasibility of the project within the timeframe and budget. The final selection will be made following a brief interview. The selected artist will be expected to work closely with the Zuckerman Institute Public Programs team during the process.

Additional Information

The inaugural Art in the Education Lab commission featured Guyanese-born, Harlem-raised photographer and printmaker Ivan Forde, who produced two works to hang in the windows of the Education Lab after interacting with scientists in the institute.

The selected artist may also be invited to participate in one or more public events or workshops, for which additional compensation will be offered.


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Your application should include:


Project proposal (2 pages) answering the following questions: How does this proposal fit with your previous and current work? How are you inspired by science, or how would you like to bring science into your work? How would you like to interact with scientists in the Institute? What are your goals for the project? How do you see this project connecting community members with the Zuckerman Institute? What materials and resources will you need? What is the proposed timeline for the project?

Portfolio (optional): example past works that represent the kind of work you propose to create (maximum of 5 links or image files)

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