Three Projects to Receive the 2020 Baumanis Grant

Jul 15, 2020

The Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies is happy to announce that three projects have been awarded the 2020 Baumanis Grant for Creative Projects in Baltic Studies.
The Baumanis Grant is an award made to honor Velta Marija Baumanis of Mount Brydges, Ontario, who left a generous bequest to AABS at the end of her career as an architect. An award of up to $5,000 is available for any creative project (e.g., book, film, exhibit, etc.) that promotes Baltic studies. Preference is given to topics with a pan-Baltic or comparative aspect.


Krista Svalbonas, Saint Joseph’s University

“Displacement” focuses on preserving the history of former WWII Baltic Displaced Person camps and the stories of refugees who were held in the camps. The work consists of photographic documentation, portraits, oral recordings, and archive data, which will be compiled into an art book format for publication.
The experiences of the Lithuanian-Americans described in their interviews, relevant historiography, as well as my own perspective as a member of the Lithuanian-American community gives me a well-rounded understanding of how second-wave Lithuanian Americans make sense of their ethnic identity. I come to the conclusion that unique historical circumstance, the shared experiences and history of the community, and a negative perception of Russia and its impact on Lithuania are the most influential factors in Lithuanian-Americans of the second emigration wave claiming Lithuanian identity, despite having been born and grown up in America.

Krista Svalbonas holds a BFA Photography (Syracuse University) and an MFA Interdisciplinary (SUNY New Paltz). Her work has been exhibited in a number of exhibitions including at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Howard Yezerski Gallery in Boston, Spartanburg Art Museum in South Carolina, Klompching Gallery and ISE Cultural Foundation in New York. Her work has been collected in a number of private collections, as well as the Cesis Art Museum in Latvia. Recent awards include the Rhonda Wilson Award (2017), Puffin Foundation Grant (2016) and a Bemis Fellowship (2015) among others. In 2021 Svalbonas is scheduled to have solo exhibitions at the Latvian Museum of Photography in Riga, the Vilnius National museum in Lithuania and the Museum of Photography in Tallinn, Estonia. She is an assistant professor of photography at St. Joseph’s University. She lives and works in Philadelphia.


Miles Beard, University of Strathclyde and Tallinn University

I am proposing to spend twelve months writing a creative/critical novel during my postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Literature and Creative Writing at Tallinn University which begins in August 2020. ‘No More Creative Act’ will advance Baltic Studies in new ways with its innovative comparative approach with Scotland, as well as with its explicit consideration of the Baltic people’s relationships with the nation-state through various memberships and alliances. It is expected that this output will be closely followed in Scotland, which currently seeks emulative models in its pursuit for national independence, as well as in the Baltic countries themselves.

Miles Beard holds a PhD in English from the University of Strathclyde and will be joining Tallinn University as a Teaching and Research Fellow in the autumn of 2020. With a research background in authorship, critical theory, and literary culture, he looks forward to tackling some of these considerations from a Baltic perspective and manifesting new geopolitical connections to Scotland in his book.


Madara Seile, Imants Ziedonis Museum

The aim of this project is to translate into English the first book, “Description of Our Homeland and some appendices briefly received” (“Mūsu Tēvzemes aprakstīšana un daži pielikumi īsumā saņemti,” 1859), which tells about the modern geography of Latvia and is a fundamental monument to the Latvian national movement, supplementing its scientific commentaries on the book and national awakening in The Baltic States.
The long-term goal of this project is to introduce the awakening movement of the Baltic States to the wider international community, offering a vivid example from Latvia in comparison with the developments in the other Baltic States – Lithuania and Estonia. A publication of this scale with attractive illustrations, 19th century maps and an international team of authoritative researchers will be published for the first time.

Madara Seile is the manager of the Imants Ziedonis Museum project “On the Way with Krišjānis Barons”. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Latvia, Faculty of Pedagogy, Psychology and Art. Madara has worked in the education sector for seven years. She supports Imants Ziedonis’ philosophy of life – to promote creativity, inspire the society in strengthening Latvianness, as well as to provide an opportunity for those interested to get to know themselves and the world in a creative way.
During its five years of existence, the Imants Ziedonis Museum has accumulated extensive and significant experience in research work and project management. The most significant projects are: Cinema Exhibition Enlighten Latvia, Creation of the Latvian Cultural Canon Lesson, participation in the concert performance All Truths. In cooperation with the publishing house Viegli, the museum has published the works of Imants Ziedonis, as well as their English translations, bearing the names of Imants Ziedonis and Latvia outside the country.

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