Stuckeman School professor named Civitella Ranieri/WJOR Architecture Fellow


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Felecia Davis, associate professor of architecture in the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture’s Stuckeman School, has been named the WJOR Architecture Fellow by the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, which comes with a $15,000 award to produce an architectural project at the Ranieri Castle in Umbria, Italy, from June 7 to July 17.

As director of the Computational Textiles Lab (SOFTLAB) in the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing, Davis’ research focuses on designing lightweight textiles that change properties in response to their environment.

For the fellowship, Davis plans to expand on the “Flower Antenna” project she completed in 2020 for the Museum of Modern Art’s “Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America” exhibition. The Flower Antenna featured a black textile flower that was made up of 34 different knitted cones and was suspended from the MoMA ceiling. Some of the cones had copper yarn embedded into them, making them active and receptive to electromagnetic waves.

“The use of electromagnetic waves as a media output as raw sound was meant to call visitors’ attention to this invisible electromagnetic system that connects all of us through the Internet, the radio and other devices that rely upon electromagnetic waves to function,” said Davis.

The cones picked up sounds throughout the MoMA galleries, which were then amplified by a speaker, so visitors heard sounds of different electromagnetic waves as they walked around the Flower Antenna.

Davis’ project that will be installed in the Civitella Ranieri is titled “We Are in The Wake” and is inspired by Christina Sharpe’s writings in her book “The Wake: On Blackness and Being.”

“I am interested in expanding my work with this invisible media of electromagnetic waves as part of a new textile-sensing structure that can be built on the premises of the Ranieri Castle grounds,” said Davis. “It is a fantastic honor to have this opportunity to work in the inspiring environment of Civitella among the other writers and artists who will be there. The Umbria region is rich in crafts, such as weaving and ceramics, that have been practiced for centuries. I plan to develop a project with what is there locally.”

The Civitella Ranieri Foundation is a residency program for international writers, composers and visual artists that invites 12 to 15 fellows for a residency fellowship of six weeks from May through October each year. The fellows are chosen through a competitive nomination and jury process for each discipline.