Rob Neilson stands amid artwork in his studio on campus.
Rob Neilson stands amid artwork in his studio on campus. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Lawrence University art professor Rob Neilson is heading to Israel in late December, one of nearly three dozen scholars from across the United States selected for an intensive two-week Faculty Fellowship program.

The Faculty Fellowship Program in Israel is a competitive academic fellowship that invites full-time university and college faculty members to apply to participate in an all-expenses-paid academic trip to Israel.

In December and early January, Neilson, the Frederick R. Layton Professor of Studio Art and professor of art, will visit Haifa, Tiberias, Golan Heights, Jerusalem, Be'er-Sheva, Masada, Aravah Valley, and Tel Aviv, where he will meet with Israeli counterparts at major institutions to explore opportunities for exchanges and collaborations.

The Studio Art program lets you hone your creative identity through hands-on technical instruction.

Additionally, Neilson will be a visiting artist with the sculpture program at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design-Jerusalem.

As an artist working with site-specific sculpture, I am most interested in the importance of place; how the physical, historical, and cultural character permeates into a location,” Neilson said. “Israel can be seen as the birthplace of the West’s spiritual life and it continues to be seen as the omphalos of the world by the three major Abrahamic religions. I am thrilled by the opportunity to scrutinize the particular artistic connotations of this site, this location, this country through my creative research while in Israel and after I return.”

Neilson is one of 35 participants selected to travel to Israel on the 2022-23 Winter - Faculty Fellowship Program. The visits will take place between Dec. 26 and Jan. 8.

Through the support of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Boruchin Fund and individual donors, the tour is a fully paid intensive program to Israel for full-time U.S.-based academics from recognized universities/learning institutions.

During the trip, the participants will meet Israelis from all walks of life and will hear from a variety of speakers. They will also be exposed to contemporary Israeli society, culture, historical sites, and the way of life in Israel. The academics will meet with professionals and experts in government, education, media, and other sectors.

Neilson, on the Lawrence faculty since 2003, has exhibited his sculpture, installations, and drawings at galleries, museums, and alternative spaces nationally and internationally and has created public art commissions throughout the United States, including projects in California, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington.