Mellon Fellowship Proposal Process

Proposals for Gray Center Mellon Collaborative Fellowships for Arts Practice and Scholarship are accepted on a rolling basis from University of Chicago faculty, lecturers, and postdoctoral scholars.  Rather than require the submission of detailed and lengthy applications, we have designed a two-phase proposal process.

In the first (developmental) phase, we ask interested parties to submit a Letter of Interest (see guidelines below).  Upon review by the Gray Center Advisory Council, the most promising submissions are entered into a brainstorming process whose focus might involve identifying potential collaborators, designing project components, and/or clarifying the experimental ambitions of the proposed fellowship.

In the wake of this first, developmental phase, the council determines whether the proposal should move on to the second (evaluative) phase.  In this phase, applications (see guidelines below) are judged on the basis of the practical appeal, conceptual ambitions and experimental nature of the collaboration.  The scope of the council’s review will encompass the full range of required fellowship components: experimental project design; promise of the collaboration; track record of the collaborators; compelling pedagogical component; as well as the potential for powerfully impacting the work of the project participants as well as their respective fields, and the university beyond the limits of any single department.

Letter of Interest

Interested parties are invited to submit a letter of interest (approximately two pages in length) that offers a general introduction to the proposed collaboration and the proposed collaborator(s), including an account of his/her/their relevant achievements.  In addition, the statement should address the following questions:

  • How would you describe the aspirations of the project at this early stage of conception?
  • How does this project extend beyond and/or depart from your work to date?
  • Wherein lies the risk and experimentation of the proposed collaboration?

Full Proposal

Below are proposal guidelines for the Mellon Collaborative Fellowship for Arts Practice and Scholarship program.  Because collaborators are expected to experiment with methodologies and forms of collaborative inquiry, we realize that the project itself will likely move into unexpected and unplanned territory.  We ask you to describe what is known and/or imagined at the outset of the proposed project.  Regarding that which is unknown, we invite questions in place of assertions.  Please include ideas about the project’s design and structures (both conceptual and logistical) that will allow for collaborative experimentation.

We encourage you to meet with the Gray Center director to discuss your project proposal.  Please contact Jacqueline Stewart, Director or Zachary Cahill, Curator.


Describe the aspirations of this project, your investigation(s), and what it is you propose to do together.  What structures do you imagine that will allow for and provoke experimental collaboration?  (1-2 pages)

 Each collaborator should provide a statement of interest (1-2 pages) that addresses:

  • Why do you want to do this project?
  • Why have you chosen to collaborate with this specific person(s)?
  • How do you locate this experimental project within the trajectory of your work?
  • What boundaries do you hope to push in your own work and in your field(s)?

 Describe the team-taught course you envision. What is your ideal timeline for the project and residency?  Do you envision the project extending beyond a single quarter? Include bios for each of the core collaborators, with attached CVs (or an extended bio for artists if they don’t have CVs). Include artist work samples. Please consult with Gray Center staff on the most appropriate means of submitting these.

Optional: Who do you think might be potential interlocutors at the university? In Chicago? And beyond?

The complete proposal should be 5-9 pages long.

2018 Submission Dates

March 15, 2018

Please note: 

  • The dates listed above correspond to the schedule of advisory council meetings in which we review submissions.  However, we do accept proposals on a rolling basis!
  • The Gray Center hosts exploratory visits with interested collaborators as a means towards investigating potential projects.


For more information on the fellowship program, including the proposal process and exploratory visits, please contact Mike Schuh, Program Manager.