In the College of Arts + Architecture, research encompasses a wide array of activities, from scholarly articles to groundbreaking performing practices. See below some examples of research from each of our units, and click through to learn more.

Research & creative practice spotlights


Associate Professor of Architecture Jefferson Ellinger and his partners at Fresh Air Building Systems have been working for years to develop the AMPS (Active Modular Phytoremediation System), a “probiotic” plant wall air filtration system. The AMPS is connected to an HVAC system, and as air moves through the plants’ root rhizosphere (the micro-ecosystem surrounding the root ball), microbes on the roots eat contaminants that are in the air.

Recently, Ellinger installed an AMPS into the new uptown offices of Gresham Smith design firm, where it will provide an opportunity to research its performance.

Professor of Digital Media Heather D. Freeman has been awarded a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to produce her podcast, Magic in the United States: 400 Years of Magical Beliefs, Practices, and Cultural Conflicts.

The $389,000 grant will fund the production of three seasons of the podcast, which will explore how magical beliefs and practices have evolved in the U.S. from the 1600s to the present. The podcast will be marketed and distributed by Public Radio International (PRX) and made available for free through all major podcast outlets.


Associate Professor of Dance Kim Jones has been awarded a research fellowship from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’ Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Jones was one of six fellows chosen to receive this prestigious grant, which this year focuses on modern dance pioneer Martha Graham and her company as it celebrates its 100th anniversary. Jones’s research has centered around “lost” works and aspects of modern dance. Most recently, in 2019, Jones began to research the life and work of Choi Seung-Hee, an artist who is regarded as the first Korean modern dancer. Learn more about Jones’s creative investigations into the life and legacy of Seung-Hee.

The Nouveau Sud Circus Project, founded and directed by Associate Professor of Theatre CarlosAlexis Cruz, explores topics of social and political importance through community engaged research and circus arts. Funded by a New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) Creation and Touring Grant, Nouveau Sud began touring La Bestia, which addresses immigration and migration in the U.S., in summer 2023. Cruz has also begun to develop new work investigating gun violence, Violenza, funded by a Cultural Visions Grant from the Arts & Science Council.

blurred lines album cover

In both her performance and her research, Assistant Professor of Voice Sequina DuBose explores the intersections of contemporary classical and commercial music, musical theater, and music of the African diaspora. In 2022 she released her debut album, Blurred Lines: 21st Century Hybrid Vocal Literature on the Albany Records label. Blurred Lines presents the works of seven 21st-century composers who blur the distinctions between opera, classical art song, and other musical genres. DuBose’s vast and varied musical tastes were cultivated from childhood, but she formalized her musical investigations while in graduate school. Her dissertation investigates the impact of genre fusion and improvisation in 21st-century operas on vocal pedagogy and performance practice. It was through that research that she developed relationships with several of the composers represented in Blurred Lines, whom she commissioned to write for the album.


In the 2023/24 academic year, the college has launched five projects around the theme of the “New South | Global South.” These varied activities will shed new light on complex histories and geographies. The teams and their projects are:

  • Browne’s Ferry: The Browne’s Ferry neighborhood, like many University area neighborhoods, was developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a racially diverse middle-class neighborhood. Browne’s Ferry and the larger University area is becoming increasingly diverse, with nearby concentrations of Asian and Latinx residents and Black residents from other countries, who are bringing cultures of the Global South to the area. In addition, it is home to the transplanted Grace A.M.E. Zion Church, whose congregation moved from their historic church in the Brooklyn/Second Ward neighborhood. This project aims to explore how Browne’s Ferry fits into Charlotte’s larger story of the “New South.” Based on oral histories, mapping and historical land research, and demographic research, a multidisciplinary creative team will create musical, video, and choreographic works for public presentation in Spring 2024. The project team includes: Nadia Anderson (Architecture), Mira Frisch (Music), Ashley Tate (Dance), Meg Whalen (CoAA), with members of Grace A.M.E. Zion Church and the Browne’s Ferry Community, the Charlotte Strings Collective, and additional community artists.
  • How We Got Here, Part 1: This theatre project will research the who, what, when, where and why the term “New South” came into existence and will build towards a performative piece that will give a clearer understanding of the complexities of the New South. As a “Part 1,” the long-term goal of this project will be to build upon this initial phase of research and then branch out to explore the effects this new ideal has had on those of African descent and other contemporary communities by asking the question: Is this a New South or is the New South simply the Old South wearing a mask? The project team includes: Margarette Joyner and collaborators (including students) from Theatre, History and English.
  • Loray Mill, The Musical: This project will result in an interdisciplinary site-specific musical in Spring 2024 involving various courses and workshops in the college. The musical will be based on the 1929 Loray Mill Strike in Gastonia, NC, and it will examine themes of labor, race, gentrification, police brutality, and unionization. The musical will center on the heroine of this event: Ella May Wiggins, a mill worker and single mother who helped lead the strike and was subsequently murdered as a result. The protest ballads she penned were eventually adopted into the folk music canon. The project team includes: Laura Waringer (Theatre), Carlos Cruz (Theatre), Sequina DuBose (Music), students, and professional theatre troupes, composers, and playwrights.
  • Ring Shout and Music Traditions: This project focuses on Ring Shout traditions as a multi-disciplinary experience incorporating music, dance, digital arts, and visual arts. The Ring Shout is one of the oldest surviving spiritual forms still practiced by descendants of enslaved Africans in the Southeast of the United States. The project will consist of class modules, inter-departmental collaboration, and community partnerships, resulting in presentations/performances at two former plantations: Historic Rosedale in Charlotte and Historic Stagville in Durham, N.C. The project team includes: Tamara Williams (Dance), Sequina DuBose (Music), students, and various community partners.
  • South Asian Dance and History: This collaboration will bring the disciplines of Dance and History together for pedagogical outcomes through South Asian dance and the body as they converse with the West, colonial history, post-colonial conditions, intercultural historical formations, and non-violence resistance movements bringing the struggles spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. into conversation with each other. The project will involve courses in both Dance and History and a culminating performance to take place during International Education Week. The project team includes: Kaus Sarkar (Dance), Ritika Prasad (History), students, and community partner organizations.