Stephanie Misa, Photographer: Mark Pinder

The Art Foundation Merita award granted to artist-researcher Stephanie Misa

Stephanie Misa (born 1979), who was born in the Philippines and is based in Vienna, investigates phenomena pertaining to the oral tradition in her doctoral research project at the University of the Arts Helsinki’s (Uniarts Helsinki) Academy of Fine Arts. As an artist-researcher, Misa wants to increase the diversity of voices in research.

The topic of Misa’s doctoral project stems from her own mother tongue, Cebuano, a language spoken in the city of Cebu, where Misa spent her childhood. Cebuano is spoken by around 20 million people. The language has an important role in the community, but it does not have the status of an official, written language.

“It is extremely inspiring to study what kinds of creative processes take place when there are no rules, and how certain languages survive without being officially taught”, says Misa.

Misa is known both as an active participant in public discourses and debates and as an artist who has curated several exhibitions in addition to producing art of her own. Her most recent exhibition, Maga meets Marie, just finished its run in Vienna in early May. The exhibition was a commentary on the storming of the Capitol Hill by supporters of Donald Trump.

The social relevance of artistic research is important to Misa, who strives to increase the diversity of voices in research. “New information is still predominantly produced by white men. The goal of academic research, however, is to come up with new perspectives.” 

A scholarship for artistic research
The €22,000 Merita Award is awarded for the sixth time in collaboration with the Art Foundation Merita and Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts. The award is granted annually to a distinguished doctoral student engaged in artistic research, and it is intended to promote long-term artistic research with social relevance.

The recipient of the award was announced on 24 May 2021. The members of the jury are University Lecturer Riikka Haapalainen from the Aalto University, Assistant Professor Kalle Lampela from the University of Lapland, and Tutta Palin from the Art Foundation Merita. The recipient was selected by the Board of the Art Foundation Merita.


The artist’s website: h

Artist's video interview:

Artist's interview :

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