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TWU student receives Fulbright Fellowship


Photo courtesy of Elizabeth M. Claffey

DENTON — Elizabeth M. Claffey, a 2011 master of fine arts graduate of Texas Woman’s University, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct creative and archival research in post-Communist cultural identity in Albania.

Beginning in September, Ms. Claffey will spend nine to 10 months creating “Home: Images of Domestic Traditions in Albania,” a series of environmental portraits that explore post-Communist cultural identity and transformation as shaped by women’s influences on domestic spaces. Her work will focus on urban and rural domestic spaces, exploring “home” as a place that shapes personal and national identity, family structure and kinship.

Ms. Claffey’s project developed from a trip to Romania in 2007, where she taught a photography workshop for Habitat for Humanity volunteers and photographed people benefiting from the organization’s efforts. The experience sparked her interest in Eastern Europe and the currently occupied remnants of communist architecture. “As my interest developed, I became focused on Albania because of its particular experience of occupation and isolation,” she said.

“I am interested in alleviating feelings of isolation and in creating community, as well as addressing issues that often are socially constructed or restricted,” Ms. Claffey said of her work. “Images are a powerful force. There is an immediacy and accessibility to them that can create connection and understanding, often beyond barriers of language.”

Susan kae Grant, TWU professor of art, who served as Ms. Claffey’s mentor in the MFA, said, “Ms. Claffey is a gifted leader who takes chances and courageously explores unknown areas. The proposed series of environmental portraits will without a doubt touch the lives of others, and certainly will make a tremendous impact on the future of photographic storytelling as a tool for expression and cultural understanding.”

Ms. Claffey graduated from TWU in May 2011 with an MFA in visual arts. She also was named an Outstanding Graduate Student in 2011. She currently is pursuing a graduate certificate in women’s studies through TWU’s distance education program. Ms. Claffey also teaches photography an adjunct faculty member at Boise State University in Boise, Idaho.

More information about Ms. Claffey and her work is available at

The Fulbright Program – the flagship international education program sponsored by the U.S. government – is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Participants, who are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential, are given the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. For more information, visit

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Karen Garcia
Senior Writer

page updated 10/2/2014 10:59 AM