Press Releases

Purchase Alum Stephen Vitiello Receives Guggenheim Fellowship

Date Released: 5/10/2011

Electronic musician and sound artist Stephen Vitielo, class of '86, was selected for a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship in fine arts. Details.

Stephen Vitiello was among the 180 scholars, artists and scientists awarded Fellowships in this eighty-seventh annual competition.  He is one of three Purchase alums who received the awards in fine arts this year. The others are artists Katherine Bradford, and Rick Briggs.


As a sound and media artist, Stephen Vitiello’s work transforms incidental atmospheric noises into mesmerizing soundscapes that alter the perception of the surrounding environment.


He has composed music for independent films, experimental video projects and art installations, collaborating with such artists as Nam June Paik, Tony Oursler and Dara Birnbaum.


 As an installation artist he is particularly interested in the physical aspect of sound and its potential to define the form and atmosphere of a spatial environment.


In 1999 he was awarded a studio for six months in the 91st floor of the World Trade Center’s Tower One, where he recorded the crackling noises of the building swaying under the stress of the winds after Hurricane Floyd.


For a work called Whispering Corners he remixed field recordings made at Grand Central Station in 2002/2007. “The sound was captured in the aftermath of 9/11 when there was still a police and military presence…At one point you can hear a police dog barking,” he said. To create the piece Mr. Vitiello took advantage of Grand Central Station’s “rhythmic and ambient textures,” referencing the beats and melodies of pop music. 


Major exhibitions have included the 2002 Whitney Biennial and the 2006 Biennial of Sydney.


A recent project, “A Bell for Every Minute,” is a site-specific sound installation for the High Line in New York City in which recordings of 59 different bells from all over New York are used to mark time throughout the hour.  “The piece is a loose mapping of the city through sound sources including bells from churches, temples, and a synagogue as well as boats, sporting arenas, and known spaces such as the New York Stock Exchange,” he said.


He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinetic Imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.


Guggenheim Fellowships are often characterized as “midcareer” awards for men and women who have demonstrated exceptional creative ability for the arts. Stephen Vitiello was selected from over 3,000 applicants based on his prior achievements.