Senior Joel Parsons Is Named a Watson Fellow

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Publication Date: 3/17/2007

Photo: Joel Parsons '07
As a Watson Fellow, Joel Parsons ′07 plans to visit Italy, Turkey, India, South Africa and Peru.

Rhodes College senior Joel Parsons of Lowell, Ark., has been named a Watson Fellow, a prestigious designation that includes a $25,000 stipend to be used for travel and study abroad. Parsons is one of only 50 fellows chosen from more than 1,000 applicants from the 50 selective colleges and universities allowed to nominate students for the honor.

Parsons plans to visit Italy, Turkey, India, South Africa and Peru while studying the topic, “It Will Not Avert Its Eyes: Toward a New Activist Aesthetic.” An art major who, as part of his Bonner Scholarship to Rhodes, spends 10 hours a week in service to the community, Parsons has a keen interest in the relationship between activism and the arts. In partnership with Idlewild Presbyterian Church, he founded an artists’ collaborative called “More Than Art” that brings together the homeless and the wider community.

Parsons studied the connection between art and social change in the Czech Republic his junior year. “I returned with a greater understanding of the role that art can play in society and a greater understanding of my own work in relation to the global contemporary art world,” he says.

This year’s 50 Watson fellows come from 24 states and seven foreign countries. During their year abroad they will span 90 countries, exploring topics ranging from folk puppetry to the global fossil trade. “The Watson is a great opportunity and a tremendous honor,” says Parsons. “My experience at Rhodes has prepared me in ways that I never could have imagined and the faculty and staff here, especially the post-graduate scholarships committee and my advisors in the art department, were invaluable during the application process.”