4 minutes, 33 seconds contest

An homage to John Cage's landmark composition of the same name, the 4 Minutes, 33 Seconds Contest highlights University of Georgia student research in the arts. The event offers an opportunity for students to win prizes and to share their creative inquiry with peers, faculty, administrators and alumni throughout the university community. The competition is open to any graduate student or undergraduate student working on an advanced project, who is conducting research related to the literary, visual, or performing arts or artists.

The 2023 competition was coordinated by Katie Geha, director of the School of Art Galleries in the Lamar Dodd School of Art, and Gerald Maa, director of The Georgia Review. The 4 Minutes, 33 Seconds Contest is part of UGA's annual Spotlight on the Arts festival.


2023 Contest

4 Minutes, 33 Seconds Contest winners 2023Vale Prosper, Isabella Tallman-Jones, Adah Bennion, and Keren Sahar


Grand Prize Winner: $433

Adah Bennion
MFA, Studio | Advisor: Isabelle Loring Wallace

Bennion's artistic practice engages processes of traditional craft and fiber to form intimate explorative relations with materials over protracted lengths of dedicated time and intention through which she explores interweaving threads of time, materiality, memory and value in our contemporary context.


Runners-up: $150 each

Vale Prosper
Ph.D., Theater and Performance Studies | Advisor: John Bray

Keren Sahar
BFA, Graphic Design | Advisor: Grace Jun

Isabelle Tallman-Jones
MA, Art History | Advisor: Isabelle Loring Wallace


The 10 undergraduate and graduate students selected for the 2023 competition represented a wide variety of degrees including English, dance, language and literacy education, graphic design, dramatic media, music performance, classics, art history and theatre and performance studies.

The students’ research topics included the accessibility of student housing in Athens for people with visual impairments, found cardboard as a sculptural medium and dark comedy as a way to mitigate anxiety.

Jurors for the 2023  competition were: Tracey Johnson, assistant professor of history and African American studies; Neil Lyall, associate dean of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; and Rodrigo Martini Paula, assistant professor in the department of English.

“The 4 Minutes, 33 Seconds Contest is one of my favorite aspects of Spotlight on the Arts,” said Katie Geha, director of the Athenaeum and organizer of the event. “The program emphasizes the fundamental research and deep thinking inherent to working in the arts and the humanities. It’s an incredible opportunity to hear from some of our brightest students on campus and, also, it’s a lot of fun!”

For a full list of persenters at the 2023 competition, view the program (PDF).


Frequently Asked Questions

What is research in the arts?

Research in the arts is a process by which we identify an inquiry and strive towards the production of new knowledge. This may be research conducted towards the synthesis of a thesis or research paper, or a creative project that you have executed at UGA or in the community.


Do I need scholarly citations on my poster or in my presentation for my project to count as "research"?

Not necessarily. Your presentation/poster could reflect a project surrounding an inquiry or problem that you have striven to solve based on experimentation. Your presentation/poster could also reflect research you have completed for a degree thesis or other research paper. Show that you have asked a critical question, developed a methodology, and shared your resulting knowledge in some way.


Is my project/research eligible?

If you had a research question about the arts, or that you sought to answer through the arts, your project is eligible for the 4'33" Spotlight on Arts Scholarship Competition. State your research questions clearly, the steps you have taken to investigate them, and the ways in which your project is innovative. If your project demonstrates critical thought and problem solving, it is eligible!


Why submit a proposal?

The UGA community wants to hear about the topics students feel are meaningful and urgent. Engage with other people doing research in the arts and make your voice heard on topics important to you. Prize winners will also receive a monetary award.


I am an undergraduate student with a unique project or research topic. Can I submit my proposal even though I am not in CURO?

Absolutely! We want to hear about all students' innovative research and projects.


Why is it called the 4'33'' competition?

4'33" is an homage to John Cage's landmark composition 4'33". 

For any further questions, please contact Katie Geha, kgeha@uga.edu.


Previous  4'33" Winners


The winner and three runners-up of the 2022 4'33" CompetitionElizabeth Dubberly, Daniel Karcher, Lyndsey Cole Hadary and Sofía Ruiz


Grand Prize Winner

Daniel Karcher
DMA, Music Composition | Advisor: Peter Van Zandt Lane
Analytical Descriptors for Sonic Spatialization in Music Composition


Elizabeth Dubberly
PhD, Language and Literacy Education | Advisor: Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor
Can a Classroom Sewing and Engineering Activity Provide Insight into Bilingualism?

Lyndsey Cole Hadary
MFA, Performance | Advisor: Anthony Marotta
The Beginning of Things: A Feminist Dreamscape

Sofía Ruiz
MFA, Performance | Advisor: Anthony Marotta
Female Warriors in History



Josina Guess
Josina Guess
4’33” Research in the Arts Award Winner

MFA in Narrative Nonfiction 
Faculty Advisor: Patricia Thomas
"From Bilali to Bailey"
View Presentation Online

Jonathan Mitchell Vance
4’33” Research in the Arts Finalist

PhD Candidate, Computer Science
Faculty Advisor: Khaled Rasheed
"An Atonal Algorithm and AI Articulation"
View Presentation Online
Leah Dutton
4’33” Research in the Arts Finalist

Major Degree Area: DMA Cello Performance
Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Starkweather
"Prevention, Intervention and Early Recognition of Injuries in String Musicians"
View Presentation Online


Participants in the 2019 4 minutes, 33 seconds competition

Jason Woodworth-Hou, winner of the 2020 4"33" Research in the Arts Competition. 
His presentation  was entitled "Redefining Animation: How 
They Shall Not Grow Old 
Redefines Truthmaking Through CGI Animation."

Other competition finalist include:
Annie Simpson, MFA Studio Art
Atalanta Siegel, MFA Acting
Morgan Tate, PhD Social Studies Education
Nicollette Frank, PhD Elementary Education
Paula Reynaldi, MFA Studio Art
Robyn Acetta, MFA Acting
Sarah Shermyen, PhD English
SungEun Min, PhD, Educational Theory and Practice
Viviane Klen-Alves, PhD TESOL and World Language Education


Participants in the 2019 4 minutes, 33 seconds competition

Pictured are the participants in the 2019 4 minutes, 33 seconds competition. The winner of the oral presentation was Kathleen McGovern (pictured below with guest judge Kishi Bashi). McGovern is a Language and Literature Education Ph.D. candidate in the College of Education.

Participants in the 2019 4 minutes, 33 seconds competition


2018 winners of the 4 minutes, 33 seconds competition

Pictured with Graduate School Dean Suzanne Barbour (center) are (l-r) Samantha Lynn Hudson, an MFA student in dramatic media; Rhia Moreno, a doctoral student in language and literacy education; Kuo Zhang, a doctoral student in the language and literacy education program; and Bridget Dooley, a doctoral student in creative writing. Last November, Kuo won the 4'33" competition in the presentation category, and the other three received awards in the poster competition.


Ally Christmas presents her research in the 4 minutes, 33 seconds competition

Pictured is the award winner in the presentation category Ally Christmas, a master of fine arts student in the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Poster exhibition winners include: Madison A. Hogan, Undergraduate Major, Department of English; Abigail Kosberg, MA Art History, Lamar Dodd School of Art; and Marlon Burnley, MFA Acting, Department of Theatre and Film Studies. 


Participants in the 2016 4 minutes, 33 seconds competition

Pictured are the participants in the 2016 4 minutes, 33 seconds competition. The winner of the oral presentation was Meg Hankel, and recipients of the first annual poster competition included Arron Foster, Damon Postle and Kaleena Stasiak. 


2015 winners of the 4 minutes, 33 seconds competitionThe 2015 winners of the presentation competition are pictured with Georgia Museum of Art Director William Eiland, who served as emcee. Theresa Chafin (left) is a grad student in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music and Beth Fadeley (right) is an art history student in the Lamar Dodd School of Art. 


2014 winners of the 4 minutes, 33 seconds competition

Graduate students K. Scott Eggert (left) of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music and Karen Sweeney Gerow (right) of the Lamar Dodd School of Art are the winners of the inaugural 4 minutes, 33 seconds: Spotlight on Scholarship competition. They are pictured with then-Vice Provost Russ Mumper, the emcee of the event.