Flat Out Inc., which publishes an independent print magazine founded and edited by Associate Professor Penelope Dean, received a competitive grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) this month. Flat Out is among 1,248 projects across America that were selected to receive this first round of fiscal year 2022 funding, totaling $28,840,000, in the Grants for Arts Projects category.
The $10,000 grant will support the development of a new Flat Out website, which will make the magazine’s content available online. According to the NEA’s announcement, funded projects demonstrated a commitment to provide more equitable and accessible pathways to engage with the arts. The NEA funding complements grants to Flat Out from UIC's Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Flat Out enacts multiple genres of architectural criticism through fifteen fictitious characters, recurring roles inhabited by a rotating cast of undercover writers and designers. Character portraits by a different artist are commissioned for every issue. In particular, the magazine promotes alternative forms of writing and visuals by fresh and emerging voices, including those from outside traditional disciplinary domains. School faculty Zehra Ahmed, Jayne Kelley, and Robert Somol and assistant director Lauren Van Damme are part of the Flat Out editorial team, and many faculty and alumni appear in the magazine’s first four issues.