|E.T., PHONE HOME: James Sugg won a Pew Fellowship!
We just got official word
from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
that the organization's 2010 Pew Fellowships in the Arts
recipients have been announced, and we're pleased as punch to see such names as Kara Crombie
, James Sugg
and Chuck Treece
on the list. (Pew fellows each receive $60,000
a "no strings attached" award based on merit, dedication and potential impact
over one to two years. Pretty sweet, if you ask us.)
It feels like just yesterday (OK, it was Friday
) that I was re-gushing over Crombie
's out-there animation series, Aloof Hills
, which follows an effed-up Civil War-era family and their soap opera-caliber drama
's where I gushed about her the first time around.)
And we all know Pig Iron
, who won an OBIE award last May
for his performance in Chekhov Lizardbrain
(news we broke here
). As for Treece
, we can't say enough
about the guy.
Hop to the jump to check out the full list of winners
, plus descriptions of their work, courtesy of the Pew. Big ups!
Max Apple has been described as a "writer's writer," a dedicated author of short fiction who writes with precision and control, conveying great meaning with few words. Apple has been writing since the mid-'70s, when he penned his first book, The Oranging of America
(1976), a collection of short stories that satirizes social norms and often places historical figures, such as motor-lodge entrepreneur Howard Johnson and novelist Normal Mailer, in farcical situations. His oeuvre includes Zip: A Novel of the Left and the Right
(1978), The Jew of Home Depot and Other Stories
(2007), and the screenplays for 1994's The Air Up There
, starring Kevin Bacon, and 1995's Roommates
, based on Apple's 1994 memoir about being a graduate student while living with his grandfather. Apple, who teaches part time at the University of Pennsylvania, says of his work, "When I write, my primary concern is for my characters. They count on me for everything and my obligation is to let them live in language as fully as I can."
Melanie Bilenker translates the historic art of Victorian hair jewelry into work that reflects upon the contemporary era. Her delicate pendants and brooches are wearable art objects, depicting ordinary moments of everyday lifemaking lunch, bathing, washing disheswith "drawings" made from resin, gold, silver, and the artist's own hair. "I am looking for ways to conjure a sense of home for the viewer," Bilenker states, referring to both her subject matter and the medium of human hair. "I see hair as proof of existence, a souvenir." Often cited as a leader in the movement to return to craftsmanship in jewelry making, Bilenker has received commissions from the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Scotland, among others.
John Blake, Jr.
John Blake, Jr. has taken his inspiration as a contemporary jazz violinist and composer from some of the genre's greats, having served as a band member for two legendary jazz masters: saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. and pianist McCoy Tyner. Born in Philadelphia, Blake is a faculty member at both The University of the Arts and the Manhattan School of Music. He was commissioned in 2005 by Chamber Music America to create a compilation, "A Celebration of Fiddle Music from Africa to America," that traced the violin's history in African and African-American music. His latest work, Motherless Child, features jazz arrangements of traditional Negro spirituals. Blake hopes to raise awareness of Philadelphia's storied history of jazz and thereby perpetuate the art form. "I'm constantly developing a younger audience," Blake says. "It is a must to keep jazz alive."
"I see my work as representation of the first generation to grow up entirely under the umbrella of a 'read-write' culture," Kara Crombie states. A video artist and photographer working with animation, Crombie refers to the current digital age, in which we interpret, reformulate, and share information as opposed to merely consuming it. She is interested in exploring the ways in which our environments inform our identities and vice versa. Her new animated series, Aloof Hills
, addresses contemporary American "taboos" such as interracial relationships and drug and alcohol use, and does so in a historic setting; Crombie's characters are Civil War-era paper dolls, and her landscapes include paintings and YouTube video clips. These seemingly absurd juxtapositions draw parallels between so-called outdated racial and gender politics and contemporary attitudes, and leave the interpretation open to the viewer's personal experiences, as well as his or her anxieties and opinions. Crombie has had solo exhibitions at Vox Populi Gallery and Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia, and has participated in group exhibitions at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and elsewhere.
Self-proclaimed "mud man" William Daley has been a leading figure in the field of ceramics for close to 60 years. At age 85, he is creating some of the strongest work of his career. Through his large-scale vessels, which he refers to as "Vesicas," Daley explores geometry, symbols and cultural icons, as well as the relationship of interior and exterior. Daley's exhibition history dates back to the 1950s and his works have been included in numerous collections at venues such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Art of the Smithsonian Institution. A former prisoner of war in World War II, Daley received his art education through the G.I. Bill and has spent decades teaching others, both inside the classroom and at lectures, workshops, and symposia around the world. Daley says his desire is to continue honing his craft and exploring further, "being a joyous maker of possibilities, a maker for joy's sake."
Orrin Evans never stops thinking about the traditions and evolution of jazz music, as well as renewing jazz's legacy in the African-American community. "My goal is to utilize my relationships to create memorable musical experiences and document our history," Evans says. A gifted improviser, noted composer, and seasoned bandleader, Evans has worked alongside jazz veterans such as saxophonist Bobby Watson and drummer Ralph Peterson. He is invested in continuing the apprenticeâmentor relationship in jazz music, hiring up-and-comers to work with him on his projects, including his recently formed Captain Black Big Band. In addition to collaborations with artists ranging from hip-hop stars Common and Mos Def to noted poet and 1993 Pew Fellow Sonia Sanchez, Evans is the founder of Imani Records and 88 Keys Productions. He has gained notoriety as a cultural advocate for Philadelphia, working as a 2010 Philly 360 Creative Ambassador for the Greater Philadelphia Marketing and Tourism Board.
At age 33, Germaine Ingram took up dance under the tutelage and mentorship of a Philadelphia tap legend, the late LaVaughn Robinson (a 1992 Pew Fellow in the Arts). Since then, she has become a major figure in contemporary jazz tap, following in the tradition of her forebears while breaking new ground in the art form through oral history, filmmaking, and stage production, in addition to performance and choreography. Ingram's work addresses social justice and historical narratives, as well as various aspects of the African-American experience, through projects such as "Parallel Destinies." This work in progress ruminates on the recent discovery of George Washington's slave quarters near the site of the Liberty Bell, where nine enslaved African-Americans were held. "I aim to exploit tap's capacity to tell stories and illuminate cultural roots and connections," Ingram says. "I aspire to stimulate meaningful discussion about the work itself." An internationally known solo performer, Ingram has received fellowships and awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Independence Foundation, and the Leeway Foundation.
Violinist/classical Arab musician
A 29-year-old violinist, Hanna Khoury was trained in Western classical music. He is a member of the Lancaster Symphony and has played with the Harrisburg Symphony. His passion, however, lies in Arab classical music. "I want to dedicate more time to working with and learning from the few remaining masters in this field," Khoury says, noting the scarcity of musicians and venues dedicated to the genre, "to become an authority in classical Arab music." A Palestinian who grew up in northern Israel, Khoury is a budding master of his craft who plays with superb technique. He hopes to use his talent to bring Arab classical music to audiences in the United States and throughout the world. Khoury is currently the Music Director of the Arabesque Music Ensemble, a group of musicians based in various cities that has gone on several nationwide tours. In 2010, Khoury established the Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble at Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, a Philadelphia nonprofit organization for youth education in Arabic language, arts, and culture.
Tina Morton left a career as an X-ray technician to pursue documentary filmmaking after she researched the tale of Corrine Sykes, the first African-American woman to be legally executed in Philadelphia. With an established interest in oral history and film, Morton discussed Sykes' tale with her senior patients and discovered discrepancies between their stories and the documented history of the execution. She eventually completed a film about Sykes in 1997, Severed Souls
, and she since continued to develop her role as a "video oral historian," documenting narratives of community life and speaking to her African-American heritage. Morton's film Belly of the Basin
, a documentary on Hurricane Katrina, focuses on marginalized groups affected by the disaster: people from the Ninth Ward, the Black Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans and the Native American Houma Tribe. Belly of the Basin
won Best Documentary at the 2008 Black Hollywood Film Festival and has received praise for its authentic representation of the community's voice. "Many people feel comfortable sharing their stories with someone whose purpose is centered with mutual respect in allowing them to tell their story their own way," Morton says.
"Looking to nature for design inspiration is not a new idea," says architect and designer Jenny Sabin. Sabin's work, however, is at the forefront of a new direction for 21st-century architectural practiceone that investigates the intersections of architecture and science, and applies insights and theories from biology and mathematics to the design of material structures. Sabin is the co-founder and co-director of Sabin+Jones LabStudio, a hybrid research and design unit at the University of Pennsylvania, where architects, mathematicians, scientists, and cell biologists collaborate to analyze living biological systems and develop new insights into ecological design in architecture. Her design work, already on a radically different scale from others in the field, is extremely relevant during a time of environmental crisis, when energy conservation and optimization are major global concerns.
Solo theater artist/sound designer/composer
James Sugg describes himself as a bridgea bridge between music and theater, composer and performer, and traditional and ensemble-generated theater. Well-known for his collaborative work with Philadelphia's celebrated interdisciplinary ensemble, Pig Iron Theatre Companywith whom he won an OBIE (Off-Broadway Theater) Award in 2009 for his role in Chekhov Lizardbrain
Sugg finds himself on the precipice of a new stage in his career, in which he hopes to create new work beyond the collaborative experience. "Finding inspiration in solitude is one of my greatest insecurities," Sugg admits. "Yet I believe it is my unavoidable next step as I strive to make great compositional work." One of the region's most lauded theater artists, Sugg has received four Barrymore Awards for his work as a sound designer and composer, and won the F. Otto Haas Emerging Theater Artist Award in 2005. Sugg has made 17 original works with Pig Iron and worked with several local companies and theaters; he now stands poised to make an enduring contribution to the field. "I want to wake up the audience," Sugg says, "make them wonder where they have ended up."
Charles "Chuck" Treece
Chuck Treece is known as a seasoned guitarist, bassist, drummer, vocalist, and, in many circles, a skateboarding legend. The first African-American youth in Philadelphia to become a sponsored skateboarder in 1982, Treece started his band McRad in the same year, and the group is still going strong 28 years later. Treece's music has evolved from its original punk-rock influence to a blend of contemporary genres, including punk, ska (a bass-heavy genre with roots in Caribbean music and rhythm and blues), dub (originally a subgenre of reggae music), and soul. His history of collaboration with other musicians and songwriters ranges from punk pioneers Bad Brains and contemporary R&B artist D'Angelo to Sting and Billy Joel. Treece is interested in culminating his past works with a career-spanning album, "Never Ending Dominant Force," and he wants to open a local school for youths to learn music. At the same time, he'll continue to write and play his own music: "I want to continue to write and play music, to stretch my abilities and create consistently, no matter what is going in the world around me."