Thursday, September 3, 2015

Meet the Artists

The inscription period for the Institute has ended, and we have a very strong collection of professional artists who are joining this first semester with us, to build a project and make some social change.  I wanted to take this opportunity to briefly introduce them, though we will get to know them and their work better over the next several months.  Our class is:

Erin Cherry (actor, producer and community organizer) will be working on her project A Call To Action: Stay Woke!  Cherry envisions this as a community of Black Artists and Black Activists who are joining together to create a safe space for healing and for their voices to be heard. They are specific voices that will combat and challenge racism, racial profiling, police brutality, and oppression. Voices that represent all aspects of the Black experience. The are the voices who will add to the historic movement for justice and freedom like the Black men and women artists and activists before them. The movement is always stronger when the chain of struggle remains unbroken. Cherry proposes to create an artistic community which will offer the steel in that chain.

Cherry received her M.F.A. in Acting from Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts. She has appeared on stage at Julie Harris Stage; WHAT, St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Classical Theatre of Harlem, New York Stage and Film, Capitol Rep, The Prince Music Theatre, The Guthrie Theatre, and Crossroads Theatre to name a few. Recent stage roles include Stick Fly (Majestic), The Farm (Penguin Rep), Lines in the Dust (Luna Stage), and When We Were Young And Unafraid starring Cherry Jones (Manhattan Theatre Club/understudy).  Cherry also received a Best Actress Audelco Award nomination for her work as Yolande in New Federal Theatre’s production of Knock Me A Kiss starring AndrĂ© De'Shields as her father. 

Olivia Jade Corbett (fashion designer, dancer, rapper and activist)
For her first official campaign, she chose to shed light on current issues by choosing seven global themes where she saw a need for dissection and action. In a photo series named You Got CON’d, she posed an air of sudden consciousness, “OMG, I need drugs!!! Wait... Do I?” or “WTF have I been eating?!” featured in comical speech bubbles. The other themes covered media, celebrity, money, government and religion.
Campaigns that she has designed since rely on thought-provoking observation and conversation to get the ball rolling.  The Price is Right? was a simple tweak done to pose the question, “at what cost?” or “at who’s expense?”. I’d Rather Go Hairy Than Eat Dairy acknowledges cows as sentient beings, social and nurturing beings it turns out, but supports the use of certified humane meat and dairy. 

Mashuq Deen (playwright) has been a playwright for over a decade,.  Art and activism has always gone together, and most of the time that takes place on stage. He is now interested in looking at other stages -- stages within the community.  
Fellowships and awards: New Dramatists Fellowship, MacDowell Colony Fellow, NYFA, NYTW 2050 Fellowship, James Baldwin Award, Dennis Johnston Playwriting Prize honorable mention, nominated for the Weissberger Award.

Theater-affiliated writing groups: Ma-Yi Writers Lab,  P73 Interstate writing group member (2014-15), Public Theater Emerging Writers Group (2009) and Alumni Writers Group (ongoing).

Residencies etc: LMCC SPARC Fellow (teaching artist), affiliate artist w/ Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics (2012-13), Tofte Lake Center (2012),  Literary Committee at Queens Theatre in the Park. 

Deen is also an activist for the Asian LGBTQ community, both here in the States and internationally. He has taught writing workshops and led facilitator trainings. He is an avid bread baker, sew-er of stuffed monsters, occasional woodworker, and student of the classical 

Pamela Enz (filmmaker, writer and performance artist) creates multi media work with her body, ink, oil, and photos, a lifetime torn and layered into text, her own, or the gift of random lines that continue to haunt and inspire. Striving toward an insight into space and being that doesn’t line up with the shorthand of everyday vision she aspires to zoom past the representational into the realm of poetic realism. 
Two Japanese aesthetic principles guide her. Wabi Sabi is he first, as she have always found beauty in imperfection. And Clinamen realized in the doing over time as she discovered how to deliberately break a rule to enhance the beauty of an otherwise “perfect” whole. At the institute, she will develop a project which will utilize both her writing and performance skills.  The injustice that most moves her is the inequality that from almost birth damages the most beautiful spirits. 

The honors Pamela has received of which she is most proud include: Edward Albee Fellowships, (two), a Franklin Furnace Emerging performance grant, and three PEN Grants.

Loren Halman (Performing artist exploring intersections of music, dance, performance art, 
social justice, and healing.)  Known by his stage name Lolo has been exploring the meeting place of narrative strategy, artistic creation and base-building community organizing as ways of making change. He attended the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics' EMERGENYC Program for artist/activists, just finished a 3-week residency working on performance where he developed political performance work, and has gone through several other trainings recently related to activist art. 
He is specifically interested in addressing broader underlying values/assumptions as relates to gentrification and housing justice, as an anti-displacement organizer in Bushwick currently working on these issues.  The vision of this project is to create a systematic approach to engage with groups across the housing justice spectrum and to, through intentional research and targeted project development and implementation, create artistic works to hit on underlying values of audiences that, if involved, would mean enormous growth of the housing justice movement. This would look like workshopping a narrative power analysis with each group, developing artistic product concepts, involving the groups in the development of this broader project, and eventually putting it together.

Charles Munn (actor) is working on a piece that explores the language used by white men on the wrong side of history. The piece uses sourced documents from slaveholders, segregationists, and senators to confront its audience with words we want to pretend never existed. Charles is interested in what can be collectively learned from this confrontation. 
Charles is using this work to explore audience agency, word choice, and a person's ability to produce tangible change.  Hs desire is to have the audience compare and contrast their own syntax and contemplate its daily effect.  Charles is an actor with Guerrilla Rep and was a part of the 2015 Core Company at the Orchard Project.

Eva Peskin and Justine Williams (interdisciplinary performing artists) approach performance as a kind of research. They draw from shared roots in experimental, devised theater.  They have discovered a way of working wherein what they are doing, performing, enacting, building, creating in the present moment with their fellow performers and audiences serves as a tactic, a strategy, an intervention -- a means of practicing now to make better memories for all participants in the future. 
They plan on working on a performance project currently entitled, How to Survive in the Woods, which begins with the forming of an intergenerational, queer Scout troop and will take the shape of regular Scout meetings, and other Scouting events, to be determined by the Scout troop/performance troupe.
While they plan to use some of the structure, language, ethics and overall poetics of the Boy and Girl Scouts, they will also use the Boy and Girls Scouts as an established framework to subvert, resist and re-imagine.
Scouts traditionally take an oath, swearing they will do their best to be their best selves, committing to an ethos of Doing One’s Best. This phrase contrasts with the familiar sentiment “It gets better”, around which much energy has been mobilized to convince young queers that their lives will improve. We wonder, does “it” get better? Or, don’t we have to commit to making “it” better? Can Scouting be a framework for enacting and defining Better, instead of waiting for it? What could it mean for an intergenerational, queer group of individuals to endeavor to develop their potential and to guide one another through the process? On our honor, we will do our best.

Kerri Quinn (writer) will build her project around the homelessness issue in New York City, simultaneously examining the face and the stories of the homeless and how they how exposed due to weather, lack of clothing, begging and crying every minute, of every day with the face and the stories of the detached: Those who are not exposed. Those who have clothing, food and a roof over their heads who laugh, cry and beg behind closed doors.

Her activist experience includes facilitating an afterschool writing program for a group of fifth grade girls at an elementary school in Flagstaff, Arizona. The group was called “Ladies Write Now.”  She also facilitated creative writing workshops at Flagstaff Medical Center in Flagstaff, Arizona as part of their Employee Wellness Program. She also facilitated a writing workshop for the 2013 Breast Cancer Survivor Retreat. 
One of her current playwriting projects focuses on the stories of women who are fleeing their homes in Central America and coming to the United States as refugees. She also has been working for Q Media as a scriptwriter and creative consultant. Their current project is in collaboration with American Rivers. The goal is to create a film that halts development at the Grand Canyon.
Kerri has a Phd. in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi.  Her website is currently under construction. 

Hannah Schilsky (visual artist) . The project she will be exploring at the Institute is called Hud. Hud explores the stereotype and racial profiling of "the hoody." While a hood can be a huge comfort for an individual, a cave in which they can be alone in a public space, it can cause a huge amount of discomfort to members of authority and in some cases causes the wearer to become a suspect or target. She is interested in filling a space with multiple sculptures of these life size faceless Huds and potentially including audio within the figures in an attempt to create a mysterious tension that questions ones right to remain anonymous in a public space and explores how the public interacts with what is hidden beneath a hood.

Nate Speare (storyteller, teaching artist and astrological consultant) current passion is using the performing arts, symbolic ways of thinking and mythology as tools to empower and inspire people of all ages. He will be working on a project entitled, “Astrological Dramas: Exploring Conversations Between Archetypes."  
Astrology, far from being fortune telling, is a practice of knowing oneself profoundly and developing a friendly relationship with the archetypes. These archetypes are not elevated concepts but everyday experiences, exemplified by the moments over the course of a day when human beings need to consult members of an internal subcommittee in order to make a seemingly simple decision. “Astro-Dramas”, or astrological dramas, are plays that can inspire people to become conscious of both the language and the tone that they use to talk to themselves and others in various life situations.
Nate is interested in bringing the archetypes into greater social consciousness, and to show how these archetypal forces reveal themselves in all facets of society, not only on the individual level. 

No comments:

Post a Comment