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Pew Fellows News: Camae Ayewa Receives Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant, Melissa Ho Mounts Exhibition at Smithsonian, Tayarisha Poe Screens Film at Sundance

Rasheedah Phillips and Camae Ayewa, 2017 Pew Fellows. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
Rasheedah Phillips and Camae Ayewa, 2017 Pew Fellows. Photo by Ryan Collerd.

Catch up on this month’s Pew Fellows news, including the latest recognition, new works, and press coverage.

Awards, Honors, & Residencies

Three recent Pew Fellows—Ryan Eckes (2016), Rea Tajiri (2015), and Leah Stein(2018)—were awarded artist international and US residencies through a collaborative partnership between The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and the Alliance of Artists Communities.

Musician and interdisciplinary artist Camae Ayewa (2017), also known as Moor Mother, received one of twelve unrestricted Grants to Artists from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, a nonprofit organization founded in 1963 by artists John Cage and Jasper Johns.

Poet CAConrad (2011) won a 2019 Creative Capital Award for their project Resurrect Extinct Vibration, which will entail the practice of what the poet calls “(soma)tic poetry ritual” in locations across the United States.


Visual artist Melissa Ho (2005), curator of 20th-century art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, has organized Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975, which the Museum says is the “first national museum exhibition to examine the contemporary impact of the Vietnam War on American art.” The Washington Post previewed the exhibition, which opens in March.

At the Locks Gallery, visual artist David Hartt (2018) and digital media artist Tim Portlock (2011) have a joint exhibition that captures echoes of industrialism and design in the environment. A Gallery press release says the conversation between their works prompts “investigations between perceived expectations and far-reaching realities.”

Multidisciplinary artist Wilmer Wilson IV’s (2017) first solo exhibition, Slim… you don’t got the juice, is showing at Susan Inglett Gallery in New York City. These works use “visual, material, and technical manipulation” to explore and challenge the conventions of photography, according to the Gallery’s website.

Photographer William Earle Williams’ (1997) solo show, A Stirring Song Sung Heroic: African-Americans from Slavery to Freedom, 1619 to 1865, is on display at the Syracuse University Art Galleries. The Syracuse New Times described Williams’ photography as capturing the sites of “obscured, forgotten or neglected” episodes in African American history.

Painter Sarah Gamble’s (2009) new work is on display at the Fleisher-Ollman Gallery. New Paintings evokes “both the firing of our brains' neural pathways…and the expansiveness and cosmic connectivity of celestial bodies,” according to the Gallery website.

Theater artist Geoff Sobelle’s (2006) free, interactive audio guide to Brooklyn Bridge Park, Hear Their There Here, explores the history of the site through a multitude of voices.

In the News

Filmmaker Tayarisha Poe’s feature debut screened at the Sundance Film Festival, where it “commands attention,” according to Variety. Poe discussed her vision for Selah and the Spades in an interview with Filmmaker Magazine.

Architect Brian Phillips (2011) designed an apartment building that makes use of a narrow lot through clever layout and engineering. Philadelphia Inquirerarchitecture critic Inga Saffron noted the potential for affordable and space-conscious housing, like that created by Phillips’ firm, to spark neighborhood renewal.

The Philadelphia Inquirer profiled harpist Mary Lattimore (2014), discussing her career launch in Philadelphia, musical inspirations, and recent work.

Composer Andrea Clearfield (2016) created her first opera, Mila, Great Sorcerer, which tells the story of Milarepa, a Tibetan folk hero and spiritual teacher. The Philadelphia Inquirer covered Clearfield’s project and her process.

Choreographer Rennie HarrisLazarus, commissioned and performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, had its Washington, D.C., premiere at the Kennedy Center. Washington Post dance critic Sarah L. Kaufman praised the work as simultaneously “visceral,” “celebratory,” and “tenderly expressive.”

Musician Dan Blacksberg (2012) works in multiple genres as a jazz trombonist and the resident klezmer musician for Kol Tzedek synagogue. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Blacksberg’s original and improvised work in Encounters @ The Mothership, a series of concerts featuring 2012 Pew Fellow Marshall Allen and other performers.

Pianist Orrin Evans (2010), now playing with the acclaimed jazz trio The Bad Plus, told The Philadelphia Tribune that his “real love and dedication to this music was taught in the Philadelphia jazz clubs. Philly is a great place to grow up with jazz.”