2015: A Year in Pew Fellows News

18 Dec 2015


Sonia Sanchez. Photo by Erika Vonie.


Installation view of Temple Contemporary's reFORM, in collaboration with Pew Fellow Pepón Osorio. Photo by Constance Mensh. Courtesy of Temple Contemporary.


Laynie Browne, 2014 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.


Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble in concert with The Crossing choir and soloist Dalal Abu Amneh, 2015. Photo by Chip Colson.

Our Pew Fellows represent a diverse range of artists, ranging from playwrights to poets, visual artists to filmmakers, and composers to choreographers. In 2015, Fellows performed and exhibited their work at theaters, festivals, and in museums around the globe, received prestigious awards, and garnered international media attention. Here are a few of the year's highlights.

Learn more about our Fellows' artistic lives and practices in Questions of Practice.>

Awards and Accolades

Pew Fellows continue to be recognized for their artistic achievements with awards and fellowships. In theater, Pig Iron Theatre Company co-founder Quinn Bauriedel (2002) was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship, while theater artist and playwright James Ijames (2015) was the recipient of the Philadelphia Theatre Company McNally Play Award for his play White.

Poet Afaa Michael Weaver (1998) was honored with the 2015 Phyllis Wheatley Book Award in Poetry, for his book City of Eternal Spring, and CAConrad (2011) was the recipient of the Believer Magazine poetry award for his book ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness.

Sculptor Kukuli Velarde (2003) and media artists/collaborators Nadia Hironaka (2006) and Matthew Suib (2011) were awarded 2015 Fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Jazz pianist Matt Mitchell (2012) and choreographer Susan Rethorst (2014) received 2015 Doris Duke Impact Awards from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

In Residence

The Center awarded five new artist residencies to Pew Fellows in 2015, supported by our ongoing partnership with the Alliance of Artists Communities. The recipients are poet Laynie Browne (2014); poet Thomas Devaney (2014); filmmaker Ted Passon (2014); choreographer Jumatatu Poe (2012); and poet J. C. Todd (2014).

Dancer Raphael Xavier (2013) also completed his residency at MacDowell Colony, awarded in 2014. Watch a video about his time at MacDowell here.

On View

Visual artist Alex Da Corte (2012) debuted a new solo show, Die Hexe, at Luxembourg & Dayan in New York City. The exhibition garnered national media attention, including W Magazine, Artforum, and The New York Times, which wrote that the show "dazzles at every turn...sustains an impressive, even Koonsian sense of detail and beauty."

Visual artist Ryan Trecartin (2009) co-curated the 2015 New Museum Triennial, with reviews from Gotham Magazine, Blouin Artinfo, and Vulture, which called Trecartin "one of the best artists of his generation."

Judith Schaechter's (1992) stained-glass work, The Birth of Eve, was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Nora Atkinson, the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft, called Schaechter "one of the foremost innovators, teachers, and practitioners in her field."

Visual artist Pepón Osorio (2006) collaborated with Temple Contemporary and former Fairhill Elementary School students, families, and community members to create reFORM, an immersive exhibition and discussion space that was featured in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Al Día, which called reFORM "an art installation that goes deep into the social and emotional effects of displacement."

Nearly 60 of Emmet Gowin's (1994) photographs were hand-selected by the artist to be displayed at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York for his show Hidden Likeness. In a review, The New York Times argued that Hidden Likeness "all but redefines the genre" of artist-selected exhibitions.

Newly Published

Several poets and authors published new books this year, including Laynie Browne's (2014) Scorpyn Odes (Kore Press), Thomas Devaney's (2014) Runaway Goat Cart (Hanging Loose Press), Major Jackson's (1995) Roll Deep: Poems (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.), Ken Kalfus' (2009) Coup de Foudre: A Novella and Stories (Bloomsbury Publishing), and Beth Kephart's (2005) One Thing Stolen (Chronicle Books).

Performances and Premieres

Musical premieres came from Jennifer Higdon (1999), whose first opera Cold Mountain premiered in a sold-out run with Santa Fe Opera and was called "proof that we are living in a Golden Age of American opera" by The Washington Post; and Kinan Abou-afach (2013), whose composition referenced Andalusian poetry as part of the Center-funded project Words Adorned: Andalusian Poetry and Music, presented by Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture.

Theater artist Geoff Sobelle's (2006) intimate, solo theater performance, The Object Lesson, toured across the country, garnering critical acclaim and a New York Dance & Performance Bessie Award for "Outstanding Visual Design." Thaddeus Phillips' (2002) one-man show 17 Border Crossings received its New York premiere at BAM Fisher, with The New York Times noting the work's "inventive approach to staging."

Locally, Pig Iron Theater Company founders Dito van Reigersberg, Dan Rothenberg, and Quinn Bauriedel (2002) premiered the Center-funded show, I Promised Myself to Live Faster at FringeArts, and playwright Bruce Graham's (1993) Rizzo premiered at Christ Church Neighborhood House as part of Theatre Exile's season.

Musician Pablo Batista (2000) and Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble led by Dorothy Wilkie (2007) performed as part of Pope Francis' remarks on immigration at Independence Mall during the papal visit to Philadelphia.

Dancer and choreographer Rennie Harris (1996) created a new work for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which The New York Times called one of "the best pieces made for the troupe in recent years."

On Screen

A new documentary about poet and activist Sonia Sanchez (1993), BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, debuted at International House as part of the BlackStar Film Festival. Pew Fellows Janet Goldwater (2005) and Barbara Attie (2005) co-directed and produced the film, which features appearances by Questlove, Talib Kweli, Ursula Rucker, Ayana Mathis, Amiri Baraka, John Bracey, Nikki Giovanni, Bryonn Bain, Imani Uzuri, and many others.

Hollywood Beauty Salon, a documentary directed by filmmaker Glenn Holsten (1997), premiered at The Perelman Theater at The Kimmel Center.