Fellows Friday News: An Opera Premiere from Jennifer Higdon, A Book Award for Afaa Michael Weaver, and more

31 Jul 2015


Max Apple, 2010 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.


Jennifer Higdon, 1999 Pew Fellow. Photo by Candace di Carlo.


Afaa Michael Weaver. Photo by Lynda Kodish.

In this month's Pew Fellows news highlights, visual artist Candy Coated designs colorful bikes with the Mural Arts Program and Indego, and composer Jennifer Higdon prepares for the premiere of her opera, Cold Mountain, in Santa Fe. The Chicago Tribune profiles fiction writer Max Apple, and Poet Afaa Michael Weaver receives the 2015 Phillis Wheatley Book Award.

Broadening Practice with New Projects

In partnership with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and students from a Philadelphia elementary school, visual artist Candy Coated (2002) has designed ten specialized bike wrappers for the new Indego bike share program. Follow the bikes on social media with the hashtag #ridingmurals.

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon (1999) has scored her first opera, an adaptation of the award-winning novel and film Cold Mountain, co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Santa Fe Opera. Cold Mountain will premiere in Santa Fe on August 1 in a series of sold-out performances before traveling to Philadelphia. In an interview with Opera News, Higdon said of the project, "It felt more like me than anything I've ever written."

Pew Fellows in Profile

The Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Journal features fiction writer Max Apple (2010). "[Apple] hammered home, in story after warmhearted story," writes Ron Currie Jr., "that no matter how far afield we go in terms of style, structure, theme, whatever, it all ultimately must exist in the service of a very plain, very human, very relatable story."

Poet Yolanda Wisher (2015) is profiled in PhillyVoice as one of seven poets keeping rhythmic tradition alive in Philadelphia. "[Poetry] became a way of dealing with all of the struggles I faced growing up as a black girl in a predominantly white suburb," said Wisher, whose next project will be an homage to her family and womanhood.

Filmmaker and animation artist Sheila Sofian (1997) is interviewed for The Art Institutes' Animation Career Review, on exploring dark topics through animation, and working as a woman in her field.

Awards and Accolades

Theater artist James Ijames (2015) recently premiered the play Moon Man Walk at Prince Theater, the first of playwright collective Orbiter 3's new productions. NewsWorks called the work "an ambitious play," and The Philadelphia Inquirer named Ijames "an excellent high-profile starting point" for Orbiter 3, comparing Moon Man Walk to the story of Telemachus and Odysseus.

Poet Afaa Michael Weaver (1998) has received the 2015 Phyllis Wheatley Book Award in poetry, for his book City of Eternal Spring (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014), the conclusion to his Plum Flower Trilogy series.

Visual artist Alex Da Corte (2012) is part of Bonsai #5, a group show at New York City's Maccarone Gallery honoring Chicago painter Roger Brown. In a review of the show, The New York Times spotlighted Da Corte's work among the "exquisitely calibrated group show." Now through August 14, Maccarone Gallery, New York City.

Pew Fellows Perform in August

Poets Sonia Sanchez (1993), Trapeta Mayson (2002), and Yolanda Wisher (2015) will perform as part of Germantown Stars Under the Stars, alongside other performing artists from the Germantown area. August 7, 8–10 p.m., Historic Vernon Park, Greene Street side. Rain date August 9.

Bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma (2011) will perform with his quintet in a fundraising event for Jazz Under the Stars. Other performers include the Arpeggio Jazz Ensemble, Seff Al-Afriqi, and Noorah Islam. August 1, 7 p.m., Karima's Banquet Hall.