Pew Fellows News: Rennie Harris Honored with National Dance Award, Wilmer Wilson IV Selected for The New Museum Triennial, Remembering Tokay Tomah

14 Dec 2017


Wilmer Wilson IV, 2017 Pew Fellow. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Tokay Tomah, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.


Julia Bloch, 2017 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.


James Ijames, 2015 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.


Tiona Nekkia McClodden, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.

This month’s Pew Fellows news sees a national dance award for a hip-hop icon, several exhibitions by visual artists and filmmakers, and we remember the late Liberian vocalist Tokay Tomah.


Hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris (1996) received a 2017 Dance Magazine Award, which “celebrate[s] the living legends who have made a lasting impact” in the dance field. The award was presented by dance scholar and Pew Fellow Brenda Dixon Gottschild (2017) at a ceremony at New York's Ailey Citigroup Theater on December 4. Read more>>

Architect Jenny Sabin (2010) and her design partner Peter Lloyd Jones released LabStudio: Design Research Between Architecture and Biology, a book demonstrating new approaches to the traditional design studio and hypothesis-led research. Read more>>

Multidisciplinary artist Wilmer Wilson IV (2017) is one of 30 artists selected to participate in the 2018 New Museum Triennial, “Songs of Sabotage,” to open in February 2018. Read more>>

Visual Art in the Spotlight

Mixed media artist Barbara Bullock‘s (1997) work is included in the African American Museum of Art in Philadelphia’s group exhibition Gardens of the Mind: Echoes of the Feminine View, on view through January 16. Read more>>

On December 1, visual artist and filmmaker Tiona McClodden (2016) participated in a screening and discussion at the Whitney Museum of American Art held in conjunction with ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS, the 28th annual iteration of Visual AIDS’ Day With(out) Art project. Read more>>

Author Judith E. Stein (1994) recently curated Deadeye Dick: Richard Bellamy and His Circle, an exhibition of works by artists associated with the late gallerist Richard Bellamy. In a review, The Brooklyn Rail wrote: “The exhibition represents extremely well the range of artists that Bellamy—who was intuitive, informed, and uncannily astute—was drawn to or discovered.” Read more>>

Performances and Prose

Poet Julia Bloch (2017) will hold a reading with poet Sawako Nakayasu on January 20, 2018 at the Segue Foundation in New York. Read more>>

HOME, a physical theater work created by theater artist Geoff Sobelle (2006) was presented during the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2017 Next Wave Festival, December 6–10. Read more>>

Hip-hop choreographer Raphael Xavier (2013) brought his dance work Point of Interest to Annenberg Center Live as part of a regional tour. In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Xavier discussed his artistic influences and how his interests in dance, photography, and poetry inform his choreography. Read more>>

Trombonist and Pew Fellow Dan Blacksberg (2012) performed in the world premiere of Temple Contemporary’s Center-funded commission Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, created by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Lang. Blacksberg was part of a 400-member orchestra comprised of Philadelphia school students and teachers, professional and amateur musicians who performed the new composition on 1,000 broken instruments gathered from Philadelphia public schools. Read more in The New York Times>>

In the News

Playwright James Ijames (2015) was included in Philadelphia Magazine’s annual “100 Most Influential People in Philadelphia” cover story, which features local leaders who are “shaping the way Philadelphians think, talk, work, and live.” Read more>>

NPR recently aired an interview and live concert by guitarist Chris Forsyth (2011) and The Solar Motel Band, following the release of the band’s album Dreaming In The Non-Dream. Listen here>>

Composer Jennifer Higdon (1999) was featured on WHYY’s television show Articulate, in which she discussed the role of women in classical music. Watch here>>

Artsy reviewed visual artist Alex Da Corte’s (2012) latest exhibition Bad Lands, on view at Josh Lilley in London, calling the show "a display of technical and aesthetic perfection." Read more>>

Tokay Tomah, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.

In Memoriam

Tokay Tomah (2016) passed away on November 14. A celebrated singer, composer, and recording artist, Tomah dedicated her career to inspiring dialogue about critical issues facing Liberian immigrant communities. As a singer and dancer with Liberia's National Cultural Troupe, Tomah toured throughout Liberia and internationally in the 1980s. During Liberia's civil war, she was active in peacebuilding and reconciliation work with the United Nations. After immigrating to the US in 2010, Tomah became a founding member of the Liberian Women's Chorus for Change, which adapts Liberian folk songs and creates new music in traditional styles, in an effort to generate collective strength and to offer resources for change for Philadelphia's Liberian community. Read Tomah’s obituary in Music in Africa>>