Pew Fellows Chat: Shatara Michelle Ford, Karyn Olivier, and Brett Ashley Robinson on the Art and Audiences That Matter to Them


Pew Fellows Shatara Michelle Ford, Karyn Olivier, and Brett Ashley Robinson. Photos by Ryan Collerd.

The act of creation takes on infinite forms. In our ongoing artist interview series, we illuminate the distinctive artistic practices, influences, and creative challenges of our Pew Fellows, who represent a diversity of perspectives and creative disciplines.

In this installment, three artists—filmmaker Shatara Michelle Ford, visual artist Karyn Olivier, and theater artist Brett Ashley Robinson—discuss the works that catalyzed their own creative pursuits, how audience considerations shape their practices, and the possibilities that lie in their chosen disciplines.  

About the Artists

Ford experiments with narrative structure and uses of music and color in films that examine class, power, identity, and memory. Their 2019 feature film Test Pattern has been nominated for multiple Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards and has been lauded by publications such as Variety and The Los Angeles Times.

Olivier creates monuments, memorials, and visual art installations that intersect and collapse multiple histories and memories with present-day narratives. Her work has earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, among other accolades.

Robinson’s work blends physical ensemble performance, drag burlesque culture, documentary theater, and clowning. She is a company member of The Wilma Theater’s HotHouse ensemble and Applied Mechanics.



Shatara Michelle Ford sits in an empty row of red movie theatre seats with their feet propped up. They have dark skin, army green pants, and a black top.

Shatara Michelle Ford, 2020 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.


Ford Olivier Robinson Q&A Block 1

Ford Olivier Robinson Q&A Block 2

Ford Olivier Robinson Q&A Block 3

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