Henri Cole has published six books of poetry. His work is autobiographical and deals with themes such as selfhood, parental loss, and the natural world. Unsentimental, honest, and often humorous, Cole’s poetry is intimately human and emotional. He has won numerous literary awards, and his 2003 book, Middle Earth, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Cole has taught at various universities, and he is currently professor of English at Ohio State University, where he teaches in the MFA program in writing.
Charles D’Ambrosio is a short story writer and essayist. His stories have been published in the New Yorker andParis Review, among other notable periodicals. His darkly evocative tales are written in fluid and idiosyncratic prose and populated by desperate characters. His first collection of stories, The Point (1995), was a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award, and in 2006 he was honored with the prestigious Whiting Writers Award.
Los Angeles, CA
Julie Dash is a writer, producer, and filmmaker. Her legendary 1992 film, Daughters of the Dust, became the first film by an African American women director to have a full-length general theatrical release in the United States. Filmed as a nonlinear story about a Gullah family on the Sea Island of Saint Helena, it is a surreal and visually stunning piece. In December 2004 the Library of Congress added it to the National Film Registry. Although identified mostly as an independent filmmaker, Dash has also created more mainstream films such as the TV movie The Rosa Parks Story (2002), as well as music videos and a long-running film for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Museum in Ohio. She is a graduate of the film school of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Michael Doucet is a Cajun fiddler, singer, and songwriter living in Lafayette, Louisiana. His music combines elements of zydeco, New Orleans jazz, Tex-Mex, country, and blues. He performs regularly with his band BeauSoleil (recipients of a Grammy Award in 1998) and the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band. Doucet is a treasured artist, historian, and educator, and in 2005 he was named a National Heritage Fellow by the NEA.
Rapid City, SD
Chris Eyre has been called “the preeminent Native American filmmaker of his time.” An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribe of Oklahoma, Eyre creates films that focus on contemporary Native American life while confronting stereotypes. His film Smoke Signals won the filmmaker’s trophy and audience award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. It became the first feature film directed by a Native American to receive a national theatrical release. A Thousand Roads (2005), produced by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, is the museum’s signature film. Edge of America (2003), based on the true story of an African American English teacher who finds acceptance on a reservation through his coaching of the girls’ basketball team, won a Directors Guild Award for outstanding directorial achievement.
Los Angeles, CA
Since 1995 Charles Gaines has focused on the postmodern sublime and metonymy to make art that combines drawn or photographic images with text. Drawing from an array of literary sources, especially arguments challenging conventional ideas about meaning in art and its relationship to aesthetic experience, he made these ideas the basis of his work. His art began to address the irreconcilable opposition, in classical theory, between the conditions of feelings (beauty) and the conditions of culture (sublimity), which negate each other in the same experience. Gaines had his first show in New York City in 1972, and since then he has had more than fifty solo exhibitions and has participated in several hundred group shows throughout the United States and Europe.
William Gay writes darkly humorous short stories and novels that are imbued with the ripe landscape and stoic characters of the rural American South. He has been compared with William Faulkner for his lush, metaphorical language and strong regional voice. A longtime carpenter and construction worker, Gay published his first book of stories at the age of fifty-five. His first novel, The Long Home, published a year later, won the James Michener Memorial Prize. He has published three novels and three short story collections.
Joanna Haigood moved from her native New York to the Bay Area in 1979 and cofounded Zaccho Dance Theatre a year later. She is the artistic director of the company. Haigood’s dances typically incorporate aerial suspension, modern dance, and acrobatics, performed on structures such as a seven-story grain terminal and a clock tower, in natural settings such as the woods, and in more traditional cultural venues. The dances are informed by research into the historical and physical aspects of a site.
John Haines is the author of more than ten books of poetry, a collection of essays, and a memoir. He spent more than twenty years homesteading in Alaska, and his work is imbued with his experiences in the wilderness. A former poet laureate of Alaska, he has taught at many universities and has been awarded numerous honors, including a lifetime achievement award from the Library of Congress.
Anna Halprin has had a varied and important career as a dancer and teacher since the late 1930s. After performing in New York, she became disenchanted with the modern dance world, which she felt was too restrictive, and moved to the Bay Area in 1955. There she conducted influential movement workshops on her outdoor dance deck, which were attended by artists such as Trisha Brown, Meredith Monk, and Yvonne Rainer. After surviving cancer in the early 1970s, Halprin founded the Tamalpa Institute in 1975 to use movement as therapy for cancer and other illnesses. At the age of eighty-seven she continues to make and perform in work about the beauty of the aging body and its relationship to nature.