Tehching Hsieh

Posted January 16, 2015

Brooklyn, NY


Tehching Hsieh is a legendary performance art pioneer. Born in Taiwan, he arrived in the United States in 1973, when he jumped ship from a merchant marine vessel in Philadelphia. He settled in New York, and in 1978 he created the first of a series of one-year performances: in The Cage Piece (1978–79) he lived in a cage inside a loft with a bed, table, and bathroom and refrained from speaking or reading. This was followed by performances in which he punched a clock every hour for one year (The Time Piece, 1980–81), lived outdoors with only a sleeping bag (The Outdoor Piece, 1981–82), was tied to a fellow artist with an eight-foot rope (Art/Life, 1983–84), and refrained from creating or talking about art (No Art Piece, 1985–86). From 1986 to 1999, in 13-Year Plan, he created art but refrained from showing it. In 2000 he stopped making art altogether. He has described his work as “about being human, how we explain time, how we measure our existence.”

  Punching the Time Clock on the Hour, One Year Performance 1980–81; photo courtesy Michael Shen

Punching the Time Clock on the Hour, One Year Performance 1980–81; photo courtesy Michael Shen

Mary Jackson

Posted January 16, 2015

Johns Island, SC
 


Mary Jackson creates sweetgrass baskets, the oldest art form of African origin in the United States. It originated in West Africa and was brought to the United States by slaves who settled in the coastal areas surrounding Charleston, South Carolina. The techniques were traditionally passed down from mother to daughter, and Jackson learned them from her grandmother. She began producing baskets full-time in 1980, developing contemporary designs using traditional techniques. Her baskets have been shown in prestigious craft venues and museums, and are in the collections of Empress Michiko of Japan and Prince Charles. She is a teacher and spokesperson for the art form, which she has updated with new proportions.

  Vase with Handle, 1998, sweetgrass, pine needles, and palmetto, 19

Vase with Handle, 1998, sweetgrass, pine needles, and palmetto, 19″ x 15″; photo courtesy Mary Jackson

Chris Jonas & Molly Sturges

Posted January 16, 2015

Santa Fe, NM


Molly Sturges and Chris Jonas are composers, musicians, and performance artists. In 2005 they cofounded Littleglobe, a nonprofit organization devoted to collaborative community-based performances in Santa Fe. Littleglobe is a collective of artists who work with mostly underserved communities on single events or large-scale projects that may last years. The group has been commissioned for projects in the United States and Europe. Sturges is a vocalist and artistic director, best known for integrating performance, community dialogue, and social and environmental justice and healing. Jonas is an intermedia/video artist, conductor, and saxophonist who has recorded 25 albums.

  Portrait photo courtesy Mary Jackson

Portrait photo courtesy Mary Jackson

Chris Jonas & Molly Sturges

Posted January 16, 2015

Santa Fe, NM


Molly Sturges and Chris Jonas are composers, musicians, and performance artists. In 2005 they cofounded Littleglobe, a nonprofit organization devoted to collaborative community-based performances in Santa Fe. Littleglobe is a collective of artists who work with mostly underserved communities on single events or large-scale projects that may last years. The group has been commissioned for projects in the United States and Europe. Sturges is a vocalist and artistic director, best known for integrating performance, community dialogue, and social and environmental justice and healing. Jonas is an intermedia/video artist, conductor, and saxophonist who has recorded 25 albums.

  Portrait photo courtesy Mary Jackson

Portrait photo courtesy Mary Jackson

Tayari Jones

Posted January 16, 2015

Valley Cottage, NY


Tayari Jones is a novelist, short-fiction writer, and literary critic. Her first novel, Leaving Atlanta (2002), is a coming-of-age story that centers on the Atlanta child murders of 1979–81, which occurred while Jones was a child there. She knew two of the 30 victims. The book won the 2003 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. Her second novel, The Untelling (2005), traces the legacy of a fatal accident that haunts a family and speaks of class and race issues within a particular neighborhood. Her highly realistic work is focused on the urban South, reflecting her interest in “recording the dynamics, landscapes, and community, which I have known.”

  The Untelling, 2005; photo courtesy Tayari Jones

The Untelling, 2005; photo courtesy Tayari Jones

A. Van Jordan

Posted January 16, 2015

Ann Arbor, MI


A. Van Jordan is a poet whose formally inventive work focuses on African American culture. Jordan borrows from the language of film as well as music and science in his poems. He has published four books of poetry. His collection M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A imagines the life of MacNolia Cox, who became the first black finalist in a national spelling bee competition in 1936, within the context of the Depression and racism in the United States.

  M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, 2004; photo courtesy Julia Smith/Getty Images and W. W. Norton

M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, 2004; photo courtesy Julia Smith/Getty Images and W. W. Norton

Karen Kandel

Posted January 16, 2015

New York, NY
 


Karen Kandel is an actor with more than 30 years of experience, mostly in nontraditional theater. Currently an artistic associate with Mabou Mines, she began acting for Elizabeth Swados and has worked with directors such as JoAnne Akalaitis, Anne Bogart, Lee Breuer, Peter Sellars, and Anna Devere Smith. Since 2000 she has been exploring writing and visual art, creating multimedia installations and working with such esteemed artists as Ruth Maleczech and Basil Twist. She has studied extensively in Japan, where she learned traditional art forms that have influenced her work as a writer.

  Portraits: Night & Day, 2005, mask of paper, glue, and fabric; photo courtesy Karen Kandel

Portraits: Night & Day, 2005, mask of paper, glue, and fabric; photo courtesy Karen Kandel

Laura Kasischke

Posted January 16, 2015

Chelsea, MI


Laura Kasischke has published seven books of poetry, four novels, and two young adult novels. Influenced by Scottish ballads and the lyrics of the Middle Ages, she writes about women’s lives, sexuality, fear, love, and family life. There is often an autobiographical element in her work as she traces the stages of life as they unfold. Two of her novels, Suspicious River and The Life Before Her Eyes, were made into films.

  Lilies Without, 2007; photo courtesy Ausable Press

Lilies Without, 2007; photo courtesy Ausable Press

Lê Thi Diem Thúy

Posted January 16, 2015

Northampton, MA


Lê Thi Diem Thúy is a poet and solo performance artist. She left her native Vietnam by boat in 1978 with her family and settled in Southern California. Lê writes about the experiences of Vietnamese refugees living in the United States, in her words, the “floating casualties of history.” By focusing on the experiences of individuals within historic events, she confronts conventional history and memory. Her well-received first novel, The Gangster We Are All Looking For (2001), chronicles the life of a Vietnamese girl growing up in California with memories of being a boat refugee and of a brother who drowned in Vietnam as well as an alcoholic father.

  The Gangster We Are All Looking For, 2003; photo courtesy Alfred A. Knopf

The Gangster We Are All Looking For, 2003; photo courtesy Alfred A. Knopf

Wu Man

Posted January 16, 2015

Carlsbad, CA


Wu Man is an internationally renowned pipa virtuoso. The pipa is a lutelike Chinese instrument that has a two-thousand-year history. Wu studied a classical style of pipa at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, receiving the first master’s degree in that instrument. She immigrated to the United States in 1990, at the age of 25. Wu performs traditional pipa music and also interprets specially commissioned works by composers such as Terry Riley, Philip Glass, and Tan Dun. She has performed as a soloist with many orchestras and is a principal member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. Wu was the first Chinese musician to perform at the White House.

  Wu Man in concert; photo courtesy InSightFoto Inc.

Wu Man in concert; photo courtesy InSightFoto Inc.