Born in Nigeria to an Igbo father and a white English mother, Abani was raised in Nigeria and London. The bi-cultural, bi-racial, bi-lingual nature of his upbringing is a consistent theme of his poems and novels. He has a Masters degree and a Ph.D. from USC and a master’s degree from the University of London. He has written fourteen books of prose and poetry including The Secret History of Las Vegas, GraceLand, Daphne’s Lot and Sanctificum. Abani is the recipient of the PEN Hemingway Book Prize, the PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the California Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship and a Guggenheim and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice for several of his books. He is a Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University.
Marcus Amerman is a Choctaw bead artist who uses traditional Native American techniques to create contemporary art and imagery. He first learned beadwork among the Umatilla in Pendleton, Oregon, making beaded regalia for his family and beaded jewelry to sell at pow-wows. As his skills evolved over the years, he expanded his content and imagery to include political and socially conscious themes, as a tribute to his ancestors. Known both as a multi-media artist/performer and a teacher, he has passed on his innovative use of traditional beadwork to a new generation of makers, encouraging students to make beadwork about their lives and experiences. His photo-realistic, painterly aesthetic, which he calls, “photo-beadalism”, has been emulated by many of the top Native beadwork practitioners. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums all over the world, including the Highgate Gallery in London, The Museum of World Culture in Sweden, The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, The Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco and The Far Eastern Museum in Russia. Amerman’s work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and The American Museum of Natural History.
Peter Bagge has been a professional cartoonist for 35 years working in the alternative comic and graphic novel fields. He was heavily inspired by MAD magazine and Warner Brothers cartoons. He is best known for this series HATE featuring the autobiographical character Buddy Bradley. The series ran in the nineties and was associated with the grunge movement. Recently he has shifted his practice into writing comics about history including his first full-length biographical work Woman Rebel about Margaret Sanger. He is currently working on books about Zora Neale Hurston and Rose Wilder Lane, daughter of Laura Ingels Wilder. Bagge is a professor at Seattle University and the winner of the Harvey Award, the Eagle Award and the Inkpot Award.
New Orleans, LA
A native of New Orleans, Willie Birch creates politically incisive yet emotionally sensitive work that addresses issues related to African-American culture and survival.
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles artist Sandow Birk is a graduate of the Otis/Parson’s Art Institute whose work deals with contemporary life. Frequently developed as expansive, multi-media projects, past themes have included inner-city violence, graffiti, social and political issues, travel, prisons, the Holy Qur’an, surfing, and skateboarding. He was a recipient of an NEA International Travel Grant to Mexico City in 1995, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996, and a Fulbright Fellowship to Rio de Janeiro for 1997. In 1999 he was awarded a Getty Fellowship for painting, followed by a City of Los Angeles (COLA) Fellowship in 2001. One of his projects involved the rewriting and illustrating of the entire “Divine Comedy” into contemporary American English. A feature film of the project, “Dante’s Inferno”, was released in 2007. He was awarded an Artist Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. in 2007, and he was an Artist in Residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2008, and at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ireland in 2011. His most recent project is a consideration of the Qur’an as relevant to contemporary life in America, single-handedly creating a hand-transcribed and illuminated manuscript of the entire holy text in English.
Sandow is represented by the Koplin del Rio Gallery in Los Angeles, Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco, and P.P.O.W Gallery in New York City.
Marlon Blackwell is one of the nation’s most respected regional modernist architects. His practice takes place primarily in Arkansas and combines vernacular traditions with rigorous formalism. Throughout his body of work, nature has been a persistent inspiration and he strives to create spaces that respond to the physical and cultural eccentricities of a place. Working in the second poorest state in the country, Blackwell’s architecture uses an economy of means for a maximum of meaning and he makes spectacular buildings with very small budgets. His projects have ranged from a Honey House to the University of Arkansas School of Architecture to a spare orthodox church. He was the architect for the Ruth Lilly Visitor Pavilion and the Crystal Bridges Museum Store at the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville. He is the principal at Marlon Blackwell Architects and the head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Arkansas. Blackwell is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Architecture Prize, American Institute of Architects National Honor Award, the American Library Association Design Award the Best Civic and Community Building Award from the World Architecture Festival.
Alison Brown is a Grammy Award-winning banjo player from Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to being an exceptional player whose music has taken the banjo far beyond its Appalachian roots, she is also a scholar of the instrument who wrote her undergraduate thesis at Harvard on Bluegrass Music as a Reflection of Social Change in Appalachia post World War II. Alison’s overarching ambition, to bring the banjo into the mainstream, is accomplished through her music and performances as well as through her work as a producer and as co-founder of Compass Records. While her playing style is rooted in traditional bluegrass banjo technique, she delights in bringing jazz, Celtic and world music influences into her sound. Alison has also worked extensively with Alison Krauss, The Indigo Girls and Michelle Shocked. She is a strong advocate for female musicians particularly within the male dominated bluegrass culture. Before devoting her life to the banjo she put her MBA degree to work as an investment banker. The Alison Brown Quartet has appeared at the Newport Folk Festival, the New Orleans Jazz Festival, the Kennedy Center, the Grand Ole Opry and alongside several major symphony orchestras.
Edouard Duval-Carrie is a painter, sculptor and curator who was born in Haiti and is now based in Miami. His work uses his homeland and the Caribbean Diaspora as a source of inspiration and research, creating a visual vocabulary that includes his personal narrative intertwined with the history and plight of his native country. His recent mixed media works presented at the new Perez Museum in Miami have shiny surfaces created by layering glitter and glue on top of the paint. Those works revisit the vision created by eighteenth and nineteenth century artists, some from the Hudson school such as Heade and Church, whose images of the Caribbean region created a pervasive vision of what the Caribbean was supposed to be. By repositioning and referencing those original works, this time devoid of all tropical color and situating them under a starlit and moonlight sky, Duval-Carrié has reinvented the tropical landscape.
He has had solo shows at Brown University, the Perez Art Museum, the Figge Art Museum, the Orlando Museum of Art, the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami, the Monterey Museum of Art in Mexico, the Musee Des Arts Africains et Oceaniens in Paris and the Afrika Museum in Holland. His work has been also part of many landmark collective exhibits such as Kongo Across the Waters and Who More Sci-Fi Than Us?, an exhibition presenting contemporary art of The Caribbean held in Holland and many others.
With the support of the Institut de France, he organized The Global Caribbean series, a five-year program to present contemporary Caribbean art during the Miami Art Basel Fair. Currently, he is curating the thirty-year anniversary of the South Florida Art Center in Miami Beach and he is also curating the first History of Haitian Photography exhibition to be presented at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art in 2015.
He was commissioned to make pieces for the Miami Riverwalk, the Aventura Cultural Arts Center and the Jefferson Reaves Health Center. Public collections he is included in are found in the Perez Art Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Polk Museum of Art, and the Davenport Museum. He was awarded the Southern Arts Federation Visual Art Fellowship and the South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual Art Fellowship. His latest commission will be presented at the prestigious Grand Palais in Paris in an exhibit entitled Revoir Haiti opening in mid November 2014. He was awarded the Southern Arts Federation Visual Art Fellowship and the South Florida Cultural Consortium Visual Art Fellowship.
Alejandro Cerrudo (Choreographer, Dancer) was born in Madrid, Spain and trained at the Real Conservatorio Profesional de Danza de Madrid. His performing career began in 1998 and includes work with Victor Ullate Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater 2. Cerrudo joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2005, was named Choreographic Fellow in 2008, and became the company’s first Resident Choreographer in 2009. Thirteen works choreographed to date for Hubbard Street include collaborations with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Nederlands Dans Theater. These pieces and additional commissions are in repertory at companies around the U.S. as well as in Australia, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands; touring engagements have brought his work still further abroad, to audiences in Algeria, Canada, Morocco, Serbia and Spain. In March 2012, Pacific Northwest Ballet invited Cerrudo to choreograph his first work for the company, Memory Glow, upon receiving the Joyce Theater Foundation’s second Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance. Additional honors include an award from the Boomerang Fund for Artists (2011), and a Prince Prize for Commissioning Original Work from the Prince Charitable Trusts (2012) for his acclaimed, first evening-length work, One Thousand Pieces. Cerrudo is one of four choreographers invited by New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan to create and perform original duets for Whelan’s “Restless Creature,” and in June 2015, Hubbard Street presents Cerrudo’s fourteenth premiere for the company as part of a dedicated mixed repertory program celebrating his successful and prolific creative residency.
New York, NY
Kia Corthron is a playwright living in New York City. In 2014 she was awarded the Simon Great Plains Playwright Award and was a recipient of the Windham Campbell Prize. Her work is expressly political and has focused on such issues as reproductive rights, capital punishment, homelessness, and the mainstream media. Corthron’s work has been performed in New York by Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Atlantic Theater Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, American Place Theatre; regionally at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Minneapolis’ Children’s Theatre Company, Mark Taper Forum, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Yale Repertory Theatre, Baltimore’s Center Stage, Goodman Theatre, Huntington Theatre, New York Stage and Film, Hartford Stage Company, Delaware Theatre Company; in London at the Royal Court Theatre and Donmar Warehouse; and elsewhere. Awards include the Lee Reynolds Award, Playwrights Center’s McKnight National Residency, Masterwork Productions Award, Wachtmeister Award, Columbia College/Goodman Theatre Fellowship, Barbara Barondess MacLean Foundation Award, Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award, Fadiman Award, National Endowment for the Arts/TCG, and in television a Writers Guild Outstanding Drama Series Award and Edgar Award for The Wire. Residencies: MacDowell, Bellagio (Italy), Dora Maar (France), Siena Arts Institute Visiting Artist (Italy) and others. She currently serves on the Council of the Dramatists Guild and is an alumnus of New Dramatists, Playwrights Horizons, New York Theatre Workshop, Mark Taper Forum, Yale Repertory Theatre and more. She is a recipient of the Windham Campbell Prize and the Simon Great Plains Playwright Award.