May 12, 2016

Lewis Center for the Arts awards more than $105,000 for summer study and projects to 53 Princeton students

The Lewis Center for the Arts announces the award of more than $105,000 to support the summer projects and research of 53 Princeton students, including substantial individual awards through the Alex Adam ’07 Award, the Mallach Senior Thesis Fund, the Sam Hutton Fund for the Creative Arts, and the Carpenter Family Fund for Comparative Literature. The awards were made through a competitive application process that received 90 proposals requesting just under $400,000 in funding. For many recipients the funding provides the resources to conduct research, undertake training, and pursue other opportunities critical to achieving their senior thesis project goals.

Three students — Abby Jean-Baptiste, Will Lathrop, and Simon Wu — have been selected for the Alex Adam ’07 Award. Established in memory of Alexander Jay Adam ’07 and made possible by a generous gift from his family, the award provides $7,500 in support to each of three Princeton undergraduates who will spend a summer pursuing a project that will result in the creation of new artistic work. While a student at Princeton, Alex Adam pursued artistic interests in creative writing and theater. Joyce Carol Oates, his creative writing professor, praised his work as “sharp-edged, unexpectedly corrosive and very funny.” He was also an actor, and performed with the Princeton Shakespeare Company, Theatre Intime, and the Program in Theater.

“The Alex Adam Award was created in loving memory of a wonderfully creative student, “says Stacy Wolf, Acting Chair of the Lewis Center. “Current Princeton students carry on his legacy as young artists, and this generous award allows them to travel, explore, and develop their own artistic projects.”

Abby Jean-Baptiste '18

Abby Jean-Baptiste ’18

This summer, sophomore Jean-Baptiste, an English major pursing a certificate in theater, plans to travel to South Africa to explore black performance theory and practice. The first leg of Jean-Baptiste’s journey will take her to the eleven-day National Arts Festival, which offers access to a formal performance program, as well as to street theater, performance art, and a fringe festival. She will continue her research and work in Cape Town, mainly through observing, “how race is performed offstage” in the local community alongside some conventional productions at Baxter Theater. She will also use her time to draft a play that reflects on what she learns about black performance through the spectatorship and interviews she conducts. South Africa in particular is of interest to Jean-Baptiste because of the historical and current tensions of performing race onstage—she will study the lingering impact of apartheid and the performance practices that arose as a response. Performance has been important to Jean-Baptiste from a young age, but only recently has she begun to delve into works that address race or are created by black artists and has found it extremely rewarding. At Princeton, Jean-Baptiste has worked as an actor, producer, stage manager, and director for various campus theater productions. She looks forward to exploring the playwriting side of performance before taking a playwriting class in the fall. She anticipates a future in theater.

Will Lathrop '17

Will Lathrop ’17

Lathrop, a junior and religion major pursing a certificate in Creative Writing, plans to use his funding to undertake a canoe trip through the North Woods on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. The Trail runs 740 miles from Old Forge, New York to Fort Kent, Maine. Lathrop will compose poetry every day, either through writing or recording his voice and the natural soundscape. In the process he will reckon with what he terms the “solo white man in the wild” persona and examine how objects — canoes, poems — separate self and place. The journey will take approximately 40 days. The two weeks following Lathrop will spend visiting writers and canoe makers on the way back to New Jersey to discuss the artists’ relationships with the North Woods. After his return, Lathrop will adapt the material he gathered into a performed poetry collection. His project was prompted by his summers working as a canoe guide in upstate New York’s Adirondack Park; he also draws inspiration from eco-Buddhist poet Gary Snyder, 19th-century conservationist George Washington Sears, and Henry David Thoreau. At Princeton, Lathrop has focused his studies so far on creative writing and religion, specifically his independent study of Buddhism in South Africa.

Simon Wu ’17

Simon Wu ’17

An art history major pursuing a certificate in visual arts, Wu is interested in contemporary American and Asian art and the intersection of art and social contexts. The junior plans to use his summer funding to investigate the relationship between digital media and body image, and unconventional forms of performance art in three Asian cities. Wu’s first stop is Rangoon, Myanmar, his birthplace, where he will study indigenous gem-painting and bamboo-painting practices, as well as the budding contemporary art scene to explore what role the performing body can play in politics. Next Wu will travel to Bangkok with a focus on kathoey (ladyboy) culture and drag performance in order to shed light on gender and gender performativity in Southeast Asia. The project’s last stop is in Seoul, where Wu will engage with the “mock funeral” phenomenon, a kind of performance therapy where participants simulate and contemplate their own deaths, and its links to mental health. His response to this research will take the form of writings, videos and various contemporary digital media.

Juniors Cat Andre and Claire Ashmead have been selected for funding through the Mallach Senior Thesis Fund. This award established by Douglas J. Mallach ’91 supports the realization of one or two proposed senior thesis projects that incorporate historical research and create an alternative path to learning history with a $5,000 grant.

Cat Andre ’17

Cat Andre ’17

Andre is an English Major pursuing a certificate in theater. For her directing thesis, she plans to stage Caryl Churchill’s adaptation of August Strindberg’s Dream Play. Strindberg created the unusual work after what many scholars identify as a mental break, and its world is poetic and fragmented. The play uses the character Agnes, a suffering young woman, to explore dark themes of interiority, memory, and suicide. Andre will work to unravel the emotional truths that underlie Strindberg’s play and channel those truths through Agnes; her interpretation will distinctly anchor Dream Play in Agnes’ interiority. She plans to use her funding to travel to London, where she will conduct research on Emanuel Swedenborg, whose work obsessed Strindberg at the time of Dream Play’s writing, and also visit the National Theatre’s Archive, where she will be able to study past production materials and thus understand the play’s performance history. Next Andre’s project will take her to Stockholm, where she will spend much of her time studying and working at the Strindbergsmuseet, an institution devoted to the playwright’s life and works. She will also visit the theaters where many of Strindberg’s plays were originally performed and examine the Swedish Film Institute’s Ingmar Bergman Archives. Andre will then visit Oslo to gain better insight into Ibsen, Strindberg’s greatest rival.

Claire Ashmead '17

Claire Ashmead ’17

Ashmead, a history major pursing a certificate in creative writing, plans to use her funding to travel to sites in England, Denmark and the U.S. to visit the homes of the female authors who have shaped her as both a writer and a woman. While visiting the former homes (now museum-estates) of the Bronte Sisters, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Virginia Woolf, Flannery O’Connor, Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin, and Karen Blixen, she will be keeping a fictional journal of events as she travels. The fictional journal will be set in the future and written in the voice of her granddaughter, who will be intentionally paralleling Ashmead’s journey on a pilgrimage of her own. The journal will incorporate memoirist sections of her actual journey, fiction of how her descendant feels, as well as poems and drawings of the sites she will be visiting. Ashmead plans to use this journal as the potential framework for a thesis in the Program in Creative Writing.

Junior Alexander Quetell has been selected for funding from the new Sam Hutton Fund for the Arts. This award was established by Thomas C. Hutton ’72 and supports undergraduate summer study, travel and thesis research in the Lewis Center for the Arts with a grant of $5,000. The visual arts major pursuing certificates in dance, environmental studies, and German plans to pursue dance training, as well as ground-level research in environmental and arts groups. He has been accepted to Springboard Danse Montréal, a 20-day program of workshops, performances, auditions, and networking with choreographers, dance pedagogues, and performance companies. He will also participate in the Northwest Dance Project: LAUNCH, a two-week dance intensive in Portland, Oregon, and a contact improvisation workshop at EARTHDANCE in Northampton, Massachusetts, an organization that provides a mix of dance, somatic, and interdisciplinary arts training with a focus on sustainable living, social justice, and community. During those programs he will also be researching environmental and arts advocacy groups. He will then return to his home state of Michigan and embark on a two-week intensive research project looking at the way dance functions in the post-industrial fabric of Detroit and how environmental and arts advocacy groups have been working with one another in the redevelopment of the city. This project is inspired by the fall semester course “Arts of Urban Transition” where the class analyzed post-industrial landscapes through an interdisciplinary approach. His summer training and research is planned as the basis for a full-length senior thesis performance.

Junior Sydney King has been named the winner of the $3,800 Carpenter Family Fund for Comparative Literature and the Creative Arts established by Katherine R.R. Carpenter ’79 to provide support for teaching and research at the Lewis Center for collaborations between the Center and the Department of Comparative Literature. Junior Erin Berl has been selected as the recipient of $3,000 in support through the Mellor Fund for Undergraduate Research, which provides funding to Lewis Center students for course, travel, and/or research costs related to studies in the creative and performing arts. Junior Alex Ford has received a $3,000 award from the Lawrence P. Wolfen ’87 Senior Thesis Award established for travel or research costs, materials, equipment or other expenses of current juniors for thesis work in the creative arts, especially the visual arts or graphic arts. Freshman Crystal Liu and junior Chanyoung Park each received $2,350 from the Mary Quaintance ’84 Fund for the Creative Arts established in her memory to foster talents similar to those Quaintance developed in writing, film studies, and literature in the creative arts programs at Princeton. Juniors Alexis Foster, Emily Madrigal, Yankia Ned, and Elisabeth Weiss each received grants of $1,250 from the E. Ennalls Berl 1912 and Charles Waggaman Berl 1917 Senior Thesis Award in Visual Arts, which was established in 1999 by Marie Broadhead to provide support for research, travel or other expenses of current juniors undertaking senior thesis work in the Program in Visual Arts.

In addition, 37 students received support through the Peter B. Lewis Summer Fund with grants ranging from $500 to $2,800.

Learn more about the Lewis Center for the Arts and the funding available to Princeton students…

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