October 17, 2022

Student experiences in the arts flourish under the summer sun

While the days are already getting shorter and the leaves are starting to change in the crisp autumn air, it is not that long ago that Princeton students were immersed in a range of summer arts activities supported through the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Summer Funding program.

For the summer of 2022, 57 undergraduates received grants totaling more than $152,000 to undertake summer arts projects. While all first, second, and third-year students are eligible to apply for the awards, for many recipients the funding provides vital resources to conduct research, undertake training, and pursue other opportunities critical to achieving their senior creative independent project goals in the arts. The grants ranged from $160 to $7,500. Discover what a few of those Lewis Center students were up to during the summer of 2022:

large cast of dancers in black tops crowd together for photo

Michael Garcia ’24 (back row, 9th from right) with the group from Brian Friedman’s Performance Project intensive

Michael Garcia, a senior from Charlotte, North Carolina, majoring in computer science and pursuing a certificate in dance, studied hip-hop and other commercial dance styles in New York City in preparation for his senior choreographic independent work in the Program in Dance. At studios including Broadway Dance Center, Peridance Dance Center, and Brickhouse NYC, he trained under industry leaders including Pauline Casiño, Sam Javi, James Alonzo, Candace Brown, Sekou Heru, Jay Millz and Kyla Bullings. Garcia was also able to participate in Brian Friedman’s four-day Performance Project intensive, where he gained advanced training and pre-professional insights from this widely sought-after choreographer, teacher, and dancer. Beyond dance, Michael took sewing lessons at the New York City Sewing Center to learn how to design, create, and style his own costumes for his senior project. He received summer support through the Sam Hutton Fund for the Arts.

cassandra james sits with back towards the camera on edge of rocky cliff looking out over grand canyon

Cassandra James ’23 scanning over the Grand Canyon, one of many stops on her two-week research trip through the Southwest

Cassandra James researched and began writing a novel about Hispanic women in the 18th century American Southwest. She is currently a senior from Kissimmee, Florida, majoring in English and pursuing a certificate in the Program in Creative Writing, as well as certificates in theater and music theater. Through funding from the Alex Adam ’07 Award, she embarked on a two-week road trip across four states to immerse herself in the history, culture, and landscape of the region, gathering the stories of remarkable Latinx women who shaped the Frontier as we know it. James reports she even learned to ride horses from a Mexican-American vaquero, or cowboy.

young person crouches down to sculpt large block of white styroam

Petr Karpov ’24 works on sculpting a five-meter-long shoe out of blocks of Styrofoam to be used for an Adidas press event, at this stage helping artist Franz Rodwalt to identify the form that the shoe was to take.

Petr Karpov received support through the Sam Hutton Fund for the Arts to travel to Berlin and engage in a two-month apprenticeship in visual arts. A junior from St. Petersburg, Russia, majoring in architecture and pursuing a certificate in visual arts, Karpov worked closely with Russian contemporary artist Franz Rodwalt to study and gain technical experience in sculpture, montage, film, collage and—perhaps most importantly, he notes—the habits and lifestyle of a working artist. Through the award, he was able to fully engage in the dynamic Berlin art scene and all that the city has to offer.

3 people in a dark room lean over a table looking at items with a large blue projection on screen behind them

Wendi Yan ’23 shared her work completed over the summer at a world-building show in Brooklyn

Wendi Yan is a senior majoring in history of science and pursuing a certificate in the Program in Visual Arts with a focus on film. With support through the Sam Hutton Fund for the Arts, she began developing the world-building elements for her speculative documentary from the perspective of a resurrected mammoth. Her senior independent project explores how humans organize knowledge and act in the face of the cognitive and physical immensity of climate change. Yan designed world-building cards, organized footage she took in the High Arctic (the tundra ecoregion covering most of Canada’s northern Arctic Archipelago), made glass vessels, studied bio art, and put together an experimental video with 3D animations she created in game engine (a software architecture that developers use to run a video game). This work culminated in an immersive world-building show in Brooklyn, where visitors could read, watch, and touch objects she made as part of her intuitive thinking process throughout the summer.

people in film crew stand around studio backlot holding various types of equipment

Briony Zhao ’24 (far left holding boom mic pole) with other members of the crew shooting a short film on the Warner Brothers Studio backlot.

Briony Zhao, a junior from Beijing majoring in comparative literature and pursuing a certificate in the Program in Visual Arts with a focus on film, attended a summer course in directing and producing at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in collaboration with Warner Brothers Studio. She notes that the most exciting part of the experience was visiting the Warner Brothers Studio facilities and shooting a short film on the studio backlot. Zhao reports that those eight weeks were more mentally and physically stressful than her normal Princeton semesters because of the demand for constant creativity and professionalism, but the course showed her the realities of working as a professional in the film industry. Support for her summer work came through the Lawrence P. Wolfen ’87 Senior Award.

The Lewis Center offers funding opportunities like these every year. Applications for summer 2023 funding will open in February.

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