November 6, 2023

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts presents The Atelier@Large: Conversations on Art-making in a Vexed Era with Andrey Kurkov and Alan Lightman

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts continues The Atelier@Large conversation series that brings guest artists and intellectuals to campus for public discussions on the challenges they face in making art in the modern world. For the third conversation in the 2023-24 series, Princeton’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Princeton Atelier Paul Muldoon will be joined by award-winning Ukrainian journalist and bestselling author Andrey Kurkov and award-winning American writer, physicist, and social entrepreneur Alan Lightman, Princeton Class of 1970. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 14, in Richardson Auditorium on Princeton’s campus. The event is free and open to the public. Guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at at least one week prior to the event date.

The Princeton Atelier, currently directed by Muldoon, was founded in 1994 by Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate and Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, at the University. The Atelier brings together professional artists from different disciplines and Princeton students to create new work in the context of a semester-long course that culminates in the public presentation of that new work. Recent artists have included Stew, Laurie Anderson, the improv group Baby Wants Candy, and the Wakka Wakka Puppet Theatre. The Atelier@Large series, established in 2021, is an extension of the Princeton Atelier that brings guest artists and intellectuals to campus to speak on art’s role in the modern world. Among recent guests were Hernan Diaz, Jennifer Egan, Joy Harjo, Sarah Hart, Jennifer Homans, Michael J. Love, Jonathan Majors, Kyle Marshall, Lorrie Moore, Darryl (Run DMC) McDaniels, Anais Mitchell, Suzanne Nossel, Lynn Nottage, Claudia Rankine, and Tom Stoppard. This year’s series is cosponsored by Labyrinth Books.

“Being an artist is tough enough at the best of times,” says Muldoon, “but it’s particularly difficult just now. Artists are coming under pressure from numerous orthodoxies to both left and right, as to what they must or must not do. Most insidious, perhaps, is the form of self-censorship that has artists second guessing themselves. In addition to honoring some of our finest minds, The Atelier@Large series provides a rare enough forum in which some of these ideas may be aired.”

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Andrey Kurkov. Photo credit Getty Images

Born near Leningrad in 1961, Andrey Kurkov was a journalist, prison warder, cameraman and screenplay-writer before he became well-known as the author of 19 novels. His 1996 novel Death and the Penguin, his first in English translation, became an international bestseller and has been translated into more than 30 languages. Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv, first published in Russian in 2012, is now available in English and was longlisted in March for the 2023 International Booker Prize. Kurkov’s novel Grey Bees (2018), translated by Boris Dralyuk, was awarded the 2023 National Book Critics Circle award. As well as writing fiction for adults and children, he has become known as a commentator and journalist on Ukraine for the international media. In 2022 Kurkov held a weekly slot on BBC Radio 4 with “Letter from Ukraine,” where he gave listeners a personal account of his daily life in the war-torn country. His most recent book, Diary of an Invasion (2023), a collection of Kurkov’s writings and broadcasts from Kyiv, is described as a remarkable record of a brilliant writer at the forefront of a 21st-century war.

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Alan Lightman. Photo by Michael Lionstar

Alan Lightman is the author of 25 books, both nonfiction and fiction, including Einstein’s Dreams (1992), an international bestseller; The Diagnosis (2000), a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction; and Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine (2018), the basis of a three-part series titled, “Searching: Our Quest for Meaning in the Age of Science,” which premiered on public television in January 2023. His writing has also appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly. An alumnus from the Class of 1970, Lightman majored in physics at Princeton and received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1974. Since then, Lightman has done fundamental research on the astrophysics of black holes, astrophysical radiation processes, and stellar dynamics. He has served on the faculties of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was the first person at MIT to receive dual faculty appointments in science and in the humanities. Lightman is currently professor of the practice of the humanities at MIT. He has won numerous awards for his work and holds six honorary degrees.

Paul Muldoon is the Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities at Princeton, as well as the founding chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. As an internationally renowned Irish poet, Muldoon has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War.” Muldoon won the Pulitzer Prize for his ninth collection of poems, Moy Sand and Gravel (2002). His 14th volume of poems, Howdie-Skelp, was released in 2021 by Farrar Straus & Giroux. His 15th, Joy in Service on Rue Tagore, will appear in April 2024.

On February 13, 2024, The Atelier@Large conversation series will conclude with guests Jennifer Finney Boylan and Bridget Kearney.

Visit the Lewis Center website to learn more about the Princeton Atelier, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and the more than 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, lectures, and special events presented by the Lewis Center each year, most of them free.

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