May 16, 2024

Lewis Center for the Arts awards more than $177,000 for summer projects in the arts to 55 Princeton students

The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University announces more than $177,000 in awards to support the summer projects and research of 55 Princeton undergraduates. 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 independent creative project goals in the arts. The grants range from $500 to $8,000.

Rising seniors Dana Corbo, Wasif Sami, and Paige Sherman have been selected for the Alex Adam ’07 Award. Established in memory of Alexander Jay Adam ’07 and made possible through a generous gift from his family, the award provides each student with $7,500 to spend the 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 Adam’s work as “sharp-edged, unexpectedly corrosive, and very funny.” Additionally, Adam was an actor and performed with the Princeton Shakespeare Company, Theatre Intime, and the Program in Theater.

“Creative intellectual investigation takes time and support and, thanks to the generosity of the Alex Adam ’07 family and all who make summer funding for our students possible, the Lewis Center for the Arts can provide both,” said Judith Hamera, chair of the Lewis Center and professor of dance. “We are grateful to them, and very excited to see where these summer opportunities lead our students.”

Dana Corbo smiles, sitting in front of a wall of green ivy

Dana Corbo ’25. Photo credit: Maxfield Evers

Dana Corbo is a history of art major in the Department of Art & Archaeology. Supported by the Alex Adam Award funding, Corbo will travel to London, where she will spend two months photographing and sketching street scenes that document life in London’s public spaces. This will extend the work Corbo begun last summer with support from the Lewis Center, when she spent a month in London formally taking portrait painting classes while informally continuing her study of people’s faces as she traveled on the London Underground, or Tube. Inspired by this personal experience and the work of British street photographer Martin Parr, Corbo wants to explore the relationship between public and private spaces—and particularly private moments in public spaces—to, in her words, “better understand the boundary between what is public and what is private.” At the end of the summer, Corbo intends to have a series of photographs and drawings that will serve as a foundation for her senior visual arts exhibition.

Wasif Sami smiles and rests his arms on a railing outside the Lewis Arts complex.

Wasif Sami ’25. Photo credit: Jon Sweeney

Anthropology major Wasif Sami, who is pursuing a minor in theater and music theater, will spend his summer making theater, scholarship, and solo performance in New York City and Bangalore, India, with the help of Alex Adam Award funding. Sami will begin his project in New York, interning for the downtown theater company Clubbed Thumb on their Summerworks festival of new plays. He will also work with the National Asian American Theater Company, as well as experience theater and performance art across the city. Sami will then travel to Bangalore, where he spent ten weeks last summer with funding from a Dale Summer Award. In India, he will reconnect with his family and engage with local archives and activism. Sami notes that his bicontinental project will immerse him in intimate, alternative worlds and will deepen the reservoirs that fuel his theater directing practice. Upon his return to campus, Sami will direct two new student-written plays in the Program in Theater and Music Theater’s upcoming season.

Paige Sherman smiles, standing outside in a grassy field under a sunset sky

Paige Sherman ’25. Photo courtesy Paige Sherman

Paige Sherman, who is pursuing a degree in molecular biology along with a minor in dance, will use Alex Adam Award funding to spend the summer exploring the ways in which the ostensibly rigid foundations of ballet technique facilitate the expansive and dynamic freedom of movement associated with contemporary and modern dance styles. Sherman will immerse herself in an embodied research practice by attending intensive programs in Italy, Amsterdam, and New York City, where she will have the opportunity to learn repertoire of renowned contemporary choreographers, including Crystal Pite and Juliano Nunes, alongside rigorous technique classes. This research will inform her senior independent performance project, in which Sherman hopes to perform a contemporary ballet work that utilizes a foundation of classical technique but evokes in both herself and the audience a sense of freedom, countering the notion that ballet technique and “freedom” are necessarily at odds. To further inform her movement research, Sherman will attend a variety of performances in New York City and at Jacob’s Pillow, including works by Christopher Wheeldon performed by the Royal Ballet.

Rising seniors Annie Cao and Layla Williams have been selected for funding through the Mallach Senior Thesis Fund. This award, established by Douglas J. Mallach ’91, supports the realization of proposed senior independent projects that incorporate historical research and create an alternative path to learning history.

Annie Cao smiles, looking off to the side whiile standing in front of a lake with trees reflected in the water

Annie Cao ’25. Photo credit: Benjamin Chen

This summer, English major Annie Cao, who is pursuing a minor in creative writing, will translate lyrics and conduct an ethnomusicological study as she examines the career and legacy of Teresa Teng (1953-1995), a Taiwanese singer known as “Asia’s Eternal Queen of Pop.” Traveling to Taipei, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Singapore, Cao will interview multigenerational fans of Teresa Teng, talk with music scholars, visit museums, attend concerts and festivals, and generally immerse herself in the language and culture in ways that support her research and translation. Cao intends to craft a collection of original poetry interpreting Teng’s life, musical narratives, and influence on East Asian relations and the Asian diaspora; the poems will be included as part of her senior creative writing thesis.

Layla Williams smiles standing in front of a distant stone arch on Princeton campus.

Layla Williams ’25. Photo credit: Tori Repp

African American studies major Layla Williams, who is also pursuing minors in creative writing and theater and music theater, will use Mallach Award funding to investigate transnational identity-making experiences. Williams’s goal is to write an original play exploring the cross-cultural representations between Japanese and African American culture, performance, and media. Traveling to Tokyo, Japan, Williams will immerse herself in areas of performance and artistic production including the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the National Art Center Tokyo, and the Tokyu Theatre Orb, along with bookstores and shops specifically curated for a global audience. Through her research, Williams will dive deeply into the question: When we’ve never had the time for our identity to take root, how might artistic production shift the way we navigate the world?

In addition to funding for projects and research, some students received support to undertake internships. The Bernstein Fund for the Arts Fellowship supports student summer fellowships at prominent arts institutions, such as American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, The Public Theater in New York City, the Brooklyn Museum, McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, and with the organization Maestra Music. Recipients this year are graduating seniors Mashonica Evans and Warren Quan, rising seniors Vincent Gerardi and Jenia Marquez, rising juniors Elena Milliken and Kristen Tan, and rising sophomore Marlie Kass. Rising seniors Stephanie Chen and John Venegas-Juarez are the recipients of support from the Tiger Baron Fund, created to support student theatrical summer experiences including internships, fellowships, and training opportunities. The Sandberg Fund was created by playwright and longtime Lecturer in Theater Robert N. Sandberg to support summer internships for students in the Programs in Theater and Music Theater with support with this year going to rising senior Le’Naya Wilkerson and rising juniors Destine Harrison-Williams and Grace Wang. Two graduating visual arts seniors, Emma Mohrmann and Warren Quan, have received support to attend courses at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado.

Visit the Lewis Center website to learn more about 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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