2019 Artist Fellowship Recipients

Twenty artists living and working in North Carolina are recipients of the 2018-2019 North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship Awards.

Artist Fellowships were awarded in the categories of choreography (3 awards), craft (3 awards), film and video (3 awards), and visual arts (11 awards) to some of the best artists working in these art disciplines in our state today.

Please click on the the names below to learn more about our 2018-19 Artist Fellowship recipients. 

Visual Arts

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Susan Alta Martin

Cullowhee artist Susan Alta Martin explores the relationship between images of the world and the physical reality of place in her body of work. By pushing sculpture into two-dimensional form and photography into the sculptural realm, she deepens the dialogue between idea and materiality in ways that challenge our expectations about representation, both in the gallery and in the world around us.

As she explains, “Like thoughts, photos are often based on reality, but they are framed, contextualized and interpreted in a particular way. They may also be complete fabrications. Images and ideas can both be placed on a continuum from fact to fiction. Wherever they land on the continuum they can be assembled and rearranged to create broader ideas and world views.” The construction and reconstruction of an idea is evident in her creative process. Original photographs become the basis of three-dimensional forms that are then re-documented through her camera’s lens. The resulting photographs, sculptures, and documentation encourage viewers to reconsider their own ideas about their relationship to the world, especially in an age when understanding is gained through intermediary sources as opposed to personal experience.  This recursive, multi-media approach allows her to play with the themes of idea and form, and fabrication and reality. The repetition itself has a generative effect: “I like to work on multiple projects at once, hoping to discover ways in which we construct our worldviews and the effect they have on physical reality.”

Susan Alta Martin is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient. Her work has been exhibited at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and at the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design in Asheville. She received an M.F.A in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is an Instructor of Photography and the History of Photography at Western Carolina University.  

Endia Beal

Endia Beal’s work blends fine arts with social justice. As she explains, “I use photography to reveal the often-overlooked and -unappreciated experiences unique to people of color.” Through series such as Can I Touch It? and Am I What You’re Looking For?, she examines the situations and attitudes African American women encounter when they venture into corporate environments still dominated by white and male hierarchies. She composes tableaus that highlight at once the humanity and dignity of her subjects and the artificiality and aridness of the settings, challenging the viewer to acknowledge that what we accept as normal is as constructed as the stage set we’re seeing in her photographs.

Beal works in video as well because it “allows those in the photographs an opportunity to share their personal testimony.” Also a professor and a museum director, she wants neglected voices to be heard and sees art as a way to bridge seemingly unbreachable cultural chasms. These personal stories crack open the categories that envelop each of us, allowing for greater awareness and, ultimately, empathy to help transcend our differences.

Since graduating from Yale with an M.F.A. in Photography in 2013, she has won grants from the Magnum Foundation (2016) and an Open Society Foundation (2017), had solo exhibitions at PHOTOVILLE (NY) and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, and residencies at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation and the Center for Photography at Woodstock (NY). She is currently the Director of Diggs Gallery at Winston-Salem State University and a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient.

Barbara Campbell Thomas

Some artists try to draw a bright line between their life and their work, keeping them separate as possible to avoid letting the disorder in one infringe upon the control they aspire to in the other. Barbara Campbell Thomas creates work that embraces the unity of her life and her art, drawing on one to feed the other. As she says, “My life as a painter intertwines with my life as a mother; obligations to care my children condition every hour of the day, handing me a studio schedule that dances between home and workspace, necessitating a fluid focus that ‘makes do’ with what I am given – both in time and visual inspiration.”

Campbell Thomas’s current work combines painting with quilting, overlaying their visual vocabularies to create complex formal dialogues within each piece that resonate with the details of the artist’s own life and history with the media. She came relatively late to quilting, which she learned from her own mother, but quickly realized its power as a domestic art form practiced traditionally by women to inform and expand the range of her painting. She compares the result to medieval Mappae Mundi, which charted an interior geography as much or more than an objective, literal one.  This imaginative synthesis carries viewers into new spatial realms that provide fresh rewards with each turn and line taken.

Barbara Campbell Thomas is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship winner. Among her many achievements, she has been included in two shows at the The Painting Center in New York as well as in New American Paintings, all in 2016. She has had residencies at Siena Art Institute in Italy, the Hambidge Center in Georgia, and others. Her work is the collection of the Weatherspoon Art Museum. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and lives in Climax.

Joelle Dietrick and Owen Mundy

The artist team of Joelle Dietrick and Owen Mundy have long been interested in how our lives intersect with macro-economic, social, and cultural trends, both in their individual and collaborative work. Dietrick has explored the human impact of global trade, with an especial focus on housing markets. Her series, Sherwin’s Wall, zeroed in on the housing crisis and the subsequent foreclosure epidemic in large-scale wall paintings whose energy captured the upheaval viscerally through, in the words of Michelle Grabner, a professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, “the brutalism of the graphic qualities and the ironic color forecasts.”

Mundy’s concerns have drawn him to the confluence of public space, information security, and big data.  His most famous work is an online data visualization entitled I Know Where Your Cat Lives that tracks the images and location of over seven million cats worldwide using metadata tags from social media. At once playful in its conceit, trading on the Internet’s fascination with felines, and profoundly disturbing in its illustration of vanishing individual privacy, it demonstrates powerfully how art can transcend borders and be a part of larger cultural discussions. As Daniel Barna lamented in his commentary on Refinery29.com, “Owen Mundy just ruined the Internet.”

Together Dietrick and Mundy have created mobile apps, single and multi-channel generative animations, and large-scale installations, blending their content interests across a variety of expressive platforms. They continue to develop their collaborative work with the help of Fulbright grants to Germany, Chile, and China in 2017 and 2018.  They have exhibited internationally for a number of years and their work has been the subject of numerous critical essays and articles. Both artists graduated with M.F.A.’s from the University of California at San Diego and now live in Davidson, where Dietrick is an Assistant Professor in the Art Department. As a collaborative team, they share a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship.

Headshot of Andrew Etheridge

From early childhood, Andrew Etheridge was fascinated by the human form and the medical world. This interest led him to pursue a career in anaplastology, a branch of medicine that designs prosthetics for an absent or disfigured part of the face or body. The intersection of science and visual art is evident in his meticulously crafted anatomical works that deconstruct traditional portraiture to create new hyper-sensory forms.

As he states in an article by the online journal, On Art and Aesthetics, “My work as a clinical anaplastologist most definitely influences my art, manifesting itself in how we see ourselves, how we perceive beauty, how we feel and about people who are different, and how we psychologically digest that.” He interrogates our notions of the self and body in his artwork through the deconstruction and re-construction of human anatomy. During his creative process, Etheridge says that he “re-imagines the body as a new creative hyper-surrealistic form by morphing, rearranging, confining, amputating, and displaying its parts for the viewer to examine.”  This manipulation of form often provokes a strong visceral reaction, leading viewers to re-examine their own self-images and sense of what it means to be human. 

Etheridge is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient. He received a Durham Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant in 2016 and the Da Vinci award for presentation of exemplary case results at the International Anaplastology Association conference in 2018.  A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with an M.F.A. in Fine Arts, he resides in Durham.

Sabine Gruffat smiling up at the camera

Sabine Gruffat is an artist who works with experimental video and animation, media-enhanced performance, participatory public art, and immersive installation. Her digital works question the divergent and oftentimes fraught relationships between technology, society, and the environment.  As she states, “Through machines, we are at once connected to and disconnected from the larger world. Machines make us mobile, but they can also track our movements. They allow us to communicate, but they can also hack our emails and eavesdrop on our calls. As a digital artist, I am critical of these technologies while also inspired to work with them to explore their aesthetic possibilities and to reimagine their impact on us.”

Her public installations encourage active participation with the viewer.  It is through these inclusive and immersive experiences that she “seeks to empower people, encourage social participation, and inspire political engagement.” Gruffat is currently working on projects that explore the issues of female embodiment and self-esteem in virtual environments through the medium of gaming software. In addition to her digital works and installations, she has created experimental and essay films that further illuminate the impact of technology on human beings and the environment.

Gruffat is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient. Her interactive video and sound installation piece, A Kiss of the Earth, was exhibited at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2017. She has received awards for her experimental and essay filmmaking, including The LIFT and PIX FILM Studio Immersion Program Award supported by the Petman Foundation (2018), and the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary Film at the Ann Arbor Film Festival (2015). She received her M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and lives in Chapel Hill.

Mario Marzán

Mario Marzán is an interdisciplinary artist whose work includes drawing, video, sculpture, performance, and installation. His works explore topics such as migratory aesthetics, walking as an aesthetic practice, the study of landscapes in relation to individual identities and histories, and the expanding field of pilgrimage studies.

Walking and actively engaging with the natural environment are major components of his creative process.  His interest in the continually shifting and evolving landscape and our relationship to place are recurring themes in his body of work. Many of his pieces are inspired by his birthplace and childhood home, Puerto Rico. He describes how “the shifting landscapes of the island, be they political, economic, or ecological, are thrown into relief by tides of environmental degradation, political exploitation, and economic upheaval. Historical transitions are often rendered as dystopian: the people and the land vulnerable subjects to natural disaster, corruption, and the abuses of global capital. Puerto Rico bears this history in the physical terrain; it is inscribed on the land just as it is in the minds of its people.” His works encourage viewers to consider topography as a mode of language and to contemplate the relationship and complexities of identity and place.

Mario Marzán is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Fellowship recipient. He has exhibited his work nationally at venues such as The Drawing Center in New York, Seattle Center on Contemporary Art, Circuit 12 Contemporary in Dallas, and the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro. He has achieved numerous awards including a National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures artist grant (2011) and two Emerging Artist Grants from the Durham Arts Council (2007 and 2011). He received his M.F.A in Studio Art from Carnegie Mellon University. He is currently Associate Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives in Durham.

Renzo Ortega

Renzo Ortega uses brilliant colors and bold brushstrokes to capture his experiences as a Peruvian immigrant artist living in the United States. Influenced by pre-Hispanic patterns, colonial iconography, German Expressionism, and North American gestural abstraction, his paintings and sculptures show the continuity and ever-evolving relationship between the history of the Americas and contemporary culture.

Lauren Berber describes Ortega’s work in a review in the Triad City Beat: “His current work examines the material and immaterial obstacles that he and other Latinx people currently face in the United States, drawing connections between the displacement of Native Americans and Latinx immigrants’ ancient, ancestral connections to the land. It is a painful paradox that these histories are often erased but simultaneously fetishized and appropriated.” The confluence of history and contemporary society, along with his use of vibrant colors and abstract forms, provides an avenue for viewers to consider and create their own interpretations and connections with his work. He hopes his paintings will provide a message of hope, understanding, and inclusivity.

Renzo Ortega is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient. He received his M.F.A.  from Hunter College, CUNY. His work has been exhibited at GreenHill in Greensboro, as well as in New York and Peru. He was awarded the Orange County Arts Commission Artist Project Grant in 2017 and the Queens Council of the Arts New Work Grant, New York, in 2016. He lives in Carrboro.

Mariam Stephan

Mariam Stephan’s work takes viewers on a journey through dark landscapes of ruin, upheaval, and displacement. Poignant, especially in a contemporary context that feeds us repeated images of societies torn apart by war and violence, she draws inspiration from artists such as Francisco Goya and Käthe Kollwitz, whom she credits with the ability to “record pervasive states of the human condition with … directness and empathy….” In a similar way, Stephan teaches us to look into the darknesses that we normally avoid in order to see the points of light and color and hope that reside in their depths.

Her own story also informs her painting, as both her parents emigrated from countries undergoing turbulent change, her mother from Afghanistan, her father from Communist East Germany. As she says, “Firsthand experiences of loss, as well as the residual effects passed down through family and community, interest me. How do we synthesize the felt, seen, or told narratives that continue as reminders and echoes of suffering and sacrifices?”  Her monumental paintings confront us with our worst histories, but also suggest that people have made the journey through these landscapes before, and will again.

Mariam Stephan is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient.  Based in Greensboro, she has exhibited widely, including solo shows at the Henry Zarrow Arts Center in Tulsa, OK, the Gezira Art Center in Cairo, Egypt, and the Painting Center in New York. Among other honors, she won a Fulbright Scholars Award in 2010-11, which took her to the Middle East. She is an Associate Professor in the Art Department at UNC- Greensboro, where she has taught since 2004.

Montana Torrey

For Montana Torrey, official histories are at once a provocation and an invitation. Drawn to sites where the past has a tangible presence, she seeks the forgotten or neglected stories of place, opening, as she says, “an oppositional dialogue” with received cultural meaning.  In her re-imaginations of architectural space, the past is unmoored from its fixed certainties and allowed to reclaim some of the fluidity and complexity it once had.

She has found a special resonance in the confluence of water and architecture.  She explains, “Most recently, my work has explored connections between the built environment and natural phenomena/natural disasters, and specifically those related to water (flooding and rising sea levels).” Many of her installations suggest a sense of weightlessness and floating, like a body buoyed and jostled in a shifting tide that loses its points of reference to the shore. Her work opens up and embraces these untethered narratives seemingly lost to memory, pulling them, at least for a moment, into view.

Montana Torrey is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient. She has had residencies worldwide, including in Thailand, Italy, Estonia, Iceland, and Finland, among others.  In the United States, she has been in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Taliesin, and Vermont Studio Center. She won an individual artist grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission (2015).  She received her M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in Interdisciplinary Art. She makes her home in Durham.

Christina Weisner Lorena headshot

Christina Lorena Weisner approaches her work like a scientist. Or perhaps a philosopher. “I typically begin with a single found object,” she says. From there, her inquiry expands outwards to encompass wider associations that site the object contextually, probing layers of factual and intuitive responses to uncover a universe of meaning.

While her process is methodical, her goal is not to define or categorize. As she explains, “As an artist/sculptor, I inherently see the world differently than most scientists: I am not concerned with delivering last words or making concrete conclusions, but rather providing questions that generate a platform for cross-disciplinary modes of thinking and possibility.” In a way, she initiates a conversation with the objects she works with, allowing us as viewers to listen in as details emerge. Lauren Hanson, in a catalogue essay for the exhibition Half & Half, described the artist’s process this way: “Weisner’s call-and-response mode of art-making allows forms to reveal themselves through moments of abrupt contact, facilitating a meditation on the nature of materials and their interaction with each other and their environments.”

Weisner earned her M.F.A. at the University of Texas at Austin in Sculpture and Ceramics. She has been selected for residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Anderson Ranch, and Sculpture Space and won a J. William Fulbright Research Grant (2013-14) to pursue sculpture and installation art in Germany. An Assistant Professor of Art at the College of the Albemarle, she lives in Kill Devil Hills. She is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient.


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Seth Gould smiling and wearing a grey hat

Tradition is a tool in Seth Gould’s hands. His work draws inspiration from both Western and Eastern metalworking sources but, like an alchemist, he discovers new forms in the fire of their synthesis. Visitors to his studio are often struck by the outward simplicity of the utilitarian objects he makes – locks, saws, hammers - that capture both a sense of the everyday and a connection to a past unanchored to a specific time or place.  Each object reveals itself gradually, in the equipoise of its weight and feel, in its spare and decisive ornamentation, or in its layers of meticulous craft and ingenuity, unlocking something familiar yet entirely new.

Gould is an artist and a craftsman in the truest sense because he takes objects you have seen a thousand times and endows them with individuality. As George Walker wrote in Popular Woodworking Magazine: “Nothing could be simpler than a hammer. That is, until you hold one of Seth Gould’s cross-peen hammers and discover the balance and heft of a tool that instantly becomes a part of your arm. Suddenly, you have a new category for the word ‘hammer,’ something with life and spring in your hand, and all those other things you once called hammers are now downgraded to a clumsy dead weight on the end of a stick.”

Seth Gould is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship winner. He received his B.F.A. from the Maine College of Art. In 2015, his work was featured in a solo exhibition at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, and in 2017 he was selected for the Lighton International Artist Exchange Program Award, which supported study of traditional metalwork techniques with several Japanese master artists. He recently completed a three-year residency at the Penland School of Crafts and now lives in Bakersville.

Eric Knoche

Asheville-based artist Eric Knoche finds inspiration for his art all around him. As he says, “Here are some things that influence my work: languages, tools, human and animal anatomy, machine parts, architecture, math equations, small movements of facial muscles, uncertainty, the Argentine tango, the spine, memory, perception, cloud formations, plants, gravity, running water, and songbirds.” His sculpture exhibits the restlessness of this list, suggesting evolution and process in its organic lines and structural absences. They exist in a place between the subconscious and the literal, forms that either seem to recall a lost wholeness or augur some new developmental stage still unfolding.

He says that he tries to work “without using the head so much,” aiming for a more visceral response in his viewers. He often has as many as ten or twenty series going at once, each informing the others in different and unexpected ways. Building the work by hand, he creates an intimate, tactile relationship to his materials that resonates not only piece to piece but also in each viewer’s encounters with his sculpture, mining emotions and associations deep inside.

Knoche’s work is in the collections of the Asheville Art Museum and the Mint Museum of Art. He has been named as a notable emerging artist by both American Style (2009) and Ceramics Monthly (2014) magazines. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with B.A. in Art, Anthropology, and English, he also apprenticed with National Living Treasure Isesaki Jun in Bizen, Japan. He is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient.

Rachel Meginnes

Beginning with a meditative process, fiber artist Rachel Meginnes transforms vintage quilts into evocative mixed media paintings that testify to the loss and perseverance inherent in their making and materials. As she explains, “Discarded and auctioned-off, my work begins when the function for these textiles ends. I find the holes, the mends, and draw attention to them, peeling all layers back so others can see, how beauty develops in loss and destruction.”

There is a cathartic quality to her creative process. Meginnes deconstructs discarded quilts stitch-by-stitch, removing layers until she is left with the foundational remnants of the cotton batting. Then with this exposed central layer, she transforms the ethereal, web-like fibers into two-dimensional paintings through a process of reconstruction and layering. Using colorful paints and fibers, she highlights and builds upon original traces of stitching and evidence of making, creating works that illustrate the transformation from functional item to a work of art. Her works capture both the modest origins of her source materials, while illustrating the primal beauty of loss and memory. As she observes, “My objective is not of preservation or conservation, but rather an honorific act of aiming to understand and appreciate our human ability to persevere.”

Meginnes is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient. The owner of Plainweave Studios in Penland, she was a resident artist at the Penland School of Crafts from 2012 to 2015. Her works have been acquired by the Art in the Embassies Collection in Amman, Jordan and the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, among others. Rachel received Honorable Mention for the 2016 James Renwick Chrysalis Award, an accolade that recognizes emerging artists that represent the future field of craft. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Washington, Seattle and lives in Bakersville.


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Kelly Creedon

Kelly Creedon uses film to re-examine the stories that we tell ourselves and that we learn from the culture around us. Her subjects are often from backgrounds unlike hers, but she helps her viewers see into the lives of people they may pass on the street without a second glance – and find the humanity there that we all share. She explains, “As a filmmaker, I seek out stories that are framed within the lens of social constructs that divide us: race, class, language, religion, ideology. But at their heart, these stories are driven by love, family, struggle, and the universal experiences that keep us closely and inextricably tied to one another as a human community.”

Creedon recognizes that being a white artist carries a special responsibility in these times. “As a white filmmaker living in the current political moment in the United States, I find myself challenged to turn the lens on whiteness and work to make visible the privileges, biases, and assumptions that accompany the experience of whiteness and white identity in this context.” She hopes that her honesty and empathy can help shape a different conversation, one that acknowledges and illuminates the stories we’ve neglected and leads in the direction of racial healing and reconciliation.

She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an M.A. in Visual Communication in 2015. Since then, two of her films have enjoyed success at festivals.  In This World, a documentary short, screened at the International Film Festival, Boston, Baltimore International Black Film Festival, and the New Orleans Film Festival, among others, all in 2016. Farmsteaders (2018), her recent feature film, has shown at the Athens International Film + Video Festival and been part of the Southern Circuit Film Tour, among other selections. Kelly Creedon is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship winner.

Rodrigo Dorfman

“I consider myself a human hyphen,” says filmmaker Rodrigo Dorfman. Born in Chile, he emigrated in 1973 with his family to escape political turmoil, a move that has come to define both his life and his outlook as an artist - always in transition, occupying the spaces in between, bridging the cultures and communities he inhabits physically and aesthetically. “When I press ‘record’ on my camera, I am fully aware that the result is not the representation of the subject matter on the other side of the lens, but rather the visual manifestation of a relationship between my subject and me.”

Dorfman has focused his lens on immigrants, musicians, people with disabilities, and the human impact of social and political events. His body of work shows his artistic range, his empathy, and his curiosity about the ways in which people struggle and come to terms with the powerful forces that buffet their lives.  His interests have led him to be agile in how he approaches his subject matter, always searching for the appropriate cinematic language to reveal something beyond the image. As he explains, “My aesthetics emerge from hybridity and experimentation. It’s a frame of mind that comes when you hopscotch the borders of conventional documentary and fictional forms. It’s a position that values, above all, emotional truth.”

Rodrigo Dorfman is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient. His work has been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and Edinburgh Film Festival, among many others. He won the Best Screenplay Award, with his father, for Prisoners in Time from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (1997) and Best Short Jury Award from Full Frame Documentary Film Festival for One Night in Kernersville (2011). As a multimedia producer, he has worked with POV, HBO, and Salma Hayek’s Ventanazul. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication, he now lives in Durham.


When you experience one of André Silva’s films, you enter an imaginative, non-naturalistic world, one that seems to represent an environment quite distinct from the one we live in every day. But he maintains that the landscapes he creates are closer to our own than we might admit:

“Arguably, we are increasingly separated from our ecological surroundings while spending more of our lives online – in other words, we are taking part in an exodus from a biological to a virtual world. And, intentionally or unintentionally, we are taking something of our biological patterning with us….”

For Silva, his cinematic vision is merely an extension of the systems and programs that organize us already: “Our cities – the way our streets and buildings are laid out – are a program. The languages we speak are programs that accentuate or inhibit certain ways of thinking about reality. Our social circles are program-driven – and so on.” The new territories he maps out may spring from recognizable sources, but the journey he takes us on visually and intellectually is fresh and revealing, opening up new vistas on a universe we thought we knew.

Silva is an Associate Professor of Film and Video Production in the Department of Film Studies at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His films have screened widely and won a number of awards. His short, cyberGenesis, which is part of a trilogy, played 21 film festivals internationally, winning seven awards, five of them for “Best of” in their category in 2015 and 2016. He received his M.F.A. in Film & Video Production from the University of Iowa. He is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient.


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Anna Barker

“My goal as an artist is to invite audiences to view everyday life through the lens of modern dance.” Durham-based Anna Barker choreographs works that explore the human condition through relatable and shared experiences. She uses movement and body language to express perceptions of success and failure, and to decipher human interactions and relationships. By actively engaging the viewer through familiar and everyday experiences, she ensures that her modern dance performances create an intimate connection between her and the audience.  

Barker says that her works “…draw from our shared experience to create an exchange about our inherent social and interpersonal existence”. This shared experience is the impetus behind Anna’s creative process. She also collaborates with other artists, integrating text, theater, and music into her works. Her genuine interest in actively promoting modern dance as an accessible means for expression and connection illustrates her interest in “bridging the gap between dance as a formal medium and the lived experience of routine physicality.”

She is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient. The Artistic Director and choreographer/performer for real.live.people in Durham, she has choreographed and performed works at the American Dance Festival, Living Arts Collective, and Motorco Music Hall, among other venues. In 2017, she was awarded the Durham Arts Council Ella Pratt Emerging Artist Grant. Barker received her B.F.A. in Modern Dance and a B.A. in Psychology from Temple University (2009, 2010).

Duane Cyrus

Choreographer and performer Duane Cyrus has worked in a range of genres and styles, including concert dance, musical theater, contemporary art, and drama. He creates works that illustrate the interplay between questions and ideas that, in his words, arise from “positioning moving bodies in conceptual environments.”

Inspired by research in Black American and Caribbean culture and history, Cyrus choreographs and directs works that highlight the confluence of his interdisciplinary background in dance and performance, allowing him to explore both the physical and emotional capacities of the human body in motion. He creates works that are accessible and relevant to a wide range of communities and engages audiences by setting his work with striking visuals and abstract environments. He notes that by generating “visually stimulating scenes that transform and shift the viewer’s perception of that which is observed,” his choreography is actively challenging the “monolithic paradigm between the voyeuristic and passively invisible observer and the inscrutably remote performer.”

Cyrus is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient, the second time he has won this award.  The Director of the Theatre of Movement, he is a 2018 Bessie Award Nominee for Best Performance in Cynthia Oliver’s Virago-Man Dem, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He is the recipient of the 2017 Provost’s Strategic See Grant for Vibrant Communities from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for his choreographic work, Hero Complexities and is the co-author and editor of Vital Grace: The Black Male Dancer. He received his M.F.A. in Choreography from the University of Illinois and is now a Professor of Dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Kate Weare

Choreographer Kate Weare is interested in the juxtapositions inherent in human relationships that explore, as she states, “contemporary views of intimacy- both tender and stark- by drawing on our most basic urges to move and decode movement.” This dichotomy creates in the artist’s words “a startling combination of formal choreographic values and visceral, emotional interpretation.”

Raised by a printmaker and painter in Oakland, California, Weare integrates visual art, language, poetry, contemporary music, psychology, and nature into her choreography. Her multidisciplinary approach and incorporation of themes that illuminate the complexities of contemporary relationships and human perceptions create works that are, in the artist’s own words,“lucid, visually sophisticated and speak with emotional clarity to a broad viewership.” Deborah Witt of The Village Voice elaborates on the artist’s ability to capture visceral emotions through movement: “Weare gets under the skin of movement with almost surgical exactness, inflames it, and then makes it glow with a strange, yet familiar light. No one else is making work quite like hers.”

Weare is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient. She is the Choreographer and Artistic Director of the Kate Weare Company and has created commissions for various international dance companies, including the Cincinnati Ballet, Scottish Dance Theatre, and the Union Tanguera in France. She is a recipient of the 2017 Aninstantia Foundation Fellowship, 2017 DANCEworks Creative Residency Award, and 2016 Joyce Theater Creative Residency Award. She received her B.F.A. in Dance from California Institute of the Arts and currently resides in Asheville.