Pew Fellowships in the Arts Announces the 2006 Award Recipients

Pew Fellowships in the Arts Announces the 2006 Award Recipients

Pew Fellowships in the Arts announced the Philadelphia-area artists who have received $50,000 fellowship awards for 2006, the largest such grants in the country for which artists can apply. The 12 awards went to 14 artists (one fellowship is shared by three artists) working in the areas of Poetry, Performance Art, and Sculpture and Installation. This year's recipients, selected from among nearly 300 artists, are:

  • the collaborative team David Brick, Andrew Simonet and Amy Smith, performance art  
  • Nava EtShalom, poetry  
  • Nadia Hironaka, sculpture & installation  
  • Jena Osman, poetry  
  • Pepon Osorio, sculpture and installation  
  • Bob Perelman, poetry  
  • Scott Rigby, sculpture and installation  
  • Tobin Rothlein, performance art  
  • Robert Smythe, performance art  
  • Geoffrey Sobelle, performance art  
  • Lamont Steptoe, poetry  
  • Elaine Terranova, poetry

The 2006 fellowships mark the 15th year of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts and bring the total to 201 artists who have been honored with the distinction of receiving the highly competitive fellowships. To date, a total of $9.8 million has gone to support some of the region's most gifted artists. The Pew Fellowships in the Arts is located at Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, which is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts. Biographies of all the artists are below. Visual material is available on the Web site at

“This year's fellowship recipients reflect the diversity and creative energy that make Philadelphia's artists community one of the most exciting in the country. Our support of these gifted individuals will be rewarded manyfold in the contributions they make to the cultural life of this community and in the variety of artistic experiences they bring to the broader Philadelphia public,” said Pew Fellowships in the Arts Director, Melissa Franklin, “The purpose of the fellowships is to give dedicated and talented artists more time and freedom to concentrate on their art, thus enabling them to pursue in-depth investigations, take some risks, and continue to grow artistically. We also seek to support artists at varying points in their professional development. A number of this year's recipients are just beginning their professional lives as artists, several are mid-career, and a few are recognized masters in their fields.”

The fellowships are for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years. They support artists at any stage of career development, from early to mature, and working in a wide variety of aesthetics and traditions. Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis and selections are made through a two-phase peer-review process involving preliminary and final selection panels. For the recipients, this honor reflects both their distinction within the discipline-specific pool and the collective judgment of the final, interdisciplinary panel. This year's interdisciplinary panel included:

  • Paul Ha (chair), director, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, MO;  
  • Polly Apfelbaum, artist, Princeton, NJ and New York;  
  • John Kelly, experimental theater artist, New York;  
  • Kenneth Goldsmith, conceptual poet and DJ, New York;  
  • Eungie Joo, director and curator, Gallery at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), Los Angeles;  
  • Vijay Seshadri, director, graduate program in creative nonfiction, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York; and  
  • Peter Taub, director of performing arts, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Serving on the poetry panel were: Joan Retallack, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Humanities, Bard College, New York; Vijay Seshadri, director, graduate program in creative nonfiction, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York; and Kevin Young, Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing, Curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Collection, Emory University, Atlanta. Serving on the performance art panel were: Marc Bamuthi Joseph, theater artist and artistic director, YouthSpeaks, San Francisco; Debra Singer, director, The Kitchen, New York; and Peter Taub, director of performing arts, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Serving on the sculpture and installation panel were: Eunjie Joo, gallery director and curator, REDCAT, Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre, Los Angeles; Charlotta Kotik, curator and chair, Department of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; and Allan McCollum, artist, New York. Panel biographies are available on the Web site at

“The Philadelphia region has a rich and talented pool of artists making our selection process extremely competitive.” noted Melissa Franklin, director of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, “Our panelists labored with great seriousness and care to make the very difficult choices demanded by such a review process.”

The Pew Fellowships in the Arts is one of seven cultural initiatives funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, administered by The University of the Arts, and now co-located at the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage (PCAH). PCAH opened in November 2005, and in addition to Pew Fellowships in the Arts, houses the Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative, the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative, Dance Advance, the Heritage Philadelphia Program, and the Philadelphia Music Project. Together these programs assist cultural organizations and artists in the five-county Southeastern Philadelphia region in developing high-quality public programs and effective management practices. For more information, visit

2006 Fellows Biographies

David Brick, 39; Andrew Simonet, 37, and Amy Smith, 35, performance art
Co-Directors David Brick, Andrew Simonet and Amy Smith founded Headlong Dance Theater in 1993. Over the years, Headlong has created over thirty-five dances, many of which are known for their witty take on contemporary culture. Headlong has performed nationally and internationally to a range of audiences, and their work—informed by a deep commitment to collaboration, humor, and formal experimentation—has won many fans and much acclaim. Their work includes Hotel Pool, a dance theater work performed in and around a hotel swimming pool which traveled to Capitol Fringe Festival, Washington DC, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. You Are So Beautiful is a culmination of a six-week residency where they collaborated with Arrow Dance Communication in Kyoto, Japan. In 2000 and 2001, Pusher was premiered at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, a performance sold on the street like drugs where buyers navigate the maze-like transaction and are then rewarded with a 10-minute dance theater piece. They won a Bessie for choreography, New York Dance, and Performance Awards in 1999 for ST*R W*RS and Other Stories, a retelling of the movie and of growing up in the 1970s, the first Philadelphia company to ever receive a Bessie for choreography. Brick, Simonet and Smith received their B.A. degrees from Wesleyan University.

Nava EtShalom, 25, poetry
Nava EtShalom's is an emerging poet whose work concerns the way in which the private and personal are reflected in, the trans-global and the political. She is currently working on a collection of poems titled “Places to Put Your Body,” which outline the violence in the Middle East while simultaneously exploring the prosaic violence of family relationships. EtShalom received her B.A. in Creative Writing for Social Change from Oberlin College, Ohio. It was there she was mentored by Martha Collins, Sylvia Wantanabe, Pam Alexander, and Angie Estes. Her works have been included in Mid-American Review and Vespertine Press. In 2004, she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Stuart Friebert Prize. EtShalom has also taught poetry in middle schools and coordinated and read with Poets Against War. In May 2006 she was in residence at Ragdale in Lake Forest, Ill.

Nadia Hironaka, 31, sculpture and installation
Nadia Hironaka is a video installation artist and filmmaker whose work explores the relationships of cinematic, physical, and psychological space and the perception of time. Her most recent exhibition “The Late Show,” at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, was her first solo museum exhibition. Among her awards and honors are two Window of Opportunity grants from the Leeway Foundation, a Best Film Debut award from the New York Expo, and the Peter Stuyvessant Fish Award in Media Arts. Hironaka's exhibitions and screenings include The Fabric Workshop and Museum (2003); Vox Populi (2003); Streaming Cinema 3.0 (2003); The Main Line Arts Center (2003); The Stray Show (2002); Zoller Gallery (2002); The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design (2002); The Institute of Contemporary Art (2002); Den Haag Film and Video Festival (2002);The Butcher Shop, Chicago (2001); ASU, Arizona (2001);The Donnell Library's Media Center, New York (2000); Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA (2000); the Center for Contemporary Arts, Kitakyushu, Japan (1999); The Black Beetle, Chicago (1999); Women in the Director's Chair, The Hot House, Chicago (1998). She received her M.F.A. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and B.F.A. at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.

Jena Osman, 43, poetry
Jenna Osman probes politics and language in a variety of inventive ways in her poetry. Her work is informed by the collision of language with other media including photography, music and hypertext. Osman's books of poetry include Essay in Asterisks (Roof, 2004), The Character (Beacon, 1999 and winner of the 1998 Barnard New Women Poets Prize) and Amblyopia (Avenue B, 1993). Chapbooks include Jury (Meow Press, 1996), Balance (Leave Books, 1992), Underwater Dive: Version One (Paradigm Press, 1990) and Twelve Parts of Her (Burning Deck Press, 1989). Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry of 2002 (selected by Robert Creeley), and many other anthologies and literary magazines such as Conjunctions, XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics, and Verse. Her poems have been translated into French, Swedish, and Serbo-Croatian. With Juliana Spahr, she is the editor of the award-winning and internationally recognized literary magazine Chain. She has received grants for her poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Fund for Poetry. She has been a writing fellow at the MacDowell Colony, the Blue Mountain Center, the Djerassi Foundation, and Chateau de la Napoule. Her work “Target” was used as the libretto for a piece by composer Keeril Makan, and was performed at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2004. Osman received an M.A. in poetry and playwriting from Brown University in 1987 and a Ph.D. in English from the Poetics Program at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1998. Currently, Osman is director of creative writing at Temple University, Philadelphia.

Pepón Osorio, 51, sculpture and installation
Pepón Osorio creates provocative large-scale, multi-media installations. His inclusive and participatory art-making process continually defies stereotypes with a body of work that addresses contemporary and artistic issues of ownership, and cultural authenticity. Osorio was educated at the Universidad Inter-Americana in Puerto Rico and Herbert H. Lehman College in New York, and received an MA from Columbia University in 1985. His work has been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art and El Museo del Barrio in New York, the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., and el Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico and El Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico. His most recent project includes an artist-in-residence position at the Philadelphia Department of Human Services. Working closely with DHS social workers, administrators, and clients, Osorio focused on the foster care system to conduct an institutional critique at one of the most vulnerable intersections between private life and public policy. This resulted in “Trials and Turbulence: Pepón Osorio,” a large scale installation organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia and traveled to the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia. Among his many awards and honors are a John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Fellowship, a Tiffany Foundation grant, and the CalARTS/Alpert Award in the Arts: Visual Arts.

Bob Perelman, 59, poetry
Bob Perelman has had a long and distinguished career as a leader of the poetry avant-garde. He first became known as a member of a group called Language Poets who were working in the 70s and early 80s to define a new way of writing poetry that challenged traditional poetics. Perelman has published sixteen books of poetry, including Ten to One: Selected Poems (Wesleyan) and Playing Bodies, a painting/poem collaboration with Francie Shaw (Granary Books). His critical books are The Trouble With Genius: Reading Pound, Joyce, Stein and Zukofsky (California) and The Marginalization of Poetry: Language Writing and Literary History (Princeton). He has edited two collections of poets' talks: Hills Talks and Writing/Talks (Southern Illinois). He also has been included in anthologies such as The Best American Poetry (Scribners, 2004), Onward: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics (Peter Lang, 1996), The Best of the Best American Poetry (Scribners, 1998), Jerome Rothenberg (Berkeley: University of California, 1995), and From the Other Side of the Century: A New American Poetry (Sun and Moon Press, 1994). Bob Perlman received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley; his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa; his M.A. in Greek and Latin and his B.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Perelman is professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Scott Rigby, 31, sculpture and installation
Scott Rigby is co-founder and co-director of BASEKAMP. Founded 1998, Basekamp is a collaborative art team, as well as a non-commercial studio and exhibition space whose primary focus is to participate in the creation, facilitation and promotion of large scale collaborative projects by contemporary artists. The Basekamp team uses its facilities as a home base to invite domestic and international collaborative groups in a joint experiment to develop new models of relations within overlapping art communities. Rigby has participated in numerous public art events and activities throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond. One of the most recent projects is “Walk, Talk, and Eat Some More,” a multi-day, multi-city project in and between London, Portland, New York, Stockholm, Berlin and San Francisco. He received his B.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Tobin Rothlein, 35, performance art
Tobin Rothlein is a video artist who for the last 10 years has been working in dance and opera to create multi-media compositions. He is exploring the expressive possibilities of digital media within the live arts context. He is the producing artistic director of the Miro Dance Company. Rothlein studied theatre and film at Kalamazoo College, MI and the Beijing Language Institute, where he studied Mandarin Chinese and Chinese arts and culture. His work on film includes Invisible (1999), a collaboration with choreographers Matthew Neenan and Amanda Miller, which places dance into the very physical world of a cramped diner, and Swan (2000), a modern retelling of Fokine's dying swan choreography. In addition to many works with Phrenic New Ballet, Rothlein's video and visual design collaborations include Facing Mekka with Hip Hop pioneer Rennie Harris, Baby Case at Philadelphia-based Arden Theatre, Spin at the Wilma Theatre, two works with London choreographer Carol Brown, and SHARPWIRE's contemporary opera Adam's Apple which has been touring the UK and recently opened the Battersea New Opera Festival in London. Rothlein was a founding member and director of Phrenic New Ballet up until its transition into two companies in late 2004, when he founded Miro dance theatre with fellow Phrenic director Amanda Miller. Rothlein recently co-founded Mlab, a laboratory for innovations and design technologies in the live arts, with Miro Production Manager and Lighting Designer James Clotfelter.

Robert Smythe, 46, performance art
Robert Smythe is the founding artistic director of the Mum Puppet Theatre. For the past 20 years, Smythe has worked to create an aesthetic for puppetry that combines elements of Japanese theater with Jacques Lecoq's movement philosophies, emphasizing theatricality while making empathetic connections to audiences. He has won Outstanding Choreography, Barrymore Award for Excellence for From the Ashes and Swan Lake, with the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as Citations for Excellence in Puppetry from the Union Internationale de la Marionnette. His awards include a John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Solo Performer Fellowship, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Solo Performer Fellowship. He has acted as a guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, as an artist-in-residence at Bryn Mawr College, PA, and recently participated in an exchange with the Wroclaw Puppet Theater in Poland. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan University.

Geoffrey Sobelle, 30, performance art
Geoff Sobelle is a theatrical performer who has completed residencies with NEST Arts, NY; Public Theater; Stanford University; Princeton University; Equipe Wagon, Paris, France; and HERE Arts Center, NY. As a member of Pig Iron Theater Company, Geoff has performed in Hell Meets Henry Halfway, which traveled to New York, Lithuania, and the International Gombrowicz Festival in Poland; James Joyce is Dead and So is Paris: The Lucia Joyce Cabaret; Shut Eye, which premiered at the Traverse Theater for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; and Mission to Mercury, a cabaret-ballet based on the music of Queen. His most acclaimed work has been all wear bowlers, an homage to the desolation of Samuel Beckett, the mysterious beauty of René Magritte, and the pathos of Laurel and Hardy in which a surreal world of venomous ventriloquists and belligerent bowlers collide. He co-created, all wear bowlers with Trey Lyford. It won the Innovative Theatre Award for outstanding performance art production and a Drama Desk nomination for unique theatrical experience in 2005. His education includes a B.A. in English Literature from Stanford University, studies at the Ecole Internationale du Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, Paris, France, and mentorships with Phillipe Gaulier and David Shiner.

Lamont Steptoe, 57, poetry
Lamont Steptoe is a poet and activist. He has a clear, direct and matter-of-fact approach to his socio-cultural subject matter and his language is rich and revealing. He has performed his work at the Library of Congress, the National Library of Nicaragua, the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, the Knitting Factory, the Schomburg Center for Black Culture, and various colleges and universities throughout the United States. He is the author of eight books including In the Kitchen of the Masters (1997) and Catfish & Neckbone Jazz (1992) both published by Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books; and Uncle's South China Sea Blue Nightmare (Plan B Press, 2003). He was awarded the Life-time Achievement Award by the Kuntu Writers Workshop from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002, and awarded a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in 1996. His poems have also been featured in various anthologies including Furious Flower: From the Black Art Movement to the Present (University of Virginia Press, 2004) and The Oxford Anthology of African American Poetry (Oxford University Pres, 2005). He has participated in numerous workshops and has collaborated with Sonia Sanchez, Allen Ginsburg, Ishmael Reed, Margaret Walker Alexander, and Sam Allen.

Elaine Terranova, 67, poetry
Elaine Terranova writes quite majestic poetry, she often chooses a humble object or image and then expands upon it so that it extends beyond itself and comments upon the human condition. She received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the Goddard College, VT and her B.A. from Temple University. She has received a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and was the Robert Frost Fellow in Poetry during the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in 1992. Her participation as featured reader and writer-in-residence include the Chautauqua Institution, Hofstra University, NY, Catskill Reading Society Outloud Conference, Rutgers Writers' Conference and the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. Her works have been published in The New Yorker, Prairie Schooner, The American Poetry Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Antioch Review. Her book The Cult of the Right Hand (Doubleday, 1991) won the Walt Whitman Award.


The Pew Charitable Trusts serves the public interest by providing information, advancing policy solutions and supporting civic life. Based in Philadelphia, with an office in Washington, D.C., the Trusts will invest $204 million in fiscal year 2006 to provide organizations and citizens with fact-based research and practical solutions for challenging issues. For more information, visit

The University of the Arts is the nation's first and only university dedicated to the visual, performing and communication arts. Its history as a leader in educating creative individuals spans more than 125 years. For further information about the University of the Arts call 215-717-6000, or visit