Fellows Friday: Q&A with J. Louise Makary

J. Louise Makary, 2013 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.

As part of our new “Fellows Friday” web feature, we focus on the artistic lives of our Pew Fellows: their aspirations, influences, and creative challenges. This week, we speak to 2013 Pew Fellow J. Louise Makary, whose works on film combine dance, still photography, and experimental techniques, introducing unexpected, challenging elements into traditional narrative structure.

What music are you listening to? Which books are on your bedside table?

I listen to a lot of dance music that won’t be around for very long. Because it’s always the same but always different, it reconciles two different, paradoxical drives—stimulated by the newness, comforted by the predictability. Los Angeles DJ Anna Lunoe is life support.

I’m reading Tao Lin’s Taipei but I keep losing my place. I’m looking at a book of photography by Yuki Onodera, which includes the series “Portrait of Second-hand Clothes,” and the catalog for Michael Snow: Photo-Centric, a really exceptional exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that I was lucky to be involved with.

What do you daydream about when you are working?

I daydream about taking my laptop to a sunlit table where there is light breakfast and a smart choreographer to talk to, or where I get to sit in a studio and watch dancers make things. I’m really daydreaming about being a consultant who helps dance makers negotiate the mechanics of film as they bring their own work to the screen. I also listen to music and let cinematic images work their way through the sound. In my daydreams, I say yes to spectacle, yes to eccentricity, yes to transformations. I’d say yes to trash imagery if I knew what it was.

How does residing in this region contribute to your artistic practice?

Before I was invited to collaborate with Landmarks Philadelphia, which runs four historical house museums, I’d never considered making films that deal with colonial history. My long-term relationship with that organization led to a change in my process, moving toward intensive research and engagement with a field outside of film and fine art. I’m not certain that I will continue to make films about public history, but the experience taught me how to engage more deeply with content, starting with ideas that are geographically close to home.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?


Kinan Abou-afach is a cellist, composer, and classical Arab musician born in Damascus, Syria, who performs extensively with Philadelphia Arabic cultural organization Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture.

Questions of Practice

A workshop and small grant opportunity, No Idea Is Too Ridiculous allows Center constituents to explore creativity and risk-taking.

Choreographer and Pew Fellow Tania Isaac (2011) presents an iteration of her Center-funded discovery project open notebook: crazy beautiful.

Pew Fellow and former Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez leads a poetry workshop exploring the history of Johnson House, Philadelphia’s only intact stop on the Underground Railroad.

The Arden Theatre Company will bolster its capability to produce new children’s theater through a one-year artistic exchange and collaboration with Seattle Children’s Theatre and Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis.

Grants & Grantees

Joseph Cashore is a puppeteer and a 1996 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

Matt Saunders (Pew Fellow, 2014) is a multidisciplinary theater artist whose practice is rooted in set design.

The Library Company of Philadelphia hosts an opening reception for Common Touch: The Art of the Senses in the History of the Blind.

Lee is the publisher at Corollary Press and author of the poetry collections Underground National, That Gorgeous Feeling, and Solar Maximum, forthcoming from Futurepoem Press.

Grants & Grantees

Tina Davidson is a composer and a 1992 Pew Fellow.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Brooke Davis Anderson is the Executive Director of Prospect New Orleans.

This month in Fellows Friday news: Vera Nakonechny is named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts, Alex Da Corte exhibits at White Cube, and much more.