Fellows Friday: Q&A with Deron Albright

Deron Albright, 2012 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.

As part of our “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 2012 Pew Fellow Deron Albright, a filmmaker whose work spans documentary, installation, poetic animation, and short- and long-form narrative. One of his current works-in-progress is Ceramic Flowers, a modern mash-up of The Odyssey and Ulysses, set in Las Vegas.

What do you miss most from your childhood?

My grandfather’s farm. The weeks I would spend there, in downstate Illinois, were the happiest times of my life. It was 650 acres of bliss—tractors, horses, cattle; fields, woods, streams. It was heaven on Earth for a kid.

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

When I was a kid, I thought I would be a farmer, following in my grandfather’s footsteps. Later, I had a misguided foray into law school, which, fortunately, I escaped before it was too late—ha! Teaching has always been a passion of mine, but when I think about what I might do if I stopped my work in film, I’d say that Foreign Service in the diplomatic corps seems like a good place to land.

If you could collaborate with anyone alive today (someone you don’t know personally), who would it be?

The first person to leap to mind is cinematographer Chris Doyle. His work with Wong-Kar Wai is just stunning. Nick Cave is also someone I’d put at the top of the list. His storytelling ability across form and medium is striking to me.

Whose opinion do you respect most?

I really do try to listen to a wide swath of opinion. Working in film, I’m really concerned with the question and respect of audience—and that audience comprises a lot of opinions! I love balancing the thoughts of both professionals and amateurs alike. Ideas, inspirations, and improvements can really come from anywhere. Listening is almost always good.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Fiach Mac Conghail has led the Abbey Theatre, the national theatre of Ireland, as director and CEO since 2005.

Grants & Grantees

In 2007, the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 83 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.

Meg Foley presents an exhibition of improvisational research and performance documenting up to 750 dances, which Foley performs on a daily basis at 3:15pm.

In this month’s Pew Fellows news highlights, theater artists Thaddeus Phillips and Pig Iron Theatre Company’s Dito Van Reigersberg, Dan Rothenberg, and Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel, as well as choreographer Kate Watson-Wallace, all have works on stage at FringeArts. Master embroiderer Vera Nakonechny talks to the National Endowment for the Arts about the history behind her work, and novelist Ken Kalfus’ new book is released.

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.

Founded in 1973, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council is a private, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization dedicated to providing every Pennsylvanian with access to the humanities.

Poet Brian Teare discusses his path from musician to poet, his motivation for writing poetry that responds to the natural world, and more.

Grants & Grantees

The Institute of Contemporary Art hosted this touring exhibition: the first major retrospective to honor the singular accomplishments of artist Sheila Hicks.

Grants & Grantees

In 1995 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 16 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 23 dance and music organizations in the greater Philadelphia region.

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 Unofficial Guide to Audience Watching Performance is an evening-length autobiographical dance, the culmination of Philadelphia-based breakdancer Raphael Xavier’s 30 years of experience in hip-hop genres. Xavier, a 2013 Pew Fellow, plays with the rhythms of rap, break dancing and narrative to draw parallels between the performer’s body and the stage itself.

Grants & Grantees

Mufulu Kingambo Gilonda is a dance artist and a 2004 Pew Fellow in folk and traditional arts.