Fellows Friday: Q&A with Lori Waselchuk

Lori Waselchuk, 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 Lori Waselchuk. A 2013 Leeway Transformation Award winner, Waselchuk’s photographs have appeared in magazines and newspapers such as Time, LIFE, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. She is currently interviewing and photographing Philadelphia block captains for a new project, Them That Do, which reveals the individual and shared histories of the city’s diverse citizenry. Click here to read Waselchuk’s recent piece about the project in Next City.

When did you know you were going to be an artist?

I’m not sure if I trusted that title for myself until I received the Pew Fellowship! So, two years ago.

What images or things keep you company in the space where you work?

Books, posters, postcards of shows, and photos of my kids. Some work by other photographers. I have one photo of myself, arm-in-arm with Desmond Tutu. I’m always the one taking pictures of others with famous people, and this was the one time I gave my camera to someone else to take a picture. I am so glad I did.

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

I think I could do so many things and find fulfillment as long as I’m in the trenches of life—meaning that I’m working directly with people, helping to solve problems. If I ever get tired of photography (unlikely) and if I could move straight into a job (without having to go back to school), I would like to work with the Committee to Protect Journalists or a similar organization that works to promote press freedom in the world.

How has your thinking about the business of your practice changed since you started working professionally?

I now believe that my work can be the means to build a secure future. I never really thought that before.


Designer Jenny Sabin’s PolyMorph is on display in France and bandleader Marshall Allen performs at Lincoln Center on October 5, 2013.

Dancer, choreographer, and 2013 Pew Fellow Raphael Xavier takes hip-hop techniques from the street to the stage and tells the autobiographical story defined by sacrifice, passion, and transcendence.

A number of projects from grantees and Pew Fellows have garnered extensive national and regional press coverage in recent weeks.

Bruce Graham’s Rizzo opens at Theatre Exile, NPR features Chris Forsyth, and Geoff Sobelle’s The Object Lesson receives a Bessie Award.

In 2001, saxophonist and Pew Fellow Bobby Zankel founded the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, a big band to perform his compositions and arrangements.

Grants & Grantees

Thaddeus Phillips (Pew Fellow, 2002) creates theater works that use transformational scenography, documentary footage, and improvisation to peer into not-often seen worlds.

Grants & Grantees

In 2005 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 66 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.

Questions of Practice

Murphy makes up one half of the artist duo Megawords, along with Anthony Smyrski. Megawords is well known throughout Philadelphia for installations that are equal parts gathering space, artist studio, and storefront.

Discomfort is a sign that one is working with integrity, says poet and Pew Fellow Emily Abendroth (2013).

Collaborators & Colleagues

Catherine Hughes, who has written and presented widely on performance in museums, is project director of Meet the Past, a live interpretation initiative at the Atlanta History Center.

Grants & Grantees

Hellmut Gottschild is a dancer and a 1992 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

FringeArts presents the Philadelphia premieres of the second and third works in a trilogy by world-renowned experimental theater artist Romeo Castellucci at its 2013 and 2014 festivals.