Fellows Friday: Q&A with Travis Macdonald

Travis Macdonald, 2014 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.

As part of our “Fellows Friday” feature, we focus on the artistic lives of our Pew Fellows: their aspirations, influences, and creative challenges. Visit us each Friday to meet a new Pew Fellow and to learn more about his or her artistic practice.

This week, we speak to poet Travis Macdonald, who questions authorship with written works that are lively and whimsical without being frivolous, and which offer critique and reflection of the contemporary moment. Macdonald is also the co-founder and co-editor of Fact-Simile Editions, a Philadelphia micro-press dedicated to publishing works of contemporary poetry that use mostly reclaimed or recycled materials.

If you could live with only one piece of art, what would it be?

I have a seven-foot-tall nightlight that my father made out of old barn wood, brass doorknobs, a bent table leg, and an early 20th-century metal baby doll’s head. When you plug it in, the light pours out of the doll’s face and seeps through all of the metal’s previously invisible cracks. I’m pretty sure it has scarred me deeply in ways I’m not even aware of and it’s probably a fire hazard, but it’s been with me for all my 34 years, so I can’t imagine life without it.

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

I would like to work with Jenny Holzer to coordinate the entire city’s skyline into a poem that can only be read in its entirety from a single point on the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps.

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

I’ve never subscribed to the idea that an artist, a writer especially, requires solitude to practice his or her craft. So, for me, the amazing community of writers and artists I’ve had the privilege of connecting with here in Philadelphia has been incredibly inspiring. Coming from a relatively isolated and compartmentalized creative environment in New Mexico four years ago to this thriving nexus full of so many brilliant voices eager to engage and exchange…I can’t tell you how grateful I am to every single one of them. I honestly believe there is no better place in the world to be a poet at this moment.

Which artist would you most like to have dinner with, from any time in history?

Aperitif: Georges Perec
Main course: Jackson Mac Low
Scotch and cigarettes: Charles Olson


Collaborators & Colleagues

Jo Lauria is an independent curator and an art and design historian. Formerly, she was a decorative arts curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

2014 Pew Fellow and poet Thomas Devaney considers poetry an act of exploration. He answers our questions on collaboration, daydreaming, and more.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Aaron Landsman is a New York City-based playwright, actor, and teacher whose performance works combine formal experimentation and long-term community engagement.

Grants & Grantees

In 2006 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 73 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.

“There is a hunger for a conversation about process,” says dancer and choreographer Tania Isaac, when asked about changes in audience expectations.

Edmunds, executive and artistic director of the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, is The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage’s first visiting scholar. Paula Marincola, the Center’s executive director, spoke with her about the opportunity.

In this month’s Pew Fellows news, Jenny Sabin is honored with a Women in Architecture Award presented by Architectural Record, Benjamin Volta unveils a new mural, and we remember the late artist and teacher Nicholas Kripal.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel’s current playwriting project is a Center-funded commission for Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater, based on Don Juan Returns from the War.

Grants & Grantees

Poet and 2013 Pew Fellow Emily Abendroth’s poetry encourages readers to discover difficult truths woven into social, cultural, and physical realities.

In 2015, Fellows performed and exhibited their work at theaters, festivals, and in museums around the globe, received prestigious awards, and garnered international media attention.

Grants & Grantees

Kate Watson-Wallace produced Everywhere, a new online interactive dance piece.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (the Center) today announced 53 grants in support of the Philadelphia region’s cultural organizations and artists. The 2016 awards total more than $10 million and provide funding for 12 new Pew Fellowships, 36 Project grants, and 5 Advancement grants.