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 J.C. Todd, whose current work-in-progress is a collection of sonnets that “complicates and contemporizes the tradition of war poems.” Her publications include What Space This Body (Wind Publications, 2008), and her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Paris Review, and elsewhere.
What are the primary vehicles you use to support your practice—what makes it possible?
My feet. I often write or jot en plein air or in museums. I wander into sensation, perception, thought. The ground, the feet, and the imagination are always in conversation.
When did you know you were going to be an artist?
I write because I have to—there’s nowhere else to go. But I didn’t think of myself as an artist until a painter at the Hambidge Center referred to all the fellows as artists. She means me too, I thought, almost 50 then.
What do you miss most from your childhood?
Long Island tomatoes for lunch at the kids’ picnic table, which I think my dad built. Lying under the magnolia in bloom. Reading without responsibility. Skittering across the hot sand into the ocean. The mock orange. My mother.
What music are you listening to, and which books are on your bedside table?
Music: Pablo Casals, Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello; Dame Janet Baker, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli, Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder; Mercedes Sosa; Thelonius Monk.
Bedside reading: Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction; David Finkel, The Good Soldiers and Thank You for Your Service; W S. Merwin’s translation of Dante’s Purgatorio; Renee Ashley, Because I Am the Shore, I Want to Be the Sea; Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Kindness.”
What do you most daydream about when you are working?
The writing is the dream wave that surfaces enough to emerge as language. All that doesn’t surface is the dream undertow.
Poet and Pew Fellow Yolanda Wisher on creating “poetics of use,” the inspiration she draws from her ancestry, and more.
Dancer, choreographer, and Pew Fellow Raphael Xavier tells the autobiographical story of an artistic journey defined by sacrifice, passion, and transcendence.
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.
Beth Kephart is a writer and a 2005 Pew Fellow.
Raphael Xavier presents Raphstravaganza, a contemporary circus-style performance featuring street performers, extreme BMX riders, acrobatic contortionists, and live music.
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.
David Ellsworth is a visual artist and a 1999 Pew Fellow.
Vocalist, composer, and recording artist Tokay Tomah on starting her artistic career in Liberia, using music as a vehicle for building peace, and more.
As part of her Carnegie International project, Zoe Strauss is taking portraits of the residents of Homestead, PA. Plus, news on Brian Phillips, Frank Sherlock, Kinan Abou-Afach, Matthew Cox, Jay Kirk, and more.
Recognized as one of the world’s leading conservatories, The Curtis Institute of Music (Curtis) was founded in 1924 by Mary Louise Curtis Bok. Curtis has educated and trained some of the most exceptionally gifted young musicians from around the world for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level.
It gives us great pleasure to announce that the Pew Fellowships in the Arts will be raised to $75,000 for each Fellow in the 2015 grant cycle.
In 2001 the Center awarded Pew Fellowships to 12 Philadelphia-based artists, and grants to 57 dance, music, theater, and visual arts organizations and practitioners in the greater Philadelphia region.