Meet Our Current Artists-In-Residence

"When people dig into a work of art, they no longer have to ask about its value because they know it." --Eric Booth, Arts Educator & Author

University Settlement Artists-in-Residence are selected because of the quality of their work and the open, welcoming nature of their process. These artists believe that creativity is a skill set that can be shared and learned. They have also demonstrated a commitment to restoring the notion that everybody has an artistic birthright to reclaim and, in doing so, quality of life can be improved.

Our 2018-2019 Artists-In-Residence

Creative Traffic Flow
Sophia Dawson
Jesca Prudencio
Culinary Theater

Creative traffic flow


Creative Traffic Flow is a new theatre collective formed to create ensemble-driven performances with queer people of color and women as leaders. DawN Crandell, Jeesun Choi and Kristin Rose Kelly met at the inaugural National Institute for Directing and Ensemble Creation in July 2017 hosted by Pangea World Theater and Art2Action, which fosters artists of color, women, LGBTQ-identified artists for arts leadership. DawN is an interdisciplinary performing artist creating work in the space where theater, dance and poetry meet. Jeesun is a playwright and physical theatre artist, dedicated in exploring the body as an instrument for personal and political change. Kristin is a director and documentary theatre maker creating poly-vocal work that explores gender and sexuality within specific communities. Creative Traffic Flow's process honors all experiences and skills involved in the creation. They strive to present and perform at the highest level of artistic integrity while honoring multiple forms of expressions and perspectives.

Performance Project:
Duets of Difference is a dance-theatre performance that embodies how we find unity and equity despite conflict and difference. By engaging with the University Settlement community paired in duos alongside professional dancers, the performance explores how people persist, challenge and grow in relation to one another. Duets of Difference is a seven-month long workshop series that will culminate in a performance event. The workshops will bring two strangers, unlike each other in age, identity, faith and culture, who may not get to connect in real life, together to foster a deeper understanding of themselves and each other. Through multidisciplinary performance building methods, Creative Traffic Flow will create dance/theatre duets that are informed and inspired by the participants' identities and experiences.

This project is a response to our current political climate. CTF purposefully planned a long-term project to resist societal impulse to jump to polarization and instead, practice empathetic listening. By using theatre and dance as tools, they want to create space for the exchange of different stories and ideas that may be challenging but much more fulfilling.

Community Connection:
CTF invites all of the University Settlement community to participate in Duets of Difference workshops. Since they want to engage as many people as possible, the participants will be able to sign up for a few weeks or all seven months. For the performance, CTF hopes to have 12 community members (six duos) who will carry the stories and work created by short-term participants. Through the workshops and performance, CTF will investigate how the voices and stories of the participants can stay true to their origins while being open and present to the multitude of other stories presented and shared.

Quote:
"As AIR artists, Creative Traffic Flow is thrilled and honored to have this opportunity to work with the University Settlement community! We look forward to learning, collaborating, strengthening the bridges that connect various groups in the organization. We hope to find ways to creatively and respectfully hold space for differing cultural backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences." -CTF: Dawn, Jeesun, Kristin

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Sophia dawson


Sophia Dawson, 29, is a Brooklyn based artist who dedicated her life's work to exposing the stories and experiences of individuals who strive to overcome the injustices the face both individually and collectively. Her multidisciplinary practice includes painting, mural making, performance art and installation. By raising awareness of individual narratives, she aims to humanize social justice issues. She received her bachelor's degree in fine arts from SVA and her masters in visual arts administration from NYU. Her work has been exhibited in both the Bronx Museum and the National Art Gallery in Kingston, Jamaica biennials. Her anti-police brutality roller skate piece has been enacted via flash mob at the Brooklyn Museum and at Afropunk. Sophia is currently a participant in the Whitney Independent Studio program.

Performance Project:
The Visit
is an interdisciplinary performance project that utilizes tap dance to reenact the process of going on a prison visit from the perspective of the visitor. In current discourse on mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex, what is often omitted are the narratives of family members of incarcerated individuals. The piece explores the personal and collective experiences of different families and created a dialogue around a subject that is often considered "taboo."  

Community Connection:
Sophia will connect with youth and staff at University Settlement, particularly those who have dealt with imprisonment on some level. A series of dance, art, and letter writing workshops and discussions with these individuals will create a foundation for what is expressed in the performance piece. Topics to be explored include juvenile justice, mass incarceration, effects of incarceration on family structures and political imprisonment.

Quote:
"I feel so blessed to be an AIR participant!  I will finally have the space, time and support to embrace performance as a new approach to exposing the issues addressed in my work."

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jesca prudencio


Jesca Prudencio is a theater director focused on creating highly physical productions of new plays, musicals, and documentary theater in New York, regionally, and internationally. Favorite projects include How To Use a Knife (Mixed Blood), Mobile Happiness Bazaar (La Jolla Playhouse's WoW Festival), VENUS (UCSD), Bondage (Drama League), and Listen to Me (Ping Chong + Company, University Settlement). Jesca just returned from southeast Asia as the first Julie Taymor World Theater Fellow where she directed FAN: from the brothels of Bangkok (Thailand) and A&Q: a docu theater piece on the big issue (Philippines) in collaboration with her company People Of Interest. BFA: NYU Tisch. MFA: UC San Diego.

Performance Project:
While training in traditional Japanese Noh mask dance in Kyoto this past year, Jesca witnessed aggressive sexual harassment on a women's only train car. The victim's physical struggle to simultaneously protect, fight, and communicate silently with those witnessing reflected that of a Noh spirit. Nohing is a theater piece intersecting testimony, media, and Noh dance to explore the mask women wear to survive harassment. Nohing will use the interviews of female victims of sexual harassment as the trigger to create the piece through a devised interdisciplinary process incorporating the strong yet still movement of Noh.  

Community Connection:
With her company People Of Interest, Jesca will conduct interviews with women in the community around their personal experiences on this relevant and all too common situation of sexual harassment. These interviews will be the source material for the theater piece. The company will also take professional portraits of the women, which will be used in the media design to evoke the invisible mask they wear in this struggle.

Quote:
"Studying traditional Noh dance in Japan was so fulfilling, yet I wondered how this training would influence my own work as a contemporary theater maker. I am so thankful for the AIR program at University Settlement to develop a project that is artistically risky, incredibly personal, and so painfully relevant."

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culinary theater


Culinary Theater is a new collaboration of the director Brandon Woolf and the playwright Ben Gassman. Brandon has been directing and devising new work in and between Berlin, the Bay Area, and NYC over the past ten years. His work often probes theater's possibilities as a social practice, and he has co-founded two site-specific performance ensembles – Shakespeare im Park Berlin and the UC Movement for Efficient Privatization (UCMeP). He has also presented work at the 14th Street Y, The Tank, Fulton Center, NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center, Barrow Group Theater, the Connelly Theater, and the Kennedy Center. Ben has spent the last decade writing and presenting plays in more traditional venues, most recently Sam's Tea Shack at the Tank in NYC and the Atwater Village Theater in Los Angeles, and 40s & Chestnuts at Brooklyn College. Brandon and Ben were introduced in March 2014, and Brandon gave Ben a tour of Kreuzberg, his adopted Berlin neighborhood. They have been thinking about ways to performa-tize experiences of organic neighborhood interaction together ever since and have shown work they built together at The Tank and Dixon Place.

Performance Project:
What is a neighborhood? What does it mean to be a neighbor? What do the senses have to do with community? Why should 70 year olds and 17 year olds want to sit down and eat together? What do they have to learn from each other? These are some of the questions Culinary Theater will engage with as we utilize cooking and the sharing of kitchen knowledge as occasions for communication, intimate encounter, and ultimately performance that helps us see, smell, and taste more clearly what we most want out of our neighborhoods and from our neighbors. Following the lead of Chinese van companies that shuttle people between lower Manhattan and Sunset Park, lower Manhattan and Elmhurst, undercutting the subway and going direct, we want to explore a different sort of intersectionality and interconnectivity, the veins of the city whole, that don't necessarily announce themselves on the maps we're used to. Hungry ethnographers, working to keep our appetites transparent and their caloric costs on the table, we will talk to and eat with potential collaborators on their home turfs, recruiting younger residents to spend time with older neighbors (and us) in their homes learning how to cook traditional, familial recipes. From this living archive of collaborative, inter-generational and inter-cultural encounter, we will (somehow) construct an inter-sensorial theater work about the richness and complexities of evolving neighborhood texture – in both its congeniality and its antagonism. 

Community Connection:
We will begin by bringing our set of questions and some rough ideas into existent Settlement House communities – firstly to The Door and into nutrition-related groups at Neighborhood House, but we are eager to work with anyone in the Settlement House orbit who is curious about getting involved. Our goal is to facilitate an environment of discovery, a safe laboratory to engage in the very risky process of collaborative creation: never (quite) finished, always fleeting, exploratory, and delicious. The whole Culinary Theater project centers on the ways that food might serve as (an artistic) medium mobilized to build inter-generational trust while also underlining the realities of inter-generational conflict. We hope that community members will let us into their homes, their kitchens, listening and sharing food, recipes, traditions. And at the inevitable moment when our motives or methods become cause for indigestion, we are steadfastly committed to airing that agida in the room and work as well. We are excited to find out what these performances will look, smell, and taste like with our settlement community collaborators.

Quote:
"Culinary Theater is focused on texture and complexity, on old traditions and new recipes. We are interested in the culinary as a method and medium of intergenerational exchange – political and artistic. We are delighted to begin this work at and with University Settlement, to celebrate, honor, and help perpetuate its 130-year-old role in so many New York stories."

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