Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kresge Arts in Detroit June 2013 Newsletter #michlit



A YEAR IN REVIEW: 2012 Kresge Artist Fellows Professional Practice Overview

As you may know, the 2013 Kresge Artist Fellows will be announced at the end of this month! This year, nine literary artists and nine visual artists will receive a $25,000 award and professional practice opportunities administered by ArtServe Michigan.

We want to share with you a glimpse of what ArtServe's professional practice program includes for the awarded Fellows. Often many awardees consider the professional practice opportunities to be the most valuable aspect of the fellowship year.

2012 Kresge Artist Fellows at the Annual Creative Capital Retreat

Photograph by Sarah Nesbitt with ArtServe Michigan.

The program kicks off with an exciting three-day retreat for the Fellows designed by the nationally recognized artist service organization Creative Capital of New York City. Artists spend an intensive weekend getting to know each other, sharing their creative practice, and learning from esteemed artists and professionals about how to sustain creative careers with a focus on marketing, fundraising and strategic planning. The retreat is followed by creative practice meetings throughout the year that encourage the Fellows to meet, present their work, brainstorm with colleagues and presenters, and participate in formal and informal workshops and seminars. During this past year's fellowship period, those opportunities provided information on the following topics:

This is just a small sampling of the professional practice opportunities from the past year. Each year, ArtServe Michigan develops the program to address the practices of the awarded artists and their fields.

Here's what previous Fellows have said about the professional practice opportunities:

"I have a plan for moving my career forward. That's what stands out most in my mind. It starts with making the work, which is most important. But I can then think about pursuing places to exhibit my work, ways of promoting myself, networking through others, etc. ArtServe is great because it's specific to Michigan." – 2011 Kresge Artist Fellow

"The professional development program changed the way I do what I do. It was one of the most invaluable experiences of the fellowship. My ability to connect with the other artists across disciplines increased and I was given tools that help me to self-evaluate my creative space and process. It gave me guidelines for building a new support team and expanding my resources without missing a beat in creating. Each professional development session was eye-opening and allowed me to examine and define the core of my work and my artistry." – 2010 Kresge Artist Fellow

"ArtServe did a tremendous job at creating a fellowship experience that totally exceeded my expectations. The fellowship provided a sufficient number of events and workshops that allowed each artist to gain new relevant information in all aspects of the business of art. We were kept abreast of new opportunities and the current activities of other fellows." – 2009 Kresge Artist Fellow

To learn more about ArtServe Michigan's professional practice offerings, please visit http://bit.ly/10MzP1o.





Dr. Kathleen Pfeiffer has been a Professor of English at Oakland University since 1997, and has taught numerous courses in American literature and culture. She has published two books and several critical essays, academic work that often focuses on the boundaries that define personal identity. Race passing, interracial friendship, the search to know and understand another, the desire for self-invention, for self-creation – these are the themes that have driven her scholarly agenda. As a creative writer, Kathleen is working on a memoir of step-motherhood, a book that that is not simply a personal story, but one that asks larger, more resonant questions about how any of us find ourselves in the books we read.



How has your background as a literature professor and critic shaped your writing interests?

My experience as a literature professor has taught me to pay careful attention to issues of literary beauty and writerly sophistication.  I have come to realize that I value complexity, language, structural innovation, original insights, and wisdom.  This realization helps me be more self-conscious about the choices I make as a writer.

Tell us briefly about your current work. What are you working on, and what is your process for this work?

My current creative writing is still very much a work in progress, and so, in some ways, it hasn't yet fully revealed to me what it wants to be exactly. It will be a memoir of step-motherhood.  I'm writing about the experience of marginalization and invisibility that I struggled with for many years in my particular experience as a step-mother.  

The development of my collaborative "Snapshots" performance for Art X Detroit, for example, was especially gratifying to me precisely because its interdisciplinary approach allowed me to use my writing as an occasion for asking broader questions about love and loss, and for engaging a variety of artistic approaches to these questions.

In writing your current book about the step-mother experience, what impact do you hope it will have?

In terms of impact, I see myself participating in a broader tradition of American writing.  The contemporary memoir is understood by literary critics and general readers alike to be the most important and influential genre of our age.  Unlike fiction, memoir does not depend on extraordinary circumstances or machinations of plot.  Rather, it is a quality of voice that distinguishes great memoirs, a voice that is more photographic in nature than cinematic. Nevertheless, the attention to a first person narrator that is given such legitimacy in memoir writing has also influenced the fiction and poetry of the past several decades.  By privileging the individual personal voice, memoir speaks to the current age: it is a voice of the self in an age that has come to emphasize individuality.

What inspires you about Detroit right now, and how does Detroit directly influence your work?

What inspires me about Detroit, and about the Kresge Arts in Detroit program in particular, is the artistic community's fundamental, unwavering commitment to the notion that creative expression – art – has the power to heal our woundedness and our brokenness.  I myself started writing my stories about step-motherhood as a strategy of personal survival – it was a way of saying, "I'm here; I matter."  I see the arts community in Detroit involved in the very same gesture. 

In what ways do you engage the Detroit community?

Prior to my Fellowship year, much of my community engagement came from working with so many students who are, like me, the products of hard-working, pragmatic families.  For many years, I was proud to see that I could inspire in my students the very same sort of passion that was ignited in me by my own college professors, by the writers who inspired me and the artists who expanded my aesthetic horizons.

In this past year, my work has been deepened and broadened by the occasions for collaboration, exchange and artistic growth that have been offered to me through the Fellowship.  I have expanded my audience (through my website and social media), I have committed to a regular, sustained creative writing practice, and I have cultivated a larger vision of community engagement through Art X Detroit and the numerous professional development opportunities of the past year.

Work Sample

Click here to visit Kathy's blog.



Mark Stryker has served as an arts reporter and critic at the Detroit Free Press since 1995, covering classical music, jazz and visual arts. Among his many awards for reporting and music criticism include two ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards. Born in Bloomington, Indiana, he holds a Bachelor's degree in history from the University of Illinois and a Master's degree in journalism from Indiana University. He previously worked at the Dayton Daily News and South Bend Tribune. He also previously worked as a jazz saxophonist. His forthcoming book, Made in Detroit: Jazz from the Motor City, will be published by the University of Michigan Press.


Prior to receiving a Master's degree in journalism, you performed as a jazz saxophonist. How does your musical background impact your current work as an arts reporter and critic?

Knowing how music works as an insider makes it easier for me to take readers onto the bandstand through my writing, and it makes it easier for me to quickly determine what performers are trying to do and how well they're doing it. I have a true appreciation for the challenges of being a professional musician because I had started down that path.

Tell us briefly about your current work. What are you working on and what is the process for this work?

I'm moving as swiftly as I can on my book, Made in Detroit: Jazz from the Motor City. The process? Thinking. Listening. Reporting. Writing. Repeat ad infinitum.

What inspires you about Detroit right now, and how does Detroit directly influence your work?

My work is all about illuminating a sense of place, reminding those in metropolitan Detroit, as well as the wider world, that we live on hallowed cultural ground when it comes to jazz. Chronicling that tradition, its past and its present, is a privilege.

In what ways do you engage the Detroit community?

I try to illuminate not only the nuts and bolts of the arts for readers but also the role culture plays in civic life, especially in terms of rebuilding the city, and the challenges facing arts institutions and artists today. Writing about music and art for the Detroit Free Press means playing a leading role in the dialogue around culture in Detroit.

Work Sample

Click on the links to read Mark's recent articles on the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Heidelberg Project.



Shara Worden received a BA in Opera from the University of North Texas. After moving to New York, she began studying composition with composer/performer Padma Newsome (Clogs, The National). During this time she composed music for several off-Broadway theater productions of plays by Adam Rapp and Jean-Paul Sartre.  In 2004, she assembled a band, My Brightest Diamond, and released Bring Me The Workhorse (2006), A Thousand Shark's Teeth (2008) and All Things Will Unwind (2011) on Asthmatic Kitty Records. Recent years have found Worden in the role of composer as much as songwriter. She has received commissions from the chamber ensemble, yMusic; the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Young New Yorkers' Chorus; the string quartet, Brooklyn Rider; and violist Nadia Sirota. Currently, she is composing an operetta with playwright & director Andrew Ondrejcak to premiere at DeSingel in Antwerp, Belgium in September 2013. Additionally, many composers, songwriters and filmmakers have sought out Worden's distinctive voice, including Sufjan Stevens, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Laurie Anderson, The Decemberists & David Byrne, as well as visual artists Matthew Ritchie and Matthew Barney.



You incorporate puppetry, dance, and theatre into your musical performances. What inspirations or influences brought these different elements into your practice?

I like opera. It is the mashup of all of the art forms. I like storytelling. I like feeling like a curious child who might look at something from a new perspective. Sometimes puppets or masks can help us understand the meaning of a song even better than the lyrics.  

What current projects are you engaged in, and how do you see your performing and recording progressing in the future?

Currently, I am in Belgium composing a P-opera ("pop'ra" as I like to call it) and we have the premiere in September at DeSingel in Antwerp, Belgium. The piece is called "You Us We All" by Andrew Ondrejcak and it is a small, comic, tragic chamber opera with a baroque ensemble, a Tibetan folk singer, a baroque countertenor, a soprano with a four-octave range and then there's me – an opera singer turned pop singer turned back to opera again. I hope to bring the piece to Detroit one day!

As a part of your band My Brightest Diamond, you have expressed interest in engaging the audience as collaborators in the performing process. Can you explain that process?

In our society, we aren't gathered around the fire dancing and playing together anymore, but we still need that coming together and participation in traditions and rituals. Very slowly in my work, I am trying to intentionally facilitate audience engagement. Whether that means having a marching band or choir surround the audience for a more inclusive experience or intentionally writing songs with audience clapping built in. Although, none of these devices are new, they are new to me. When I started writing music it was very personally motivated; now, it is about the live performance and the cooperative experience.

What inspires you about Detroit right now, and how does Detroit directly influence your work?

There are lots of things, from the purple finches at my window to the larger neighborhood issues, but I will pick one event that made me exceedingly happy. I went to the Thanksgiving Day parade last fall. I can't remember going to a parade like that before and it just sent me over the moon with happiness. There, I saw all kinds of people dressed up, being silly, dancing and having fun; there were office workers wearing clown noses and grandmas dressed as Christmas trees. Everyone was so different from one another but still celebrating together, and that always makes me very happy. It was a community ritual for me, with the finely crafted corporate floats to the blown-out speakers pumping on the golf cart – everyone was marching together.

In what ways do you engage the Detroit community? 
My neighbors are the center of my community in Detroit and they have shown me a love that feels surprising and refreshing and generous. The garden, the house would all mean much much less to me without my beautiful neighbors. Sometimes Detroit can feel really overwhelming and having one relationship with a kid in the neighborhood seems just as important as dealing with the macro issues.  

Work Sample

Click here to watch My Brightest Diamond perform.


Be sure to check out our Event Listings section to see a full calendar of exhibitions, performances, readings, residencies, outreach activities, and workshops by all current and former KAID Artists.

Click here to download the June 2013 Event Listings.


Have a question or comment for the KAID office? Want to share your experiences and opinions with us? Kresge Arts in Detroit is calling for letters to the editor regarding our program, procedures, or application process, as well responses to any KAID events or online content. Each month, we will publish selected feedback and our staff's responses. E-mail us at kresgeartsindetroit@collegeforcreativestudies.edu.


  • We welcome all questions, views and opinions.
  • Please keep all submissions to 150 words or less.
  • Include your name and e-mail address in all submissions.  Anonymous submissions will not be accepted.
  • KAID will not publish your contact information.

Dear KAID,

I haven't heard back yet. When will I know if I was awarded a fellowship?

- George

Thank you for applying for the 2013 Kresge Artists Fellowships. All applicants will be notified of the decision by e-mail at the end of June 2013. Please feel free to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive our most current news. Also, you can sign up for our mailing list here.

Dear KAID,

How many people applied for the 2013 Kresge Artist Fellowships?

- Jackson

Dear Jackson,

Our office received a record number of applications this year. We received over 700 applications and will award nine literary art fellowships and nine visual arts fellowships. It is a highly competitive process, however, if you don't receive a fellowship this year, we encourage you to re-apply every cycle as new panels with new perspectives are assembled every year.


Photo Credit: Kresge Artist Fellows photographed by Corine Vermeulen
Photo Credit: Shara Worden photographed by Denny Renshaw

Kresge Arts in Detroit; College for Creative Studies, 201 E. Kirby, Detroit, MI 48202
kresgeartsindetroit@collegeforcreativestudies.edu | kresgeartsindetroit.org

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