Boston – On Tuesday, October 17, the Boston Foundation and the Pucker Gallery celebrated and introduced the fifth class of Brother Thomas Fellows. The 14 artists, whose work is represented across mediums and methods, are each being presented with a $15,000 unrestricted grant from the Brother Thomas Fund at the Boston Foundation. The Brother Thomas Fund was established at the Boston Foundation in 2007 to honor the legacy of Brother Thomas Bezanson, a Benedictine monk and world-renowned ceramic artist, who wanted the sale of his work to support artists at critical junctures in their careers.
“For the fifth time, the Boston Foundation is proud to recognize a diverse group of talented individuals who represent some of the best of the Greater Boston Arts community,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “They are poets, dancers, musicians and artists of all stripes whose work resonates, but whose challenges are the same as so many creative people before them. We hope these unrestricted funds, given as Brother Thomas himself wished, provides them with a little greater room to practice and perform with fewer external limitations.”
The goal of the biennial Brother Thomas Fellowship program is to support and celebrate a diverse group of Greater Boston artists working at a high level of excellence in a range of disciplines—the visual, performing, literary, media and craft arts—and to enhance their ability to thrive and create new work. The Boston Foundation also hopes that fellowship winners will have greater access to a variety of markets, including galleries, residencies and commissions, and that the importance of artists to the vitality of Boston will be more broadly recognized.
Each Brother Thomas Fellow receives an unrestricted award of $15,000. Fellowships— given without stipulation as to how the funds are spent—match the needs of artists as well as the wishes of the donor who wanted to help other artists as his friends had helped him.
With the awards given this year, a total of 44 Brother Thomas Fellows have received $660,000 in unrestricted funds from the Brother Thomas program.
Jean Appolon Choreographer and Dance Educator
Jean is a choreographer and master teacher based in Boston and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He is the founder and Director of Jean Appolon Expressions (JAE), a contemporary Haitian dance company that has performed at major venues throughout the U.S. and in Haiti. Since 2006, he has directed a free annual summer dance institute in Port-au-Prince that provides young, aspiring dancers with access to training.
Sandeep Das Musician
Sandeep is India’s Tabla maestro and one of the leading Tabla virtuosos in the world with an international reputation as a performer, educator, cultural entrepreneur and mentor. He has played with numerous well-known performers and is the founder of Harmony and Universality through Music (HUM), which promotes global understanding through performance and education.
Maya Erdelyi Animator and Director
Maya is an award-winning animator and director who creates intricate hand-made animations and collages inspired by imaginary worlds, memories and the unconscious. Maya’s work utilizes a hybrid approach, including cut-paper stop motion, puppetry, drawn and computer animation and installation. She is working on her first documentary “Anyuka,” which will include a large-scale public art project.
Maria Finkelmeier Percussionist and Composer
Maria is a percussionist, composer, educator and arts entrepreneur. She is the founder and director of Kadence Arts and co-founder of Masary Studios, a sound, light and performance collective. Maria has performed in concert halls throughout the U.S. and Europe with orchestras and chamber ensembles. Her solo project, #improvadayLIVE, combines video, classical marimba, social media and electronics in a multi-sensory experience.
Patrick Gabridge Playwright and Author
Patrick’s full-length plays have been staged by theatres across the country and his published short plays have received more than 1,000 productions from theatres and schools here and around the world. He’s been a Playwriting Fellow with the Huntington Theatre Company and New Rep. He’s also the author of three novels and his work for radio has been broadcast and produced by NPR and other stations.
Regie Gibson Performer and Poet
Regie has lectured and performed in the U.S., Europe and Cuba. He and his work appear in “love jones,” a film based on his own life. He has been featured on HBO, NPR and several TEDx events and has performed with and composed for The Boston City Singers, The Mystic Chorale and the Handel+Haydn Society. His published volume of poems, Storms Beneath the Skin received the Golden Pen Award.
Stephen Hamilton Visual Artist and Arts Educator
Stephen’s work addresses the persistent lack of positive, multi-dimensional representations of African and African diasporan cultures. He creates and facilitates art and media that seek to eradicate the institutionalized and indoctrinated racism that is still prevalent in our communities. He has taught and mentored at College Bound Dorchester, Artists for Humanity and Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Kathryn King Ceramic Artist and Teacher
Kathryn’s work, which is in many private and public collections, presents a narrative with a feminist point of view through ceramic vessels, tile work and printmaking, separately or combined, She maps the ways popular culture not only reflects women’s lives, but shapes them. She currently teaches at Harvard University and has lectured at colleges, schools and art centers throughout the U.S.
Shaw Pong Liu Violinist and Composer
Saw Pong engages diverse communities in multidisciplinary collaborations, creative music and social dialogue. She started the Code Listen project, using music workshops and performances to support healing and dialogue around gun violence, racism and police practices, in collaboration with the Boston Police Department, teen artists and family members surviving homicide. She has also performed with Silk Road Ensemble, and many other groups.
Marsha Parrilla Choreographer
Marsha is the founding Artistic Director of Danza Orgánica. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, her productions include several evening-length company concerts, as well as the award-winning annual festival: “We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts.” She was recently featured at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Inside/Out Festival. She is the founder of the Dance Research Online Forum, a site dedicated to free and progressive dance education.
Hakim Raquib Photographer
Hakim participated in an MIT program in 1969 that sought to professionalize Roxbury photographers and help them gain the skills and the knowledge to compete in the world of commercial and fine arts photography. He began with street photography that chronicled the lives of his neighbors and since has made photographs that display a deep grasp of the African American experience. His work is in several local and national museum collections.
Evelyn Rydz Visual Artist
Evelyn focuses on contemporary coastlines and the ways our everyday lives impact and are impacted by changing oceans. She has studied, documented and drawn from the accumulation of debris washed ashore the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf Coasts in North and South America. In addition to engaging in community art projects, her work has been in numerous group exhibitions and eight solo exhibitions.
Enzo Silon Surin Poet
Enzo is a Haitian-born poet, educator, publisher and social advocate who gives voice to experiences that take place in what he calls “broken spaces” caused by political and social violence, believing that poetry is one of the many paths to healing and recovery. He currently teaches at Bunker Hill Community College and has taught at other colleges. His writing has appeared in numerous local and national publications.
Yu-Wen Wu Interdisciplinary Artist
Yu-Wen tells stories through video, installation and drawing, weaving together the natural world and social movement on both a personal and global scale. Through her own experiences of immigration, her work reflects displacement, assimilation and identity. Through metaphors of natural phenomenon, noting its beauty and precarious existence, she strives to convey the undeniable interconnectedness of the natural world and built environment.