The Andrew W. Mellon DisTIL Fellowship (Discovery Through Iterative Learning) brings artists to UNC’s campus for multiple semesters.
These unique residencies do not focus upon an individual performance. Instead, they bring the resources of the university’s faculty to inspire and inform artists’ artistic process. DisTIL Fellows collaborate with faculty in a department outside of their own area of expertise, providing them with the opportunity to gain new insights into the questions that they have been asking about their work and the world and, in return, inspire and inform artists’ artistic processes. At the same time, the DisTIL Fellow will bring the unique creativity and approach of the arts to the work of the faculty, helping push UNC faculty and students to look at their work with a new lens, and share their work with new audiences.
The DisTIL Fellowship extends over several semesters as a way to recognize that collaboration does not happen overnight. It requires many meetings and time to build the shared trust, respect, and vocabulary that can allow for artistic and intellectual exchanges to take place. DisTIL Fellows spend 2-3 years visiting campus, connecting with faculty, and sharing the results of their ideas and discussions with the wider community.
A fluent speaker of Mandarin with profound connections to communities and traditions both global and local, she is known for creating inventive cross-cultural takes on folk and old-time music. Ms. Washburn is certain to bring an engaging, eye-opening presence to her work with Carolina Performing Arts and the community on campus and beyond.
Known worldwide for merging choreography with visual art and design, Jonah Bokaer has created 62 original works spanning dance, drawing, motion capture work, interactive installations, film, and more. His work also includes the creation of four original apps that invite audiences to participate in live performance, making him the first choreographer to design such an app.
Bokaer is the founder of Jonah Bokaer Arts Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization that operates Jonah Bokaer Choreography and the independent artspace “Chez Bushwick” (both founded in 2002); CPR – Center for Performance Research (founded 2008); and Space 428 (founded 2016). He is the fourth-ever Andrew W. Mellon Foundation DisTil Fellow at Carolina Performing Arts.
A musician, composer, and activist, Toshi Reagon brings an approach driven by social consciousness and community engagement. The inaugural Mellon Foundation DisTIL fellow, Reagon premiered her opera adaptation of the novel Parable of the Sower with two sold-out performances at CPA in November 2017, spearheaded community readings and discussions of the novel in collaboration with Durham-based community arts organization SpiritHouse, and organized talks based around the novel’s themes and pressing contemporary issues. Her other projects include a collaboration with faculty members to create short videos exploring their scholarly projects and passions. All of this discovery will culminate in a festival in the spring of 2019, bringing all the creative threads for a day of music, ideas, and conversation. Reagon will also perform in the 18/19 season with her band BIGLOVELY.
Artist, puppet designer, and director Robin Frohardt has highlighted our insatiable consumption of plastic in creative and humorous ways. Her residency, which ended in April 2018, featured many playful, unexpected projects. She created quilts from plastic bags with UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South; co-founded Plastic Archaeology (Instagram and Tumblr accounts cataloguing the mundane bits of plastic that silently structure our lives) with UNC archaeology professors Anna Agbe-Davies and Eric Deetz; and, in April 2018, she headlined CPA’s “Plasticon,” a free community festival that paired her art and film with cutting-edge research on sustainability, as well as stations inspired by her various activities in Chapel Hill over the course of the fellowship.
The world premiere of her installation Plastic Bag Store will take place at the start of the 18/19 season and feature art made with materials collected and created during her residency.
Writer and musician Jace Clayton (aka DJ/rupture) brought his project for developing non-Western digital music-making tools to UNC. Building on work conducted with musicians in Morocco to create a tool called Sufi Plug Ins, Clayton collaborated with ethnography, electronic music, and sound engineering students, as well as archivists to engage with local ethnic groups and develop new, culturally-reflective digital music-making tools. Clayton’s professorship culminated with SOUND – SITE – ECHO, a performance series that took place in locations across the Triangle. For a complete event listing, click here.
Nina Chanel Abney is a visual artist and muralist focused on provoking thought and conversation through work on politics, race, celebrity, and consumerism. Riding wide acclaim and several prominent museum appearances, including a solo exhibition at Duke’s Nasher Museum, Abney connected with a range of departments at UNC and collaborated students from UNC’s ARTS 290 class to create a mural on the UNC Morrison Dorm basketball court, which was unveiled on April 6, 2018.
To learn more about Nina’s work at Duke University, click here.