Two Columbia University School of the Arts alumni, Tracy K. Smith (SOA '97) and Annemarie Jacir (SOA '03) have been selected by acclaimed German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger and famed Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou, respectively, as protégés in the prestigious Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. They are two of six total protégés selected for the program.
The Rolex Arts Initiative gives exceptional young talents in dance, music, visual arts, theater, literature, and film the opportunity to work with a master in their field for a year of creative collaboration. Over the next year mentor and protégé will spend up to several months together, exchanging ideas and engaging in an extended dialogue about their art form.
Smith, 38, received degrees from Harvard and Columbia University School of the Arts before becoming a fellow at Stanford. Since 2005, she has been assistant professor of creative writing at Princeton. Her two critically acclaimed poetry collections, The Body's Question (2003), winner of the Cave Canem Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet, and Duende (2007), recipient of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, will be followed in 2011 by her recently completed Life on Mars.
Jacir, 36, is a Palestinian film director and poet living in Jordan. Named one of Filmmaker's 25 New Faces of Independent Cinema in 2004, a year after graduating from Columbia University School of the Arts, she is the co-founder of the Dreams of a Nation project, dedicated to promoting Palestinian cinema. Jacir's film credits include like twenty impossibles (2003) and Salt of this Sea (2008), the first feature film by a female Palestinian director and an Academy Award submission for Best Foreign Language Film.
Other protégés selected are Lee Serle, selected by mentor Trisha Brown, in Dance; Ben Frost, selected by mentor Brian Eno, in Music; Nicholas Hlobo, selected by mentor Anish Kapoor, in Visual Arts; and Maya Zbib, selected by mentor Peter Sellars, in Theatre.