School of the Arts Alumni Recieve 2017 Guggenheim Fellowships

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Six School of the Arts alumni have once again received Guggenheim Fellowships this year: Gregory Pardlo ‘16 and Claudia Rankine '93 in Poetry; Brian Seibert '05 in Dance Studies; Antonio Méndez Esparza '08 in Film/Video; Rogelio Martinez '96 in Drama & Performance Art; and Leigh Ledare '08 in Photography.
The Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded 173 Guggenheim Fellowships this year to a diverse group of scholars, artists, and scientists. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s ninety-third competition.

Gregory Pardlo was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his collection Digest (Four Way Books), while he was a nonfiction writing student and teaching fellow in the School of the Arts Writing Program. His other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is also the author of Air Traffic, a memoir in essays forthcoming from Knopf.

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; two plays, including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; and is the editor of five anthologies, including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. She is the recipient of many awards and fellowships, including most recently a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship. Citizen was also a winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was selected as an NPR Best Book of 2014, who stated: “This collection examines everyday encounters with racism in the second person, forcing the reader—regardless of identity—to engage a narrative haunted by the deaths of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Renisha McBride.” Citizen holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category. In 2016, Rankine co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII), an interdisciplinary cultural laboratory in which the racial imaginaries of our time and place can be engaged, read, countered, contextualized and demystified.

Brian Seibert is the author of What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing (FSG, 2015), which was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award and won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Since 2011, he has been a dance critic and features writer for The New York Times, and he has contributed to The New Yorker since 2002. His reviews, features, and essays have appeared in The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times, Slate, Dance Magazine, and The Threepenny Review, among other publications. Seibert has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Corporation of Yaddo.

Antonio Méndez Esparza is a director and screenwriter, whose film Aquí y Allá premiered at Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, where it was awarded the Grand Prix.  The film traveled to more than 60 film festivals around the world, including the New York Festival, Karlovy Vary, Moscow, Thessaloniki, San Sebastian, Tokyo, AFI Film Festival, Busan and Mumbai. His previous short film, Una y Otra Vez, won awards for Best Latino Director from the East Coast by the DGA, Best Short by the L.A. Film Festival, and Best Spanish Short by the national Spanish public channel, TVE. Antonio is the co-founder of Aquí y Allí Films, a feature film production company with a special interest in fostering the work of relevant and personal storytelling. Born in Madrid, Antonio earned a law degree before moving to the U.S. to develop his filmmaking career, where he earned an MFA from Columbia University. Antonio teaches directing classes at the graduate and undergraduate levels in Florida State University.
Rogelio Martinez is an award-winning playwright whose plays have been workshopped and produced in theaters across the country and abroad. He is a recipient of the Princess Grace Award and has also received the Mid-Career Fellowship at the Lark Theater Company. In addition, Rogelio is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, an NEA/ TCG grant, and has received a James Hammerstein Award. Martinez is a child of the Cold War and his focus in recent years has been on telling its story. He has taught at various institutions including Columbia University, City College of New York, Montclair State University, Rutgers University, and Goddard College where he current teaches in the MFA program. Martinez has translated the work of both Mexican and Cuban playwrights.
Leigh Ledare first gained recognition through his exhibition and artist book titled Pretend You’re Actually Alive (2000-2008), which examines the complex relations between the artist and his mother – namely, how she used intimacy, eroticism, and vulnerability to negotiate the balance of power within the family. In 2009, Ledare was included in an exhibition Ça Me Touche curated by Nan Goldin in Arles France as part of the annual Rencontres d'Arles photography festival. He has taught at Yale University; California Institute of the Arts; Columbia University, New York; New York University; and the Fondazione Spinola Banna per l’Arte, Italy.

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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.