The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Dec 07, 2010

USA Knight Fellows Named in Philadelphia, St. Paul

Posted by Valerie Nahmad

United States Artists is closing out 2010 with big news:  the group is giving out 50 USA fellowships to artists, which involves a $50,000 unrestricted grant to further their work. The fellows, selected for the impact and caliber of their art, hail from 18 states and Puerto Rico, range in age from 32 to 71 and draw from a diverse breadth of fields.

Last year, Knight Foundation gave $1 million to support fellows in the 26 communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers.

This year, three of the artists will be designated USA Knight Fellows, earning an additional $5,000 grant to create a community engagement event in the city where they live. Here’s a bit of info on the USA Knight fellows, who hail from Philadelphia and St. Paul.

Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel, Dan Rothenberg and Dito van Reigersberg, (Pennsylvania) are the Co-Artistic Directors of Pig Iron Theatre Company, which they founded in 1995. The ensemble is dedicated to the creation of performance works that defy easy categorization. They all attended Swarthmore College (receiving BAs). Bauriedel and Rothenberg also studied theater in Paris. Van Reigersberg studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York and at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Together they have created 25 works in a variety of styles, including black comedy, melodrama, gallery installations, and clown shows. Pig Iron has won two Obie Awards and, in 2006, it was named Theater Company of the Year by Philadelphia Weekly.

Furniture designer Matthias Pliessnig (Pennsylvania) works primarily with steamed bent-wood strips. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute (1997-2000), Rhode Island School of Design (BFA, 2003), and the University of Wisconsin, Madison (MFA, 2008). Inspired by boatbuilding techniques and classic modernist furniture, Pliessnig uses 3-D modeling software to sketch curves, which he then handcrafts into sensuous forms that cradle the body.

Siah Armajani (Minnesota) is a sculptor who is best known for his public works in the forms of functional bridges, gardens, and rooms. He moved from Iran to Minneapolis in 1960 to attend Macalester College (BA, 1963) and settled there and in St. Paul. Armajani’s works are inspired by early American vernacular buildings such as log cabins, barns, and covered bridges, as well as writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Dewey, and Walt Whitman, whose texts are often on his structures. His works are gathering places for reflections on democracy and populism, and he designed the 1996 Summer Olympics Torch. More recent installations are more personal responses to political events in Iran.

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