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The Center for Latter-day Saint Arts chooses six inaugural artists to join them for residency in New York City this fall


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Six artists across disciplines will explore “Intersections” – the ways that collaboration, influence, and multidisciplinary thinking affect creation.

The Center for Latter-day Saint Arts is pleased to announce the six winning artists for The Artists Residency at the Center: Alixa Brobbey (poetry, Utah); Jenna Carson (literature, Miss.); Jessica Heaton (choreography, Utah); Sara Lynne Lindsay (visual art, Ga.); Joseph Sowa (music, Mass.); and Aaron Toronto (film, Vietnam). The winners were chosen by a distinguished jury after being vetted by discipline-specific screeners.

A long-held aspiration of the Center, the Residency is a one-week experience in New York City, which will take place October 15-21, 2023. The Residency aims to be an annual program wherein the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts provides travel to and from New York City, living accommodations, tickets to curated group and individual events and entertainment, and a daily stipend to cover food and travel in the city for selected artists. The Center will facilitate tailor-made work spaces and opportunities to progress the artists’ proposed works throughout the week. This group of six is the inaugural cohort.

Sheri Dew, Stanley Hainsworth, Lance Larsen, Melissa Leilani Larson, Deon Nielsen Price, Walter Rane, and Ricardo Rendón comprised the jury who selected the six winning proposals from a group of twenty finalists. Walter Rane, juror and visual artist from New York City remarked, “All of the applicants were of exceptionally high quality and although they came from widely varied disciplines shared a creative spirit that bonded them together.” Fellow juror and prolific composer, Deon Nielsen Price, reinforced this sentiment: “All were high quality, inspiring, and deserving of recognition and support.”

More than 70 applicants from all over the world applied to the Residency, including representatives from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Japan, Switzerland, UK, Uruguay, USA, and Vietnam. Mykal Urbina, executive director of the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts, was “unsurprised, but galvanized” by the quality of the applications. “To have such a global, multidisciplinary, highly qualified pool of applicants affirms for the Center how much our artist community seeks connection with each other and with new, expansive experiences. We look forward to closely following all of their work.”  

Beyond a global perspective, the jury made note of how many artists sought to thoughtfully examine immigrant and migrant experiences through their proposals. Several of the winners even tied immigration narratives and family histories to New York City, itself.

Aaron Toronto, filmmaker andrecent winner of the prestigious Golden Kite Award in Vietnam, proposes a psychologically thrilling film series to explore characters living in both Vietnam and New York City.

Joseph Sowa, a composer from Massachusetts, will write an orchestra piece tracing his Argentinean ancestors through their immigration to Manhattan. His composition will highlight significant urban sites made more meaningful by his family’s history with them.

Sara Lindsay, visual artist and mother of six working in Georgia, aims to use women’s fashion trends as a means to honor and explore the lives of her maternal ancestors, women who migrated through Ellis Island and other City ports.

And Alixa Brobbey’s personal experiences growing up in The Netherlands, Ghana and St. Maarten will be positioned alongside her grandparent’s experiences as immigrants in NYC; a poetic examination of belonging and home.

If art is a vehicle to reframe migration, it is also a way to examine the role of religion. Choreographer Jessica Heaton and writer Jenna Carson’s proposals will examine their Latter-day Saint faith and Christianity, personally and sociologically. Heaton’s dance film will render the dichotomies of spiritual growth; Carson’s memoir will share her experiences as the first-ever, LDS-ordained prison chaplain. 

Residency proposals were submitted by artists working in all stages of their careers, and the winners represent this professional balance. Together, as emerging to late-career artists, the cohort will spend time exploring the theme of  “Intersections” – how group interaction with other working, Latter-day Saint artists will benefit their creative process. Juror Lance Larsen believes cooperative programming will positively impact this particular cohort. He recalls how thrilled he was to participate in his first artist residency at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota, calling it both “communal and catalytic.” Melissa Leilani Larson, playwright and juror, remarks how significant it is for these artists to not only work alongside one another as professionals, but as those who share the same faith tradition. “I am so excited for this residency to provide a safe space in which these artists can further embrace their gifts and fulfill their callings.” 

The artists will stay together in a townhome in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Manhattan and work at various sites throughout the city. 

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