We wish to thank our 2017 Artists-In-Residence for choosing Escape to Create for their creative work.
Session I: January 4 – February 1
Emerging fiction writer Vanessa Blakeslee’s debut short story collection Train Shots (2014) and novel Juventud (2015) were greeted with critical acclaim, literary awards and an option for feature film development. Her writings appear in over 100 publications worldwide in the U.S., have been honored by the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, two Independent Book Awards, and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. Blakeslee has been awarded a number of distinguished residencies including Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, Hambidge Center, and Yaddo. During her E2C residency, Blakeslee will develop a speculative literary novel set in futuristic central Florida. She will present selections of her awarded fiction in a reading and will explore “the story behind the story” with writing students. http://www.vanessablakeslee.com
Dorothy Hindman is Associate Professor of Music Composition, Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. Dr. Hindman’s compositions for orchestra, chamber, and solo works are performed internationally and have received numerous awards. She is a fellow of the American Academy in Rome and held her Carnegie Hall debut last year. While in Seaside, Hindman will complete her first piano concerto written for her son, 17-year old virtuoso pianist Jacob Mason. Mason, whose own Carnegie Hall debut was critically praised last year, will be featured guest artist in a performance of Hindman’s awarded piano compositions as well as works by major 20th and 21st century composers. Hindman will also introduce new classical works to county music students. http://dorothyhindman.org
Jazz guitarist, composer and educator William Flynn is Assistant Professor of Jazz Guitar at Wichita State University (Kansas). He is considered one of the region’s most important and creative new voices currently working in the genre. Flynn has performed with numerous jazz luminaries including Grammy-nominated One-O’Clock Lab Band. While in Seaside, he will complete a second collection of modern jazz arrangements for his multi-volume “The Songbook Project.” His critically praised arrangements, influenced heavily by pop music of ‘90’s and 2000’s, are dedicated to introducing a new generation to the world of Jazz. Flynn will perform on guitar and conduct a jazz improvisation clinic for middle school students. http://www.williamflynnmusic.com
Colorado-based poet Jodie Hollander is published in prominent journals such as The Poetry Review and Best of Australia’s Poems. Her numerous U.S. awards include Fulbright Fellowship (South Africa), National Endowment for the Arts and fellowships at MacDowell, Rivendell and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her debut Collection, The Humane Society, is described as “romantic, surreal, and tender...” Her second book of poems, My Dark Horses, is also published in the UK. While Seaside’s poet-in-residence, Hollander will complete her third volume of poems based on Rimbaud’s prose poem collection “Illuminations.” Hollander will present a selection of her awarded poems in a reading and will conduct a half-day poetry workshop. https://jodiehollander.com
Author of over twelve awarded full-length plays, NYC Playwright Rich Orloff is best known for his “rip-roaringly funny” (NY Times) and mostly award-winning comedies that express his unique ebullient style and keen insight in tackling social satire with compassionate wit. His short plays have been published seven times in the annual anthology Best American Short Plays and his comedies are published by Playscripts, Inc. in eight volumes. Orloff’s works have received over 2000 productions worldwide and have garnered many awards. He returns to Escape To Create as recipient of the 2017 Goody Fellowship for Playwrights to workshop Radio Ridiculous, a new “old school” comedy honoring the radio shows of the 1930’s. The REP will perform dynamic readings of the script and Orloff will contribute master classes for county high school drama students. http://richorloff.com
Composer, saxophonist and bandleader Matt Otto is Assistant Director of Jazz Studies at Kansas University and Adjunct Professor at Rutgers New Brunswick. A Los Angeles native, Otto is co-founder of the esteemed L.A. Jazz Collective, an ongoing outreach program advancing young jazz composers and performers. Otto has performed internationally with a variety of leading jazz artists including Grammy nominated Anthony Wilson Nonet and Alan Ferber Big Band. His jazz quartet performs regularly in KCMO and is attributed with elevating the level of jazz through Otto’s compositions and solos “imbued with grace and serenity.” While in Seaside he will perform a public concert in Seaside and offer a master class in jazz performance for county jazz band students. http://mattotto.org
Session II: February 1 – March 1
Judith Dupre is an internationally recognized expert in architectural history and illustrated book design. The Mamaroneck, NY based author of twelve books and numerous essays was the inaugural awardee of the National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar grant, which supports well-researched books in the humanities intended to reach a broad audience and create lasting impact. While in Seaside, Dupre will write essays for an expanded edition of her bestselling book, “Bridges,” with an introduction by Frank Gehry. The official biographer of One World Trade Center, Dupre will give an illustrated talk on the behind-the-scenes redevelopment of the WTC. Dupre will also speak to area high school students about historically significant bridges in America. http://www.judithdupre.com
NYC based sculptor Judith Modrak’s plaster and resin cast figures are derived from human, biological and organic forms that seek to decode the viewer’s internal physiological and emotive realms. Modrak’s awarded series of works, Dendrites, Vital Memories, Ancestors and Standing, are indebted to science and the artist’s keen observation of the physical and natural word as she exploreslarger themes of vulnerability, uncertainty, memory and aging. Her work is collected in the Chelsea Art Museum and recently exhibited at Governors Island Art Fair in New York. While in Seaside, Modrak will create an outdoor installation based on themes of memory and influence of nature. She will also contribute an artist talk and will present her work to college level art students. http://judithmodrak.com
A pioneer in heritage seed preservation, author Diane Ott Whealy is co-founder of the Seed Saver Exchange, America’s premier nonprofit collection of over 20,000 varieties heirloom seeds. Whealy’s critically acclaimed debut book Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver won the Bookbuilders West Award in Special Trade. A featured speaker at garden shows and botanical gardens throughout the country, Whealy will appear at the Seaside Farmer’s Market. Whealy’s residency is devoted to writing a history of 1950’s farm life interweaving passages from her mother’s journal. She will also give a presentation of heirloom plants that originated in Florida and will read passages from Gathering. http://www.dianeottwhealy.com
Canadian-born composer Matthew Whittall writes in a wide variety of media including solo, orchestral, choral and chamber. His works, fusing a variety of influences into a single, variegated expressive language, have been performed and broadcast throughout Europe and Canada. Whittall teaches music analysis, history and orchestration at Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland. While on sabbatical he returns to E2C to complete a major international orchestral commission, a classical concerto for piano and orchestra scheduled for European and North American premiers in October 2017. Whittall will preview the new work in a special presentation and will engage area students in exercises to heighten confidence in listening and music appreciation abilities.
Scholar in Residence:
Norman Girardot is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Religion Studies Department at Lehigh University, USA. Trained in the comparative history of religions at the University of Chicago (MA, PhD), he taught at Notre Dame University and Oberlin College before coming to Lehigh in 1980. His research areas are broadly comparative but especially involve Chinese religious tradition, particularly Daoism; the intellectual history of the study of China/Chinese religions and the rise of the discipline known as “comparative religion;” the problems of cross-cultural understanding; theory in the study of religion; popular religious movements; and the relation of religion and outsider/vernacular/visionary art. His books on Daoism and Ecology (2001) and the award winning The Victorian Translation of China: James Legge’s Oriental Pilgrimage (2002), and Myth and Meaning in Early Daoism (1983, 1989, 2012) have now appeared in Chinese translation (2008 and 2011). In addition to his ongoing interest in Chinese religion and Daoist studies, his current research, writing, and curation largely concern outsider artistic and visionary tradition, especially as seen in the work of artists like Howard Finster, Mr. Imagination, Myrtice West, Norbert Kox, Aloise Corbaz and others. In 2009 through 2013 he initiated and was a primary investigator for a major Henry Luce Foundation grant at Lehigh that led to inter-collegiate, interdisciplinary, and cross-cultural student programs involving Chinese tradition. His most recent book is an interpretive book-length study of the incredibly prolific Southern Baptist preacher, Christian shaman, maverick outsider, quasi-Western Daoist, and visionary artist, Howard Finster (1916-2001). This work is entitled Envisioning Howard Finster: The Religion and Art of a Stranger from Another World (University of California Press, 2015). In 2016 he worked with the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts to create an adult education program called the Venture Academy.