Thursday, May 28, 2020

Delaware's Poets Laureate (Twin Poets) Receive $50K Award for Community Poetry Project

The content of this post comes from a press release from the Delaware Division of the Arts...

The Academy of American Poets announced today that the Delaware Poets Laureate, Representative Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills, also known as the Twin Poets, have received $50,000 to launch Write Now!, an art-based community building and engagement series, including workshops, readings and service projects, focused on youth in communities impacted by gun violence and fellow veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The series will culminate with the Write Now! Poetry Festival and will take place in April 2021.

The brothers and identical twins are Licensed Master Social Workers and founders of Art For Life – Delaware, a non-profit youth and community development organization rooted in the arts. The Twin Poets were the subjects of award-winning documentaries: Why I Write and Art For Life; which chronicle their artistic social change efforts. Al is an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD and Nnamdi is a State Representative and professor at Delaware State University.

The Delaware Poets Laureate are two of the 23 individuals that were announced as 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows. These 23 individuals serve as Poets Laureate of states, cities, counties, and the Navajo Nation and will be leading civic poetry programs in their respective communities in the year ahead. They will each receive $50,000 (the Twin Poets will receive $50,000 in total) for a combined total of $1.1 million. In addition, the Academy will also provide $66,500 to 12 local 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that have agreed to support the fellows’ proposed projects.

“As we face the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage. We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward,” said Jennifer Benka, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets.

Through its Poets Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy has become the largest financial supporter of poets in the nation. The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which, in January of this year, awarded the Academy $4.5 million. The award will fund the program in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

“We are gratified to support the poets laureate fellows as they engage their communities around the unprecedented challenges of our moment, making work that provides meaning, brings beauty, and helps us, in Lucille Clifton’s words, ‘sail through this to that,’” said Elizabeth Alexander, poet and President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows and the communities they serve are: Honey Bell-Bey (Cuyahoga County, OH), Tina Cane (Rhode Island), Tina Chang (Brooklyn, NY), Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills aka Twin Poets (Delaware), Rosemarie Dombrowski (Phoenix, AZ), Beth Ann Fennelly (Mississippi), Angelo Geter (Rock Hill, SC), Margaret Gibson (Connecticut), Rodney Gomez (McAllen, TX), Elizabeth Jacobson (Santa Fe, NM), Stuart Kestenbaum (Maine), Susan Landgraf (Auburn, WA), Maria Lisella (Queens, NY), Porsha Olayiwola (Boston, MA), Alexandria Peary (New Hampshire), Emmy Pérez (Texas), Mary Ruefle (Vermont), Janice Lobo Sapigao (Santa Clara County, CA), John Warner Smith (Louisiana), Laura Tohe (Navajo Nation), Amie Whittemore (Murfreesboro, TN), and Assétou Xango (Aurora, CO).

Additional information about the Academy of American Poets 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows and their projects is available on the Academy’s website.

About the Delaware Poet LaureateDelaware’s Poet Laureate is an honorary position appointed by, and serving at the pleasure of, the Governor. The Poet Laureate serves as an advocate, educator, and presenter of poetry throughout the state. Delaware’s Poet Laureate program is managed by the Delaware Division of the Arts. The Division promotes the Poet Laureate’s events and activities and manages the calendar of appearances and provides a stipend to the Poet Laureate for appearances at nonprofit organizations. More information about the program is available at: https://arts.delaware.gov/poet-laureate/.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Art Museum Announces Major Reinstallation of Permanent Collection

The content of this post comes from a Delaware Art Museum press release...

The Delaware Art Museum is excited to announce the reinstallation and reinterpretation of eight main-floor galleries housing its permanent collection. This project encompasses the Museum’s spaces dedicated to American art and illustration, Howard Pyle, John Sloan, and the Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art. Between April and November 2020, over 8,000 square feet of exhibition space will be renovated and rehung. Working with community and professional input, gallery layout and interpretation have been completely reimagined to connect better with today’s visitors and conserve the collections for future generations.

According to Chief Curator and Curator of American Art Heather Campbell Coyle, “This isn’t just fresh paint! We’ve been working behind the scenes for over two years. There are new works to show and new stories to tell. Entire collections are being relocated to improve visitor experience.”

This will be the first comprehensive rehanging since the Museum opened its renovated building in 2005. Since then, thanks to significant study and audience feedback, the collections have grown to include key pieces by women and artists of color that introduce new narratives and tell a more inclusive story of the visual arts. 

These new works, including a bust of Frederick Douglass by Isaac Scott Hathaway, and Botticelli’s Studio, a painting by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale on loan to the Museum, will join masterpieces by Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Raphaelle Peale, Frederic E. Church, George Inness, John Sloan, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Violet Oakley, and Frank E. Schoonover. This reinstallation will also bring focus to the role of local artists and collectors in the narrative of national art.

As part of the Museum’s strategic vision for community engagement, the Museum embarked on this project with an inclusive and visitor-centered approach. Community collaborators who participated in focus groups and left responses in our galleries have been integral to helping design a better Delaware Art Museum.

“Our local community’s input at every step was critical to this project,” says Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement, who worked closely with curators on gallery reinterpretation strategies. “We are grateful to those who helped guide us in early focus groups, as well as to visitors who responded to the prototyping of new ideas in our galleries. Direct feedback from our audiences helped us create bridges between the collection and the contemporary experiences of Delawareans. We look forward to learning what fresh connections our visitors make with the art as galleries reopen later this year.”

The Museum will remain open during these changes, with galleries closing and reopening on a rolling basis. Starting in early April and running through mid-July, a limited selection of works by Howard Pyle and his students will be on view; these galleries will be closed entirely from July through late November. Galleries dedicated to American art before 1900 will be closed from April 20 through the end of June. The Pre-Raphaelite Collection will be off view from July 6 through mid-August. Please check delart.org for details and updates.

The Museum’s reinstallation is fully funded by generous foundations including an anonymous donor, the Starrett Foundation, the Richard C. Von Hess Foundation, and the Sansom Foundation. To transform the galleries, the Museum is working with exhibition designer Keith Ragone Studio and local and regional fabricators.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Student Playwrights Honored in Playwriting Competition at Delaware Theatre Company

This post's content comes from a release from Delaware Theatre Company...

Delaware Theatre Company (DTC) is pleased to announce the five finalist plays and playwrights in the 2019-2020 Delaware Young Playwrights Festival (DYPF):
  • Distant Shores by Melody Fritz (Appoquinimink High School)
  • Fortunes by Zach Hitchens (Cab Calloway School of the Arts)
  • Coffee Shop by Nikolas Mandalas (Dover High School)
  • The Lost Kids by Lauren McAllister (St. Elizabeth School)
  • The Mind's Eye by Bridgette A. Rivers (St. Elizabeth School)
The five finalists will participate in a series of playwriting workshops with professional theatre artists to further refine their writing and ready their works for a public showcase performance on March 12, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. on the DTC stage.

This year's DYPF began in September 2019 with a kickoff workshop for Delaware teachers and students in Grades 8-12. From there, 55 students representing nine schools from all three counties throughout the state submitted their original plays for the first round. 

Each playwright received feedback about his or her play from a teaching artist of the DTC staff. Student playwrights then had the opportunity to revise their plays. Playwrights resubmitted their work for the second round, also known as the "competition round." From these entries, the five finalist plays were selected for additional development under the guidance of DTC’s team of theatre artists and educators.

Though not selected as finalists, six other plays and their playwrights are recognized with an honorable mention for the merits of their work. They are: The Vinyl by Asjah Brown (MOT Charter High School); Composition by Kylie Daisey (Cape Henlopen High School); Coffee and Confidants by Skylar Hass (Smyrna High School); A Glass Mask by Trinity Hunt (Cab Calloway School of the Arts); More Than an Eye by Hylea Lisenby (Cape Henlopen High School); and Wondering Goodbye by Katelyn Mock (Sussex Central High School).

Now in its ninth year of the relaunch of this acclaimed program, DYPF invites students in Grades 8-12 to write a play based on a theme inspired by one of Delaware Theatre Company's productions. This year's theme was inspired by a quotation from the Patrick Barlow adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, produced by DTC in December 2019. 

The quotation reads, “And so I say ‘Open Sesame,’ Bob. To all the real treasures of the world. All the true treasures!” These words, spoken by the character of Ebenezer Scrooge after his transformative night, served as a springboard for the DYPF theme: Write a play in which a character seeks, finds, or identifies his or her version of treasure as a result of life circumstances.

Through the use of a standards-based writing rubric, students created and shaped their original plays with regard to characters, conflict, dialogue, theme, and other dramatic criteria. Delaware Theatre Company celebrates the work of all 55 students in adding 51 new plays to the world of theatre through their participation in the 2019-2020 Delaware Young Playwrights Festival.

The mission of Delaware Theatre Company's DYPF is to provide students with an authentic audience for their creative writing and teachers with an innovative literacy program. Guided by passion and professionalism, DYPF uses educational resources, interactive workshops, personal feedback to every playwright, and public performances to engage students in the art of theatre through the act of writing a play. Both competitive and cooperative, DYPF fosters, respects, and celebrates the voices of young writers.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Serafin Ensemble Welcomes Cellist Jacques-Pierre Malan

Newest Serafin Ensemble member, cellist Jacques-Pierre Malan.
This post content originates from a release from Serafin Ensemble...
The Serafins add Jacques-Pierre Malan, South African cellist, soloist, chamber musician, teacher and music entrepreneur, to the roster of artists. 


Malan has received international acclaim for his unparalleled performances and innovative projects. Malan joins the Serafins for performances in January and April this year, as well as Serafin Summer Music festival in June.

“Joining the Serafin Ensemble roster is a thrilling addition to my musical path,” comments Malan. “We have more exciting opportunities this season to create magic together for the audiences we encounter, and I am confident we will enjoy a long and healthy partnership.”