3Arts Announces the Recipients of Its 6th Annual 3Arts Awards
3Arts is honored to announce the ten recipients of its 6th annual 3Arts Awards, presented to women artists, artists of color and artists with disabilities working in the performing, teaching and visual arts. The awards will be presented tonight, Monday, Oct. 21, by the 3Arts Board of Directors and Awards Host Committee in a celebratory gathering at the Museum of Contemporary Art. 3Arts has awarded over $1 million in total grants to more than 100 Chicago artists in the past six years.
3Arts Awards honorees each receive an unrestricted $15,000 award to put to use according to their individual needs and priorities. The 2013 recipients are: dancer Michel Rodriguez and choreographer Vershawn Sanders Ward; instrumentalists Lisa Kaplanand Ronnie Kuller; teaching artists Marta Garcia and Robert Schleifer; actors Mierka Girten and Kelli Simpkins; and visual artists Irena Knezevic and Cauleen Smith. Full bios for the honorees follow at the end of this release. Images are available here.
"In the past six years, 3Arts has distributed over $1,000,000 to artists across Chicago---a testament to our dedication to supporting a diversity of artistic voices in our community. The 3Arts Award is the first step and the foundation for our ongoing support of each awardee. They are now eligible for a network of offerings designed to help them build momentum in their practice over time including project support, residency fellowships, promotion, and informal and formal professional development programs," said3Arts Executive Director Esther Grimm.
Driven by the belief that the vitality and creative spirit of Chicago is reliant upon a diverse spectrum of artistic voices, 3Artsadvocates for women artists, artists of color and artists with disabilities working in the performing (dance, music and theater), teaching and visual arts. For more information on 3Arts, please visit www.3arts.org.
The recipients of the 2013 3Arts Awards are:
Michel Rodriguez, Choreographer
Michel Rodriguez was born in Havana, Cuba and graduated from the Cuban National School of Art in 2003. He began dancing as a company member of Danza Contemporanea de Cuba in 2003 and became a principal dancer in 2006 participating in the International Theater Festival of Havana, Biennale of Venice, Temps D'Images of Dusseldorf, and Sziget Festival in Budapest, performing in England and Mexico, and teaching workshops in Spain. He has worked with notable choreographers Jan Linkens, Kenneth Kvarnstrom, Samir Akika, Cathy Marston, Luca Bruni, Rafael Bonachela, George Cespedes, Susan Marshall and Andrea Miller. Rodriguez moved to Chicago in 2008 and began as a company member with Hedwig Dances. In 2010, Rodriguez was named one of "The Men of 2010" by TimeOut Chicago and began dancing with CDI/Concert Dance Inc. Rodriguez has also made several appearances with Khecari Dance Theatre and has worked with the Chicago Moving Company as a guest artist. Rodriguez is currently working with Ben Wardell on Nexus Project, a two man show to premier in the Fall of 2013 and joined Lucky Plush Productions as an ensemble member. He became an Adjunct Faculty Member in January, 2013 at Columbia College Chicago teaching Modern Technique. As a choreographer he has premiered Moi Aussi, Walking, and Por Dentro for Hedwig Dances and was honored to become a finalist in the A.W.A.R.D. Show 2010 for Moi Aussi. In 2012, Rodriguez was commissioned to choreographFinding the Balance for the Repertory Performance Workshop/Faculty Concert at Columbia College Chicago.
Vershawn Sanders Ward, Choreographer
Vershawn Sanders Ward, dance scholar and choreographer, is the Founder and Artistic Managing Director of Red Clay Dance Company based in Chicago, IL. Ward holds a MFA in Dance from New York University and is proud to be the first recipient of a BFA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago. Her work has been presented at festivals in New York, Chicago, Kalamazoo, The Yard at Martha's Vineyard, Toronto, Toubab Dialaw, Senegal, and Kampala, Uganda. She received a 2009 Choreography Award from Harlem Stage NYC for the creation of her solo work, NEW WORLD AFRIKAN, which premiered in November 2010 at the Dance Transitions Festival in Kampala, Uganda. Vershawn has served as an adjunct faculty member and teaching artist with many organizations and institutions in Chicago including City Colleges of Chicago, The Gary Comer Youth Center, the Dance Center of Columbia College, Urban Gateways, and the Office of Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College Chicago. Current projects include producing Red Clay Dance's 5th Anniversary Fall Concert at the Logan Arts Center and a choreographic collaboration with Ugandan choreographer Jonas Byaruhanga, which will premiere at the Pritzker Pavilion April 10-13, 2014. Vershawn is extremely honored to be selected as a 2013 3Arts Award recipient and would like to thank her family for their unwavering support.
Lisa Kaplan, Instrumentalist
Born in Motown, Lisa Kaplan is a pianist specializing in the performance of new work by living composers. Kaplan is also the founding pianist of the three-time Grammy Award-winning sextet eighth blackbird. She has won numerous awards, performed all over the country and has premiered new pieces by hundreds of composers, including Andy Akiho, Derek Bermel, Jennifer Higdon, Amy Beth Kirsten, David Lang, Nico Muhly, George Perle and Steve Reich. Kaplan has had the great pleasure to collaborate and make music with an eclectic array of incredibly talented people - Mario Batali, Jeremy Denk, Bryce Dessner, Glenn Kotche, Gustavo Santaolalla, Steve Schick, Robert Spano, Dawn Upshaw and Michael Ward-Bergeman to name a few. Recently she has greatly enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to do some composing and arranging for eighth blackbird. Kaplan is a true foodie, gourmet cook, avid reader, crossword and Scrabble addict, enjoys baking ridiculously complicated pastry and loves outdoor adventures. She has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, braved the Australian outback, stared an enormous elephant in the face in Tanzania's Ngorogoro Crater and survived close encounters with grizzly bears in the Brooks Range of Alaska.
Ronnie Kuller, Instrumentalist
Ronnie Kuller is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, teaching artist, and member of Mucca Pazza. She has composed and performed music for Theater Oobleck and Zephyr Dance Ensemble, and is an artistic associate of Opera-Matic. Since 2006, she's been an Artist-in-Residence at Snow City Arts, where she teaches music to pediatric inpatients at Stroger Hospital of Cook County and Rush Children's Hospital. Ronnie has performed at Lincoln Center, Millennium Park, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Montreal Jazz Festival, Mass MoCA, the Watermill Centre, and 92Y Tribeca. Her compositions have been performed live on Chicago Public Radio's Morning Shift and recorded onto wax cylinder at Edison National Historical Park.
Marta Garcia, Teaching Artist
Marta Garcia received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL with a concentration in Theater. After graduation she founded Akropolis Acting Company. As the Artistic Director, her company received recognition for winning best local theater company from both Miami News Times and The Palm Beach Post. Her highly visual and conceptual pieces won her recognition as Best Local Director. Marta first picked up a camera while working on dance theater pieces as a form of note taking. Her camera work moved from being a means of arranging pieces to the streets of Miami documenting the expressive and emotional faces of people at protest during the Balseros migration. Marta studied photography at Columbia College and after graduating began her career as a freelance photographer. Her interest in social issues has allowed her to photograph a vast array of subjects; from factory floors to the political- from protests to leaders of the free world. She has shot for many national publications such as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal. Marta is a recent recipient of the Awesome Foundation Award for her work on the Division Street Project. Her unique style and personality brings forth the sincerity in people. Marta continues to work as a freelance photographer and as a teaching artist. She currently teaches at Marwen where she has found great fulfillment in working with the young people of Chicago.