Motifs: November 2023

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Peter Sparling (AS 64-66, IAA 66-69; IAC/NMC St 70; IAC/NMC Fac 72) is having a busy fall and winter season, with multiple exhibitions and performances around Michigan. He created and directed Dance the Rainbow… Or Dismantling the Patriarchy to Make Way for Free Expression, which was presented on Sept. 26 at Commongrounds/The Alluvion in Traverse City. Joining him were dancers Katie Dorn (IAA Fac 19-present, IAC Fac 20-23) and Leslie Williams (IAC/NMC 90; IAC 91-92; IAA 92-96; IAC Fac 06-09, 11-23). The lecture-demonstration celebrated Up North Pride Week and the installation of Sparling's paintings. A solo show of his paintings, Dancing up the Walls: Solos, Duets & Trios on Canvas, was featured in October at 22 North Gallery in Ypsilanti. Sparling’s video, Seven Elegies, was selected for Wealthy Theatre Presents: Experimental Selections from Open Projector Night, to be shown at The Grand Rapids Art Museum from Oct. 7, 2023 to Jan. 14, 2024. His video animation, Picture This, was screened in Screen Dance International’s Detroit and Ann Arbor programs in September and October. His choreography for “Waltz of the Flowers” will highlight Crooked Tree School of Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker in December at Great Lakes Center for the Arts in Petoskey.

Debra Cash (IAC/NMC 66-67, 69, 72) recently joined the Jewish Women's Archive as its Chief Development Officer. Prior to joining the Archive, Cash spent eight years as executive director of Boston Dance Alliance, which was named one of the four best small nonprofits in Massachusetts under her leadership.

Robert Stephenson (IAC/NMC 70-71, IAA 70-73) recently released his new book, Aesop Variations: Three Stories of Frogs, Birds and Crustaceans, through Page Publishing. The book, which is illustrated by Cheyenne Cerny, is available online and at bookstores across the nation. In addition to his work as an author, Stephenson has enjoyed a 45-year career as an orchestral oboist, primarily with the Utah Symphony.

Kathleen Kaska Perez (IAC/NMC 75-76; IAC St 84-89, 96-02; ICA St 02-13) and her family have moved to Fleming Island, Florida. Perez continues in her position as IT Product Analyst for HealthTrust Workforce Solutions in her new work-from-home office.

Sean Young (IAA 76-78) made her stage debut in October in Rider McDowell’s new play Ode to the Wasp Woman. Young portrays troubled actress Susan Cabot in the play, which runs Oct. 30 to Jan. 31 at the Actors Temple Theatre in New York City.

Karen Rehner (IAC/NMC 87, IAA 87-91) was recently appointed Provincial Court Judge of the Provincial Court in Grand Bank, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Prior to her appointment, Rehner served as Crown Counsel with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, and in Toronto, Ontario.

Brit Washburn (IAA 89-93, IAC St 92-93) published Homing In: Attempts on a Life of Poetry and Purpose, a collection of essays from Alexandria Quarterly Press. Her poetry collection, Notwithstanding, was published by Wet Cement Press in 2019. Washburn teaches in the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.

Paola Prestini’s (IAC 90-91, IAA 91-93) latest opera, The Old Man and the Sea, premiered at ASU Gammage in Tempe, Arizona, on Nov. 4, 2023. Inspired by the beloved novella by Ernest Hemingway, the opera stars renowned baritone Nathan Gunn as the narrator/Santiago. Prestini’s husband, former Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Ziegler, performs her original score.

Julia Christensen (IAA 93-94) will release her first album, Tree Songs Art Center, in December. The album, which is produced in collaboration with the Space Song Foundation, parses sensor data from three trees to create songs that express the light, moisture, and temperature the trees experienced over the course of a year. Christensen also has artworks on display at galleries across Ohio, including the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art and Design, and Oberlin College’s Baron Gallery.

Joseph Mayon (IAA 95-98) recently joined the Union County Performing Arts Center as the inaugural artistic director of the New Jersey Opera Theater.

Miss Velvet (IAC 98, 01, 06) released her new single, “Zumirez,” on Sept. 29. The single precedes her forthcoming LP, Traveler, which is set for release in late 2023.

Aaron Diehl (IAC 99-00) released his fourth album, Zodiac Suite, with Mack Avenue Records on Sept. 15, 2023. The album features Diehl as soloist with orchestral collective The Knights, which includes fellow alumni Yaira Matyakubova (IAC 93-94, IAA 94-96), violin; Kyle Armbrust (IAC 99), viola; Alex Sopp (IAA 97-01), flute; Erik Höltje (IAC 90, IAA 90-94), bassoon; and Joseph Gramley (IAC 85-87, IAA 86-88), percussion. Zodiac Suite is the first complete, large-scale recording of Mary Lou Williams’ 12-movement classical-jazz fusion suite of the same name.

Jenna Matecki (IAC 03) released the second edition of her book The Hours Before Dusk: Finding Light in Cities Around the World on Oct. 17. The book is available at Barnes and Noble, Target, Walmart, Amazon, and at indie bookstores across the United States.

Marina Kondo (IAC 10, IAA 10-13) portrays Susan in the national tour of Marianne Elliott’s gender-swapped revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company. The production is the musical’s first major U.S. union tour since the 1970s.

Chloe Baldwin (IAC 10, 12) appears as Dusty in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Selina Fillinger’s farce POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive. The show runs through Dec. 10, 2023.

Kathryn McCarthy (IAA 12-14, IAC St 14) has received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from UCF and won accolades for her scripts and films alike since graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy. She is currently working on the short film “With Her Own Hands,” which stars McKenna Quigley Harrington (Tulsa King, Susie Searches) and Lauren Megan McCarthy (world premiere, Bethany Sees the Stars).

Matthew Melillo (IAC 13-16) was recently appointed contrabassoonist of the Florida Orchestra.

Violist Adrian Jackson (IAC 17, IAA 17-18) was recently named the first recipient of the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra’s Gunderson Fellowship Program. Through the program, Jackson will present concerts in the La Crosse, Wisconsin community each week and work with the Central High School orchestra, Boys and Girls Club Free Violin Lessons Program, and the Gunderson Health System’s healing arts program.

Carter West’s (IAC 23) art installation opened at Branson School in Ross, California this month. The installation, which is supported by the Raabe Family Fellowship for the Arts, features ten portraits of under-recognized women–including mathematician Gladys West and chemists Tu Youyou and Rosalind Franklin–alongside biographies about their lives and work.