Young Alumni Arts Grants support recent Stanford grads in their artistic pursuits

Dancers perform choreographer Katharine Hawthorne’s dance, “The Escapement,” at the ODC in San Francisco  in November 2014. (Photo Credit: Benjamin Hersh)

Five recent Stanford graduates will have an easier time continuing their artistic pursuits thanks to a new grant program.

Young Alumni Arts Grants, awarded by the Stanford Arts Institute, support public productions, exhibitions, publications or other original works in any genre, by providing up to $5,000 in support of facility or installation costs, technical production costs, printing and publication expenses, marketing and other expenses.

Two $5,000 grants were awarded to San Francisco-based dancer and choreographer KATHARINE HAWTHORNE, BS ’10, for her dance project, Mainframe, and to documentary filmmaker HELEN HOOD SCHEER, MFA ’13, for her film Painted Desert. Both grant recipients will return to Stanford after the conclusion of the projects to present a talk or masterclass to current students.

Helen Hood Scheer (Photo courtesy Helen Hood Scheer)
Helen Hood Scheer (Photo courtesy Helen Hood Scheer)

“This grant provides much-needed support for the rehearsal development period and production aspects of my project,” Hawthorne said. “It also provides heightened visibility for my work as an artist in the Bay Area exploring the intersection of art and science.”

In addition to the grants awarded to Hawthorne and Hood Scheer, three other young alumni have received $1,000 developmental grants. ADAM KATSEFF, MFA ’12, was awarded a grant for his solo photography show, Rivers and Falls, which is on exhibit at the Sasha Wolf Gallery in New York City through May 24. EMMA WEBSTER, BA ’11, received a grant for her painting exhibition opening Aug. 7 at Classic Cars West Gallery in Oakland, California. A team led by YOO HSUI YEH, BS ’06, MS ’13, received a grant for the interactive art installation Navigating the Cycles, which will be exhibited at the New Interfaces for Musical Expression conference at Louisiana State University in early June.

“I was blown away to see the wide variety of work that our recent alumni are doing in the arts. It was an incredible testament to the creative energy of our graduates and the innovative work they are doing in all sorts of fields,” says MATTHEW TIEWS, associate dean for the advancement of the arts.

Selection process and results

The first year of the grant program attracted 52 applications from graduates holding bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in fields ranging from art practice, art history, music and documentary film to physics, mechanical engineering, comparative literature and public policy. Candidates must have graduated within five years of the application deadline. The review board for the first round included Stanford alumni who are personally and professionally committed to the arts.

Black and white photo of Katherine Hawthorne
Katharine Hawthorne (Photo credit: Al Ponce)

Hawthorne’s project, Mainframe,is a dance asking how computers have changed the way we see our bodies, but it also prompted the creator to ask herself: What will it be like to have performers dance with old computer monitors? “The project tackles more conceptual source material than my previous work, pushing me to integrate ideas, physically risky movement and interaction with technology into a single performance,” she said, adding, “I am excited and a bit terrified to be pushing at the boundaries of my abilities as an artist.” Mainframe is scheduled to be performed at ODC in San Francisco Dec. 3-6, 2015.

Painted Desert is the working title for Hood Scheer’s documentary short about an African American physician in Navajo Nation who collaborates with the local indigenous community and renowned artists to create arresting public artworks that are installed across the reservation. She specializes in cinema vérité portraits following people who subvert expectations and better their communities in unusual ways.

“There are very few media grants that assist in early stage development and the creation of sample work, which I need to secure additional funding to complete this film,” said Hood Scheer. “The Stanford Young Alumni Arts Grant will provide the seed money I need to get started on this documentary, and the support has arrived at a critical juncture.”

Like many recent graduates, Webster said she has confronted many of the hurdles that face young artists in America, such as self-doubt and financial insecurity.

“I always wanted to be a painter, but once out of Stanford, I had a tremendously difficult time making ends meet and continuing my painting practice. Last year, I took the plunge and risked fiscal security to become a full-time artist. As such, this grant is not only a tremendous vote of confidence, but also a welcome lifeline that will help me produce the paintings I might not be able to otherwise,” Webster said.

The Young Alumni Arts Grant, which is supported by the Drs. Ben and A. Jess Shenson Fund, builds on other professional development programs in the arts that have been a key outgrowth of the Stanford Arts Initiative. Now in its seventh year, the Summer Internship Program in Arts Administration places students in paid summer internships at professional arts organizations in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, while the Stanford in Washington and the new Stanford in New York programs place students in arts internships during the academic year. The Art Is My Occupation program introduces students to arts professionals through panels, workshops and trips throughout the academic year, and the Stanford | Warner Music Group Leadership Initiative will place a select group of Stanford students in summer placements after introducing them to the many facets of the music industry through a spring quarter class.

Read the full announcement on the Stanford Arts Institute website.