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Lilly Hall
Jordan College of the Arts

JCA Signature Series

JCA Signature Series

A High-Impact Artist and Scholar Residency Program for Student Enrichment and Community Enjoyment


Spring 2021 Series - All events are virtual! 


Visit to join any of the livestreams.

BLACK VIOLIN, Internal event only

Black ViolinBlack Violin enters the student virtual space with an all new, high energy, performance that takes their unique blend of classical music, hip-hop, jazz, and pop to new heights. Recorded at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, this engaging, high-definition multi-camera video covers themes of perseverance, exploration and unity with songs like Rise, Unbreakable, Believer, Dreamer, and Impossible is Possible. Embedded in the performance is a message for students and educators about challenging stereotypes and status quo conventions, and that pathways to success require commitment, practice and unwavering dedication. During a pre-recorded question and answer session, Black Violin discusses their personal history, their journey to the stage, and their plans to continue their mission with their non-profit organization, Black Violin Foundation.

LADAMA, Friday, February 19, 2021, 7:30 PM

LADAMALADAMA is an ensemble of women musicians from across the Americas who, as well as performing as a touring band, strive to engage youth in their respective communities in the process of music-making, composition and audio production through collaboration and performance workshops. They are Mafer Bandola (Venezuela), Lara Klaus (Brazil), Daniela Serna (Colombia), and Sara Lucas (U.S.). With rhythm and percussion driving their original compositions sung in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, they combine disparate, traditional roots music with pop. The result is a sonic experience through which we can view our future as a world that communicates across continents and cultures, with sound and story.


Additional Residency Activities:

• Thursday, February 18, 2021

     11:00 am-12:15 pm: workshop for AA301, Principles and Practices of Arts Administration

     1:00-1:50 pm: School of Music Convocation

• Friday, February 19, 2021

     12:30-1:45 pm: workshop with BU Choirs

     1:00-2:00 pm: workshop with BU Percussion Ensemble

     7:30-9:00 pm: public webinar, including Q and A

KIRSTEN LEENAARS: (Re)Housing the American Dream and the Politics of Imagination, Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 7:30 PM

Kirsten LeenaarsWho gets to imagine what? The act of imagining itself is not a fair, objective, or equitable thing. So what happens when you follow the same group of twenty-two American born and refugee youth over a period of 4 years and ask them collectively to imagine different future scenarios, reframe histories, and contextualize their own lived experiences and truth? Re)Housing the American Dream: Freedom Principles is part of an ongoing community-based performative documentary project, set in the city of Milwaukee, that explores the role of film as political action, and examines the politics of imagination through the act of collective making.


Kirsten Leenaars is an interdisciplinary video artist based in Chicago. Various forms of performance, theater, and documentary strategies make up the threads that run through her work. She engages with communities to create participatory video and performance work. Her work oscillates between fiction and documentation, reinterprets personal stories and reimagines everyday realities through shared authorship, staging and improvisation. In her work she explores the performance, production and intersection of dominant fictions, our collective imagination and lived realities. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, at venues including the Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City; MAI, Montreal; Formerly known as Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; the Broad Museum of Art MSU, East Lansing; The Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Leenaars has received grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation; The Mondrian Fund; the Dutch Consulate in New York. She currently is an associate professor in the Department of Contemporary Practices at SAIC.


Additional Residency Activities:

• Workshop with ART 210, Professional Practices, TBD with Steve Nyktas

RACHEL CHAVKIN: Upstage: Fusing Avant-Garde and Commercial Theater, Thursday, March 4, 2021, 7:30 PM

Rachel ChavkinFor over a decade, Rachel Chavkin has been making enormously inventive, and often wildly experimental work by drawing from multiple genres and fusing them with traditional Broadway conventions to create aesthetically unique shows, such as Hadestown and Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812.


In this talk, Rachel will explain the sources of her inspiration and reveal how she blends seemingly disparate elements into work that is unlike anything else in commercial theater. She will share how she manages her notoriously busy work schedule, managing multiple projects at a time, and how she chooses her next creative endeavor. Rachel will also reflect on the refinement of her work over the course of hundreds of shows; recasting, re-staging, and rethinking until she gets it right. 


Additional Residency Activities:

• Friday, March 5, 2021 – Workshops with theatre students, faculty, and staff , TBD with Diane Timmerman.

RONALD K. BROWN: ‘Mercy’ – Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE Friday, March 15, 2021, 7:30 PM

Ronald BrownRonald K. Brown, raised in Brooklyn, NY, founded EVIDENCE, A Dance Company in 1985. He has worked with Mary Anthony Dance Theater, Jennifer Muller/The Works, as well as other choreographers and artists. Brown has set works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Jennifer Muller/The Works, Jeune Ballet d’Afrique Noire, Ko-Thi Dance Company, Philadanco, Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago, Ballet Hispánico, TU Dance, and Malpaso Dance Company. 


He has collaborated with such artists as composer/designer Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya, the late writer Craig G. Harris, director Ernie McClintock’s Jazz Actors Theater, choreographers Patricia Hoffbauer and Rokiya Kone, and composers Jason Moran, Arturo O'Farrill, Meshell Ndegeocello, Robert Een, Oliver Lake, Bernadette Speech, David Simons,, and Don Meissner


Brown is the recipient of the 2020 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. His other awards and recognitions include the AUDELCO Award for his choreography in Regina Taylor’s award-winning play Crowns, received two Black Theater Alliance Awards, and a Fred & Adele Astaire Award for Outstanding Choreography in the Tony Award winning Broadway and national touring production of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, adapted by Suzan Lori Parks, arrangement by Diedre Murray and directed by Diane Paulus. 

Brown was named Def Dance Jam Workshop 2000 Mentor of the Year and has received; the Doris Duke Artist Award, NYC City Center Fellowship, Scripps/ADF Award, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Choreographers Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, Dance Magazine Award, and The Ailey Apex Award. 

Brown is Co-Artistic Director of RestorationART Youth Arts Academy Pre-Professional Training Program / Restoration Dance Youth Ensemble, and a member of Stage Directors & Choreographers Society


Additional Residency Activities:

• Workshops for dance students TBD with Larry Attaway

MELISSA ALDANA Friday, April 9, 2021, 7:30 PM

Melissa AldanaOn her first jazz quartet "Visions," award-winning saxophonist Melissa Aldana connects her work to the legacy of Latina artists who have come before her, creating a pathway for her own expression. Inspired by the life and works of Frida Kahlo, Aldana creates a parallel between her experiences as a female saxophone player in a male-dominated community, and Kahlo’s experiences as a female visual artist working to assert herself in a landscape dominated by men. On her first jazz quartet recording, Aldana adds a new dimension to her sound, resulting in a transformative movement of expression and self-identity.


Aldana was born in Santiago, Chile. She began playing the saxophone when she was six, under the influence and tuition of her father Marcos Aldana, also a professional saxophonist. Aldana began with alto, influenced by artists such as Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, and Michael Brecker. However, upon first hearing the music of Sonny Rollins, she switched to tenor; the first tenor saxophone she used was a Selmer Mark VI that had belonged to her grandfather.


She started performing in Santiago jazz clubs in her early teens. In 2005, after meeting him while he was on tour in Chile, she was invited by pianist Danilo Pérez to play at the Panama Jazz Festival, as well as a number of auditions at music schools in the USA. As a result of these introductions, she went on to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, where her tutors included Joe Lovano, George Garzone, Frank Tiberi, Greg Osby, Hal Crook, Bill Pierce, and Ralph Peterson


Aldana graduated from Berklee in 2009, relocating to New York City to study under George Coleman. She recorded her first album, Free Fall, released on Greg Osby's Inner Circle Music imprint in 2010. Her live shows in this period included performances at the Blue Note Jazz Club and the Monterey Jazz Festival, and her second album, Second Cycle, was released in 2012. In 2013, aged 24, she was the first female musician and the first South American musician to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, in which her father had been a semi-finalist in 1991. The prize was a $25,000 scholarship, and a recording contract with Concord Jazz. Reporting her win, the Washington Post described Aldana as representing "a new sense of possibility and direction in jazz".


Additional Residency Activities:

• Thursday, April 8

     1:00 pm: School of Music Convocation

     Date and Time TBD: Improvisation Class

• Friday, April 9

     12:00-1:30 pm: Work with Jazz Combos

• Friday, April 16

     12:00-1:30 pm: Work with Jazz Combos

INNOSANTO NAGARA: Innosanto Nagara: Will Design for Change Monday, April 12, 2021, 7:30 PM

Innosanto NagaraInnosanto Nagara is best known as the founder of Design Action Collective. His work is grounded in the philosophy: “do not design in a vacuum.” As a lifelong activist embedded in organizing communities, he always insists that the power of design be harnessed in the service of social change, and in partnership with boots-on-the-ground organizing efforts: “The other side spends millions of dollars annually pushing their agenda. But they are pushing a boulder uphill. They are selling ideas that are against people’s interests. They are selling products that people don’t need. In a world where we do judge a book by its cover, we do have to engage them on that battlefield. But we can do it for a lot less because we are pushing for what people want and need. We can dislodge that boulder. But to do that, we have to engage.”


Inno started doing graphic design in the service of social change as a student at UC Davis in the late 80s. After college, he moved to San Francisco where he did graphic design for local community groups as Jaguar Design: Design for Social Change. In 1995 he joined the Inkworks Press—a leading political printing collective in Berkeley, California. It was during his seven years at Inkworks that Inno developed and expanded the design philosophy and practice that he champions until today. In 2003 Inno founded Design Action Collective. Starting as two-person studio in the living-room of his house. Over the next sixteen years, Design Action grew and expanded into a fourteen-member collective offering print, web, new media, and strategic communications services to the Movement. 


In 2012 Inno published his first children’s book, A is for Activist, that quickly became a bestseller, and launched his “second career” as a children’s book author and illustrator.


Today Inno divides his time between writing and illustrating social justice-themed children’s books, and doing graphic design, art direction, and creative communications for individuals and organizations he cares about.


Additional Residency Activities:

• Workshop with ART class, TBD with Gautam Rao

SUPAMAN, Friday, September 18, 2020, 7:30 PM


As a member of the “Apsaalooke Nation,” Supaman makes his home on the Crow reservation in Montana. “Supaman” is Christian Takes Gun Parrish, a Native American dancer and innovative hip hop artist who has dedicated his life to empowering and spreading a message of hope, pride, and resilience through his original art form. He has been the recipient of the 2017 MTV VMA award for “Best Fight Against the System”! He is also a Nammy “Native American Music Award” winner, “North American Indigenous Image Award” winner, and  7 “Tunney Award winner. He was awarded The Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Award in Canada for best video and was voted MTV’s new Artist of the Week! His 2018 nominations brought him home awards for Best Hip Hop Album and Best Producer for the Indigenous Music Awards. His latest videos titled “Prayer Loop Song” and “Why” both have gone viral and have received millions of views on YouTube and Facebook which has put him in high demand for touring extensively throughout the U.S.A. and internationally. He has performed for Google at the Google headquarters in San Francisco. He recently was asked to audition for America’s Got Talent and the Broadway play Hamilton. He is currently working with Taboo from the multi-Grammy award-winning group “Black Eyed Peas” looking to complete a project in the coming months.  

Supaman’s one-of-a-kind presentation combines Native culture, comedy, and urban hip hop culture, which dazzles audiences and captivates listeners. For this he has gained the respect of his community and generation. The communicative talent along with the compassion that exudes from his music allows him to connect with people from all walks of life. His uncanny ability to motivate, encourage, and inspire through dance and hip-hop music keeps him at the forefront among his contemporaries which gives him a platform to educate on Indigenous issues.

Additional Residency Activities:

• Thursday, September 17, 2020, 1:00 pm – virtual presentation for School of Music students

• Friday, September 18, 2020, 12:30 pm – virtual presentation for School of Music choral students and guests

MUSEUMS ARE NOT NEUTRAL, Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 7:30 PM

Museums Are Not Neutral is a global-advocacy initiative to expose the myth of museum neutrality and demand equity-based transformation across institutions. This webinar aims to critically examine challenges and proactively propose strategies for museums today to bring people together and call for change. Acknowledging that museums are not neutral is the first meaningful step to reject a status quo system that perpetuates oppression, racism, injustice, and colonialism, so we can subsequently improve the museum field. 

Our guest panelists are Kelli Morgan, former Curator of American Art at the IMA/Newfields, and La Tanya Autry, Gund Curatorial Fellow, Cleveland moCa; the evening’s presentation will be moderated by Peter Wang, Lecturer of Art History at Butler University.

Panelist Bios:


As a cultural organizer in the visual arts, LaTanya S. Autry centers Black liberation and decolonization in her work. In addition to co-creating The Art of Black Dissent, an interactive program that both promotes public discussion about the Black liberation struggle and engenders fighting antiBlackness through the collective imagining of public art interventions, she co-produced #MuseumsAreNotNeutral, an initiative that exposes the fallacies of the neutrality claim and calls for an equity-based transformation of museums and the Social Justice and Museums Resource List, a crowd-sourced bibliography.

LaTanya has curated exhibitions and organized programs at moCa Cleveland, Yale University Art Gallery, Artspace New Haven, and other institutions. Through her graduate studies at the University of Delaware, where she is completing her Ph.D. in art history, LaTanya has developed expertise in the art of the United States, photography, and museums. Her dissertation The Crossroads of Commemoration: Lynching Landscapes in America, which analyzes how individuals and communities memorialize lynching violence in the built environment, concentrates on the interplay of race, representation, memory, and public space.



Originally from Detroit, MI., Dr. Kelli Morgan is a curator, author, educator, and social justice activist. She earned her doctorate in Afro-American Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Public History – Museum Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass).

Specializing in critical-race curatorial analyses, her interdisciplinary research focuses on Black women’s visual narratives. Most recently, her work has demonstrated how traditional art history and museum practice uphold white supremacy and maintain white cultural hegemony. She’s held curatorial positions at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields where she recontextualized American collections to illuminate systemic racism and structural inequities to encourage responsible approaches to museum DEI initiatives.

Currently, Dr. Morgan is an independent curator and art consultant.


Additional Residency Activities:

• Exact dates TBD – workshops with both panelists for Department of Art students enrolled in ART314, Museum Studies

MONUMENT(AL) CRISIS, Monday, October 12, 2020, 7:30 PM

People have the desire to commemorate the past, as we monumentalize specific historical figures and events. On this Columbus Day / Indigenous Peoples' Day and in the ongoing movement of Black Lives Matter, this webinar invites two leading scholars to share their critical perspectives about these problematic Columbus statues and controversial confederate monuments across the nation. How should we, as individuals and as a community, re-engage this monumental crisis? 

Our guest panelists are Sarah Beetham, Chair of Liberal Arts and Assistant Professor of Art History, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and Erika Doss, Professor of American Studies, University of Notre Dame; the evening’s presentation will be moderated by Peter Wang, Lecturer of Art History at Butler University.

Panelist Bios:

Sarah Beetham


Dr. Sarah Beetham is the Chair of Liberal Arts and Assistant Professor of Art History at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, specializing in American art and particularly the monuments erected to citizen soldiers after the Civil War. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from the University of Delaware and a B.A. in art history and English from Rutgers University. Her current book project, Monumental Crisis: Accident, Vandalism, and the Civil War Citizen Soldier, considers the long history of damage and alteration of Civil War monuments in the context of the recent debate over Confederate memory. Dr. Beetham has published work on Civil War monuments and art history pedagogy in Public Art Dialogue, Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art, Nierika: Revista de Estudios de Arte, and Common-Place. She has been interviewed regarding her work on Civil War monuments and the current debate over the future of Confederate monuments in several outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Inside Edition, and NBC News.



Erika Doss (PhD, University of Minnesota) is a professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her wide-ranging interests in American art and visual culture are reflected in the breadth of her publications, including Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism (1991, which received the Charles C. Eldredge Prize), Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (1995), Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image (1999), Looking at Life Magazine (editor, 2001), Twentieth-Century American Art (2002), The Emotional Life of Contemporary Public Memorials: Towards a Theory of Temporary Memorials (2008), Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America (2010), and American Art of the 20th-21st Centuries (2017). The recipient of several Fulbright awards, Doss has also held fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.



Additional Residency Activities:

• Tuesday, October 13, 2020 - workshop with Sarah Beetham for Department of Art students enrolled in ART105, Art History Survey

• Tuesday, October 13, 2020 – workshop with Erika Doss for Department of Art students enrolled in ART316, Modernism in the Arts

NICOLE BREWER: The Movement for Anti-Racist Practices and Its Impact on Theatre, Friday, October 16, 2020, 7:30 PM

Nicole BrewerNicole Brewer is a passionate advocate for anti-racist theatre. She has spent the last seven years refining and practicing an inclusive method of theatre training and practices which she calls Conscientious Theatre Training (CTT). She has authored four articles about the need for the theatre industry to shift from racist and oppressive models to anti-racist and anti-oppressive. Why Equity Diversity and Inclusion Are Obsolete was reported by American Theatre as one of their top ten most read stories of 2019.

Nicole is invited all over the US to teach and speak about CTT and facilitate anti-racist theatre (ART) workshops. She’s also facilitated ART workshops in the UK providing workshops for The Globe and Cambridge University. 

Nicole is a board member of Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) where she works to shift how the industry can become more proactive to the needs of caregivers.

Nicole is one of the four producers of the COVID19 freelance artist resource website, The producing collective also partnered with HowlRound to produce six weekly webinars that centered the needs of freelance artists impacted by the pandemic. 

Ms. Brewer is on faculty in the acting department at the Yale School of Drama. She has worked at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a premier performing arts high school in Washington D.C. as visiting faculty (acting). Nicole was visiting faculty at the National Theater Institute (NTI) for several years. She was faculty in the theatre department of Howard University for seven and half years and has also worked at Northern Virginia Community College and Montgomery College teaching acting and introduction to communications courses.

Nicole is frequently invited to share her work on CTT and ART at conferences such as ATHE, SETC, TCG, The Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and in the UK at Goldsmith’s University.  

Nicole Brewer earned her M.F.A. in Acting from Northern Illinois University and her B.F.A. from Howard University. She's worked professionally as an actor, director and educator. 


Additional Residency Activities:

• Saturday, October 17, 2020, 11:00 am – “Conscious Theatre Training” workshop with Butler Theatre students, faculty, and staff

• Spring 2021 TBD – follow-up workshop with Butler Theatre faculty and staff

DONALD BYRD: Social Justice and Just Causes, Friday, November 20, 2020, 7:30 PM

Donald ByrdSocial Justice and Just Causes: exploring questions central to the making of artistic works whose focus is social justice and just causes. Sharing insights into his process and video examples from recent works, Donald Byrd considers if one can be trained to create these kinds of works in an authentic and personal way? What groundwork is necessary? What tools are needed? What is the balance of the didactic, the authentic/personal, and the aesthetic in making work that is social issue driven?

Donald Byrd has been the Artistic Director of Spectrum Dance Theater since December 2002. Formerly, he was Artistic Director of Donald Byrd/The Group, a critically acclaimed contemporary dance company, founded in Los Angeles and later based in New York, that toured both nationally and internationally. His career has been long and complex, and his choreographic and theatrical interests are broad. The New York Times describes him as “a choreographer with multiple personalities … an unabashed eclectic.” He is a Tony-nominated (The Color Purple) and Bessie Award-winning (The Minstrel Show) choreographer. 

Mr. Byrd has frequently been referred to as a ‘citizen artist,’ a descriptive that perfectly aligns with an important component of Spectrum Dance Theater’s mission and Mr. Byrd’s personal beliefs – “dance as an art form and as a social/ civic instrument.” 

Early projects that were the beginnings of his citizen artist work at Spectrum are Interrupted Narratives/WAR (2007), a critique on the War in Iraq, and The Theater of Needless Talents (2008), a memorial to the artist victims of the Holocaust. Mr. Byrd’s early repertoire also includes three evening-length works that sought, through dance, to stimulate dialogue around a post-9/11, globalized America: A Chekhovian Resolution (2008), a personal, diary-like reflection on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; Farewell: A Fantastical Contemplation on America’s Relationship with China (2008), inspired by the novel Beijing Coma from Ma Jian and the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square; and The Mother of Us All (2010), a dense, collage-like abstract meditation on contemporary Africa. 

Spectrum’s recent seasons, conceived, choreographed, and directed by Mr. Byrd, are a testament to his commitment to art as a Credible Partner of Social Justice:

Season 2015/16 #RACEish – An Exploration of America’s 240 Years of (failed) Race Relations
Season 2018-19 WOKE???
Season 2019/20 Race and Climate Change

He continues to demonstrate this by creating dance/theater that is meant to question, to create awareness, to activate, and to move audiences & citizens into action around the persistent social issues that plague contemporary American society and the world: racism and white supremacy, climate change and the climate gap, gender equality, gender identity biases, xenophobia, and police brutality.  

Throughout the 40+ years of his choreographic career, Mr. Byrd has created over 100 works for his companies as well as works for many leading classical and contemporary companies. This list includes Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, The Joffrey Ballet, The Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco), Dance Theater of Harlem, and many others. He has worked extensively in theater and opera, both in America and abroad, including Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera, The Israeli Opera, New York City Opera, The New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, Intiman Theatre, and Baltimore Center Stage.

Mr. Byrd’s many awards, prizes, and fellowships include the Doris Duke Artist Award; Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, Cornish College of the Arts; Masters of Choreography Award, The Kennedy Center; Fellow at The American Academy of Jerusalem; James Baldwin Fellow of United States Artists; Resident Fellow of The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center; Fellow at the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, Harvard University; and the Mayor’s Arts Award for his sustained contributions to the City of Seattle.

A high point of Mr. Byrd’s career was a solo museum exhibition Donald Byrd: The America That Is To Be, at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle in 2019. It was the culmination of his 2016 James W. Ray Distinguished Artist Award, which was funded by the Raynier Institute & Foundation through the Frye Art Museum | Artist Trust Consortium. The award supports and advances the creative work of outstanding artists living and working in Washington State.


Additional Residency Activities:

• Monday, November 23, 2020 – workshops with Department of Dance students

The Jordan College of the Arts would like to thank the following donors for their generous support of the Spring 2021 JCA Signature Series:
William and Susan Kleinman
Dr. Marianne Williams Tobias