On Dec. 19, 2023, the Lewis Center for the Arts (LCA) announced the five recipients of the Mary Mackall Gwinn Hodder Fellowship for the 2024–2025 academic year. Each year, the Hodder Fellowship grants an opportunity for artists and musical innovators to be supported by Princeton University in their creative endeavors. The fellows are typically comprised of visual or performance artists, authors, musicians, or other humanities intellectuals. Notable alumni include the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the poet Natalie Diaz, among many others.
This year, the five recipients of the fellowship are percussionist Britton-René Collins, sculpture installation artist Abigail DeVille, artist and performer Ayesha Jordan, poet and author Suji Kwock Kim, and choreographer and dancer Nami Yamamoto.
After being asked about the fellowship’s meaning to her, Yamamoto wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian that “I am very humbled and honored to receive the fellowship. I would like to grow as an artist and extend my possibility as much as possible throughout this opportunity.”
The fellowship began in 1944 after esteemed professor and writer Mary MacKall Gwinn Hodder left her estate to aspiring and rising creatives. Since then, it has enabled countless talented individuals to explore their creative outlets and allowed for unhindered time to complete and execute new research and work. Hodder’s intent for the fellowship is unique as she believed in providing grants without rigid requirements from a specific academic department, giving winners the flexibility to pursue their own projects.
The Hodder Fellowship is distinct in its ability to garner a wide range of talent and scholarship that is the product of a diverse array of artistic endeavors. For example, Collins will "conduct research and commission new works by underrepresented composers as part of her 10-month appointment, ‘Sphygmology — Cultural Exchange for Solo Percussion,’ at the Lewis Center for the Arts, which will culminate with her debut performance installation, ‘Sphygmology,’ centered on desegregating Western Classical Music spaces through utilizing percussion as a medium for celebrating Black identity," according to her website biography. With her work, Collins will blend her passion for instrumental music with her desire to spark social change in arts communities.
Each fellow’s project is unique and inventive, and many are leveraging the opportunity to advance and execute existing projects. For instance, according to the press release from the LCA, DeVille plans to publish a book that focuses on community-based historiography and geographical site-based analyses. Jordan plans to continue to develop her project, “Shasta Geaux Pop presents: Shasta Greaux Crops," which aims to reflect and take inspiration from seasonal rhythms and support the process of “integrating eco-performance frameworks and interspecies collaborations.” Fellow Suji Kwock Kim plans to complete her larger work entitled “Disorient.” The LCA also wrote that Yamamoto “… will gather historical information and collect personal stories especially about the Japanese occupation of Manchuria between 1931 and 1945 while practicing, improvising, and exploring movement in the studio.”
“I look forward to getting to know other artists as well,” Yamamoto added. “I am eager to make my world bigger and I will be asking a lot of questions and help throughout my time. I hope that this opportunity opens and leads into a beginning of new relationships to me.”
Christopher Nunez is a staff writer for The Prospect from Point Pleasant, N.J. He can be reached at christophern[at]princeton.edu.
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