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Philadelphia’s Pig Iron Theatre Company and Matthias Pliessnig Named United States Artists Knight Fellows
Artists Receive $50,000 Grants
PHILADELPHIA, (Dec. 8, 2010) – Philadelphia’s Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel, Dan Rothenberg, and Dito van Reigersberg of Pig Iron Theatre Company and furniture designer Matthias Pliessnig were named USA Knight Fellows at a celebration last night at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. The Pig Iron collaborative and Pliessnig will each receive an unrestricted $50,000 grant from United States Artists (USA), part of a $1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to USA, a national grant-making and advocacy organization.
The USA Knight Fellowships – part of the 50 USA Fellowships granted each year – are awarded to artists who live in one of the 26 cities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers, including Philadelphia.
“Whether in Miami or Macon, Philadelphia or St. Paul, the USA Knight Fellowships highlight the importance of the arts and the meaningful contributions individual artists make to the vitality of our communities,” said Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s vice president/arts.
In addition to their $50,000 unrestricted grants, USA Knight Fellows will each receive an additional $5,000 to engage local residents by conducting workshops, talks or other events.
Last year, Philadelphia ceramicist Kukuli Velarde was named one of the first USA Knight Fellows. For her community engagement project, Velarde and her husband (whom she met while both were residents at the Clay Studio, 13 years ago) established a ceramic studio in the basement of the West Kensington Ministry.
“It was an idea, a hope that hovered in our heads since we moved to West Kensington four years ago,” says Velarde. “When I was told that Knight Foundation was giving us $5,000 for work with the community, I immediately thought of the ceramic workshop we spoke about with the pastor of the West Kensington Minstry so many times. We are thrilled with the opportunity to share something we love so much as working with clay with our fellow neighbors.”
Through a rigorous evaluation process, panels of experts in each artistic discipline selected this year’s 52 winning artists (including one collaborative) from among 302 nominated applicants from 46 states. USA Fellowships are awarded to artists of all career stages who demonstrate artistic excellence, unique artistic vision, and significant contributions to their fields. Chosen for the caliber and impact of their work, the USA Fellows for 2010 hail from 18 states and Puerto Rico, range in age from 32 to 71. The complete list of winners is available at www.unitedstatesartists.org.
Since 1959, Knight Foundation has invested more than $720 million in the communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities. To that end, the foundation launched the Knight Arts Challenge, first in Miami in 2008, and this year in Philadelphia with a three-year, $9 million initiative. Finalists for the first year of the Philadelphia contest will be announced in early 2011. More at KnightArts.org.
About the USA Knight Fellows
Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel, Dan Rothenberg, and Dito van Reigersberg are the co-artistic directors of Pig Iron Theatre Company, which they founded in 1995. The ensemble is dedicated to the creation of performance works that defy easy categorization. Together they have created 25 works in a variety of styles, including black comedy, melodrama, gallery installations, and clown shows. Pig Iron Theatre Company has won two Obie Awards and was named Theater Company of the Year by Philadelphia Weekly in 2006. Pig Iron’s repertoire includes the celebrated Chekhov Lizardbrain. All three co-artistic directors received their BAs from Swarthmore College. Bauriedel and Rothenberg studied theater in Paris and Van Reigersberg studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance.
Furniture designer Matthias Pliessnig works primarily with steamed bent-wood strips. He attended the Kansas City Art Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Inspired by boatbuilding techniques and classic modernist furniture, Pliessnig uses 3-D modeling software to sketch curves, which he then handcrafts into sensuous forms that cradle the body. Pleissnig has received grants from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation and the Joan Mitchell Foundation.
About United States Artists
The founding of Los Angeles-based United States Artists in 2005 was prompted by the Urban Institute’s 2003 study, Investing in Creativity: A Study of the Support Structures for U.S. Artists. This groundbreaking report found that while 96% of Americans appreciate the arts, only 27% believe that artists contribute to the good of society. With a mission to invest in America’s finest artists and illuminate their value to society, USA annually awards 50 USA Fellowships totaling $2.5 million to exceptional artists in the performing, visual, media, and literary arts. Past USA Fellows include visual artists Kara Walker and Catherine Opie, cartoonist Chris Ware, designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy (of Rodarte), performing artist Meredith Monk, jazz composer Jason Moran, ballet dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, choreographer Bill T. Jones, and the writer Sapphire. For more, visit www.unitedstatesartists.org.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.
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Megan Wendell, Canary Promotion, Philadelphia Knight Foundation Representative,
215-690-4065; megan [at] canarypromo [dot] com
Marc Fest, Vice President of Communications, Knight Foundation,
305-908-2677; fest [at] knightfoundation [dot] org