I was pleased to receive the news (via Deborah Hunt—gracias) that visual artist, dancer, choreographer Awilda Sterling-Duprey (San Juan, Puerto Rico); playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes (New York, NY), writer of the TONY Award-winning In the Heights; poet Martín Espada (Amherst, MA); and Guatemalan-born architect Teddy Cruz (San Diego, CA); are among the winners of the USA Fellowships 2010. The 2010 United States Artists Fellows “represent a diverse spectrum of artistic practice, from cutting-edge video artists, to traditional basket weavers, socially conscious designers, award winning documentary filmmakers, and avant-garde choreographers.”
Awilda Sterling-Duprey is a teacher, dancer, and choreographer, and an important figure in Puerto Rico’s traditional cultural arts scene. She attended the University of Puerto Rico—Río Piedras, the School of Visual Arts in San Juan (where she presently teaches), the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and is a doctoral student in history at the Center for Advanced Studies of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in San Juan. She is a founding member of Pisotón, the first experimental dance collective in Puerto Rico. Combining Afro-Caribbean dance, jazz, and modern experimental movement, Sterling-Duprey has created and performed experimental dance works throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America, including Puerto Rico and other Caribbean countries.
Interviewed by El Nuevo Día, the Sterling-Duprey says, “I love what I do and I find it wonderful that people who do not know me understand the validity of the work I’ve done so far.” She also expressed hope that the present Puerto Rican government, which “loves to emulate the United States,” will follow suit and pay attention to what the island artists are doing, adding that “they should change their views and feel ashamed of their claims that art is simply entertainment. They should have their eye on what is being created and what can be achieved through art and culture.”
Writer Quiara Alegría Hudes, who “product of a Jewish father and Puerto Rican mother,” grew up in Philadelphia, says that she writes “about the Latinos of North Philadelphia. That is the Great American Story that I have to tell.” She attended Yale University and Brown University. Hudes originally studied music and credits it with providing her with the structure and appreciation for the cadence of speech in her plays, musicals, and screenplays. Among other plays, Hudes wrote the book for the musical In the Heights (2008), which was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and which won a Tony Award for Best Musical, as well as other honors.
Poet, essayist, translator, and editor Martín Espada has been called “the Latino poet of his generation” and “the Pablo Neruda of North American authors.” Espada was born and raised in Brooklyn, NYC. A former tenant lawyer, Espada is now a professor of English Literature at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Espada, who has received numerous awards and fellowships, has published 17 books. His poetry collection The Republic of Poetry (2006) received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Another collection, Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also author of the recent The Lover of a Subversive Is Also a Subversive: Essays and Commentaries (2010).
For more information, see http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/artists/usa_fellows/work
For full article (in Spanish) on Awilda Sterling, see http://www.elnuevodia.com/exaltanlacarreradeawildasterling-836479.html