Congratulations to the 2023 recipients of the 2023 Individual Artist Fellowships!
The Individual Artist Fellowship program recognizes artists living in Nebraska. Applicants are chosen by a professional panel according to the merit of their work. Funds must be used for the creation of new art, presentations, training, and/or research.
This year’s recipients were part of the Performing Arts category, with a majority of first-time awardees.
The following is a list of the recipients and short bio of each. For more information about each recipient, click here.
Greg is currently Associate Professor of Composition and Jazz Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he directs the Flyover New Music Series and the UNL Jazz Orchestra. During the summer, he serves on the composition artist-faculty at the Brevard Music Center. He also currently serves as co-chair of Region VI for the Society of Composers, Inc. Greg’s works have been performed by ensembles and performers around the world, including the Ju Percussion Group, Alarm Will Sound, the Moanin’ Frogs, and the Nu Deco Ensemble. Greg’s artistic work and process have been featured in Nebraska Stories from Nebraska Public Media and the documentary Madang – A Creative Journey.
Charles Fairbanks is a filmmaker, writer, and Guggenheim fellow. He grew up in Lexington, Nebraska, and wrestled at Stanford, where he studied Art and STS (Science, Technology, and Society). He has a MFA in Art & Design from the University of Michigan, where he also studied Anthropology and History. Fairbanks’s films have shown on POV and at Art of the Real, Images, Oberhausen, CPH:DOX, Slamdance, Visions du Réel, and hundreds of festivals across six continents. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, MacDowell, Yaddo and the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio Program. Fairbanks has also worked as a programmer and translator in Belgium, taught videoarte and cel-phone videography in Mexico, and written for Senses of Cinema, DesistFilm and the Millenium Film Journal. He founded the Media Arts program at Antioch College, where he was awarded tenure in 2018. He now lives with his daughter, dog and parents in their central Nebraska hometown.
Allegra Hangen is an artist whose multimedia practice mixes experimental film, photography, sculpture, textiles, sound, and installation. Her work often presents concepts and historical events in which mass media has played a crucial role, reconsidering, and ultimately undermining those images through appropriation and glitches.
Lauren Simpson is an Omaha-based choreographer. In the summer of 2020, she created an experimental outdoor dance project called Moving Truck, a mobile show performed on the front lawns of over fifteen homes throughout Omaha. It was a featured performance in John F. Kennedy Center’s virtual program, Arts Across America. Recent choreographic projects include Smithereens, a site-specific performance at the Joslyn Art Museum with music by Omaha-based musician Miwi LaLupa and Celestial Real Estate, a collaborative performance at Generator Space gallery featuring various local artists- Nick Miller (painter), Celeste Butler (textile designer), and Dereck Higgins (musician). In February 2023, Lauren will collaborate with Omaha visual artist Sarah Rowe on a choreographic response to her current exhibit “Post” at Kaneko.
(Lincoln and Omaha)
Mary Elizabeth Jo Dixen Pelenaise Kapi’olani Lawson also known as Mesonjixx, is an artist, composer, writer, performer, organizer and collaborator. Belonging to two diasporas of two hemispheres, she happily calls the U.S. Great Plains home. While living in Chicago (2009-2014) she began her songwriting and performance practice. When she returned to Nebraska, she began writing more song, intentionally, and on her own and wanted to pursue these budding practices, in collaboration with other musicians. Mary is interested and committed to bringing her creative visions to life.
Gayle Rocz (she/her/hers) is a dance artist, scholar, and educator currently based in Omaha, Nebraska. Gayle graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Gayle is currently a company member of tbd. dance collective and recently performed in two of their evening length works, III (2022) and Affect (2021). She has worked with many nationally and internationally recognized choreographers both during and after college, including Jenna Riegel, Jennifer Nugent, Kayvon Pourazar, Lauren Simpson, and most recently Haley Koastas.
Lauren Bonk is a playwright, fiction writer, and freelance copywriter on a quest to carve creativity out of everyday life. She has lived most of her life in this state, and currently lives in Kearney, Nebraska with her husband and two children. She received her bachelor’s degree in 7-12 English Education with an endorsement in Theatre from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2008. Lauren has served on the board of directors at Kearney Community Theatre since 2016, and has both directed and acted in multiple plays at KCT. She was commissioned in 2017 by the Apollon in Omaha to write a Doctor Who-themed dinner theatre piece for their spring show slot, which was sold out and well received.
Brian Guehring is the award-winning Playwright in Residence of the Omaha Theater Company for Young People at The Rose. His play Sherlock Holmes and the First Baker Street Irregular won a Distinguished Play award from AATE (American Alliance for Theater and Education). His original play Popularity Coach was selected for development by New York University’s New Plays for Young Audiences in 2019). His script, “The Bully Show,” was selected for the 2002 New Visions/New Voices new play development workshop at the Kennedy Center. Several of his plays are published by Dramatic Publishing Company. Brian served as the education Director of the Omaha Theater Company and served on the national boards of Theater for Young Audiences/USA and Pride Youth Theater Alliance.
Nathan started their training in ballet with the Omaha Ballet back in the late 1980’s. After finishing their BFA from Columbia College, they began their professional career in Chicago, New York, Amsterdam, and San Francisco. Nathan came to a full actualization of their potential in San Francisco. Nathan joined and helped create diverse performance art and circus companies, honing their strengths as a performer, director, choreographer, and collaborator. With a background in martial arts and gymnastics, along with being a trained dancer, their creative voice found a whole new level of performance and storytelling. Nathan’s works and collaborations have been seen all over the world. Their works extend from intimate venues to vertical stages in national parks, music videos, to live performances with artists like Peaches, Snoop Dog, Amanda Palmer, Rosen Covent, and Ryn Weaver. Fascinated by the world of science, sex, politics, society, and the ability to have a creative voice in this life, Nathan takes every opportunity to look fear and uncertainty in the eye with a fresh and lively new twist.
*first time recipient