Lewis Center for the Arts names newest art fellows at Princeton University

Princeton University during a calm winter day.

Princeton University has announced its newest art fellows for the Lewis Center for the Arts: writer Danez Smith and theater director Will Davis.

Smith and Davis will begin two years of teaching and community collaboration in September, which will end in 2022.

The Arts Fellows program of the Lewis Center provides support for early-career artists who have demonstrated both extraordinary promise and a record of achievement in their fields with the opportunity to further their work while teaching within a liberal arts context, according to the university.

The program’s is funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the David E. Kelley ’79 Society of Fellows Fund, and the Maurice R. Greenberg Scholarship Fund. Fellows are selected for a two-year residency to teach a course each semester or, in lieu of a course, to undertake an artistic assignment that deeply engages undergraduate students, such as directing a play, conducting a music ensemble, or choreographing a dance piece.

Smith and Davis were selected from a pool of over 500 applicants in dance, music, creative writing, theater and the visual arts.

“We had our strongest pool of applicants ever this year, across all disciplines,” said Stacy Wolf, director of fellowships. “Danez and Will will be phenomenal additions to our community as artists and as teachers, and we’re thrilled to support their work for the next two years. We’re especially happy to share good news, which we all need during these challenging times.”

Smith is a black, queer, poz writer and performer from St. Paul, Minnesota. Smith is the author of Homie (Graywolf Press, 2020); Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, according to the university.

Davis is a trans-identified director and choreographer focused on physically adventurous new work for the stage. His off-Broadway credits include Road Show at Encores! Off-Center; India Pale Ale at Manhattan Theatre Club.

“Once again, we’re thrilled to welcome world-class artists to the Princeton community as Princeton Arts Fellows,” said Tracy Smith, chair of the Lewis Center. “Danez Smith’s work has made an indelible and world-clarifying imprint upon poetry in America and abroad. And Will Davis’s work affirms theater’s miraculous ability to transform the humble and familiar into the extraordinary and revelatory. What a privilege it will be to engage with such remarkable and generous artists.”

For more information about the art fellows, visit www.arts.princeton.edu.

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