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Arts & Culture Podcasts

Host Pier Carlo Talenti interviews artists who are shaking up the status quo to learn how they are reinventing their fields and building a new landscape for the arts.

Host Pier Carlo Talenti interviews artists who are shaking up the status quo to learn how they are reinventing their fields and building a new landscape for the arts.


United States


Host Pier Carlo Talenti interviews artists who are shaking up the status quo to learn how they are reinventing their fields and building a new landscape for the arts.




"Don't be ashy!" -- Performance artist Ayo Janeen Jackson pivoted her dance career to honor and care for the Black body through art as well as business.

Ayo Janeen Jackson enjoyed an enviable dance career after earning her BFA at UNCSA. She danced with two of the world’s most renowned contemporary companies — Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and Ballet Preljocaj — before joining the company of Broadway’s “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” Yearning to learn more ways to express herself, though, she shifted her career path. She attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned a Master’s in Interdisciplinary Arts, and today...


Actor and artistic director Gregg Mozgala uses theater to put the disabled body on display with unassailable authenticity.

UNCSA alumnus Gregg Mozgala, after years of performing on some of Off-Broadway’s finest stages, is enjoying a well-earned banner year. He recently completed a national tour playing the title character in “Teenage Dick,” a modern take on Shakespeare’s “Richard III” centered on the experience of a high school student with cerebral palsy, and this summer he appeared in “Richard III” itself, alongside film and theater star Danai Gurira, in the Public Theater’s revered Shakespeare in the Park...


Multidisciplinary artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya on how she protects her explorer's spirit and invites strangers to join her in her discoveries

A neuroscientist-turned-artist, Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, has long known how to “make the invisible visible,” as her artist statement declares. Her ability to make intricate scientific concepts accessible through art and design earned her a TED residency as well as the opportunity to speak on two TED mainstages. Her numerous works — including an AR installation immersing viewers in the world of microbes and “Beyond Curie,” a project that harnessed both technology and design to celebrate the...


Lear deBessonet and Clyde Valentín galvanize community artmaking to achieve local and national healing

It’s a good thing that director Lear deBessonet and producer Clyde Valentín have extensive experience in community-engaged participatory art — nine years ago she founded the acclaimed Public Works program at the Public Theater in New York City; he was the inaugural director of Ignite/Arts, a renowned community-arts incubator in Dallas since 2015 — because the scope of their newest project, One Nation/One Project, would overwhelm most artists and administrators. One Nation/One Project, a...


Dancer Lauren Edson and musician Andrew Stensaas co-created and co-lead Boise’s LED, where dance and music are just two elements of numerous artistic adventures.

Partners in life, love and art, dancer/choreographer Lauren Edson and musician/composer Andrew Stensaas founded the remarkable performance company LED in Boise, ID in 2015 and remain its co-leaders Lauren, the company’s artistic director, trained at UNCSA and Juilliard before dancing with the renowned dance company Trey McIntyre Projects for many years. Andrew, LED’s creative director, is a self-taught musician and composer who played with two critically acclaimed bands — one in Portland,...


Composer Brittany J. Green cultivates community and a deep listening practice

Composer Brittany J. Green is already making waves in the world of new classical music. However, given the variety of inspirations that pervades her work – from computer-coding languages to Black feminist theory – and her growing passion for electronica and for DJing her own sets, she is very much beating an artistic path that disregards the boundaries of genre. Her work has been performed at concerts and festivals throughout the United States, including the Boulanger Initiative’s WoCo Fest...


ChristinaMaria Patiño Xochitlzihuatl Houle decolonizes the interview itself!

Artist, activist and visionary ChristinaMaria Xochitlzihuatl Patiño Houle is the co-founder and lead visionary of Las Imaginistas, a socially engaged art collective working to liberate the public imagination. Several of Las Imaginistas’ projects have centered on Brownsville, TX, including “Taller de Permiso,” an arts and economic-justice campaign. Through hands-on art-making workshops and events, “Taller de Permiso” harnessed the community’s collective imagination to parse and reimagine the...


For Artistic Director Jacob Padrón, a radical change at his theater is an opportunity for collective reimagining

In February of 2022, Long Wharf Theatre, one of the country’s most respected regional theaters, released a bold statement. Starting with its 2022/23 season, the theater will not renew the lease on the space it has occupied for 57 years on the outskirts of New Haven, CT. Rather, under the leadership of artistic director Jacob Padrón, who joined Long Wharf in late 2018, the theater will commit at least for a few years to an itinerant production model that “will prioritize equity, accessibility...


Landscape architect Daniel Woodroffe tells stories of joy and ingenuity through his urban landscapes.

In the twelve years since Austin-based landscape architect Daniel Woodroffe founded his firm, dwg, it has become a leader in sustainable design and low-impact development. The firm has worked on projects all over the world but has made a particularly deep impression on the landscape of its home city. One of dwg’s most remarkable years-long project finally came to fruition when in August of 2021 Waterloo Park, at 11 acres downtown Austin’s biggest greenspace, opened to the public. Daniel’s...


Fashion designer Nyla Hasan on code-flexing and playing the long game

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology with 15 years of experience working for some of the country’s top designers, Nyla Hasan in 2019 decided to create her own fashion line. A few complications — not the least of which was a pandemic — delayed the planned debut of the line, but in the fall of 2021 her dream became a reality when fashion brand the øther launched its first collection. The øther quickly made waves for its graceful blending of South Asian and Western influences and...


Violinist and composer Earl Maneein brings Paganini chops to heavy metal and punk, slaying all the way

Earl Maneein is a violinist and composer who loves nothing more than to lend his considerable chops as a classically trained musician to the sounds and venues of heavy metal and hardcore punk. None other than Robert Trujillo, bassist for Metallica, has called him “a kick-ass artist who pushes the creative boundaries.” Earl received a Bachelor of Music from Queens College and a Master of Music from the Mannes College of Music, where he studied with Daniel Phillips of the Orion String...


Amelia Winger-Bearskin on why AI needs artists as a guiding force

Amelia Winger-Bearskin in an artist, technologist and researcher who specializes in working in and with artificial intelligence. She lives in Jacksonville, FL, where she is a Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Chair and Associate Professor of Artificial Intelligence and the Arts at the Digital Worlds Institute at the University of Florida. Her work, though incredibly varied, always focuses on finding ways to use AI to benefit communities and the environment. In 2017 she founded a nonprofit,...


Muralist Troy Summerell on taking an artistic leap of faith and joy, haters be damned

Troy Summerell has become well-known in his hometown of Virginia Beach, VA for his vibrant and joyful murals of flowers and ocean creatures that can be seen throughout the region, from the sides of large buildings to basketball backboards. He loves bringing joy to those who need it and has therefore often worked in hospitals that serve children. He recently completed his largest commission to date, a 100-foot-long mural enlivening an entire hallway in Children’s Hospital of the King’s...


Interlochen’s Director of Music, Enrique Márquez, shapes the next generation of leaders through music.

In June of 2021, Enrique Márquez arrived on the campus of the renowned Interlochen Center of the Arts in Interlochen, MI as its new Director of Music. Founded in 1928, Interlochen offers students from grades 3 through 12 a wealth of arts-education opportunities through several programs, including its boarding school, the Arts Academy, and its Summer Arts Camp. Before becoming an admired arts administrator and educator, Enrique was a professional violist who made his Carnegie Hall debut in...


Dancer Valencia James urges artists of all stripes to dream and scheme with techies.

Born and raised in Barbados, Valencia James studied modern dance in Budapest, Hungary and had the opportunity to perform work by some of the world’s most adventurous choreographers in international venues. However, it wasn’t until she started asking questions about what role artificial intelligence might play in shaping the future of the performing arts that she truly found her passion. Today Valencia works with innovative technologists and scientists to create collaborative performance...


Composer Sahba Aminikia proves that a musical education is part of a spiritual education.

Sahba Aminikia is an Iranian American composer, musician and educator based in San Francisco whose own musical training spanned three continents. He first studied composition in the city of his birth, Tehran, and then relocated to Russia to attend the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. After emigrating as a refugee to San Francisco in 2006, Sahba then earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His passion for blending genres and cultural...


José Ome Navarrete Mazatl

José Ome Navarrete Mazatl is the co-artistic director of NAKA Dance Theater in San Francisco, CA. Since he and fellow dancer Debby Kajiyama founded NAKA in 2001, the company has worked with a wide array of communities in the Bay Area as well as internationally to explore urgent social-justice issues. Among the communities and organizations with whom NAKA has partnered to create performance projects over the years are the Eastside Arts Alliance, a cultural and empowerment space for Black...


Evan Weissman

In 2012, theater-maker Evan Weissman founded Warm Cookies of the Revolution, a civic health club in Denver, CO. What exactly is a civic health club? Warm Cookies’ own description can’t be beat: “Well, you go to a gym to exercise your physical health, a religious institution to exercise your spiritual health, and a therapist to exercise your mental health. Warm Cookies of the Revolution is where you go to exercise your Civic Health.” Since Warm Cookies’ founding, Evan and his team have found...


Danielle Villasana

Danielle Villasana is an independent photojournalist whose documentary work focuses on human rights, gender, displacement, and health with a focus on Latin America. Her work has earned her widespread recognition. She is a National Geographic Explorer, Magnum Foundation awardee, Women Photograph grantee, and an International Women's Media Foundation fellow, and her photographs have been included in solo and group exhibits and have been published in National Geographic, The New York Times,...


Noelle Scaggs

As the co-lead vocalist of the alt-pop band Fitz and the Tantrums since 2008, Noelle Scaggs was used to seeing huge crowds through her years of live performance and touring. Their songs “Out of My League” and “The Walker,” both of which Noelle co-wrote, were certified Platinum and hit the number one spot on the Alternative Airplay chart, and in 2016 their song “HandClap” became a bona fide sensation, a triple-platinum international hit that the casual listener could hear anywhere from Macy’s...