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Lewis Center for the Arts presents The Atelier@Large: Conversations on Art-making in a Vexed Era with Bill Bowers, E.S Glenn, and Claudia Rankine.

originally published: 03/08/2023

Lewis Center for the Arts presents The Atelier@Large: Conversations on Art-making in a Vexed Era with Bill Bowers, E.S Glenn, and Claudia Rankine.

E.S. Glenn. Photo by Nat Schedler.

(PRINCETON, NJ) -- Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts presents the next event in The Atelier@Large conversation series that brings guest artists to campus to discuss the challenges they face in making art in the modern world. For this concluding event in the 2022-23 series, Broadway actor and mime Bill Bowers, graphic novelist and The New Yorker cartoonist E.S. Glenn, and bestselling poet and playwright Claudia Rankine join in discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, Princeton’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Princeton Atelier.

The event begins at 7:30pm on March 24 in the James Stewart Film Theater, located at 185 Nassau Street on Princeton’s campus. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required through University Ticketing. The theater is an accessible venue, and guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at at least one week prior to the event date.

The Princeton Atelier, directed by Muldoon, was founded in 1994 by Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate and Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, at Princeton University. The Atelier brings professional artists from different disciplines together with Princeton faculty and students to create new work in the context of a semester-long course that culminates in the public presentation of the new work. Recent artists have included Stew, Laurie Anderson, the improv group Baby Wants Candy, and the Wakka Wakka Puppet Theatre. The Atelier@Large series, established in 2021, is an extension of the Princeton Atelier that brings guest artists to campus to speak on art’s role in the modern world.

“There’s a notion still doing the rounds,” says Muldoon, “that art is primarily a source of comfort and joy. That it’s all about salve, maybe even salvation. For many artists the true solace comes through their acceptance that art is in fact most interesting when it is most disruptive. The change a work of art represents often seems minor, but it may have major repercussions.”

Lewis Center for the Arts presents The Atelier@Large: Conversations on Art-making in a Vexed Era with Bill Bowers, E.S Glenn, and Claudia Rankine.

Bill Bowers. Photo by Frank Veronsky.

As an actor, mime and educator, Bill Bowers has traveled throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. His Broadway credits include Zazu in The Lion King and Leggett in The Scarlet Pimpernel. Off Broadway and in theaters around the world, Bowers has written and performed his own plays including ‘Night Sweetheart ‘Night Buttercup, Under a Montana Moon, It Goes Without Saying, Beyond Words and All Over the Map. He has also portrayed the great silent clowns: Charlie Chaplin in the world premiere of Little Tramp, Pierrot in the world premiere of Beethoven N Pierrot, and Petruchka with The Colorado Symphony. Bowers has been hailed by critics as “the great American mime” and the “most accomplished and renowned mime of his generation,” winning top honors at festivals throughout the world. In addition to theater, he is featured in the film Two Weeks Notice and on television in Remember W.E.N.N., One Life to Live, All My Children, on Disney’s Out of the Box, and in the PBS documentary series Brief But Spectacular. He holds an M.F.A. from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts and an Honorary Ph.D. from Rocky Mountain College. Bowers is a student of the legendary Marcel Marceau, and he presently serves on the faculties of New York University, Stella Adler Studios, and the William Esper Studio.

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E. S. Glenn (shown at the top of this article), in full Everett Samuel Glenn, is a regular cartoonist for The New Yorker. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1985, he began drawing as a child and was supported by his teachers because, according to his own account, he was “otherwise a very impetuous boy.” Glenn began keeping graphic-novel-style diaries at an early age and began to craft a method of hiding his personal experiences behind action scenes. He attended the Cleveland School of the Arts, continued drawing while serving in the Navy, and spent many years in New York selling his comics in the underground and indie scenes. His path eventually led him to Leipzig; comic artist Ralph Niese, who died in 2020, was his mentor. In 2020 Glenn began contributing to The New Yorker as a cartoonist. In his debut graphic novel, Unsmooth #1 (2020), Glenn puts his alter ego in the spotlight: an aspiring artist, struggling with self-doubt and ambivalence about the art scene, joins a gang of small-time gangsters and becomes entangled in their criminal enterprises. According to The Comic Journal, “It is a complex meditation on masculinity, race, class, the art world and the act of cartooning, dressed up to look like a stylish thriller, and drawn with heaps of confidence and skill.” The follow-up volume, Unsmooth #2: BUM (2021), is the prequel to the debut in which Glenn uses a formally experimental and multi-layered approach to explore the feeling of existential fear.

Lewis Center for the Arts presents The Atelier@Large: Conversations on Art-making in a Vexed Era with Bill Bowers, E.S Glenn, and Claudia Rankine.

Claudia Rankine. Photo courtesy Blue Flower Arts.

Claudia Rankine is the author of the bestselling poetry collection Citizen: An American Lyric, winner of the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the NAACP Image Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Her other poetry volumes include Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; the award-winning Nothing in Nature is PrivateThe End of the Alphabet; and Plot. Rankine has authored three plays including Help, which premiered in March 2020 at The Shed in New York City; The White Card, which premiered in February 2018  at ArtsEmerson/American Repertory Theater and was published by Graywolf Press in 2019; and Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue, which is performed on a bus ride through the Bronx. Rankine has also produced numerous video collaborations. Her recent collection of essays, Just Us: An American Conversation, was published in 2020. She is also the co-editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. In 2016, Rankine co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment of the Arts. Named a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow in 2016, the Foundation called Rankine "a poet illuminating the emotional and psychic tensions that mark the experiences of many living in twenty-first-century America." A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Rankine joined the New York University Creative Writing Program in fall 2021. She lives in New York.

Paul Muldoon is the Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities at Princeton, as well as the founding chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. As an internationally renowned Irish poet, Muldoon has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War.” Muldoon won the Pulitzer Prize for his ninth collection of poems, Moy Sand and Gravel (2002). His 14th volume of poems, Howdie-Skelp, was released in 2021 by Farrar Straus & Giroux. Muldoon is the editor of the recently released Paul McCartney boxed, two-volume set, The Lyrics:1956 to the Present, illuminating the stories behind 154 of McCartney’s song lyrics. Muldoon’s latest book, The Castle of Perseverance with watercolors by Philip Pearlstein, was published in November.

All visitors to Princeton University are expected to be either fully vaccinated, have recently received and be prepared to show proof of a negative COVID test (via PCR within 72 hours or via rapid antigen within 8 hours of the scheduled visit), or agree to wear a face covering when indoors and around others.

Visit the Lewis Center website to learn more about the Princeton Atelier, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and the more than 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, lectures, and special events presented by the Lewis Center each year, most of them free.

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