, New protégés embark on exciting artistic journey

New protégés embark on exciting artistic journey

Seven outstanding young talents from seven countries around the world have been chosen as protégés for 2014-2015 of the Rolex Arts Initiative.

The seven emerging artists – from Paraguay, Portugal, Mexico, Bulgaria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the US and Israel – have each been personally selected by the mentor in their discipline.

This cycle’s distinguished artistic masters, who will spend a year in close collaboration with their protégés, are: Olafur Eliasson (visual arts), Alejandro G. Iñárritu (film), Michael Ondaatje (literature), Alexei Ratmansky (dance), Kaija Saariaho (music), Jennifer Tipton (theatre) and Peter Zumthor (architecture).

The seven new protégés are: 

Architecture: Gloria Cabral (Paraguay)
Driven by a profound belief in a collaborative approach to her work, Paraguayan architect Gloria Cabral, 31, is a partner in the firm Gabinete de Arquitectura. Her architectural philosophy reflects her originality as she interacts with fellow architects on projects that are informed by strong environmental and social concerns and the creative use of local materials. 

Dance: Myles Thatcher (United States)
Acknowledged for his versatility and talent as a rising star of classical ballet, American dancer and choreographer Myles Thatcher, 23, trained at the Harid Conservatory, Ellison Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, which he officially joined as part of the corps de ballet in 2010. He will now choreograph a piece for the San Francisco Ballet’s 2015 repertory season. 

Film: Tom Shoval (Israel)
Obsessed with films since childhood, Israeli film-maker and screenwriter Tom Shoval, 32, graduated from Jerusalem’s Sam Spiegel Film & TV School and has continued making short films that have garnered awards at international film festivals. His debut film, Youth (2013), premiered at the Berlinale and won Best Film at the Jerusalem Film Festival. 

Literature: Miroslav Penkov (Bulgaria)
Dedicated to giving voice to his countrymen by examining the history and culture of Bulgaria in his work, writer Miroslav Penkov, 31, earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas and is an Assistant Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of North Texas. Winner of the 2012 BBC International Short Story Award, Penkov writes in both English and Bulgarian. 

Music: Vasco Mendonça (Portugal)
Portuguese composer Vasco Mendonça, 36, has begun to attract international attention for such works as his recently completed chamber music piece, The Boys of Summer (2012), and an hour-long chamber opera, The House Taken Over (2013). Both were co-commissioned by the Aix-en-Provence International Opera Festival, which has premiered several of his compositions. Mendonça premiered Ping (2013) in the UK. He also teaches Analysis and Composition at Lisbon’s Lusiada University.

Theatre: Sebastián Solórzano Rodríguez (Mexico)
Using painting and experimental cinema as references when he designs light, Mexican lighting designer Sebastián Solórzano Rodriguez, 27, has created stage lighting for the Centro de Producción de Danza Contemporanea (National Contemporary Dance Company of Mexico) and Luz Y Fuerza: Cine Expandido (Expanded Cinema), an interdisciplinary group he co-founded that makes hand-made light devices for art installations and live cinema performances.

Visual Arts: Sammy Baloji (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Using photography as a tool of observation to write on his society, Congolese artist and photographer Sammy Baloji, 35, has been widely exhibited in Europe, the US, and Africa. He works between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he creates haunting photomontages of his homeland. Winner of the Prix Afrique en création (2007), the Prince Claus Award (2008), and the Spiegel Prize (2012), Baloji founded the Lubumbashi Biennale and the Picha Art Centre.

The seven new protégés were chosen from 25 finalists from 21 countries, from an original field of 154 artists who were nominated and invited to apply for mentorships after a global talent search by an expert nominating panel formed for each discipline. Each mentor then met and interviewed the three to four finalists, selecting the person he or she felt would benefit most from intense, personal guidance over the course of the mentoring year. 

“We have confidence in the ability of the 2014-2015 protégés to reach a new level of achievement following the life-changing, year-long collaboration with the mentor,” adds says Rebecca Irvin, head of philanthropy. “All of us at Rolex look forward to seeing what artistic surprises this new cycle of the programme will bring.”