BIOGRAPHIES OF PARTICIPATING ARTISTS
Susana Amundarain (visual art) has been mainly a painter for the last twenty years, but she has also been inquisitive about the blurred edges of interdisciplinary forms. In 1989 she was invited by the Department of Performance Studies at New York University to spend a year as a Visiting Scholar, where she initiated an exploration of text adaptation to performance, as well as an inquiry into painting in the staging space. In 1990, Ms. Amundarain began a new exploration into the area of scenic design, producing the sets for four major productions in Venezuela, one of which was awarded First Prize in the City Competition (1993). One of her main interests today concerns collaborative pieces with her daughter, Vanessa Briceno, and with her husband, Efrain Amaya. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Metropolitan State College of Denver. Ms. Amundarain has exhibited in 21 solo shows, in Mexico, England, the US, and Venezuela, as well as in numerous group shows around the world. Several of her paintings and drawings belong to private collections and museums in the US and South America, and she currently teaches painting at Chatham College.
Kate Aronson (Artistic Director/Producer) has been writing, performing, and producing her own multi-media and theater pieces since 1985 in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York, and Pittsburgh. As a founding member of the music-performance group Squonk Opera, she co-created and performed that group’s work at festivals, theaters, and clubs all over the U.S. A CD also came out of this collaboration. Since 1996, Kate has been creating and performing her solo work, including Bitter Fool, Visible Madman Doom, and Seven Suitcases. She has twice received Solo Performance Fellowships from the PA Council on the Arts. In 1997, she founded Women’s Work, which returned in 1998 as Revenge of Women’s Work. In addition to her original work, Kate is an actor, director, and teacher of theater, having worked locally at City Theatre, Quantum Theatre, Playhouse Repertory Company, and the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, among others, and has also been on the faculty of Point Park College’s Conservatory of Performing Arts since 1989. She will be moving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in August with her family.
Autumn Ayers (theater) was last seen in Pittsburgh as Madeleine in Quills. She performed her piece Birth Control for the 1998 Revenge of Women’s Work Festival. Since graduating last year from Point Park College’s Conservatory of Performing Arts, she has performed Annie in Durang vs. Ives for Confluence Theatre in New York City, and Sky Hickock in Manbites Dog Theater Company’s Production of The Monogamist in Durham, North Carolina. Locally she has worked with Quantum Theatre in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Young Playwright’s Festival at City Theatre. This fall, she will originate the role of Maria Theresa in Bricolage’s world premiere of Wild Signs.
Vanessa Briceno (film) is currently an MFA candidate in the Film and Media Arts Department at Temple University. She has produced and directed 16 mm shorts such as Silent Conversations, a recipient of the Kodak Award at temple’s Media Fest 2000, and Split Second, a work-in-progress. She is also developing a series of short films and animations based on the writings of the Urban Rhythms and Open City publications in Philadelphia, PA. Vanessa has received grants from the Heinz Endowment’s Small Arts Initiative as well as from First Night Pittsburgh, for a collaborative multi-media installation called Clepsydra: An Installation with 13 Performers. She has also worked as a cinematographer and assistant camera person on numerous films at Temple.
Somna M. Bulist (music) is active as a harpist and composer/performer. An advocate of the electro-acoustic harp, she embraces extended techniques and experiments in electronic processing. Her music has been featured in new works venues in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York City. In 1998 she received critical acclaim for her debut CD, Invocations FAERYE. A Chinese American denizen of Pennsylvania, Somna (nee Wendy Renee Fong) is a graduate of Pratt Institute. She began and continued harp study with Lucille Lawrence and completed course work at the Mannes School of Music and the Delcroise School of Music in New York City. Her website is www.somna.net.
Cheryl Capezutti (visual art/theater) is a Pittsburgh area visual artist whose giant puppets have appeared on Good Morning, America!, as well as the Detroit Festival of the Arts, the Central PA Festival of the Arts, First Night Pittsburgh, and the Andy Warhol Museum. Currently, three of her puppets are touring Western PA schools as part of the Gateway to the Arts production, Building Magic. Her most recent work, Beneath the Light, was included in City Theatre’s 4 X 5 Festival in January, 2001. Capezutti’s “Lint Guys,” small figurative sculptures created out of dryer lint, are part of an interactive project she has been pursuing since 1994.
Asimina Chremos (dance; regional artist) is an independent dancer/performance artist who has been living in Chicago since 1997. Her solo work has been noted for its iconoclastic post-feminist stance and embodied politicism. Her work Bridle was featured in cultural critic Sally Banes’ recent book, Dancing Women, Female Bodies On Stage (Routledge). Chremos began her professional dancing career with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, performing solo and corps de ballet roles from 1983 to 1987. She then attended Temple University, graduating summa cum laude with a BFA in dance in1991. Chremos remained in Philadelphia, creating and performing as part of that city’s close-knit dance community until 1997. During that time, she was choreographer-in-residence at the Susan Hess Studio for two years, along with artists Roko Kawai and Rennie Harris; a recipient of a PA Council on the Arts Fellowship, and a Philadelphia Repertory Initiative grant. She has also performed her work in New York City at P.S. 122, Performance Mix, Dixon Place, and Gowanus Arts exchange (now Brooklyn Arts Exchange), and was a 1995 Movement Research Exchange Artist. Chremos has been Artistic Director of Chicago’s venerable alternative performance/rehearsal space, Links Hall Studio, since September, 2000. She teaches modern dance technique to the Hubbard Street Dance Company and to many other students in Chicago through various studios and programs, and continues to develop her solo and group work.
Michele Dunleavy (dance) is a choreographer and dancer who has studied in New York City with Jennifer Muller, Lynn Simonson, Laurie De Vito, and Charlie Wright. Michele returned to Pittsburgh to become a founding member of the DANA Movement Ensemble, with whom she served as Resident Choreographer, Principle Dancer, and Co-Artistic Director. She then went on to perform as a principle dancer with the Physical Theatre Project. Michele has participated in the Choreographer’s Continuum, the Pittsburgh Dance Festival, the Three Rivers Arts Festival, and the Pittsburgh Opera. She recently collaborated with violinist Lisa Miles and visual artist Zed Armstrong on a piece called Presence.
EQ (music) is a newly formed electric string quartet comprised of classically trained players who have a wide range of experience. Violinists Erin Hutter (of Boxstep and the Deliberate Strangers) and Tanya Kavalkovich (of The Garden and Isabelle) have played in local rock bands for years. Violist Regina Ketter (of the Firenze String Quartet) and cellist Erin Snyder (of Watershed and Opek 15) complete the ensemble. EQ concentrates on original compositions, improvisations, and the aural textures created through the manipulation of electronically processed sounds.
Teresa (T) Foley (video) While in film school, T Foley tired of watching student films filled with bad actors, so she began animating objects (mostly Catholic iconography). In order to earn her bread and butter, Foley works as the lead artist and administrator of Pittsburgh Filmmaker’s Media Literacy Arts Education program. There she makes a point of encouraging her students and audiences to become more active and critical viewers of the media. She also thinks that kids should learn to write with cameras, along with older technologies (pencils and word processors). Foley is a recipient of a 2001 PA Council on the Arts Media Arts Fellowship. Her films and videos have been shown at various screening venues throughout the U.S.
Gams on the Lam (theater/regional artist) is a three-woman clown theater company inspired by European clowning and silent film. A sophisticated mixture of existential struggle and roughhouse buffoonery, these three silent incorrigible heroines - the overbearing “Diva,” the fragile “Waifer,” and the mischievous “Trouble” - are an endearing dysfunctional family careening through life with the boisterous naivete of the truly hopeful. Gams tours internationally, and since its creation in 1993 has been seen at theaters, universities, and festivals such as the Moers International Comedy Arts Festival in Germany, the International Clown Festival of Barcelona, the International Festival of Contemporary Art in Leon, Mexico, the Atlanta Arts Festival, the Seattle Arts Festival, Touchstone Theatre, the New York Buskers Fair, the Canadian Fringe Festivals, and the 1998 Revenge of Women’s Work Festival. The company has been awarded funding by Arts International, the NY Foundation for the Arts, the NY State Council on the Arts, and is a recipient of the Franklin Furnace Award for Emerging Artists.
Sheila McKenna (theater/Assistant Producer) is an actor, director, writer, and teacher in theater, film, and radio. She has created and performed her own work for many years, most recently showcasing Wanted at the 1998 Revenge of Women’s Work festival. For Playhouse Junior at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, she has directed many plays, including Aladdin, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and The Princess and the Pea, among others. She also directed Tammy Ryan’s Pig for the Playhouse Theatre Company. As an actor, she has performed with Quantum Theatre, City Theatre, Upstairs Theatre, the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, and the Playhouse Repertory Company, to name a few. Sheila was also a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of TheatreSports. She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in theater from the University of Pittsburgh.
Susan Murray (multimedia) is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama. Her recent work includes coordinating the Wattson Experimental Video Festival at the Carnegie Museum of Art, directing a production of Beckett’s Endgame, and creating several video art pieces for Music First Video, a project focusing on creating visual displays to enhance music. Susan has accepted a job at the Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre as a video artist and will be moving to New York City in the fall.
Denise Pullen (theater) received her MFA in Playwriting/Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University, where she had the great fortune to study with Milan Stitt and Tina Howe. She also received her BFA in Directing from CMU. Last spring, Denise’s screenplay, Riding Fire, won the first place, $20,000 Sloan Foundation Award. Her one-act, Happy Birthday, Baby, was a winning play at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. It will be presented as a staged reading this summer in the New Pay Series at CMU. Next fall, Denise will be in residence at Beloit College, where her play Phone Noir will be produced as part of their season. A director and teacher for many years, Denise is on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon, where she teaches playwriting for their precollege program. She also teaches drama courses for the Community College of Allegheny County.
Wen Hwa Tsa’o (film) was born in 1964 in Taiwan, Republic of China. She has worked in film, video, and photography. After moving to the United States in 1984, she studied photography and visual design at the University of Oregon, and received her Master of Fine Arts in film and photography from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 1990. Since her arrival in the U.S., she has completed seven films, ranging from short experimental works to the 75-minute Cola for Tea (a work-in-progress). She has received several awards and grants to continue her work, most recently the PA Council on the Arts Fellowship, awarded to individual creative artists. Wen hwa’s work has been exhibited extensively at venues and festivals all over the U.S.
Kellee Van Aken (theater) is the Associate producing Director at City Theatre. Her play Tipton, produced by Flying Pig Theatre, was nominated by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as one of the 10 Best Plays of the Year. Her other works include Ordinary Phoenix (timespace theatre), Shakespeare for Small People (Shakespeare in the Schools, University of Pittsburgh), and Desire (Pittsburgh New Works Festival reading)
Staycee Walters (dance) began her formal training as a dancer/choreographer in her home town of Columbia, Maryland with the modern dance company Dance Dimensions. She later studied and performed in Philadelphia at the Colleges of the Arts and in New York City with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Staycee has also worked with various regional companies based in Atlanta, New York, New Jersey, and now Pittsburgh, where she enjoys guest performing with Expressions Dance Company and teaching at the YWCA. She has also shown her work at the Hamburg Studio Theatre’s Dark Night Cabaret.