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Announcing 2017-18 UMS Artists in Residence

UMS is pleased to announce the fourth installment of our Artists in Residence program. As part of the program, we’re asking area artists to take “residence” at our performances. The goal of the residency is to inspire artists through UMS performances, using these experiences as a resource to support the creation of new work or to fuel an artistic journey.

We’re proud to announce this season’s artists.

Meet the 2017-18 UMS Artists in Residence

Sherrine Azab – Performing Arts

Sherrine Azab is the Co-Director of Detroit-based theater company A Host of People with a focus on creating devised and original theater. In addition to directing she’s also a producer, performance curator, and educator. Her artistic work has been seen in Seattle, New York, Berlin, Detroit, San Francisco, Cleveland, Chicago, and New Orleans. She holds a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle where she founded the critically acclaimed company Strike Anywhere Productions before moving to New York City. In NYC she presented work in spaces such as The Kitchen, The Ohio Theatre, HERE Arts Center, Dixon Place, and the Bushwick Starr. Sherrine also served as the Associate Producer for The Foundry Theatre (NYC) during their 2011 and 2012 seasons and is a proud Associated Artist with Target Margin Theater (NYC). She holds a postgraduate certificate from the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University and was a member of the 2008 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. In addition to the five full length new works and numerous smaller projects produced by AHOP since moving to Detroit five years ago, Sherrine also directed the world premiere of agua de luna (psalms for the rouge) by Caridad Svich at Matrix Theatre Company. She is on staff for the Network of Ensemble Theaters.

Morgan Breon – Performing Arts/Literary Arts

Morgan Breon kick-started her theater career playing 15 of the 16 characters featured in Nilaja Sun’s, “No Child” at Matrix Theatre Company. Morgan is an ensemble member of Shakespeare in Detroit and has played the following roles: Lord/ Lady Capulet (Romeo and Juliet), Ariel (The Tempest), Marc Antony (Julius Caesar), and Shylock (Merchant of Venice). In 2015, Morgan played Oriel in the world premiere of “A Kiss of the Sun for Pardon” at the Detroit Repertory Theater. She is an alumnus of Mosaic Youth Theater in Detroit, University of Michigan’s CRLT Players, and the U-M Educational Theater Company. At 13, Morgan wrote “Portrait of A Wise Woman,” in honor of her late grandmother, Janie Withrow. Upon reprising the play 13 years later, it won “Audience Favorite” in the 2015 Two Muses Women’s Playwriting Festival. Her stage play, “Waking Up Alive” won the “Jury Award” at the 2015 Detroit Fringe Festival and she was a 2017 Mitten Lab Fellow for Playwriting, where her stage play was performed by students at Interlochen Center for the Arts. Morgan received a dual Bachelor of Arts and dual Masters from the University of Michigan, none of which are in theatre. Her degrees reflect her passion for youth, social justice, as well as individual and community healing. These principles influence Morgan’s work as an artist, and guide her use of the arts to impact community. Morgan honors her late Auntie Margaret for investing in her artistic nature as a young girl. Morgan credits Jesus Christ with her gift of anything creative.

Aja Salakastar Dier – Multi-disciplinary performance arts

Aja Salakastar Dier is a multi-disciplinary performance artist. She began her training in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan and went on to earn her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Acting at the State University of New York at Purchase College. Upon moving back to Detroit, she began exploring experimental performance through theatre and music. She is currently an ensemble member at A Host of People, a Detroit based theatre company, where she is a performer and co-collaborator. She is also a member of Video7, a Detroit based music and arts collective. She is currently working on her debut EP and will be premiering a new play with A Host of People, Neither There, Nor Here, at the Light Box Detroit in January 2018. Follow her journey on Instagram @shestoopstoconquer.

Clarisse Baleja Saïdi – Literary Arts

Clarisse Baleja Saïdi was born and raised in Côte d’Ivoire and is of Rwandese and Congolese descent. She earned her MFA from The Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, where she was awarded Hopwood awards, a John Wagner prize and the Theodore Roethke award for her fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction works in progress. She is the recipient of scholarships from Hedgebrook, Callaloo, and the Napa Valley Conference, among others. She is at work on a first novel.

Veniece Session – Performing Arts/Music

Veniece Session is a native Detroiter and international thinker who is committed to introducing new ideas and uplifting creative communities. On the home front, Veniece collaborates with local artists and organizations to design sounds for in-person cultural experiences and learning opportunities. On a 2015 trip to Berlin, Veniece noticed parallels with her hometown of Detroit – both were industrialized cities with a rich cultural impact and a pulsing population of expressive artists. Fast forward one year and Veniece’s insatiable curiosity and commitment has created opportunities from Detroit to Berlin and back again. Most notably through Be-troit Exchange, a two-phase inventive partnership between Detroit and Berlin artists which included panel discussions, song recording, music video production, and a documentary. She has exhibited work at the MOCAD, Baltimore Gallery, Goethe Institut, Butler University, and University of Illinois. Veneice Session earned her BS in Sound Engineering with a focus in Performing Arts Technology (PAT) and a Minor in Performing Arts Management from the University of Michigan School of Music.

Watch for more from these artists in residence on this blog and on UMS Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.