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Our Artists-in-Residence

Every summer, Usdan brings world-class teachers and visiting artists – actors, directors, playwrights, painters, sculptors, musicians, composers, dancers, poets and novelists – to teach and collaborate with Usdan campers ages 4 to 18. It’s a two-way exchange because we know experienced artists and young creators learn from each other and contribute to one another’s work and development.

In summer 2017, we are piloting an artists-in-residence program to involve youth in the creative process as equal collaborators in the generation of a new work. The goal is to harness the creativity, concerns, and intelligence of youth in contemporary art making. Each artist-in-residence, working in different media, will collaborate with a group of students through research and workshops to create an experimental piece.

The inaugural program includes projects with:

Pedro Lasch

Usdan’s summer 2017 session will include the first stage of an ambitious three-year art commission from internationally exhibited artist and Duke University professor, Pedro Lasch. The project, entitled “Dreaming in the Woods" launches this spring with a series of email prompts to students, designed to spark creativity and interaction. Once camp begins this summer, those interactions will kick off a highly collaborative on-campus engagement between Lasch, Usdan students, faculty and staff.

View "Dreaming in the Woods".

Pedro Lasch was born and raised in Mexico City. He studied art at Cooper Union (BFA,NY) and Goldsmiths College (MFA, London). Before coming to teach at Duke, he founded and directed the experimental program ‘Art, Story-Telling, and the Five Senses’ (K-12 and beyond) in Jackson Heights, Queens (1999-2005). He has since exhibited his work at PS1 MoMA, Queens Museum, The Phillips Collection, Nasher Museum, the 56th Venice Biennale (CTS, 2015), Havana Biennale (2012), and Documenta 13 (2012),among many others. He loves to collaborate with people of all ages, disciplines, and backgrounds.

Learn more about Pedro Lasch.


Usdan’s Artist-In-Residence in 2017 will also include high profile music collaborations: One with International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) for Junior Chorus; and one with Lisa Bielawa for Senior Orchestra programs.

Internationally acclaimed composer/performer Lisa Bielawa—whose work has been described by Gramophone magazine as “impeccably groomed…that at once evoke the layered precision of Vermeer and the conscious recklessness of Jackson Pollock”—will be on hand this summer to guest conduct the Senior Orchestra for two weeks.

As well, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) will collaborate with the Usdan Junior Chorus to explore methods for creative, sonic exploration in the open Usdan environment.

Kicking off with Summer 2017, the artist-in-residency programs are meant to be experiments and an exploration of the creative process – all intended to set the stage for potential longer-term collaborations between faculty and students to create original work.


Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition, and the recipient of the 2017 Music Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. Born in San Francisco into a musical family, Lisa Bielawa played the violin and piano, sang, and wrote music from early childhood. She began touring as the vocalist with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 she co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers. Bielawa was appointed Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus in 2013 and is an artist-in-residence at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, California. Her music is frequently performed throughout the US and abroad, with recent highlights including two world premieres at the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL, featured works at the Kennedy Center’s KC Jukebox series and SHIFT Festival, and a concert of her works at National Sawdust. Bielawa’s latest works for performance in public places include Chance Encounter, which was premiered by soprano Susan Narucki and The Knights in Lower Manhattan's Seward Park, and Airfield Broadcasts, a 60-minute work for hundreds of musicians that premiered on the tarmac of the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin in May 2013 and at Crissy Field in San Francisco in October 2013.  She is currently at work on Vireo, a new made-for-film episodic opera, which will be released by KCET for free, on-demand streaming in May 2017.

Learn more about Lisa Bielawa.


The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) is an artist collective committed to transforming the way music is created and experienced. As performer, curator, and educator, ICE explores how new music intersects with communities across the world. The ensemble’s 35 members are featured as soloists, chamber musicians, commissioners, and collaborators with the foremost musical artists of our time. Works by emerging composers have anchored ICE’s programming since its founding in 2001, and the group’s recordings and digital platforms highlight the many voices that weave music’s present.

Learn more about ICE.