Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Justin Poindexter

1. How did you decide to become an artist?
I have always wanted to be an artist. I cannot remember a time when I ever wanted to be anything else. At a young age I wanted to write and illustrate children’s books. I then became interested in painting, followed by film and playmaking, jazz piano, guitar, and finally composition; which I feel is the sum of many arts and gives me license to work in any medium. My parents always encouraged my artistic pursuits without pressuring me and were supportive as I tried different things. I have always had a great appreciation for history and aesthetics, which feeds my artistic desire. I love to feel the imprint of history on an object and I enjoy trying to craft a piece of music that is evocative of something or someone, someplace in sometime.

2. What kind of work as an artist have you done so far, and what other work have you done?
I feel that as an artist, my work tends to be all across the board. As I continue to create, I find that my interests are slowly starting to form some sort of cohesive statement. I got my first real project writing music for the docudrama, The Rough South of Larry Brown. Inspired by the artistic decisions involved, I got permission to take film classes at NCSA and pursued a film composition internship in Los Angeles. Upon returning, I began coaching the NCSA High School Jazz Quintet and wrote tremendous amounts of music for them in various styles for various instrumental combinations. I wrote Three Folk Songs For Pianist and Jazz Singer, attempting to bridge the gap between concert music and more contemporary stylings. I have also collaborated with choreographers (Gudbjorg Arnolds, Casa Susanna), poets (Joe Mills, Somewhere During the Spin Cycle), playwrights (52nd Street Project, Plays That Tell All) and spent the year following graduation studying historical architecture and writing country songs for singer, Martha Bassett. My most recent project is a collaboration with percussionist Colin Tribby, in Let Freedom Ring, performed by members of the Carolina Chamber Symphony with strings, percussion, and a male and female speaker.

3. How did the Kenan Fellowship contribute to your development as an artist? 

My experience as a Kenan Fellow with Lincoln Center Institute has been a tremendous opportunity for personal and artistic growth. I gained a curiosity to pursue new avenues in my art and found the courage to experiment with many different areas where I can use my musical training and knowledge. I have taken great interest in the philosophy of aesthetic education and feel a strong connection between my artistic pursuits and my teaching artist experience in the classroom.

4. What is the most memorable and positive experience you had as a Kenan Fellow? 

My most memorable experience as a Kenan Fellow was working with my mentor in the schools. The classroom is the heart of the aesthetic education practice, and the unleashing of curiosity and active problem solving in our teaching sessions inspired me. I feel strongly about encouraging younger generations to experience and discover themselves through art. It is my personal belief that an artist has a duty to help shape a future generation of artists and art lovers.

5. What was disappointing or frustrating to you about the Kenan Fellowship?
My biggest disappointment about the Kenan Fellowship is that it ended all to soon. I had learned so much through my teaching with the Manhattan School for Children and St. John’s University and was ready to go into another session when the fellowship ended. It was difficult to adjust to a post-LCI life following the life-consuming artistic project, during which I had no time to focus on future projects or employment. It would be incredible if the Kenan’s could do another unit in the schools, possibly with more emphasis on crafting the lesson plans and teaching, following the project.

6. What are you planning to do next in your artistic career?

I worked very diligently during my fellowship networking and job searching so as not to have too much down time upon my completion. I became music director for the 52nd Street Project, writing music for a series of musicals benefiting kids ages 8-18 in the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood. The LCI experience gave me the desire to expand my art into education and arts administration and I found work with the education department of Jazz at Lincoln Center and began interning for the contemporary music chamber group, counter) induction. I have also recently started to do some teaching artist work with the Theater Development Fund and hope to find more of these opportunities. My next piece will be a three movement suite for soprano, piano, clarinet and strings, which will be recorded by the counter) induction ensemble.

7. How does your art relate to your family and community life?
My art is so much a part of my life at this point it seems more appropriate to consider how my family and community life relates to my art instead of vice-versa. My network of friends is primarily art-related and they are often a sounding board for new projects I am developing and may become performers or collaborators. I have a wonderful support system of friends and I consider them when working on new pieces, knowing they will be helpful and supportive. My family is very supportive of the life I have chosen and come to visit when I have larger performances.

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