Announcing the 2023-24 Duke Arts Studio Student Cohort

The seventh year of Duke’s signature arts mentorship program pairs thirteen students with professional mentors to develop their creative projects, including literature, theater, film, visual arts and more.

Duke Arts Studio offers creative and professional support for undergraduate student projects in the fields of arts, entertainment and media. This year’s cohort includes thirteen students who are each paired with Duke alums and local community members. Learn more about each student and their project below.

Duke Arts Studio was originally StudioDuke, a joint effort of Duke Arts, Duke’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship InitiativeDuke Entertainment, Media & Arts Network (DEMAN) and Duke Alumni Association. Duke Arts Studio is managed in collaboration with the Duke Entertainment, Media & Arts Network (DEMAN).

Kaya Caouki (he/him)

Majors: Visual & Media Studies: Cinematic Arts and Political Science
Title of Project: 23 and Free

Spending his life believing he would die before the age of 23, like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before him, a directionless, confused young man must find meaning in his life after surviving his 23rd birthday.

Monika Narain (she/her)

Majors: Physics and Visual & Media Studies: Cinematic Arts
Minor: Mathematics
Title of ProjectPhysical

Physical is a coming-of-age queer romance about two high-energy physicists working at an elite particle accelerator in 1985.

Sam Carpenter

Sam Carpenter (he/him)

Majors: Computer Science and Mathematics
Minor: Political Science
Title of ProjectSundial

Sundial is a sci-fi rock musical about confronting the inevitable.

huiyin zhou

huiyin zhou (they/she)

Major: Cultural Anthropology
Minor: Asian American & Diaspora Studies
Certificate: Documentary Studies
Title of ProjectA Queer Child’s Home Coming

Growing up in China’s industrial hub, Dongguan, as a child of an extended family of internal migrants, I have been interested in exploring migration, (post-)memory, queer/feminist intimacy, and the interconnectedness of diasporic bodies in my transdisciplinary practice. For Duke Arts Studio, I am proposing a multimedia project interweaving non-fiction writing, film photography, polaroids, and audio/videos from my documentary fieldwork in China and the US. I will also draw archival images from my family albums, my parents’ childhood homes, and so on.

Chisom Ezigbo

Chisom Ezigbo (she/her)

Major: Psychology
Minor: Visual Arts
Title of ProjectPian’ (a webcomic)

Pian’ is a webcomic that follows a young Nigerian-American boy on his quest to learn how to play the piano, exploring the transformative relationships he builds with others along the way.

Emily Wang (she/her)

Major: Chemistry
Minors: Statistics and Philosophy
Title of ProjectOn Rest

On Rest is a multimedia art space interweaving paintings and classical flute music to contemplate natural beauty. In a world constantly in (com)motion, I construct temporary respite via the quiet solace of a sylvan milieu.

Heidi Smith (she/her)

Majors: Computer Science and English
Title of ProjectFirst World Problems

First World Problems is a speculative fiction novel about a young woman working for a tech company that has imposed a meritocracy on the United States and her quest to reach a perfect Merit Score.

Yuhuan Zhang (she/her)

Majors: Art History and Visual Arts (Computational Media)
Title of ProjectCan I Have Your To-go Boxes, Please?

I’ve noticed a weird phenomenon on campus: many people use to-go boxes in the dining hall only to later throw them into the “dish return”. My project is a live performance art piece in Duke’s dining hall, aiming to reveal this ironic phenomenon and provoke discussion of environmental and economic effects.

Isa Mellody (she/her)

Major: Theater Studies
Minors: Computer Science and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies
Title of ProjectDo I Know You?

I’m writing a play that follows the experience of a queer college student with a passion for writing and her relationships with the people in her life and the people she creates in her head.

Madeleine Menkes (she/her)

Major: Cultural Anthropology
Certificate: Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Title of ProjectStories from the page: Song-writing Composition

This project is dedicated to crafting original songs that pave the way for my music career as a singer-songwriter.

Macey Davis (she/her)

Major: English
Minor: Sociology
Title of ProjectCrown Ascent

Teenage royals from around the world are invited to a new school set in Washington D.C. to learn more about being next-in-line to the throne. Shortly after the school begins, Mia and Noah discover some dangerous secrets inside and outside the school that could change their lives forever.

Johnathan Brown (he/him)

Majors: Communications Studies and Media Production
Minors: Visual & Media Studies: Cinematic Arts and African & African-American Studies

Beyond its thesis of interrogating the intersections between “the gaze” within both the Internet Age and marginalized identity, EYES is ultimately a story about the journey of making sense of who you are and forging an individual path within the chaos of the world’s noise – finding and claiming authenticity within an era of hyper-performance. In addition to the project’s accompanying ethnographic photobook and bespoke DJ mix, its central deliverable, a brief genre-blending music film composed of sequential intimate character-driven vignettes, follows the fluid subconsciouses of a fracturing friend group that gets lost in their own minds while trying to gain access to a buzzy venue for their friend’s last night in town.

Akshay Gokul (he/him)

Majors: Public Policy and Economics
Title of ProjectRevival

In the past fifty years, hip-hop has not only revolutionized the music scene in America, but it has transformed the ways that marginalized communities gain justice in the modern day. The docuseries Revival explores how individuals and groups in America have utilized hip-hop to acheive political, social, and economic advancements for black and brown communities in the face of oppressive systems and structures.