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Announcing the 2021-22 StudioDuke Student Cohort

Published By Duke Arts / published on: October 25, 2021

The fifth year of Duke’s signature arts mentorship program pairs twenty students with professional mentors to develop their creative projects, including manuscripts, documentaries, podcasts, XR, TV pilots, animation and more.

About StudioDuke

StudioDuke is a two-semester creative lab and mentorship program providing students the opportunity to take their advanced, on-going creative projects to the next level. StudioDuke is a collaboration between Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship, DEMAN (Duke Entertainment, Media & Arts Network), and Duke Arts. Students are matched with creative industry professionals (including Duke alumni) for one-on-one mentorship that kicks off in the fall semester.

The goal is to bring each project to the point where it is ready to be presented to industry professionals. The StudioDuke team will help facilitate connections, resources, and logistics to support the project. Students will participate in programming aimed to help advance their creative projects and career opportunities.

2021-22 StudioDuke Student Cohort

Mason Berger

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2023

Major: Visual & Media Studies
Mentor: Bess Braswell ’03, Publishing Director, HarperCollins Publishers, Inkyard Press
Project Title: Celestium’s Shield

I’m working on a fantasy novel that looks to explore and challenge the tropes of the genre. It follows a soldier trained his whole life to fight goblins, and a goblin alchemist who has never encountered a human before. When they meet on the battlefield, they realize there may be more to the war against the goblins than the human government would like them to believe.

Ava Changnon

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2022

Major: Visual & Media Studies (Concentration in Cinematic Arts)
Certificate: Documentary Studies
Mentor: Mangesh Hattikudur ’01, Former Senior Vice President, Podcast Development, iHeartMedia/HowStuffWorks & Co-Founder, Mental Floss
Project Title: Obsessed: The Podcast

A podcast exploring the passions and cultural obsessions of ordinary, college aged people.

Lillian Clark

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2022

Major: Statistical Science
Certificate: Documentary Studies
Mentor: Aisha Turner ’09, Senior Producer & Interim Executive Producer, MSNBC’s “Into America” Podcast
Project Title: Faith and the Egg

An audio documentary examining how faith comes from the body and whether we can fake it til we make it into big “B” Belief.

Greta Cywińska

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2023

Major: Neuroscience
Minor: Visual Arts
Certificate: Documentary Studies
Mentor: Lisa McCarty, MFA EDA ‘13, Assistant Professor, Photography, SMU
Project Title: The Gift of Memories

For my project, I will be offering palliative care families in the Intensive Care Nursery at Duke University Hospital the opportunity to receive printed portraits of their children. Caring for a premature or medically fragile infant brings a tremendous amount of uncertainty as palliative care babies can unexpectedly begin to decline at any moment. In these instances, parents are often fully absorbed in spending time with their child and may not think to take a photograph. Having portraits further down the line, however, can serve to validate a child’s presence and honor their legacy by affording parents a physical memory to carry with them.

Ellen Goodrich

DUKE SCHOOL OF LAW, CLASS OF 2023

Mentor: Jon Schnaars ’05, Vice President, Finance & Business Development, Pushkin Industries
Project Title: Voices of Innocence Podcast

This podcast follows the work of Duke Law’s Innocence Project and Wrongful Convictions Clinic. The first season tells the story of Dontae Sharpe and the second season is currently in pre-production.

Meena Gudapati

Pratt School of Engineering, Class of 2022

Major: Visual Systems & Computational Engineering
Mentor: Nahiyan Ahmad, Fuqua ’14, Vice President, Business Development & Operations, Jump Into The Light
Project Title: Jumping Through the Edge of Reality

My project intends to guide viewers through what lies beyond reality in a multidimensional universe. In a 3-5 minute immersive VR experience, viewers will see my 2D, multi planar interpretation of a parallel universe composed of my paintings and drawings in response to shots of the real 3D world.

Jasmine Harris

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2022

Majors: Computer Science; Visual Arts
Mentor: Mikael Owunna ‘12, Multimedia Artist and Engineer
Project Title: Sights Lost in Tranquility

Sights Lost in Tranquility is an in-the-process editorial photography project, in which I will explore the human experience of one’s sexual identity and innocence. Throughout history, these two themes have often been polarized as, in many cultures, both have been considered converses, standing on opposite sides of good and evil.  My photoshoots will take inspiration from renaissance art and concepts from the Catholic Church as, during these times, the separation of innocence and sexual identity was heavily emphasized, yet also being navigated.

Sarah LoCurto

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2023

Major: Philosophy & Neuroscience (Interdepartmental)
Mentor: Sequoia Maner ’08, Assistant Professor & Poet, Spelman College
Project Title: Chronos

This poetry anthology, titled Chronos, first began as a method of introspection, and has since documented the intensity that I feel in everything from the most pivotal to the most mundane moments of my life. The goal of this project is to further explore emotion with an unabashed honesty that (hopefully) resonates with others, and by so doing, to open the door to unique and meaningful connections.

Emily MacDiarmid

MFA in Experimental & Documentary Arts, Class of 2022

Mentor: Ryan White ’04, Director & Executive Producer, Tripod Media
Project Title: May 22, 1984

May 22, 1984 is a short film depicting the United States Stargate Program and its remote viewing initiative to distant planets.

Devinne Moses

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2022

Majors: English; Psychology
Minor: Creative Writing
Mentor: Hilary N. Huskey ’11, 3-D Character Artist, Game Developer, Writer; Lecturer, NCCU
Project Title: MOSAIC

MOSAIC is a text-based fiction story about self-belief as a poet. It was a 13-week summer project paired with a social research survey about customization options in games and player emotion.

Ivy Nicole-Jonet

MFA in Experimental & Documentary Arts, Class of 2022

Mentor: Lauren Haynes, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Nasher Museum of Art
Project Title: Ode to Black Womxn: Past, Present, and Future

I am modeling and animating an Afrofutrisitic, augmented reality world where viewers can explore the many facets that encompass the experience of being a Black Womxn in America. The immersive experimental animation bridges archival footage, animation, AR/VR technologies and documentary to serve the purpose of honoring the history of Black Womxn through the exploration of several liberation movements.

Taylor Plett

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2022

Major: English
Certificate: Documentary Studies
Mentor: Christine Delp ’15, Director, Producer, Sociologist
Project Title: The Western Doorway

My short film tells the story of Tribal coalitions working toward food sovereignty through the repatriation of buffalo herds. A keystone species on the Great Plains, buffalo are uniquely adapted to rehabilitate ecosystems, reinvigorate soils, and withstand extreme weather. For many descendants of the plains, buffalo harvesting is a reclamation of culture as well as a healthy food source. These animals are a fantastic lens into alternative models of food production and distribution, and the perfect illustration that our survival into the future may depend on our willingness to learn from the past.

Brie Russell

MA in Graduate Liberal Studies, Class of 2023

Mentor: Julia Livshin ’96, Literary Agent, Julia Livshin Literary Agency
Project Title: Pollyanna Pickle

A quirky tale awash in alliteration teaching readers — young and old — that small things, when done with great love, can have a big impact. Join the tender-hearted and brined protagonist, Pollyanna Pickle, the puniest of the Pickle progeny, as she changes her perspective and ponders her new purpose.

Sannan Saleh

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2022

Major: Visual & Media Studies
Mentor: Kevin Plunkett ’95, Executive Producer, Jigsaw Productions/Elevation7
Project Title: Pin Drop Silence

My project is an independently produced, filmed and edited dark comedy TV Show that I filmed during the past year and am now editing. I hope to release the five-episode-long series in the spring.

Tenley Shai Seidel

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2022

Majors: Theater Studies; Global Cultural Studies
Minor: History
Mentor: Christina Baker Kline P’18 ’22, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
Project Title: Until You

Until You is a psychological thriller/coming-of-age novel. It follows a queer female protagonist who parses through questions of identity, sexuality, and self-understanding, while trying to uncover the truth of what happened to her dead older sister.

Kira Upin

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2023

Major: Visual & Media Studies (Concentration in Cinematic Arts)
Minors: Chinese; Psychology
Mentor: Bob Yeoman ’73, Oscar-Nominated Cinematographer
Project Title: I Hate Surprise Privilege (The Band)

In this short documentary, I follow a San Francisco punk band, as well as another artist in Durham, and contrast the two.

Nia Williams

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2023

Major: Visual & Media Studies (Concentration in Cinematic Arts)
Minors: Art History; Biology
Mentor Name: Robb Chavis ‘98, Co-Executive Producer, ABC’s black-ish
Project Title: Valley Ave

I am writing the pilot to a sitcom about a veterinary hospital — think Superstore mixed with the veterinary version of Grey’s Anatomy. My project is heavily inspired by my own experiences from working at a vet clinic for over five years.

Alyssa Wilson

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2022

Major: Psychology
Minor: English; Global Health
Mentor: Laura Yorke ’85, Book Editor, Publisher, Literary Agent & Writer
Project Title: The Sharpest Corners

The Sharpest Corners tells the story of prodigal daughter Elaine Baker who returns to her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia after the passing of her father. Her relationship with her family is complicated, to say the least, and while she plans to stay only for as long as she has to, she soon learns there’s more to the town she left behind than she thought; haunted by the memories of her past, Elaine works to solve the mystery of what’s really going on in a tiny town where nothing bad is supposed to happen, but if she’s not careful, she’ll find herself drawn back into the world of the family she’s spent the past year trying to escape.

Kaylin Woodward

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2022

Major: Political Science (Concentration in Security, Peace, and Conflict)
Minor: Theater Studies
Certificate: Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Mentor: Danya Taymor ’10, Obie Award-Winning Broadway Director and Translator
Project Title: Taking Up Space

This play follows Esme, an aspiring actress with anorexia nervosa, which manifests as a character (Ana) with whom only Esme can interact.

Brandon Xie

TRINITY COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES, CLASS OF 2022

Majors: Computer Science; Economics
Minor: Cinematic Arts
Mentor: Jenny Lynn ’96, TV Writer & Producer
Project Title: Emerald

Emerald is a sci-fi TV pilot set in a world where climate change has led to the extinction of wild plants and an inevitable depletion of oxygen. The fate of billions of people rests on the shoulders of two long-lost siblings who are tasked to steal the scientific breakthrough of the century — a naturally grown seedling. With Emerald’s story and characters, I hope to elevate contemporary issues like Asian-American representation to the forefront of popular culture.