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2007 Artists


Brenda Aoki, Playwright, and Mark Izu, Composer(collaborative award)

August 24, 2007- January 14, 2008

Brenda Aoki and Mark IzuBrenda Aoki and Mark Izu, a husband and wife team from San Francisco, together with their 14 year old son Kai Kane, plan to pursue independent projects while on the residency. Brenda, who is known as a storyteller, playwright, performer, author, and recording artist, will conduct research for the third work in her trilogy of plays about her mixed-race Japanese American family and Japanese ancestors. She is on the Theater Arts faculty at the University of San Francisco and has received awards from ASCAP, the U.S. Congress, and the Asian American Arts Foundation. Her husband, composer Mark Izu, began studying Japanese gagaku music in 1978 with Togi Suenobu; during his fellowship, he plans to develop a new symphonic piece and work again with his mentor, who has since returned to Japan. Mark is a founding faculty member of the Stanford University Institute for Diversity in the Arts, and his honors include the ASCAP Innovative Music Award.

Their website can be viewed at

[An interview with this fellow is available in the IHJ Bulletin, Vol.28, No.1, 2008.]

Tony D’Souza, Writer

May 28 -November 2, 2007

Tony D'SouzaTony D’Souza, a writer, who recently published his first novel, will explore Japan through its story telling, especially looking at what the culture carries on from its old traditions and what it leaves behind. Because of his fascination with “rural, fringe communities,” he plans to conduct his residency in the Hokkaido fishing town of Nemuro, a location he describes as “extremely remote, small, and vibrant.” After receiving his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Notre Dame and his Master of Arts from Hollins University, he joined the Peace Corps, volunteering for more than three years in Cote d’Ivoire and Madagascar. His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship (2006), as well as Poets & Writers Magazine’s award for Best First Fiction (2006). He currently resides in Sarasota, Florida.

His website can be viewed at

[An interview with this fellow is available in the IHJ Bulletin, Vol.27, No.2, 2007.]

Ellen Fullman, Composer

December 4, 2007- April 12, 2008

Ellen FullmanA composer and instrument designer, Ellen Fullman will bring her musical installation to Japan where she plans to collaborate with Japanese musicians, including composer Mamoru Fujieda. She describes her instrument as resembling “a giant koto…[which] is played by stroking strings lengthwise while walking, using rosin-coated fingers. The sound produced has… a very rich harmonic quality. It blends beautifully with the traditional Japanese reed organ.” Her recent distinctions include the Alpert Award in the Arts and a residency through the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program. She currently resides in Berkeley, California.

Her website can be viewed at

Joseph Maida, Photographer

December 17 – July

Joseph MaidaA photographer from New York City, Joseph Maida uses his art to explore how people define themselves through their surroundings. Describing his fellowship, he writes: “Like all of my work to-date, my residency in Japan will focus on daily consumption… I want to immerse myself in the everyday life of Japan to photograph the relationship between Japan’s intricate society and the objects it produces and consumes.” He received his M.F.A. from Yale University in 2001 and his B.A. from Columbia University in 1999, and his work has been featured in more than two dozen solo and group exhibitions. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at the Parsons School of Design and a full-time faculty member at the School of Visual Arts in New York, NY.

His website can be viewed at

Leyna Papach, Composer, and Michel Kouakou, Choreographer (collaborative award)

October 31, 2008 – April 1, 2009

Leyna Papach and Michel KouakouHusband and wife artistic team Leyna Papach and Michel Kouakou plan to work both independently and as a team during their residency. A composer and theater artist, Leyna spent part of her childhood in Fukuoka, Japan. She is the daughter of an American father and a Japanese mother. For generations, her ancestors were keepers of the Sarutahiko Shrine, near the grand shrine of Ise. During her residency, she would like to examine ancient Shinto chanted prayers, called norito, in the area where Sarutahiko Shrine is located. Her husband, choreographer Michel Kouakou, was born in the Ivory Coast, where he was schooled in dance, acrobatics, and Marionette Theater. He will use his fellowship to study butoh dance. During the second half of their residency, the couple will produce “a collaborative creation and performance of a dance piece in Kyoto Arts Center.” They bring with them their newborn, Masumi.


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